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Thursday, 23 May 2013


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Re the flikr thing. It's free, right? If you want control, pay for a website.

A similar thing is happening in scientific publishing. The appearance of an online version of a paper is at the mercy of the browser, so the concept of journal style is losing its meaning.

I've been a Flickr user for almost ten years, and I've always said that Flickr isn't a photo site, it's a social media site based around photos.

I find the redesign attractive. Unfortunately, it seems to turn Flickr into a photography site, burying the social media side. I find the new Flickr much less interesting. I hope it doesn't kill the place.

I never used Flickr, but the free one-terabyte storage is a fairly significant development. This is not to trivialize any anger over the cosmetic changes, especially that exuding from pro account holders, but storage of digital data is labor-intensive, and to have an "offsite" location helps offset some of the concerns.

I scan film, resulting in relatively large files, and while hard drive storage has become cheap, it matters not if I backed up each of my photos to ten separate drives, I wouldn't trust any of these drives to be working a decade later. They might all work, but I wouldn't depend on it. Nice to have the physical negatives and prints, of course, but managing digital data for the long term can be daunting, and most online storage options have been too expensive for the space that I need.

It will be interesting to see if Flickr's storage offering influences other photography sites, as well as online backup services. As for privacy, I'm at the "I'll be flattered if anyone nabs my photos" stage, so as a hobbyists, not as large a concern.

If you want to view someone's Flickr photostream in the old format type "?details=1" after their URL, such as http://www.flickr.com/photos/igor29768/?details=1

That is also an incentive for people to host their own images and do their own web layout and design (even if they don't do the actual programming).

I have to admit, the old Flickr influenced my preference for some aspect ratios.

A lot of negative feed-back about the redesign, but photographs look gorgeous on that site now.

I hate the new look on flickr. It is too 'in your face' and presents the images as a complete jumble. The old look wasn't perfect and could have benefitted from improvement. But it presented images in a nice clear, uncluttered way.

I think Yahoo are only interested in money - they won't care what the users think. So they won't change it back. RIP flickr.

A total mess. I didn't much care for the old interface but the new one is way worse, cluttered, ugly (some would say fugly). To top it off I can't get into my account anymore. It insists that I change my email address to get in but the email address is correct. I can sign onto Yahoo but I can't get into anything that will allow me to reach a human. I just keep getting a computer generated dialog to change my password. Did that and got the same demand to change my email address. THEY WRECKED IT!

You read this?



Yet another reason why all my images reside on my website, not theirs, whoever they may be!



Let's hope this thread doesn't descend to the depths the Flickr discussion thread you referenced has!

Flickr has been atrophying and losing users for years due in large part to stagnation and neglect of the site by its developers, the rise of slicker, more innovative photographer-centric competitors such as 500px and Purephoto, and the increasing use of Facebook by casual photo sharers, who find it more convenient to use their existing social network than a dedicated photo sharing site.

I find the update to be a welcome change and prefer the new interface, though there is probably scope to allow for more customization and portfolio building options. There is always resistance to any interface change by long-time users, even those that provide benefits: witness the rage that accompanied the introduction of the ribbon interface in Office 2007, which required a period of adaptation but exposed a lot of features that were buried deep in menus before. I expect a lot of users will find the changes to be positive once they calm down and familiarize themselves with the new interface. Also, this is likely just the first step, and given the reaction I wouldn't be surprised if customization options are developed later on.

That being said, social networks tend not to recover once they start to lose momentum, so it will be interesting to see if these changes reverse Flickr's decline.

I don't use third party website design/hosting packages for exactly that reason. My website may be primitive and it may be ugly, but it looks exactly how I want it to and it won't change unless I make it change.

Presentation matters.

Big mistake for the flickr group.
I have not had any activity on any of my images since the changes to flickr.
Flickr will not revert to the previous layout despite the negative feedback. They have money and time invested in the new look.
Looking for other options for my images.
It is a sad day for flickr.

There are a myriad of ways (well not literally 10,000 but at least dozens and the word myriad is so underused...) to have photos have photos hosted on Flickr and control the layout by having the html and css files on your own server.
(it's my photo, but I'm not sure just how it got on Flickr, that's a whole other thing)

I used to have a website with the photos hosted on smugmug after getting asked to leave my main hosting service. Then it went viral in china and almost broke amazon who is Smugmug's host, so I moved the photos to google picasa. The site still looks like it's goofy self but only about .001% of the traffic hits my server and an occasional terabyte per day spike seems not to perturb Google.

For me, being able to host your photos somewhere is good, having no control of their appearance is not so good. On the other hand, some people really like the database api of Flickr and the ability to search by attributes.

Thank you Mike, you have very eloquently summed up exactly why I've continued to use my current photoblogging platform despite it having its fair share of flickr-esque woes.

An online acquaintance of mine remarked that they'd leave flickr and start posting elsewhere, but that the whole process would be even worse than moving banks. Perhaps the folk at Yahoo are counting on that sort of inertia to keep folk on the site. Besides, if burglars broke into my house and reframed all of my photographs, I'd get used to it after a while... probably.

The Flickr change happened Monday, right after I uploaded my photos of our Commencement ceremony. I may be the only photographer who is THRILLED with the new look. In the past I was somewhat embarrassed to point viewers at our Flickr site (which was chosen and set up by other people), but now it looks just fine. Here's the set:


Another argument in favor of organizing the work you "really" want to put the best light on into your own portfolio site like smugmug or zenfolio. I look at the flickr / picassa universe as a wall to throw thing up on once in a while. not much more than that really.. shrug..

No biggie to me, except that it seems slower to load. Perhaps that's from all the users finally checking out their flickr streams again after letting them lie dormant for a while. It needs a few tweaks and I suspect that will happen. To a large degree Flickr has been supplanted by Facebook for me because my local photo club is there, and I like sharing photos with people I know locally.

At first, I was quite upset too. But the new look start growing on me once I found all the features I care about - still a lot of muscle memory to retrain though.

I don't like the bandwidth requirements and performance on underpowered devices, be it my mobile phone or the my mom's old computer. The old design worked fine but the new one is currently unusable on these.

As for the 1TB of storage I don't care. Being an IT person I know how to handle my own backups, thank you very much. But I can see how this is great service for non-technical people, just recently had a neighbor lose all his baby photos when their laptop was stolen.

The new look is generally not to my taste--for one thing, I prefer to have my photos displayed with their titles and a little whitespace, not as a jumble of images rubbing up against each other.

The bigger issues are that (1) the rollout was a fiasco--many people using popular current browsers such as Firefox and IE9 saying that the site simply does not load, many pages load very very slowly, documentation of the new account types is sparse, many broken links to removed features; (2) there is no customization at all, even on the old site you could choose to have a selection of sets (albums) show on the first page of the photo stream, and choose what kinds of things were displayed on your home page; (3) some new features and design ideas are amateur-hour stuff: the "slideshow" does a clumsy, jerky pan-and-zoom around an outsized version of each photo, and the Sets page displays a chopped up square center crop of the "cover" image of each photo, despite that the old cover image was already cropped to a square (I have sets now represented by people with their heads and feet cut off, thank you so much, Yahoo).

The overall design and the rollout disaster, people will get over. Lack of customization has always been a Yahoo design goal. The slideshow and miserable auto-cropped set images will hopefully be killed with fire. But even allowing for all that, the whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Trovebox.com looks very interesting. I wish I could figure out their business model is supposed to work.

Michael Barkowski "I have to admit, the old Flickr influenced my preference for some aspect ratios."

I believe Gianni Galassi (http://giannigalassi.typepad.com/) said that he originally started shooting the square because it was the most efficient ratio for Flickr display.

hugh crawford: "There are a myriad of ways [...] to have photos have photos hosted on Flickr and control the layout by having the html and css files on your own server."

If you do that, bear in mind that the Flickr TOS says you must link back to the flickr page of each image.

I don't get it. The new layout is so much nicer. I actually want to take more photos now, to show off my images!

I can't get all that excited about it either way, and not knocking those that are- guess I just don't have that much invested in it as do others. That said, can't say I much like the changes myself; don't see the absolute necessity to make it look like every other place- guess it's something to do with making it more portable user friendly. Dunno...

The very least they could do though is to change the page displaying "Sets," so that they don't display random crops of your photos- that really does needs to change...

geez I don't even want to read that other thread, but it seems like Flickr just added a lot of new features and defaulted to not being butt ugly and Facebookish as it did in the past.

Don't like the look, just do something about it

Using Ken Bennett's set as an example
you could do this

I belive thre are a bunch of other skins and UI's around

Really the old Flickr was simply awful beyond words*, the new version I might consider using. In fact new Flickr gets out of your way better than smugmug did last time I looked a year or so ago.

I have not checked for Flickr, but what Hugh Crawford suggests above may violate the photo site's terms of service.

Flickr really bungled this one. Back in 2010 they did an update (much less extreme than this week's change) where they allowed users to toggle back and forth between the old and new interfaces for a few weeks. This allowed people to acclimate and also gave flickr time to clean up the bugs. Now, they just foist these updates on us without warning, and then seem unprepared when people are upset.

My takeaway from this, and also the phasing out of pro accounts, is that flickr either doesn't understand or simply doesn't care about its community of long term users. We'll never generate enough revenue or drive enough ad sales to satisfy the corporate overlords.

I think the new design is okay. I like the emphasis on putting photos front and center, but miss the integration of other data. Where as in the past, I could look at a photo page and see everything about a photograph on a single screen (image, tags, exif data, location, groups, etc), now I have to scroll down to find all of that and some of it is hidden in menus. I'm sure I'll get used to it over time but that doesn't necessarily mean it's an improvement

Joseph Holmes: "...I've always said that Flickr isn't a photo site, it's a social media site based around photos."

Exactly why I've chosen to ignore Flickr, Joe. Yes, some very good work is buried in the lookee-lookee rubble. But it's a social networking site with approximately ten trillion messages reading "Awesome capture!!!!", mostly posted anonymously. Not my cup.

"New Flickr" has made me realize how big a part of my life as an amateur photographer Flickr has been and how important the social aspect of it was and still is to me.

But now I don't enjoy the site anymore. Feels like an end of an era.

I like the new Flickr design. I think people need to take this change a bit calmly. There were quite a few things to dislike about the old design.

And for the record, can I add that Flickr Pro accounts were not free, they cost $25 a year.

What I find really interesting about the whole affair (beyond all the Peyton Place sturm und drang, of course), is that there seems to have been no design thinking applied to the update.

By design thinking I mean what Steve Jobs meant ("Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.")

flickr (Yahoo) seems to have put some thought into how the site looks, but seems to have done no research to figure out what kinds of people use the site, what they use it for, how they use it, and what features contribute to the excellence of their experience using it.

The new slideshow is a case in point: the slideshow has added a "Ken Burns effect" to each picture in addition to the dissolve transitions between photos. Completely aside from the fact that most peoples' bandwidth limits make this effect jerky and weird, no one at flickr seems to have considered that some photographers might feel very strongly about the framing of their photos, which the zoom-and-pan action of the Ken Burns effect interferes with. Street photographers' streams and collections are particularly badly affected by this problem. And there are many other failures to apply design thinking - or even to discover the users' preferences - in the new design.

Ben Syverson: It looks like a contact sheet

Yes! That's it! I couldn't put my finger on it before. Like a contact sheet, not like the outcome of a process of selection.

And thanks for the pointer to Horror Vacui.

I have one word (sort of) for people who loved the old Flickr and hate the new one: ipernity.com.

"Exactly why I've chosen to ignore Flickr, Joe. Yes, some very good work is buried in the lookee-lookee rubble. But it's a social networking site with approximately ten trillion messages reading "Awesome capture!!!!", mostly anonymously. Not my cup"

That's it exactly. Thanks Ken

Flickriver has been offering an alternate look for a long while.


I agree with most posters. Flickr went from one extreme (utilitarian only) to the other (good looking only). Wouldn't be nice to allow user's to choose looks.

Regarding the Flickr redesign: I like that it's made the site about pictures again. No more 'Better viewed large' links required. Sure as hell they do need some air around them, but overall it's a great stride forward I think.

Now, that article about $1bn worth of stolen content, that's interesting.

The $1bn isn’t for the content, it’s for the audience. Granted, the audience gathers around the content, but it’s not the content itself. It’s reblogging, the Tumblr UI and the community that’s formed around the particular veins of interest on the site.

I don’t know what the future is for pro photographers, but more than ever there is an audience for photography. An enormous, insatiable collective apetite.

Maybe John Perry Barlow (the Grateful Dead and EFF) was right in his assessment that for the longest period of history it was nigh impossible to earn a living from creative expression. Then, for a short while during the 20th century it was possible not only to live off the sale of expression, but even to get rich off of it (if you were good — and by good I mean able to achieve standing in one of the scarce, lucrative distribution channels). That that short while was an anomaly caused by rapid word-of-mouth and monopolised, scarce distribution.

The dilemma faced by the pro community is that people are more than willing to produce such creative expression for the sheer joy of it. The value in licensing was never the imagery itself, but the delivery mechanism. People paid for the magazine, paper, gallery entry because well, what other way was there to enjoy pictures?

The retrievable value it seems was not the content, but the container. The scarce resource, in economic terms, has never been creative expression (music, film or photograph) but distribution. With free distribution, pro photography finds itself in competition for a much scarcer resource: the attention of the an audience.

So expensive is attention now, so wide and saturated is distribution, that even great works pass by in the stream, transient unless puffed back into circulation by being re-shared, reblogged, repinned, linked or liked.

How many shares does it take before enough attention can be brought to bear upon a single person’s work that they can leverage the hunger for more? How hungry does the net need to be, how much attention do you need to have focussed on that next thing you’re going to do, to be able to promise, that you can earn a commission from it? Knowing it’s not a commission for the work itself (any client of merit will plunge the content into social media to reap the network effect), but for the attention it might garner.

Maybe we should ask Paul Octavious?

It’s change and sure as hell it hurts. But good or bad? Only thinking makes it so. There’s never been a better time to be an ammeter; or, I think, to be a lover of photography. Enforcing an artificial scarcity on distribution via licensing isn't going to fly.

Whether this "free"-dom of distribution will destroy the incentive and capacity to produce great work really depends on whether you think the profit motive significantly stimulated or funded great work in the first place. The big question for me is: who is editing now? Who arbitrates (and by doing so educates) on taste? Everyone and no-one. The salivating, time-starved mob hasn’t proven itself to be a great appreciator of nuance so far. (By the way Mike, this is why I love T.O.P. — it's the editing.)

But yes, it might just be that ‘pro’ as we knew it is not much longer for the world. (See also: Leica’s realisation that photojournalism is no-longer the domain of the professional, at least so far as economics is concerned http://www.forbes.com/sites/marcbabej/2013/05/08/how-leica-camera-is-reinventing-the-medium-format-market-on-its-own-terms/)

I hated the old site. I haven't seen the new one, but I can't imagine it's worse than the old one.

Ah, Flickr! It is still a revelation to me. I love posting pictures and getting comments, who doesn't; but it is the other photographers and interacting with them that I find so satisfying. You just don't get that from having a web site, no matter how cool looking it is.

Also, there are wonderful photographers on Flickr, from truly, brilliant artists to the nerdiest DIY technicians. The entire freakin' spectrum. The folks who created Flickr years ago had the right idea and it is still a good idea. To me, it is a fabulous community and a wonderful gift.

Ben Syverson certainly got my main objections right but, additionally there are the fact that neither titles nor captions show as someone scans through a photostream. The captions can be seen by hovering over a picture, but the captions only if the viewer clicks on a shot to "view" it; in the previous version, both showed (at least the beginning of the caption) on the photostream. There's also a more practical problem with the new version in that because the pages are very long, crammed with wall-to-wall images, and the individual images in the photostream are at higher initial resolution, pages take much, much longer to load. At times it can seem interminable, even with reasonable speed broadband connections.

I'd upvote, like or whatever Bob Blakley's comment, but I guess a "well put, sir" will have to do.

I don't have an opinion yet on the new interface and look, but the old interface had many shortcomings and the old design looked dated and boring.

People who want to control the presentation of their photos better ought to have their own websites. Having said that, I'm surprised that there seems to be no correlation in the quality of one's photos and the quality of one's website; some photo websites look terrible or are hard to use despite having quite ncie photos on them.

I don't know if anyone is still joining this conversation, but for awhile, my question was "What is the Flickr alternative?".
The sharing is good, the energy it generated is great, but the overall mediocrity (to me, at least)outweighed it all.
And let's not mention the administration. For some reason, I got locked out of my own account page, and when I appealed to them for help, I kept getting these mindless answers that were long on hipness, but short on help.

I started looking at Tumblr but now that Yahoo is swallowing them as well (it's curious that it happened this week, what with the change in Flickr), it will be interesting to see if they can fix something else that doesn't seem to be broken.

So my question remains "What is the alternative?.
Smugmug and Zenfolio seem great, but they also seem to be more about display, rather than sharing. If your pupose for taking photos is to convey your thoughts or feelings to somone else, then there is some validity to the comments. Real comments, not "nice capture").
What is the alternative?

@JImmy Reins - Shutterchance is not bad. Knowledgable community, minimal interface. (At least when I last looked - I haven't updated my own stuff for a while, but that's due to other commitments)

BTW, MIke - is it not possible to have a "subscribe to comment option" in typepad so you know if someone responds to an old comment? Most posts conversations die here after a couple of days but quite often isolated interesting comments or replies appear after some time has elapsed. Particularly if someone asks for a response to a comment it's nice to know, and not to appear that you're just ignoring it

[There has evidently been some mistake...you have apparently mistaken me for someone else! --Mike]

"What is the alternative?"

My search quickly narrowed down to 500px and Ipernity. The latter is more social in the style of Flickr (well, it's nearly a Flickr clone – old Flickr, of course), but suffers from quite a bit of idiosyncrasies. It displays individual photographs rather nicely, though.

500px is a much more modern feeling website and my brief experience with it seem to indicate it's competently made. The social aspect of Flickr was important to me, and still is, and Ipernity was where a lot of my Flickr buddies were going, so I went there.

Also, regarding all the "get your own (paid) website" comments: I've been a paying customer of Flickr since 2006 (not that I expect them to ask me about changes just because of that) and I use Squarespace (a paid service) for my personal photo website. My portfolio-like Squarespace site and Flickr serve different functions for me. One is not a replacement for the other.

I guess I have little to no opinion about this: I've been using flickr for a bunch of years but only:

1) So I have somewhere to host (for free! ish) web-sized images that I can refer to from elsewhere; and

2) So I can send friends and family a URL for a set of photos they can scan through to see what I've been up to lately.

As it happens (2) trumps (1) - if I don't have a paid (ie. "pro" - what a farce!) account, I can't have more than x (a minimal number) of "sets" (ie. a group of photos I can easily send one URL for).

So I've always paid, despite knowing there are many ways I could have used "free flickr" to accomplish the same thing.

But it's also that I hate to be the skunk at a picnic: even if I could achieve the same thing without paying I kind of like to pay (where appropriate) for services I use - despite being embarassed by the "pro" designation for an account which is merely paid for.

The terrabyte storage for free accounts, to me, is just "meh". Whatever. None of the changes really change the way I use flickr. Then again, I'm linked-out, I won't put my face on spacebook and I've spent much of my life trying (with varying success) not to be a twit. So I suspect the current age doesn't suit me.

MIke - the reason for this comment was a reply that I made to Jimmy Reins in the previous comment. However that reply appears to have been mislaid or lost in the ether

Flickr is indeed the primary mass-market social community built around photos. Smugmug and Zenfolio are better for display, but don't have as many people trolling them for interesting pictures. You might look at the old Photo.Net for a more advanced photo community.

And of course there's always Facebook, which is where a lot of the downmarket photo sharing actually occurs.

Here's a long but good essay about the Flickr changes: The New Flickr Sucks and Here’s Why from Infinite Hollywood.

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