Where is the Flickr manual?
March 21, 2009 7:14 PM   Subscribe

FlickrFilter: What can I read to better understand Flickr and get more out of it? Where is the manual?

Flickr seems like a really complicated place. The groups functionality seems to lead to all sorts of interesting subcultures, certain techniques seem to grow and fall in popularity and combine with one another, and the whole thing seems reasonably extensible through various APIs.

But how am I supposed to figure out what's going on? What are the rules, norms, and general patterns of behaviour on Flickr? What kinds of groups exist, and what differentiates them? Has anyone written up a tutorial on different types of groups (like critique groups, for example) or why you might join one group rather than another (e.g., why join one Canon 50mm group over another, or why join a Canon 50mm group at all?). How do I learn techniques that I've seen in photos that I like, for example, from explore? Is there something more than the technique group, preferably organised more efficiently than threaded messaging? (Are these even the right questions to be asking?)

I've seen FlickrCentral, but that seems like it's just a very large group. I've also been on Flickr for some time, so I understand the really minimal basics like uploading and sharing photos with friends.

Is there a digg-equivalent for Flickr? Do photographers just think that would be tacky? Is there a PSDTuts-equivalent for Flickr? Are there any recent general HOWTOs for Flickr culture?

(In case my objective is important, my overall goal is to get the most out of Flickr in terms of learning to take better photographs, and possibly do better post-processing.)
posted by pbh to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Community guidelines is a good place to start. After a quick search this looks like a pretty good etiquette writeup.

It can be pretty daunting trying to figure out what people are doing on there sometimes. Some people will add their photos to 25 different groups hoping for a ton of views and comments. Most people are a little more laid back.

I think one of the best things about it is just making different contacts and commenting on photos you like. Sometimes they'll do the same for you. If you have a question about how they took the photo, go ahead and ask. The important thing is just to go out and shoot (and if you're looking for people to follow you, it does sometimes help to self-edit heavily, don't upload 100 shots of your daytrip, pick the best couple).

Not sure about digg-equivalent, but the StumbleUpon channel can be interesting sometimes.
posted by starman at 7:49 PM on March 21, 2009




I don't know of any resources like you're asking for (although if anyone wanted to start a Flickr-review site I bet it'd be popular). Give this a read How Flickr can make you a better photographer from DPS.

Don't try to take all of Flickr in in one hit - there's a lot of fluff to sort through, so use the group search to narrow down your interests or you'll end up too thinly spread across the site. Try to find one group about learning photography, one for post-processing, one for the subject matter you're into (nature, urban, portraits, etc) and maybe one for doing challenges each week/month/whatever. Be an active participant who gives back to the community as well as taking from it.

When it comes to choosing which Canon 50mm group to choose, for example, that's something no-one else can decide for you - take a look at the photos and discussions to see if they're covering what you need and have the right attitude to people who are trying to learn. In general, stick to groups with active discussions as well as frequent photos. Groups that have just pics are often a dumping ground for people who just want maximum views and don't want to participate in conversations.

Often the best groups are organised around a non-Flickr source. This Week in Photography podcast, the Digital Photography School website, various photoblogs, etc often have a group on Flickr where readers and listeners can share their pics and talk about what's been covered off-Flickr.
posted by harriet vane at 9:31 PM on March 21, 2009


Oh just spotted the bit about seeing stuff you like in Explore - this can be a good way of finding the groups and people you're interested in. When you spot a pic you like, go to the person's profile and check out two things: their groups, and the photos they've favourited. Not all of what they like will be useful to you, but it's a bit more targeted than just using the search function randomly.

Also, some users let you click on a "More info about this photo" link (on the bottom right section of the page, iirc), which shows you what aperture, speed, etc they were using when the photo was taken. Can be handy for seeing how a particular effect was done.
posted by harriet vane at 9:38 PM on March 21, 2009


starman: "I think one of the best things about it is just making different contacts and commenting on photos you like. Sometimes they'll do the same for you. If you have a question about how they took the photo, go ahead and ask."

I guess the hard part is often knowing what to ask. I wish people could upload Photoshop files with some sort of edit log, but I realise that's not practical... More realistically, I wish I knew of more photographers who put up tutorials about their editing styles like Stuck in Customs' HDR tutorial. (Or I wish I could easily find such tutorials based on images I like.)

starman: "Not sure about digg-equivalent, but the StumbleUpon channel can be interesting sometimes."

I periodically check delicious for Flickr-related things, but I haven't gotten too much mileage out of it. Maybe StumbleUpon has better Flickr coverage.
posted by pbh at 10:28 PM on March 21, 2009


harriet vane: "Often the best groups are organised around a non-Flickr source. This Week in Photography podcast, the Digital Photography School website, various photoblogs, etc often have a group on Flickr where readers and listeners can share their pics and talk about what's been covered off-Flickr."

Your answer in general is really helpful (even though I only quoted the last bit!). I liked the ideas about etiquette, groups and the link to the DPS article about becoming a better photographer on Flickr (if you know any more like that, incidentally, I'd be curious).

I particularly liked the last bit though. I hadn't really thought about the (somewhat odd) phenomenon that the best groups are often organised around external sources. I'd seen, e.g., strobist, but hadn't thought about how it's an example of a broader phenomenon of group strength coming from other external communities. (Maybe I should ask about good external sites in a future AskMeFi if the real answer is that I should look for external sites for techniques and discussion that also have a Flickr group.)
posted by pbh at 10:43 PM on March 21, 2009


Oh, well, I'm not afraid to wander a little off-topic... :)

This Week In Photography,
Digital Photography School
and
Neil Creek are ones I've enjoyed, and all have links to their original websites.

It's not that odd, because Flickr is essentially a photo hosting service rather than an educational tool. So if anyone already had a good website about photography, they would have found that people were increasingly using Flickr to store their pics, and it would make sense to have a group they could all share as well.

Another tactic you might try is to look for a group local to you - if there's an active group, they might do meetups and photoshoots or workshops together that you can participate in.
posted by harriet vane at 4:02 AM on March 22, 2009


Less about groups and communities, more about the UI/tech end: Flickr Hacks: the Flickr community, the O'Reilly book, the Greasemonkey repository, etc.
posted by box at 9:21 AM on March 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


harriet vane: "Oh, well, I'm not afraid to wander a little off-topic... :)

This Week In Photography,
Digital Photography School
and
Neil Creek are ones I've enjoyed, and all have links to their original websites."


Those look great, and you caused me to discover the "How I Took It" forum on DPS which at least helps a little in terms of learning to create specific effects that I've seen around. Thanks!
posted by pbh at 5:37 PM on March 22, 2009


« Older Where else can I find pretty, girly, smelly bath...   |   Can I use bluetooth headphones to play pc games? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.