If you read this blog, or meet me in person, you probably know me as Flickr fan. Yes, among services owned by Yahoo!, Flickr is one of my favorite. I have friends who love to use Flickr and also bring some people to Flickr. So far, they’re enjoying it. Well, at least I heard some positive feedbacks from them. Some friends also bought/renewed their Flickr Pro account and they asked me to buy them Flickr gifts.
But, it’s 2011 now. Many photography-related services flourish. To refresh your memories, let’s take a look at 500px, Instagram, or picplz for example. And, I’m sure more to come to the game.
I asked myself recently: How do I use Flickr? Is it as photo sharing, or simply as a photo storage service? You can find out a bit about how I use Flickr by watching a short presentation during Yahoo! Community Town Hall few months ago. With many other options to share photos these days (again, mind the word “share”) here, I feel that Flickr is more photo storage for me. I do actively share and upload photos to Flickr. But, it’s not only about having photos uploaded there. It’s also about social web interaction.
The magic feature: Share to Flickr
Look at some applications/services that put photos as its primary contents. Many of them has “Share to Flickr” feature. Photos are shared to Flickr directly. Easily. But, where the discussion takes place? Is it on Flickr? May be not.
The way people enjoy photos
A simple question: how do you enjoy Flickr photos? There are some ways: visiting the website from the desktop, from Flickr mobile version, or using mobile applications. Even I have Flickr for iPhone, I rarely enjoying the photostream. I feel that it’s not something I’m enjoying. Try to fire up your Flickr for iPhone apps, and experience yourself. If you have your photos delivered to many services e.g. Instagram, Twitpic, and Flickr, I am sure Flickr is not the first site you (or your friends) will visit. Except you make your photos exclusively uploaded to Flickr and share the links to social networks.
It does not seem that simple though. For example: If I share a photo from Flickr to Twitter, Twitter will display the image right away. Some Twitter applications are smart enough to display the shared links as photo thumbnails and photos with bigger dimension. Will they visit Flickr — and exploring my photostream? Probably. But, I think most of them won’t.
I might sound selfish here by expecting other people to explore my photos. But, you know what I’m talking about here, right?
Shoot, share, and interact
People take photos using many devices, from simple to advanced tools. Using mobile phone or expensive DSLR cameras with fancy lenses. And, to upload the photos, there are some ways too: send directly from mobile devices, by email, or using another social network services and put Flickr as the last destination. Some people still love doing the traditional way: transfer the photo from memory card to laptop/computer, and upload them manually. I still do this sometime.
Again, what happen when the photos are stored to Flickr? Is it easy to interact with the photos? Of course, it’s easy. But, is it super easy? People might to go to Flickr for some reasons: they want to browse their photos or their friends’, or because some photos are made exclusively available at Flickr. Look at White House for example, or NASA. Or, because special event photos are displayed there at Flickr. People will go there. I will go there. But, for personal collection, or just simply “because I don’t want to loose these” photos, Flickr might be a great place to store them. When I need it, I will go there.
This is challenging. It might be a big challenge for Flickr and many other services out there. Innovations and strategies are designed to answer this kind of need. Some services come with an idea and unique approaches. So does Flickr, I think.
I might be wrong here, but from a personal perspective — as a Flickr user — I feel like using Flickr as photo storage service now. Something Flickr does not expect.