Recently smugmug bought flickr from Verizon/Oath. I thought that would be a good thing, since flickr and smugmug are both dedicated to photos and photography. It may still be good for some, but given recent changes by smugmug and my own changing perspective on things I am pulling back, more.
At the end of 2017 a few things came together for me, and I took a drastic change in my use of social media and apps/websites. I quit Facebook and Instagram. I had been on Facebook for 10 year, and reluctantly joined around a high school reunion event – to connect to classmates and to participate in the reunion planning.
Facebook was fun for a while, but over time I kept finding a darker side where I was not enjoying it. I was sharing my own thoughts, and photos mostly. Others shared family photos, life events, and changes. Yet others used it as a platform to share personal and political beliefs. Some people’s posts were well thought out, others were more random, and a handful of FB friends had more extreme beliefs and a more extreme desire to be confrontational. I was really turned off by this, I was on the site to connect to people, not to get what seemed to dominate my feed. I unfriended people, unfollowed people, and used it less.
With the past of the elections, and the cambridge analytica scandal being revealed, the fact that social sites are designed to be addictive and engaging, even if the engagement is based on outrage and anger and conflict. The experience is not engineered to be a positive experience for its users, it is meant to sell advertising, at seemingly any cost, even if that cost is “internet” addiction and impacts to mental health.
For my own personal well being I quit them both. IG was more photo based and less political, but it had leaked in to my feed there too. Everyone is entitled to use the platforms as they see fit, and I no longer wanted to participate.
As part of what then was beginning to form a plan to digital-detox, I decided to not post on flickr.com for the year of 2018. This was a bigger thing for me personally to do. I had a longer history on flickr than on facebook. The userbase was different, fb was all people I knew (direct friends), and flickr was mostly people I didn’t know in real life (contacts), though I did know many people on flickr too.
My pause on flickr was not so much about flickr itself, instead it was part of the larger move back to real life, non-internet based interactions. The internet allows for easier connections, but they’re not as meaningful, they’re lower fidelity, they lack all the non-verbal communication that comes from in person interactions.
The negatives that existed for me on flickr were just a few I guess. There seemed to be an even more rampant gamification (instagram follower style) than had existed before. Before, “back in the day”, it was about gaming Explorer to gain exposure, and build a following with ones images. The newer gamification I’ve seen was in its worst form where users would follow another account and then wait to be followed back, and then (the dirty part) where the user would unfollow the unsuspecting person. The result is someone thought they’d made a friend and in fact they’d just been suckered in to following an account they’d of never followed had they now been tricked. This is an old trick on Instagram, there are services that will do it automatically for a few bucks, to help people gather followers and woohoo become “influencers”! But it’s all fake. So, there was some of that on flickr. The other thing was automation used to comment on images of contacts I assume, maybe others, to unnaturally have a presence on people’s photos, in explorer, etc. To me there was a muddying of IG and flickr tactics and I didn’t like that.
Another aspect of photography and social that I grew to dislike is the way folks would want to “get the image themselves” or see the “rare bird/owl themselves” and friends/contacts would be direct and ask for location details, often without a comment on the image itself. That’s the underbelly of amateur wildlife photography, with people trying to compete and get good images, see unique or harder to fund subjects, etc.
I’ve fallen in to this myself, and have tried my best to remain civil and “be an ethical birder” and not chase wildlife or use bait, etc. I’ve asked friends for locations, and driven hundreds of miles to find a snow owl. I’ve now just got a few snow owls posted and have preferred to enjoy the experience seeing the owls, photographing the owls, and rarely posted them – I’m much more likely to show off the owls to friends, in person via my phone, or possibly by emailing them, or by sharing them in print – often as gifts to friends and sometimes strangers.
So, with 2018 now nearly over, I learned of the smugmug change to free accounts – free accounts will be limited to 1,000 photos, and any accounts that are not paid/pro accounts will have their old images deleted early next year.
I was paid/pro flickr before, for years, then the site went all free, then they brought back paid/pro and I did that. I only realized a week ago that I’ve paid 50$ per year for the last 2 years. And I recalled that it was auto-renewing with an expired credit card number that I seemingly could not delete from the flickr site.
These changes, and the auto-renew thing just bugged the heck out of me. And not just for my own images. The two big things are the free account limits were updated to 1TB of free storage a while ago, so to now completely remove that and limit it to 1,000 images – that’s the purge.
The other thing that bugged me is how this will “break the internet”. Literally millions of images hosted on flickr have been blogged, embedded as content, linked to and otherwise “used” widely on the internet, while still hosted and served by flickr.com itself.
And not everyone can just go paid/pro. There are photographers who have died, and no one has access to their account, and they’re work will be removed from the internet.
Additionally, with where I am at for social media, and sharing photography – I will not be paying $50 per year forever to host my old images on flickr. I just don’t want to. It’s not worth it.
Flickr was worth it before, at $25/year, when I was actively using it, sharing images, connecting with others, and growing as a photographer. It was totally worth it. I learned a ton – I credit my growth from a person with a camera, to a photographer in large part on flickr and how it gave me a platform and a community to be a part of.
Last week I decided to do the purge myself, well ahead of the need to reduce my image count – my pro doesn’t expire for another bunch of months. I went through my stream of about 6,000+ images and deleted over 5,000 images, and now I’m under 1,000.
What remains are some of my best images.
Flickr “Explorer” used to be a motivation and something I enjoyed getting in to and now my “Scout” posters have many missing images in them. Not sure if this is accurate still, but scout says I have had 600+ images.
Links to each image in poster above (white images are dead links to flickr photos I have deleted…)
49. MD Osprey 2012, 50. Osprey Egg – mid-hatch, 51. The Snowy that once Caught A Fish This Big, 52. The Snowy that once Caught A Fish This Big, 53. Incoming Angel, 54. Great Egret, 55. Snowy Egret @ Fort Myers Beach, FL, 56. Puffy,
But I also deleted a lot of memories, thousands of comments, and I have broken my own blogs and shared images.
I’ve moved on.
Flickr is not permanent.
I’m not permanent.
I’d don’t really care.
It didn’t feel like the changes to flickr were done in a way that was true to the past of the site. I get that they need to make money from the site.
They’ve changed, I’ve changed. We’re breaking up. Lol. Sort of. I’ve left almost 1,000 images on flickr, and this will possibly serve as a way to keep a somewhat curated set of images on the site.
Some of the hardest images to delete were the ones of the various zoo animals. Many of them have died. But my flickr stream is not the archive for their life, and sadly hundreds if not thousands of those memories are no longer shared.
It is only partly about the money, $50 isn’t that much – I have 10’s thousands in gear, and the cost of a single relatively cheap lens could cover 20 years (ie $1,000). But I’ve moved on, flickr changed, and I don’t want to be forced to do anything.
What I have now is this new blog. I pay for this, and it is not permanent.
With the new year (2019) approaching I plan to share again, photos, drawings, and writing again.
Until next time.
There are images such as this one, that are very meaningful for me, no one else knows what this image represented but me. I just left one clue in the tags. There were so many moments captured and experiences remembered by the images I had shared on flickr. I could look at pretty much every image and know the what, the where, the who and all the rest of what was going on then in my life and with those I was close to.
That’s probably the saddest part for me, is to have purged those images, the history of comments and interactions with so many.
Thankfully I have the images still for myself (ie not deleted, they’re on my hdd).
But there is something lost.