Monday, January 21, 2013

Falling in Like with Flickr

I'm kindof liking Flickr these days. I've been using Flickr to back up, organize, and share my iPhone and digital camera photos, and to connect to other Flickr users. Flickr is a terrific online photo sharing site and community for artists. Flickr is free up to a point. After I accumulated too many pics, I bit the bullet and upgraded. I still consider myself a novice Flickr user, so perhaps this post will be beneficial to other Flickr newbies. (My Flickr sets)

Things I like about Flickr: (click on the images to see larger)

Sets. Your Flickr images appear in what Flickr calls a Photostream. Flickr sets allows you to organize your photos from your Photostream into sets. You can easily add, delete, and relabel images in your Flickr sets. Fashioning a Flickr set of your own images is  like putting an art exhibit together (aka online curating). 

Easy upload from iPhoto. iPhoto has a share feature that connects right to Flickr. You can send one image, multiple images, or an entire event with all of its images to your Flickr site. You can send images directly to specific Flickr sets or to your Photostream.

Mobile App. Flickr's mobile app is easy, free, popular with tech enthusiasts. You can upload and label multiple images at once from your smartphone. Everything you upload appears in your Flickr Photostream. 

Privacy settings, Labels (Tags). Flickr allows you to determine who can see your images. This is a great feature for a student group or project in which you want to limit public access to the images, or if you want share photos only with selected family/friends. You should both caption and "tag" your Flickr images as soon as you upload them. Tags (labels) are like "keywords" that you add as text content that always accompanies your image. 
Tags make your own Flickr images searchable at a later time, by you or by others. This comes in handy when looking for a pic you uploaded a year ago. In your own search for specific kinds of images uploaded by other Flickr users, searching by keywords (tags) is very convenient (if others have added tags to their Flickr images).

Photo-editing. Flickr now has a built-in photo editing feature (called Aviary) for cropping, adjusting, and/or applying various filters to your uploaded images.  The Flickr editor is located under the flickr Actions icon. Flickr's new mobile app and photo editing features allow Flickr to now compete with Instagram and Twitter.

Contacts. Flickr contacts - you can follow and be followed by anyone in Flickr. You can comment on or designate as favorites your contacts' images, and they on yours. This is a great way to keep current with your flickr contacts' new works, and a great way to build an audience for your work.  

Groups. I love the Flickr groups, people sharing images in just about any style, theme, or genre one can think of. You can join as many groups as you like. Some groups are moderated, and require permission to join and upload images. Others are completely open. Lots of peer-to-peer participatory possibilities for art educators and students here.

Flickr favorites. Favorites. You can mark just about anything created and shared by others in Flickr as a "favorite", and create a collection of your own consisting of your Flickr favorites. This is a nice way to collect images and ideas, and to share with others (students, peers, etc.) how people make images.

Student Participation. Flickr offers wonderful possibilities for students to create galleries, see one another's work, and comment on selected pieces (their own and the work of peers). You can create closed groups in Flickr for this purpose, and you can control commenting features. See the gallery of student work from High School Art Teacher Deborah Brock's photography class.  As mentioned above, you can adjust Flickr's privacy settings to limit who sees uploaded images.  This might be necessary if you are showing images created by students who are minors and your school requires limited access to their content.

In summary, there are plenty of online sites to share and archive (back up) images these days. If for no other reason, and without all the Flickr bells and whistles, Flickr remains a great site to store, organize, and share images. Its copyright policies are clear and the site is easy to use. I can make my material private if I so choose. And there are over 6 billion images in Flickr to inspire my own art, research, or teaching.

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