Saturday, March 15, 2008

Flickr Foto Fun

I've been taking digital photos for a few years now and greatly enjoy its versatility. My only beef with digital photos is the preservation aspect. Utilizing a digital format we want to be around for many years, the issue of how best to preserve them is a hot issue much too vast to address here. I have personally moved to gold CDs and DVDs, but also make sure I have paper printed versions as a secondary back-up. The only HUGE problem I find myself fighting all of the time is making myself follow my own preservation decision. I take so many photos and try to arrange them in folders that group by subject and date, but the volume I produce is so problematic that I will need to begin weeding from the PC as I burn the back-up copies, because I just can't keep adding more and more without being selective to a degree. Big one on the to-do list as soon as I graduate!

So I will move on to my experience with Flickr. I have been avoiding Flickr because I've been aware of the open theft that occurs there. Despite the copyright notice attached to each photo listing, Flickr has always been used by the layman as a free photo database. Sure, most of them just copy for personal screen savers or odd projects, but there are unscrupulous people out there using it for more ominous purposes. Flickr has said that it does not monitor who copies photos from their site, but if you see your photo being used somewhere else without your permission, you have the option of reporting to them and they can suspend the user, etc. Blah, blah, blah...sure, like that is going deter copyright violators!

As I started my account, I quickly realized that the storage amount was fairly low at 100MB per month. Actually, this was ok with me. Due to the above mentioned theft problems, I had already compressed all of the photos I was going to download, simply to make further use very limited for violators. I could have placed a giant watermark on the photos through photoshop (or Gimp), but that would be too much work, and really, I don't mind regular people copying the photos for personal use as long as no commercial purposes are intended.

The size of your photo holdings can be increased for a $24.95 per year fee. This is where the purpose for Flickr becomes very is meant to share the photos you want to share....really share...not just store. I can see the benefit for work related events, since this would be a really easy way to share nice size quality photos that can be downloaded for prints, or even purchased directly. I didn't care for the company specific choices for prints, especially since I hadn't heard of these companies. I'm very picky about my prints and have tried many different companies....and so I'll take the opportunity to plug my favorite that has the same sharing options but really produces high quality photo I've been with this company for over a dozen years back in my 35mm days and they have always offered great services at great prices. They too are following photo community models and already have storefronts to allow purchases directly from the photographer with profit markup for the professional. By the way, Photoworks has no limit on your holdings size or set numbers all for FREE!

So back to Flickr....I really love the tagging options....BUT....I was very frustrated by the tagging habit of combining your two term tags into merged one word oddities. When I first tagged an item with Laurel Court, I typed it just as you see it, and it showed up just as I typed on the main picture page. So for my next photo from this set I chose to use their "choose from your tags" list with the next photo. I chose my new tag listing of laurelcourt, not liking it, but thinking it would appear correctly on the picture. Not so, the new tag for this photo was laurelcourt. I grew concerned about this since I wondered how it would affect search results. I tried searching others photos with "laurel court" which produced 20 photos. I then searched laurelcourt, which produced 46 photos with many of the original 20 not being listed! Ugghhh!! So it does matter how you type in each tag. If it is one word, you can choose from your tagging list, but if it isn't you should type in the two words separately each time unless you think most people are going to know to enter these one word amalgamations.

Overall, I think Flickr is fairly easy to use and convenient for group sharing, but it is far from perfect and could use better options for honoring copyright and for printing. I do like the RSS feed option that allows you to subscribe to my account changes, and I really love the mapping options! In the future, I will be glad to have an account, but will probably only use it for work group or family sharing, and will not post my best photos on there for the world to use. Call me selfish!

Here is the link to my Flickr page:

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