So what is Flickr?

At its most basic level, Flickr is a photo hosting service. Photo hosting services are sites on the web where you can upload your own photos, either free or for a small charge. These photos can then be shared with other users of the internet without the need for your own website space. You can read this Wikipedia article if you want to find out more about the concept of photo sharing.

Flickr is not the only photo hosting service, there are plenty of others including Photobucket, Kodak, Fotoblog and Zoomr. I have used a couple of other photohosting services in the past but then switched completely to Flickr because it was so much better. I haven’t used every single photo hosting site so I don’t know how all the others compare. That said, I do think that Flickr has a lot of features that make it ideal for artists and we’ll get to these shortly.

Why do I need a photo hosting service?

Unless you are already in a position to put up a dedicated website where you can host your own photos then in order to make a simple visual portfolio online, you’ll need somewhere to host images.

Even if you do have a dedicated website on your own domain name, you’ll probably still need a photo hosting site. I find I use Flickr just as much now as I did before this site launched.

Later in this series, I’m also going to be strongly encouraging artists to blog and if you’re an artist blogger then being able to quickly and easily share your photos is vital: nothing is more dull than a visual blog with no visuals – I know, I’ve done it!

However, right now we’re going to concentrate on how to use Flickr to make a simple online visual portfolio.

The Advantages of Flickr

It’s probably obvious by now that I’m a fan of Flickr. There are lots of reasons for this:

Flickr Is Easy To Use

If you have a computer, an internet connection and a way to get your images onto your computer then you can use Flickr – it really is that simple. Even as a beginner you should be able to upload images, label them, sort them into galleries, tag them and very quickly end up with a presentable display of your art.

Flickr looks good

This is a personal opinion and you might disagree but I think that Flickr has a clean, pleasant interface that looks reasonably professional. In addition, unlike somewhere like Facebook, you can also do a certain amount of restructuring: it’ll never be as adaptive and individual as a personal website but you can have a decent amount of control over how your images are displayed.

Flickr is community based

This is hugely important because in effect, Flickr already contains a massive captive audience. What’s more, it’s a captive audience who are unusually sympathetic to visual culture and already used to looking at each other’s images and giving feedback. Naturally a lot depends on how you approach people but I’ve honestly found the majority of people on Flickr to be very approachable and sympathetic towards artists. You can never overestimate the importance of an interested captive audience, it’s like gold dust to any artist and remarkably hard to find. That audience already exists on Flickr; even if you already have your own website, do you really want to ignore that audience?

Flickr Makes Networking Easy

This is related to the community based aspect of Flickr. There are lots of tools on Flickr that break the massive user base down into smaller, move navigable chunks. I’ll be talking about these tools in detail in a later post.

Flickr Is Cheap

Flickr is either free with ads and limitations or $25 a year for a more extensive ad-free service. As a way of making a simple yet presentable visual portfolio that already comes with an in-built sympathetic audience, this is a complete bargain!

Of course, Flickr isn’t perfect, many Flickr users have been unhappy about some of the changes which have occurred since Yahoo bought the site in 2005. In particular it may not be the best choice if you make art which is very sexually explicit or graphically violent because Flickr does have restrictions on adult content. In addition, you can’t actively use Flickr for selling. However, there are lots of artists on Flickr and I’ve not heard of people being kicked off for promoting their art on there. While it would be wise to avoid things like having prices on your images, I’m pretty sure that you could link to a selling site like Etsy in your profile without any trouble since I’ve seen plenty of people doing just that. This article from Wikipedia and the Flickr guidelines give more background detail and should give you a better idea if Flickr is a place you’d feel comfortable.

The next article in this series will concentrate on the nuts and bolts of setting up an account on Flickr and some handy tips for making the most of it.

Get more help
If you’d like more information about building your online presence, check out the free resources section.

I am also available for online consulting if you need one-on-one help.


I am an artist & purveyor of obsessive projects based in Hebden Bridge, England. My work involves the accretion of large numbers of small objects - pins in fabric, knots in string or hundreds of envelopes - to make sculptures that deal with fragility, loss, repetition, obsession and time.

17 thoughts on “Why Flickr?

  1. Hi Kirsty, found your site via my site’s Flickr feed! We feed public photos tagged ‘holiday’ into the footer of our blog.

    You tagged some of your with the word ‘holiday’.

    Flickr is neat isn’t it?

    [Reply]

  2. Hi Kirsty, found your site via my site’s Flickr feed! We feed public photos tagged ‘holiday’ into the footer of our blog.

    You tagged some of your with the word ‘holiday’.

    Flickr is neat isn’t it?

    [Reply]

  3. Hi Garrison, well that’s an unusual way to find me!

    As you can see from my current series about using Flickr, I’m a big fan of the site. Your site looks very intriguing, I like the sound of the Eco-Shack.

    [Reply]

  4. Hi Garrison, well that’s an unusual way to find me!

    As you can see from my current series about using Flickr, I’m a big fan of the site. Your site looks very intriguing, I like the sound of the Eco-Shack.

    [Reply]

  5. Unusual yes, but that’s the beauty of Flickr. For some strange reason I was drawn to the taxidermy photos and was intrigued as to what they had to do with a holiday – but now I know.

    We’re in the process of redesigning HP to incorporate user interaction and also to promote the wonders of Flickr etc to the travel industry.

    I may refer them to your in-depth series on Flickr as a resource.

    [Reply]

  6. Unusual yes, but that’s the beauty of Flickr. For some strange reason I was drawn to the taxidermy photos and was intrigued as to what they had to do with a holiday – but now I know.

    We’re in the process of redesigning HP to incorporate user interaction and also to promote the wonders of Flickr etc to the travel industry.

    I may refer them to your in-depth series on Flickr as a resource.

    [Reply]

  7. I agree, the serendipitous nature of Flickr is one of its greatest attractions – every time I visit I’m ambushed with beautiful surprises.

    Please do pass on my articles to anyone who would find them useful: although they’re written with artists in mind, I hope that other people might find them relevant.

    [Reply]

  8. I agree, the serendipitous nature of Flickr is one of its greatest attractions – every time I visit I’m ambushed with beautiful surprises.

    Please do pass on my articles to anyone who would find them useful: although they’re written with artists in mind, I hope that other people might find them relevant.

    [Reply]

  9. Hi Kristy, Just discovered your blog and see that it is meant for artists. I enjoyed your blog. I just started my blog this week. I am also an artist and would also like to get contact with other artists and I really don’t know how to connect. Got a minute to give me some suggestions? I started with Eblog and then joined Technorati. Title, Maxine Price, Painting Development.
    Thanks,
    Max

    [Reply]

  10. Hi Kristy, Just discovered your blog and see that it is meant for artists. I enjoyed your blog. I just started my blog this week. I am also an artist and would also like to get contact with other artists and I really don’t know how to connect. Got a minute to give me some suggestions? I started with Eblog and then joined Technorati. Title, Maxine Price, Painting Development.
    Thanks,
    Max

    [Reply]

  11. I was interested to wander by and find this post.

    As an onlooker, I really do not like flickr. It is so slow…….

    Reading this post, trying to understand why it is good…. The built-in community, ok, I get that.

    Is it the case that some blog hosts do not hold pictures? So you must put the pics somewhere else and then link to them?

    I’ve only ever used blogger, and it holds my pics itself, so I don’t need to put them somewhere else first.

    It’s clear to me that lots of people just love flickr, but I have never understood why…..

    [Reply]

  12. I was interested to wander by and find this post.

    As an onlooker, I really do not like flickr. It is so slow…….

    Reading this post, trying to understand why it is good…. The built-in community, ok, I get that.

    Is it the case that some blog hosts do not hold pictures? So you must put the pics somewhere else and then link to them?

    I’ve only ever used blogger, and it holds my pics itself, so I don’t need to put them somewhere else first.

    It’s clear to me that lots of people just love flickr, but I have never understood why…..

    [Reply]

  13. Hi Vicki,
    I started using Flickr when I was doing most of my blogging over on Livejournal and needed somewhere to host images because at the time Livejournal couldn’t do that (it can now but it’s photo hosting service sucks). I tried one or two other hosting sites before I found Flickr but found them slow, clunky and unintuitive in comparison.

    I certainly could host all my images on this site – the ones in my gallery are hosted here – but I’ve stuck with Flickr simply because I like it. I like having groups of my photos on Flickr, where they can be seen in a different context and by a different audience and I also like the community aspects of Flickr. Plus, as I’ve explained in later articles in this series, I get a lot of visitors to this site from Flickr, so it’s an excellent form of promotion for me.

    But each to their own, you know – if you’ve tried Flickr and just don’t get it, that’s fine, everyone likes different online spaces.

    I do know what you mean about the slowness factor – when I first started there about a year ago it was quite slow at times – but it seems to have speeded up a lot lately, I think they’re working on it.

    Kirsty

    [Reply]

  14. Hi Vicki,
    I started using Flickr when I was doing most of my blogging over on Livejournal and needed somewhere to host images because at the time Livejournal couldn’t do that (it can now but it’s photo hosting service sucks). I tried one or two other hosting sites before I found Flickr but found them slow, clunky and unintuitive in comparison.

    I certainly could host all my images on this site – the ones in my gallery are hosted here – but I’ve stuck with Flickr simply because I like it. I like having groups of my photos on Flickr, where they can be seen in a different context and by a different audience and I also like the community aspects of Flickr. Plus, as I’ve explained in later articles in this series, I get a lot of visitors to this site from Flickr, so it’s an excellent form of promotion for me.

    But each to their own, you know – if you’ve tried Flickr and just don’t get it, that’s fine, everyone likes different online spaces.

    I do know what you mean about the slowness factor – when I first started there about a year ago it was quite slow at times – but it seems to have speeded up a lot lately, I think they’re working on it.

    Kirsty

    [Reply]

  15. Hi Kirsty,
    Thank you so much for these helpful articles. I usually start digging a hole to bury my head in at the prospect of self promotion, but you somehow make it sounds like an exciting thing to do!
    By the way, your Flickr profile is so well written, very to the point and friendly. I’m totally impressed.
    yuko ;^J

    [Reply]

    Kirsty Hall Reply:

    You’re very welcome, Yuko. I’m glad you’re feeling a bit more positive about self-promotion. Don’t worry, most artists – myself included – feel a bit icky about it.

    [Reply]

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