About 8 years ago, when I was just getting into photography, Flickr was my first platform for sharing my work with the world. Back then that was the place to be if you were an aspiring photographer. It was an active community and I learned so much from seeing what others posted and getting feedback on my images. I made some good friends locally and abroad through Flickr.
Over time things changed and I found myself enjoying it less. In my early days I'd get meaningful comments and constructive criticism. I'd reciprocate in turn. The groups were active with fresh images and discussions. Slowly though, things changed. The interaction dwindled away until at best someone (or some 'bot) might click the "Fave" button. Groups became mostly dumping grounds where people would submit photos blindly without any interaction with the members. I lost interest and my own participation faded. In the last year I hardly posted at all.
I made a difficult decision today. It was time to renew my "Pro" membership. It's not a lot of money - only about $45 for 2 years since I was grandfathered in under their old pricing structure. That's unlimited data storage for whatever I want to upload. Why wouldn't I do that? Because apart from it being another place to store images, I just don't get any value from it. It's no longer a place where I care to spend my time. I have my personal web site and blog plus a gallery site on SmugMug. I have cloud and local backup solutions. I don't need Flickr.
The decision was also part of my changing attitude toward social media. I've backed way off from the online world lately. It has been a part of an overall gradual process of weeding out the things in my life that don't add true value. Quite some time back I made a sweep through my accounts and dropped things like Tumblr, 500px, and Instagram. Flickr remained because my subscription was paid up until now. I'm sure it sounds incredulous for a photographer to be so detached from the popular photo sharing sites. "OMG, you've got to be on Instagram!" "If nothing else, Flickr is just one more place to post your work for people to see."
These photo sharing sites that are all the rage just aren't doing anything for me though. I don't enjoy the streams of unrelated photos. I don't appreciate or have a need to participate in the digital token attaboy "like" or "fave" system. It doesn't mean anything. Having a high number of followers doesn't mean large numbers of people are actually looking at your work. News flash: It's a big code driven game. I'm choosing to not play the game. My personal site doesn't see near the supposed attention I've gotten on Flickr. What I get, although not often, is personal interaction. Some people do leave meaningful comments on my blog. Some people take the time to write to me through my comment form. I'll take that over the "likes" and "faves".
My time will be devoted to my personal site and blog. As a somewhat creative venture, this is more fulfilling to me than posting to a social media outlet where the aesthetics are determined by corporate entities. As my work has evolved over the years, I've come to favor presenting my images in groups that document an event or collectively tell a story. Posting single images into a feed doesn't suit me. Swiping through endless feeds of photos is not how I like to consume photography. I'm happier seeking out photographers who put as much creative effort into their personal sites as they do their photography. I'd rather read a good well written long form blog than view a stream of small images littered with hash tags and "likes".
Flickr had a thing called Explore that used some mystical algorithm to determine the most interesting images in the collective on a given day. As a tribute to my 8 years on Flickr, below are a few of the photos that were picked by Explore. As always, click for big images. These don't necessarily represent my best work at the time. They just happened to hit a threshold triggered by views, faves, or comments. The roll of the dice in that game landed in their favor for whatever that is worth (not much!) I also pulled all my photos over from Flickr into an archive on my SmugMug site. It is interesting to see my progression in photography from my earliest days. I'm still learning and evolving - it never stops. My archive can be found here.