On Flickr and photo sharing in general

Flickr is a mess lately. They say they’re putting the emphasis on mobile, like everybody else nowadays, which makes that the beta version shows photos in a resolution optimized for mobile devices, but are too small for viewing on a wide screen. Using Flickr lately has been very frustrating, I can’t opt out of the beta version, and seeing how things are headed, most probably this new version will stay. Also the perm rolling feature of displaying the photos make it very cluttered a difficult to view and sort through older photos.

All this made me think – what’s the point of using Flickr now?

I started using Flickr about the time I re-started doing sketches and taking digital photographs. Nowadays it looks like we have been doing it forever, but 8 years ago digital cameras were starting to get more common and the whole concept of sharing with a bunch of strangers your photos was picking up.

At the time I was part of a group on visual thinking and got some feedback and inspiration to continue to do sketches. I spent a lot of time on Flickr because they had an online photo editor (that was later bought by Google, can’t remember its name right now) before I moved on to other photo editors.

So, basically, my main motivation to use Flickr has been its ability to store, group and share photos, together with the possibility of getting new ideas from other photo collections (mainly The Commons collections). But now visiting my own Flickr photostream is getting increasingly frustrating. Shall I stop posting my photos/sketches on Flickr? After, what is the use of “sharing” for the sake of sharing when you don’t get any feedback? I rarely get “faves” or comments and the views a photo gets don’t tell me much, other than they are directly proportional to the effort I put on “promoting” them, i.e. posting the link to Twitter.

Yet, there’s still the question, if I’m not interested in “promoting” the images I produce, what’s the point of uploading them to Flickr and leave them available to anyone to view them? I guess there’s always a part of ourselves that seeks a certain approval or recognition from the other. And being our “creations” (though too big a word for a simple snapshot or a quick sketch) expressions ourselves, we tend to identify ourselves to them. So if our creations find no liking among our audience, what can expect of our very selves? That is, of course, keeping all due proportions. Still, tiny bits of our “selves” being systematically ignored, can amount to a very demotivating force.

Lots to ponder. For sure I’ll continue doing sketches and butchering photos. I can always share photos with my mother (an unconditional fan for whatever I might produce) by email. And I know that there are a couple of internet friends that might be interested in seeing from time to time one of my drawings or even the odd photo. Just wondering if there’s more people out there that might be interested and I if should care at all. But then again, is not like I’ll get any feedback either from this post. Just thinking aloud. Is there anything like “drawing aloud”?

“Salvando neuronas / Rescuing brain cells” An old favorite sketch done as part of a visual thinking exercise.

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2 Comments on “On Flickr and photo sharing in general”

  1. Glass Eye says:

    I joined flickr years ago, then left having never posted anything. The risk of having someone tell me I’d uploaded a “nice capture” or that one of my photos was a “nice use of light and shade” put me off.

    You could try DeviantArt which I was also on for a few years. I left there as I no longer had the time to devote to it, but you can join groups and build up followers interested in seeing your genre of work. You’re more likely to get thoughtful feedback there, though it seems to be the nudes which get the most views and feedback, which rather indicates the motivations of some of the people there. Worth a try though!

    I think flickr has blossomed and faded, as do all these sites eventually, including DeviantArt, but like I say, worth a try.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

    • laumerritt says:

      Yeah, you’re right, I think it was only natural for Flickr to fade. People had moved on so it is only part of a normal rhythm.

      I know DeviantArt and I guess there the emphasis is more on community and, rightly, so demands a lot of time to nurture the relationships there. I’ve never been too interested in DeviantArt because my feeling is that it is intended for artists (professionals, amateurs, wannabes) and not really hobbyists like me, that is, people that take their creations seriously enough to promote them and improve them through a sort of “peer review”. Which in turn makes me think about how serious I really am about getting feedback on my images.

      Thank you for your comment, it was really helpful! I think I’ll just try to post now on then some stuff on my blog for whatever is worth. In the meantime the new social network might come to replace them all. Let’s see…


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