Under SmugMugs stewardship of the Flickr platform, there have certainly been some changes. Some notable ones being that:
- Free accounts now have limits on the amount and resolution of photos you can upload,
- Pro accounts have seen increases in subscription fees.
As a pro account holder for a number of years now, I have made the decision to move away from the platform this year. This is obviously a personal decision though, and in this article, I will give a balanced view of the pros and cons of the Flickr platform as well as the free and pro accounts.
Differences between Flickr Pro & Free accounts
Flickr Pro Statistics
With a Flickr Pro account, you get a dedicated Stats panel! These help you understand how people are interacting with your Flickr Photos. This includes overall trends for your account, as well as specific image trends, including sources of hits; either through search engines, within Flickr or other social networks.
Flickr Pro is Advertisement Free
You get a fully ad-free experience across the whole Flickr site! Visitors to your photostream, albums, profile, and photos won’t see any adverts. You also get a little “PRO” badge next to your profile.
Flickr Pro gives Unlimited uploads and worry-free photo backup
The Flickr free account is limited to 1000 photos. With Flickr Pro you can upload unlimited photos, and you can upload in full resolution. Flickr Pro users also get access to an Auto-Uploadr, to make the process of uploading easier. The Auto-Uploadr works either from your computer or mobile devices, as well as doing backups.
Flickr Pro Subscription Perks
With your pro subscription comes a number of perks. Some examples below.
Should I have a Flickr Pro Account?
So that’s what you get if you sign up for a Pro Account. At time of writing the costs are:
- £6.49/month (circa $8.11) for a monthly rolling plan.
- £4.66/month (circa $5.82) for a yearly plan paid upfront.
One of the great things about Flickr is the way you can organise photographs into Sets and Collections. A Set is a group of photographs, and a Collection is a group of Sets. You have the ability to add keywords to each of your images. Plus, Flickr has a prolific number of Groups for sharing your photographs. A Group is essentially a way to share your photos, post comments, and hold discussions around themes. There are groups on Flickr for pretty much any subject you can think of.
Flickr then is essentially a social network for photographers to share their images with other like-minded photographers. As with all social networks, Flickr works on the principle of validation. i.e. you add a photo, share it, people comment on it. You can even create Galleries of other peoples photographs around themes of your choice.
So objectively, is it worth it? I think this depends on what you want your Flickr account for. For me, it is worth splitting the answer into whether you are either a) A professional/semi-professional photographer, or b) An amateur/enthusiast photographer.
Professional & Semi-Professional Photographers
In the industry, the general perception of Flickr, is that it is a place where people share their ‘snaps’. So as a pro photographer, you need to use the platform very wisely or you might damage your reputation.
For instance, I would not advocate for one minute that Flickr is a good place to keep your Portfolio. Whilst Flickr allows you to create and manage a public photo-stream, a Portfolio is meant to be your best work. Your perception of what your best work is changes over time, and it takes time and effort to manage this on Flickr as opposed to say a dedicated Portfolio.
One question pros ask a lot is whether Flickr is a good place to generate traffic. Well, it is and it isn’t! By being an active member of groups, sharing your photos, commenting and adding other peoples photos as favourites, maybe managing a group yourself, managing galleries; all these things will generate traffic to your photostream. But what does all this really mean to a pro photographer? Well its certainly going to consume an inordinate amount of your time!
So let’s critically consider each of the Flickr Pro benefits with the Pro photographer in mind:
- Statistics: It’s great that you can look at stats for your photo-stream and individual images, but when you get down to it, this is just a form of social validation and not a business tool.
- Advertisement Free: I think this is a plus, I wish that other social media sites would offer the same. Money makes the world go around, and sites need to make money, but pesky adverts are an annoyance.
- Unlimited Uploads & Free Backup: For the reasons we described above, a professional photographer doesn’t really benefit from unlimited uploads, and if one of the main reasons you are getting a pro account is for cloud backup, there are better solutions out there.
- Subscription Perks: 50% off of SmugMug for your first 12 months is actually quite a good deal. SmugMug is a very good platform to manage a Portfolio. The Adobe discount, yes ok, but Adobe do deals all the time with or without a Flickr subscription. The other perks offered are mainly aimed at casual users, e.g. discounts on creating custom books with your images.
So in summary, if you want to use Flickr to promote your business, there are far better platforms out there to do this than using either a Flickr Free or Flickr Pro account.
Amateur & Enthusiast Photographers
As a platform to share specifically your images, Flickr remains at the top of its game and is designed for sharing and viewing photos. As with other social media platforms you can interact with it as much or as little as you want. Flickr is certainly great if you are looking to participate in groups and build your contacts. Of course, you can do all this with or without a pro account, so let’s look at the specific Flickr Pro benefits.
- Statistics: You can look at stats for your photo-stream and individual images. If that floats your boat then great, but I am struggling to think of a real benefit other than bragging rights.
- Advertisement Free: Removing those pesky adverts is a good thing!
- Unlimited Uploads & Free Backup: Being able to curate your images into folders and groups, as well as control access to who can or can’t see them, is pretty useful. They are also backed up for as long as you have an account, so if you don’t have another backup solution, then this is a bonus.
- Subscription Perks: 50% off of SmugMug for your first 12 months is quite a good deal if e.g. you want to start a dedicated site for yourself to showcase some of your work. The other perks offered are definitely aimed at the enthusiast market, therefore worth a look at.
So in summary, Flickr Pro has got a lot to offer the Amateur and Enthusiast photographer, provided of course you are making use of the extra benefits.
If you want to check out my Flickr profile, you can find me here
Specialising in landscape and wildlife photography, David is a semi-professional photographer based in Scotland, with an established fine art and stock photography portfolio; which includes published photography with the New York Post, Huffington Post, as well as various travel and tourism companies worldwide.