Pics in the Cloud: Focus on Flickr


På svenska här!

Recently, I read a brief Swedish newspaper article about photo communities on the web. The journalist had interviewed a Flickr  user and pro photographer, Håkan Dahlström, and his comments inspired me to write a bit about my own experiences using Flickr. As to photography, however, I’m only a happy amateur and most of my shots are of the standard vacation variety!

Storage and sharing of digital material – especially photos – through the Internet is definitely not a new phenomenon but these days web 2.0 services in the cloud are getting extremely popular. As to photo communities and photo storage, Flickr is pretty much the granddaddy of them all and still going strong. Of course, there are innumerable photo communities around but still only two real heavy weights: Flickr from Yahoo! and Picasa from Google.

My main motivation for getting started with Flickr was the same as Håkan’s – to have a back-up of my photos, available to me anywhere through the Internet. After a hard drive crash, however, Flickr soon became my main photo storage. Emptying the SD-card in my camera nowadays pretty much equals uploading the photos to Flickr. Below, I have sorted out the good and not-so-good parts of my personal Flickr experience.

The good

  • The Flickr ‘Pro’ offering must be the best deal on the web – USD 25/year gives you unlimited storage, uploads and bandwidth! Of course, there are quite generous free accounts available but if you use your digicam reasonably often, then go ‘Pro’
  • Uploading – and downloading – works fine and I have very rarely had any trouble at all. There are also Flickr tools available for batch uploads; while a bunch of your photos are uploading, you can use the computer for other tasks.
  • There are many ways to share your material, even with others who don’t have Flickr accounts. You can also mail a friend a direct link to a slide show or embed the link on your web site. Want to keep some of your photos private, or share them just with certain friends? No problem at all.
  • It is easy to get in touch with other photographers, worldwide if you like, and discuss photos and photography. A great way to learn more together with others!
  • You can do some basic photo editing directly in the browser, from your Flickr account, thanks to Flickr partnership with Picnik. No, it’s not Photoshop, but all the quick fixes work out just fine.
  • This might be off-topic for a photographer but it is possible to upload video clips as well: maximum size 500Mb each clip for ‘Pro’ users, 150Mb for those who prefer a free ride.

The bad

  • If you are a pro photographer, you probably want to shoot in RAW format. In that case, you are out of luck – Flickr does not support the (huge) RAW files at all.
  • Using Flickr as main storage means that you most certainly, every now and then, also want to download a number of your pics in one sweep. A bummer – there is no native way within Flickr to accomplish batch downloads. However, there are third party tools like FlckrDown that should do the job for you.
  • Sooner or later, the chances are you’ll end up having multiple copies of some of the photos on your Flickr account. This isn’t necessarily a big problem, depending on how you organize your photos and especially providing you have a Pro account, but it’s irritating nevertheless. To get rid of the unnecessary copies is not a very easy job, either.

The ugly?

  • The one and only really ugly thing about Flickr – to me – is the user interface. It is easy enough to get started with Flickr and there are amazing possibilities to organize and share the photos but the trick is finding the way – and remembering it! Sure, if you use Flickr daily, you’ll soon find the work flow logical enough. However, if you’re not a very frequent user it can be a pain trying to remember how to accomplish a certain task. Ease of use is, unfortunately, not one of the strong points of Flickr and Picasa is way ahead in this respect.


Flickr is a major Yahoo! service that will probably be around tomorrow as well. If they’d decide to pull the plug, it’s unlikely that the users wouldn’t get a chance to salvage their photos in advance – but I’d definitely recommend a complete backup elsewhere, anyway. Too bad about that missing batch download..!

The community features and sharing tools are excellent, topped only by the superb ‘Pro’ deal. All in all, if you’re serious – or even half serious – about digital photography, Flickr is the way to go. You just have to cope with that ugly part!

About niiloa

Language teacher, EdTech coach, GSuite superadmin, YouTuber, podcaster, advocate for international school collaboration
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