I’ve published a recent update about this, here. You may want to head there for a more recent perspective on this question
I just realized that my Flickr Pro subscription ends in just under two weeks. The annual cost for Flickr Pro is $50 and I am wondering if it is still worth it?
Flickr still seems to be going strong and I follow a lot of photographers there. More importantly, I have my entire library on Flickr (100,361 photos as I write this) and I haven’t touched the sides of my 1 TB of space (I’m currently using 0.2 TB). I had a similar internal debate two years ago and concluded that it was worth it. Now I’m not so sure.
The main benefits of the Pro subscription is that there are no ads and the Desktop Uploadr is available for automated uploads from my local hard drive. The Uploadr used to be available to all Flickr users and Flickr restricted it to Pro subscribers when it revised the subscription plan.
I still think that was a mistake and Flickr alienated a lot of users, although I can see why they did that. The Uploadr became one of the few value adds that Flickr could hold back as a “premium” feature after it removed most of the image resolution and storage capacity limits.
There is a little doubt about Flickr’s future (this is a long-running issue) but there aren’t any concrete indications of Flickr’s demise. Flickr seems to be ticking along and may well keep going for the foreseeable future. It has certainly remained an integral part of my photo sharing and backup strategy for years.
If you are interested in where and how I store and share my photos, take a look at this post that I published last year:
The Flickr Pro alternatives
There are a few alternatives. One is switching to 500px which has a Plus package that costs $25 a year for unlimited uploads, statistics and integration with Google Analytics. The Google Analytics integration is a nice touch but by no means a deal breaker for me.
One of the appeals of 500px is that I receive so much engagement there when I upload photos. That is great for validation and feedback. I get some feedback on Flickr but it doesn’t seem to come as easily.
Another option is something like SmugMug which has a $40 a year package for a customizable site, unlimited uploads and integrations with print-on-demand labs (could be useful). The price point comes close to Flickr’s and I’m not sure if there is a clear benefit there to justify it even though the service seems excellent.
I thought about consolidating everything in Google Photos (my library is there too, albeit in the reduced resolution for free storage) but upgrading to 1 TB will cost $10 a month which is too expensive. For now, I maintain a complete library in Google Photos in “High quality” resolution as a more readily accessible backup.
Of course, the elephant in the room is Facebook which is free (at least in terms of subscriptions) and which is a better sharing platform anyway. I have my libraries backed up elsewhere so it’s not like I’d need to entrust Facebook with my only copy. Facebook would just become a place to share my photos and get feedback from people.
Why it could be worth sticking with Flickr Pro
The big reason to stick with what I have is my self-induced lock-in. As I mentioned earlier, my entire library is in Flickr. It isn’t my only copy (definitely not) but it is a lot of material that is already organised into albums and shared in part online.
$50 is not cheap but if I factor in the hassle of replicating that library on some alternative service, it may be worth the extra cost. As I mentioned earlier, the main differences between the free and Pro subscriptions are that the Pro subscription removes ads and adds the use of the Desktop Uploadr which runs in the background on my Mac and automatically uploads new photos I add to a watched folder.
Of course, cancelling my Pro subscription doesn’t mean I have to remove my library from Flickr. As far as I can tell, it won’t be affected by switching to a standard plan.
If I switch to a free subscription, it will mean manually uploading new photos if I decide to maintain a current library on Flickr. There are other ways to upload photos to Flickr, though, as convenient as the Uploadr is. I have already configured Lightroom to upload to both Flickr and Facebook so it’s really just another step in my process to send images to Flickr and Facebook from within Lightroom.
The bottom line
On balance, the risks of switching to a free Flickr account are pretty low. It will be a crappier experience of the site with all the ads but an ad-free experience, alone, is not really worth the $50.
I’ll miss the Desktop Uploadr’s functionality but I am already uploading manually to Google Photos after the Google Photos desktop uploader stopped working on my Mac. I can compensate with Lightroom or even Apple Photos (if I decide to try that to manage my local library again).
So, having considered all of that, this is what I’m doing with my photos:
- I’ve disabled the auto-renewal for my Flickr Pro account and I’ll see how it goes without the Pro benefits for a while. I’ll keep uploading to Flickr although the loss of the Desktop Uploadr may mean I’ll just upload the highlights.
- Facebook remains a good place to share photos casually, especially considering that my friends and family are there (and I use it anyway).
- I’ve been uploading some photos to 500px so I’ll just keep doing that. I receive great feedback on my photos there. No reason to stop doing that.
- Google Photos will still receive all my new stuff as an alternative sharing space.
- All my full resolution photos and RAW files will go to Amazon S3 as usual.
So … what do you do with your photos? What are your thoughts about Flickr Pro?
I gave this more thought after my post and decided to renew my Pro subscription. I’ve had a positive experience using Flickr and when I put the cost into perspective, it wasn’t all that much to preserve something that has been working for me.
Another plus that I didn’t realise when I was weighing up the pros and cons of renewing my Pro account is that visitors to my photo pages won’t see ads either (at least, this is my understanding from PetaPixel’s “In Defense of Flickr: 8 Reasons I’m Sticking Around“).
I thought I’d update this post after the recent changes to Flickr’s pricing model that you probably read about, well, just about everywhere.
I agree with adding constraints to the free plan, although I can see the decision to delete all but the most recent 1,000 images being a concern for long time users with free plans. One way to get around that is probably to Creative Commons license your work, though.
My plan renewed in December. I was still a little ambivalent, but Flickr has worked really well as an archive for my photos over the years. Better than just about any other option I use at the moment.
Om Malik published a post that echoes much of my thinking about Flickr, titled “Flickr Fabulous – On my Om” that’s worth reading. I don’t use Flickr as a primary photo sharing service at the moment, but I’d like to. That said, I agree with Om’s sentiments here:
It was so far ahead of the curve: an ability to create tags out of meta-data, exit information as a way to navigate through photos, location as a way to be enthralled by a place and super fast uploads and RSS for everything. It is still web standards compliant. The community, the faves, the albums, and the stream — it had everything that you see everywhere. It was the genesis of the modern visual and social web.Om Malik
So back to my original question: Is it worth renewing my Flickr Pro subscription? Yes, I believe it is.
Featured image credit: Pixabay