I have, after a long period of nagging, convinced a friend to join up with Flickr. Why Flickr? There are plenty of alternatives. Photobucket for one. Although that, frankly is an awful service that I use only to host the occasional temporary image for my blogs. Zooomr once showed promise, but is now like a lame street dog, awaiting a vet to do the kind thing and put it out of its misery.
There’s also Google’s Picasa service, which has plenty of features but is hindered by two serious failings. Firstly, while it’s free to start with, the space you’re allowed is quite limited, and you have to buy extra space as your collection grows. It can become a more expensive option. Secondly, it, like most Google products, is pig ugly. Facebook is, I believe, the biggest photo sharing app now on the web, and while it is a great way to share photos with your friends, it’s also pig ugly, and limited. It also reproduces your photos with nasty colours.
There are two perfectly viable alternatives to Flickr though. SmugMug is about the most professional photo sharing service out there. It’s incredibly customisable, has domain mapping and plenty more. But it costs an arm and a leg, comparatively speaking, to access the cool features. It also doesn’t have much of a community, and because it’s geared toward the serious photographer, it’s a little more complicated to use.
Then there is Windows Live. Along with your Hotmail account (which was recently overhauled and now the best webmail product on the market in my opinion) you get a Live Profile, other goodies and a Photo Gallery with 25 gigs of free space. That’s an awful lot of free space. I couldn’t get it half full at the moment if I tried, and I have ten years worth of photos – nearly 8,000 images in all. If free is your thing, Windows Live is the one.
But I chose Flickr, and am happy to pay the annual $25 sub to get the unlimited space on offer and to have access to the most active and interesting community going. There are features I’d like to see that don’t appear to be forthcoming. Such as the ability to add a custom banner, blog style. But it does what it does well, and it is affordable.
I also have some tips for any new Flickrites, including my amigo. Firstly, I’d think carefully about whether or not to name images or to leave the image file name as it is. The former looks nicer, which is why I do it. But it takes a while to rename lots of images, and in hindsight, if I could go back to the beginning, I’d probably leave the original file name as it was. But I like consistency, so now I’m stuck with my chosen path.
It’s also hard to think of witty or non repetitive titles, so I end up naming them all sorts of silly things. And every now and again, I do get asked what exactly I meant by a particular title for a photo of a friend. They never seem convinced that really it means nothing at all.
I do recommend tagging images though. It makes them easier to find later, especially if you are seeking photos of a particular person. The more tags you add that are relevant, the more likely other people will be to find your images too. Which brings me on to my final point.
The license you choose. Personally I can’t help but think if you are using a public photo sharing site, it’s because you want your photos seen. And why not? Photos by their very definition are supposed to be seen. Flickr offers a variety of licenses, from All Rights Reserved down to a more friendly Creative Commons license which allows other people to do what they wish with your snaps. And plenty of options in between. I’ve written about this recently though, so I’ll let you read that post.