As you probably know Flickr is a site for sharing your photos with other people and therefore I think it is fair to say that the reason people put their photos on Flickr is in the hope that other people will appreciate your work. People can’t appreciate your work unless they see it so one of the main things you need to do is publicise your photostream as best you can. If you publicise your photos well then more people will see them and, if they are any good, more people will appreciate them by commenting or marking them as favourites. I’m sure that one of the main goals of Flickr users is to get their photos onto the ‘Explore’ page, this is a list of the 500 ‘most interesting’ photos of each day according to Flickr’s secret algorithm. How do you get a photo on Explore? Nobody expect some of Flickr’s employees know exactly but today, after two years, I finally got one of my shots into Explore. OK, I’ve only got one photo on there so far so I am hardly an expert but here’s my thoughts on why and how:
- Firstly, but not necessarily, take a bloody good quality photo that other people will want to look at. That seems obvious doesn’t it but if you take a look through Explore and you will see some photos are really rather dull and make you wonder why they made the list. Who knows why but in general the better the photo the better your chances – it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work that out.
- To get people to look, comment, add notes, or mark your photo as a favourite you have to get them to view it first, you need to make your photo stand out from the crowd. Apart from the quality of the shot itself one thing I have started doing recently is add a black border around the photo so that the image is a black square with your image centred in it, I do this using Photoshop. This frames your image, makes it look more professional and makes it stand out. I was very surprised at how many people suddenly started viewing my uploads when I added this border but it does seem to make a big difference.
- Add tags to your photo which are relevant. These help people find your photo when they use searching old Flickr.
- Add your photo to relevant groups but don’t add it to too many groups, the general consensus of opinion is that you shouldn’t add it to more than five or six groups. There are many groups on Flickr that are for giving awards, for example whenever you add a photo to one of these groups you are supposed to comment and add the group’s logo to up to five other photos. You can get a lot of views and comments this way but Flickr’s interestingness algorithm does not count views and comments from such groups. Don’t bother.
- Build up your list of contacts, more specifically the more people who call you a contact the more people will see your photo. Spend time searching for other photographers whose work you like, comment and favourite their photos, add them as a contact if you wish, hopefully they will view your photostream and add you as a contact in return.
- Many people may view your photo but comments count for far more than views, similarly notes and favourites count for far more than comments.
- A significant factor in whether you make it onto Explore or not is who comments or favourites your photos. If someone who regularly makes Explore themselves makes a comment on your shot then that counts for far more than anyone else commenting.
- Give your photo the full 24 hours to build up comments and favourites. Flickr bases its time calculations on the US Pacific Time which is 8 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. In other words if you upload your photos in Britain at 11pm as I used to do you only gave your photo 9 hours, I now upload my photos soon after 8am GMT which gives me the full 24 hours.
I’m sure there are other factors too but hopefully this helps clear the murky waters of Explore a little bit. My next milestone will be to get a photo onto Explore’s Front Page. Here’s hoping!