So I’ve been a user of Flickr since 2008, and I’ve found it highly competent in the service it provides; a place to share my photos with fellow enthusiasts. It’s very good at doing that. It has seen some changes over the last couple of years, mostly around look and feel, and the introduction of smartphone and tablets apps has been welcome, as they feel sturdy and are quite easy to use.
I belong to a number of groups on Flickr, and lets face it, there is pretty much a group for everything on there (one of my favourites has to be the Dogs on roofs group proving nothing is too obscure to form a group around).
But that’s where it starts to get a bit tricky in my opinion. Often you find a number of groups around the same subject, and you’re left wondering which would be the best to showcase your work in. Do you pick A, or B, or C, or do you join all of them and post your image to each?
Once you’ve noticed that you start to notice other things too; one of them being that Flickr seems to be used as a general dumping ground for so many photos, so many shots of the same thing, it can be difficult sometimes to find the truly decent photos amongst all of the chaff that’s being dumped there.
After a while you come to follow photographers who interest you, and thankfully don’t dump 20 photos of the same subject taken from slightly different angles on their photo stream.
This leads one to then ask the question: Is Flickr just a photograph storage facility for the masses?
And then I noticed 500px.com, and I started to have a nose around there. To be honest the photographs on there are quite impressive, and immediately it comes across as a place where serious photographers show their work, and not a general dumping ground for countless photos of the same thing.
The one thing that put me off originally was that to my mind a lot of the photos on here were very arty,some highly post processed, but to be fair, their view history and number of likes pointed clearly that these were photos that had captured people’s attention, and the people that posted them knew what they were doing.
It also offered a marketplace where you one can sell ones photos. This I found quite appealing.
So I signed up, and have paid to use their medium tier service. I’ve also been slowly drip-feeding some of my favourite photographs there.
And of the past six months I have come to notice some fundamental differences between not only 500px and Flickr, but between the different ways of consuming both services as well.
Let me explain what I mean by breaking it down.
the revamp of the desktop browser experience seems to be 70% done, and for the most part, this works well. But certain editing functions, such as ‘batch organise’ has you going back to the old tools for any batch processes, such as moving a number of photos into a number of groups, and adding a group of photos to a map.
This gives a disjointed experience and it’s not always obvious how to get to the old ‘organiser’ tools from the new interface. Whilst the dedicated Flickr smartphone and tablet apps are robust and intuitive to use, again the ability to batch add photos to groups or a given map location are missing.
Photo views: it seems as if to get a number of views of your photo you need to spam it to as many groups as possible. More groups equals more views. To this end it seems as if you’re posting your photo to groups that aren’t strictly relevant, or are very similar to other groups you’ve already posted to (see point on this above).
Likewise comments on photos; no-one seems to give constructive feedback on photos posted. It’s all positive/we love your work type of stuff, which in its own right is okay, but sometimes pointing out where someone could have done a better job goes a long way.
I feel Flickr doesn’t promote this kind of thing.
I can only assume I’m missing something really obvious here, but for me the experience between the desktop browser experience and the mobile apps is wildly different, leading to an experience akin to a magical mystery tour depending on where I am logging in from.
Using a desktop browser I can use my Twitter account to log into my 500px account. On a mobile device I cannot, and have to have a dedicated account to enable me to log in. And then despite logging into the desktop version using my Twitter account, I have to use my 500px password. Not too confusing…!
Being able to select my photographs for inclusion in the Marketplace is really easy, but any photos for such inclusion mustn’t have a watermark on them. This is all well and good but I watermark all my photos, so to include them in the Marketplace I need to upload a separate version without a watermark.
I just wish you only would have to do this if someone actually wanted to purchase a given photo, rather than do it beforehand. the mobile apps give me a view of my photo stream along with photos of people I follow.
The desktop version seems to have a couple of views, neither of which are consistent with the app view, and on the app I can’t seem to choose the same view as on a desktop browser. Below are couple of shots of my login experience as I write this today, one is desktop browser, the other is app. Spot any difference (besides layout)?
If I had the choice I’d like to build an online photo service that took all of the best bits from Flickr and 500px. I love the simplicity of Flickr, but I like the Marketplace option from 500px, and the overall quality of photos that people post there.
So for now I will continue to use both, and just use those ‘best bits’, in the hope that someday they will sort out their flaws. :)