Flickr Rules as Photo-Sharing Community

    by Mark Glaser
    August 7, 2006

    i-4298723c83f0cd772654af9c48a14532-Flickr flower.jpg
    With the rise of cameraphones and cheap digital cameras, we as a society are taking more photos than ever before. But what do we do with all these snapshots? There have been websites devoted to personal photo pages for years, but which ones make photo-sharing and organizing easy?

    Most of you voted for Flickr, the site now owned by Yahoo, that says it’s focused on two main goals: “We want to help people make their photos available to the people who matter to them,” and “we want to enable new ways of organizing photos.” Indeed, Flickr has the most powerful community features, with user profiles, comments on photos and virtual groups for like-minded shooters.

    Before we get to your great endorsements for Flickr, here’s the final unscientific tally of your votes for photo sites online (keep in mind people can vote for multiple services):


    Flickr 5
    Snapfish 2
    Pictub 1
    Vizrea 1
    Tabblo 1
    Yahoo Photos 1
    Kodak Gallery -2 (Two negative comments)

    Just how powerful is the Flickr user community? Chris Pultz, a photographer in Lincoln, Neb., said that Flickr changed his life and helped create a new business for him at Dirt Road Photography.

    “I’m a huge Flickr addict because in many ways it changed my life,” Plutz wrote. “When I got my free account and started posting my photos there, I was energetic, but very raw. Seeing other’s works…asking questions, commenting on others photos and being part of a supportive community lifted my confidence to a point that I felt I could start my own weekend/evening photography business. I can’t say that about any other website, that’s for sure.”


    Blogger DrumsnWhistles likes the community aspects of Flickr and how she has connected with people around the globe through the site.

    “[Flickr is] the quintessential community site,” DrumsnWhistles wrote. “The combination of groups, clusters, tags and their ‘secret sauce’ (the Interestingness formula) inspires and brings people together worldwide. I have contacts from all over the world, I don’t speak their language and they don’t speak mine — yet our images speak the words we don’t have.”

    The more established photo-sharing sites such as Kodak Gallery and Snapfish don’t have the strong community features that Flickr does, and there’s no way to search through strangers’ photos. These services are focused more on sharing photos with a private group and helping you easily order prints online. In this niche, folks preferred Snapfish over Kodak Gallery because of ease of use and interface.

    “I have been using Snapfish for a little more than a year,” wrote Lou Alexander. “I tried the Kodak site and I found it a bit clunky. Snapfish was easier to use and I like doing business with a site owned by HP [Hewlett-Packard]. Some of the people I have shared with have resisted registering and I had to coach a couple of others through the steps required to register…I have ordered prints from Snapfish a couple of times and find them to be of very high quality. Speed of delivery has not been a problem.”

    When sites force your friends and family to register with the site just to see your photos one time, that’s a strike against them. Those that allow easy sharing — without forced registration — tend to win over more people in an inviting way.

    I’ve used Flickr and Kodak Gallery the most in the past, but I decided to try out some of your suggested services for a simple upload project I had. I enjoyed using Flickr and Snapfish for their ease of use. The tools on Snapfish and Kodak Gallery for retouching and re-orienting portrait shots are pretty similar and I’ve always been impressed with Kodak’s print quality. However, I got started with Snapfish pretty fast and was impressed with the service. I ordered some prints and will report back on the quality.

    I tried out Pictub, and it looked like an easy way to upload photos from my cameraphone. The design of the site was a bit clunky and uploading multiple photos was time-consuming. Vizrea looked like it had potential for letting me see photos on my PC and my mobile phone, but it doesn’t work with my particular phone.

    Are there services we left out that should be mentioned here? Share your thoughts on these or other photo-sharing services in the comments below.

    [Flower photo from Flickr user fab4chiky.]

    Tagged: flickr photography social networking

    4 responses to “Flickr Rules as Photo-Sharing Community”

    1. I am biased (since I work at Tabblo) but Tabblo is trying to be more than just photo-sharing. We’re also trying to do page-composition and story-telling which means that we will not be the fastest place to just dump a bunch of pictures you want to share (actually, I think Picassa Web from Google is the best for that). But if you care about esthetics, privacy, and really neat Web 2.0 User-experiences, then taking the Tabblo plunge might be worth your time.

    2. Flickr is likely my favorite web site, and one of my favorite online activities (Flickring?). It’s one of my primary creative outlets, and I could spend hours exploring all the amazing work from people around the world. Especially the freaky people who take extreme closeups of bugs and slimy things.

      What sets it apart, aside from it’s ease-of-use, is the social aspect. It’s how I keep up with my friends. Photographs have become my personal blog.

    3. With full disclaimer that I work there, I use Webshots as my primary photo sharing site. Webshots provides members with community tools to share photos on a personal level with friends and family, around communities of interest, and with the world through an open media sharing platform. Post to blog functionality, the ability to comment on photos, and personal member homepages are all examples of ways to communicate and share.

      With over 19 million users and close to 400 million publicly available photos, there is a community for everyone.

    4. New Median says:

      Flickr. I agree with Chuck that the community aspect as well as the usuability really set it apart. It’s the easiest to tag as well, and is great to use with any blogger blog.

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