When I first took up photography there were two places I knew of to post photos and see other photographers work. One was a forum that I found helpful to get critique and advice from the other was Flickr.
Flickr was the platform for photographers of all levels and genres. A good place to discover new photographers and browse the amazing content on the site. It’s how I got to find some very talented photographers and take inspiration from them. Actually it’s how I first found out about long exposure photography. I’ve taken a lot from Flickr, I also feel I’ve given back too. For years I have been an active member, posting regularly, joining groups and commenting on others work. I was even giving them money for a Pro account until a couple of weeks ago. I have often been asked the question “why do you pay to be a Pro member; you get nothing for it”. I’ve never really had an answer for that question apart from wanting Flickr to still give me what it was, and now it no longer is. Now, maybe that’s why I turned off auto renew on my membership and as of about 3 weeks ago have no longer had a Pro account. I thought I’d see how I felt once it come to my renewal and then decide if I wanted to renew. Unfortunately, I was on holiday when the renewal email come through. I’m now back and I’ve realized I’ve not posted on Flickr for over 5 weeks. I’ve just headed over there to post a new image and a banner comes up; “Photographers will always fit in here: Get Pro”. That banner is what’s prompted this blog post. I don’t think photographers do fit in over at Flickr anymore. Many of the photographers that I followed and interacted with over there have decided to leave. The good moderated groups (not the ones that spam comment your images) have all closed. Explore, even though Flickr’s new owners promised it would change, is still full of random bird and Lego photos.
I understand as a company its been through a tough time, and unlike many I’ve not jumped ship. Until recently I was a paid member, I was posting and interacting frequently, I was still giving all I gave them before. Yet I don’t feel I was getting anything back. Things have been going like this for a while now but we were told that the beginning of the year the new changes would make things better. I certainly don’t think that is the case. Since the start of the year interaction seems to be less, follower growth is way down, no longer do I get the occasional explore and no longer am I discovering anything new.
I’m not ready to give up on Flickr, I will still be posting there (hopefully more often than every 5 weeks) but for now I wont be renewing my Pro account.
So where is the place for photographers if Flickr currently isn’t?
I have tried many times on 500px but it’s just a popularity contest over there. If you have a good following you will continue to grow and get lots of interaction. Yet if you haven’t got much of a following by now it seems you’re never going to get one. There are some really epic photographs posted over there yet many that become popular are very much below the standard that their comments and likes warrant. Most of my posts become “popular” but this seems to be a gimmick as I think most photos do eventually. If your photo isn’t making the first page, then its not really going to get much interaction.
It took me a while to get a Facebook page but I do have one and many would have found this blog post on there. Although I do post photos on Facebook I don’t really see it as that type of platform. I feel the same about Twitter, I enjoy posting images there and certainly enjoy the interaction with others. Theses are both social media sites and not places for photographers to call home.
That leaves Instagram……
Now when I started off on Flickr, it was a place for photographers. People that had decided to take up photography as a procession or a hobby. Individual’s that had gone and spent their money on a camera and invested time and effort on how to use it and all the practice it takes to create an image that they are happy with. Instagram I don’t believe was ever designed for photographers. Why would you spend £1000’s on a 30+MP camera to post a 5cm square for people to view on their phones?
Instagram was and still is the place for photos of your dinner and a snap of your cat having a snooze. Us homeless photographers have decided to go and set up camp over there and try and make the best of it. It’s offering a lot of what Flickr did before, there is interaction (yet a thumbs up or a smiley face isn’t really interaction as such), new work and new photographers can be found easily and new followers do come. The reach for views and likes is far greater than anything that Flickr could ever offer. I post and interact a lot on there, more so than any other platform because of the reach and it’s so easy to do so. It’s still not a place, as a photographer, that I feel like I belong. I have far too many gripes with Instagram to go into them all in this post, I’ll save them for another day. I’d go as far as saying it’s a place killing photography and not making it better. The influencers on a whole are not photographers. The feature accounts are often run by people who have no idea what good photograph is or how to even take a decent one. Instagram is the home of these hubs and influencers and they are defining what photography is even though they are not photographers.
Most people own a mobile phone with a camera, a large percentage of those having the Instagram app installed. All posting photos and interacting with others, most of these are not photographers. Most of these would rather see a cute cat or delicious meal snap than a photograph that’s taken time effort and skill to produce. Instagram is and will always be a place for the masses. Photographers can be part of this but I feel we need more, a true home.
I hope Flickr can once become what it once was and give us homeless photographers a place to call our own.
I’ve had a busy few days processing some new photos. I have also been trying out some new techniques on some old photos. They can be seen in my Recent Images page.