Last week I mentioned that I was going to post something about why I am going to be using this blog much more than I have done in the past. Put simply it is just that I am getting bored of Flickr and feel that blogging will be much more rewarding.
I have been using Flickr since 2008 (see https://www.flickr.com/photos/richard_k/ if you are interested) and will continue using it to some extent but I am finding it a bit boring and am tired of chasing views, votes, faves, comments etc. in the hope that the shot will get Explored – the holy grail of Flickr. Everybody likes recognition of course but I found that more and more of my time on Flickr was spent optimising my chances of getting a shot into Explore. Of course the biggest factor is to have a decent photo in the first place though you wouldn’t necessarily think so looking down the daily list of photos which have been Explored. I know that there is much more to Flickr than Explore and I do read and contribute to quite a few group discussions but the reason everybody uploads photos to Flickr is for other people to see them and the best way to get that to happen is to get on Explore. Getting a shot onto Explore is one of those mystical things similar to getting your website to the top of Google – nobody knows (except maybe a few Flickr employees) exactly how the algorithm works but there are loads of tips and tricks out there such as not adding your shot to too many groups, uploading at a certain time of day, getting votes and comments from people who are regularly Explored themselves, etc. The problem is that this all takes time and effort – time and effort which could be better spent elsewhere e.g. actually taking photographs.
I had long ago given up adding my shots to “award groups” where you vote for other peoples shots in the hope that other people will vote for you. Even Flickr penalises comments from such groups so that all those “comments” and views do not count towards getting on Explore. I regularly get people following me who obviously haven’t looked through my photostream and so are just following me in the hope that I follow them in return. What’s the point? Worse still are the people who make a generic comment on a photo and at the end of their comment add “view my photostream” and provide a link. “Look at me! Look at me!” they shout but their photos are invariably crap.
A while ago Flickr changed their site so that the front page shows a montage of the most recent uploads of the people you follow. While I quite like the look of this it was a controversial change in the discussion groups mostly because every photo loaded into your browser on the front page is deemed by Flickr to have been viewed and so gets reflected in that day’s statistics. The same applies to photos which get Explored – as you scroll down the page you are racking up views for people without even noticing. So suddenly the number of daily views shot up even though most “views” will have just been a glance as you scrolled down the page, whereas previously a view was correctly deemed to be when someone actually clicked on your photo. Again this is just another method (a systematic one this time by Flickr) of massaging people’s egos by saying “Hey, loads of people have looked at your photo today. Aren’t you great!”.
As an example here is a shot of mine which did actually make it onto Explore, now I don’t think this shot is anything special but Flickr deemed it to be “interesting” so into Explore it went. Previous shots which had made Explore maybe got a few hundred views but because of Flickr’s changes in one day this shot got 16,000 views! I don’t believe for one minute that so many thousands of people actually looked and appreciated (or not as the case may be) this shot so statistics on Flickr these days need to be taken with a pinch of salt rendering them largely meaningless.
One final bugbear about Flickr – for a months and months now when you click to add a photo to the map a message pops up saying “We’re hard at work redesigning our brand new photo experience. For now, you can Edit Location in Organizr” and it then takes you away from your photo and off to another section of the site where you can actually drag photos onto the map. Does Yahoo (which owns Flickr) understand the meaning of the phrase “hard at work” or the term “brand new”? I think not. As part of my day job I am responsible for a team of software developers and I know that if one single person was “hard at work” on this feature they could get it done in a day. Yahoo just can’t be bothered.
So when it came to renewing my Flickr “Pro” account I have decided to let it lapse – Yahoo, you aren’t getting any more of my money. I will put up with a few adverts and limited statistics since the statistics are rubbish anyway and I will still upload photos but I have better things to do than spend time actively promoting them, they should hopefully speak for themselves. Right, Flickr rant over.
Next up comes 500px. Because of my decreasing interest in Flickr I registered an account with 500px (https://500px.com/Richard_Knaggs) to see how the sites compare and to see if I wanted to switch allegiance. There are two things which immediately strike me about 500px – firstly that the website looks and feels a lot better than Flickr (in fact Flickr’s recent overhaul has made it much more like 500px), secondly that the standard of photography seems to be a lot higher.
So why is it that the photos on 500px in general seem to be of a higher standard? My guess is that thousands of Flickr users feel the same way I do and decided to go somewhere else. These users will most likely be the ones whose photos get lost on Flickr in the strong tide of vote chasing and the weak algorithm of Explore – these people are likely to be the better photographers who want their photos to be seen amongst the photos of other decent photographers.
So why won’t I be putting all my efforts into 500px? Firstly, I don’t feel that the majority of my shots are of a high enough standard, some are and I will post them to 500px simply out of interest and to see how 500px develops. The second reason is because of how I suspect 500px will actually develop – as Flickr leaks more and more users to 500px the quality of shots on 500px will go down and the time spent vote chasing to get your photos noticed will go up. In other words the problems that afflict Flickr will start afflicting 500px and everyone will be back where they started.
So that brings me back to WordPress and to this blog. What this will give me a chance to do is upload a series of photos and describe where and why I took them, it will allow me to comment on photography related issues that have nothing to do with my own shots (as the subtitle of this blog says – photographic ramblings and rants), and I am sure it will provide me with a more rewarding experience than Flickr or 500px.
I have no idea how regularly I will post, that depends on how much I get out and about with my camera and how often I see things that I want to comment on but I will post as often as I can as long as I believe the post will be of interest to others.
I’m not asking for your votes or asking you to favourite or like a post. If you want to comment then great, if not then no problem. If you want to subscribe then I will be really pleased. I will just be happy if some people read it every now and again.
Thanks for looking.