Flickr Stigma

- - Getting Noticed

I’m not gonna lie. If you sent me an email and said check out my portfolio and the link went to Flickr I wouldn’t even look. It’s the same as the portfolio test. If you don’t have your shit together enough to have a nice printed portfolio you’re not getting the job. It’s not just about making great pictures it’s also about acting like a professional and demonstrating your commitment to taking pictures for a living. That way I know you won’t call me up the day before the shoot and bail because “something” came up or call me from the airport because the rental car company doesn’t take a debit card and you don’t own a credit card–yup, both have happened. I need a sign that you’ve done this before and that you’ve invested money in making it work.

I probably just scared everyone who was on the fence, off sending me photos for the free promo so here’s why in this case Flickr works. Obviously, It’s not your portfolio. We need to get rid of the stigma because Flickr is a great tool for photo editors and photographers to use in a pinch. No joke. Editing photography and transferring to a client remotely is not easy and this is an amazing online solution that works well. I’m billing this as a grass roots movement in finding fresh work so it’s low cost for everyone involved and buyers can appreciate that we found the best solution for the price. Lastly, on Monday, March 31st at 11:59 pm EST the entry deadline is over and I’m going to make the group private which means any photos that make the final cut can only be viewed by members of the group and not the public. The public and the photo editors/art buyers will only see the slide show I put on the blog (and that others put on theirs) and there’s no Flickr logo on that.

OK, hope that helps.

There Are 71 Comments On This Article.

  1. It could be just my rebellious nature, but I don’t care much for stigma fear mentality, or the idea that a buyer would reject someone sight unseen based on their personal choice for a display tool.

    Perhaps that is why there is so much mediocre crap out there right now–no one’s willing to take a chance outside the pool of the typical (or expected).

    There might be a genius out there who has, for whatever reason, decided to use flickr to display his/her work. But many of you will never come out of your comfort zone to see it. Is that what you get paid for?

    Personally, I display via website, blog, flickr, or print, or anything I feel like. It’s not an indication of being a flake, but it might be an indication of independent thought coexisting with professionalism.

    Your idea is fine. Screw ’em if they don’t want to play.

  2. I agree – if Flickr is your online portfolio, it does have an aura of “cheap and crappy”.

    However, flickr has its uses. I know for many folks around here “Stock” is a dirty word. But I continue to be surprised at how many images I license from flickr (at full RM rates). It seems whenever I post images to my blog (using flickr as a host) the images shoot up near the top of google image searches.

    This was not by design, just happenstance. I chose the flickr route because of a super easy automator workflow allowed me to watermark and upload in one easy action.

    Search for “coho salmon eggs” in google images. I have licensed these images (and many others) over and over again.

    Dan Heller has some interesting things to say about the future of image search, getting noticed and flickr.

  3. The flickr stigma is silly, and one day it will go away, like most stigmas. I for one have gotten national magazine assignments and ad jobs from my work shown on flickr. granted I have a regular website, flickr is a great tool for getting people to actually see my photos and lead them to my personal website that has a tighter edit.
    i don’t care how crappy the majority of other photos are that are on flickr, just don’t look at them. there is some seriously incredible work there, you just have to look for it.
    i guess some might be surprised at how many major art directors/ photo editors are searching on flickr.
    don’t be stupid, use flickr.

  4. One thing I don’t like about flickr is that the colour management seems to be different with the small and medium size images, they look darker and with more contrast, no problem with the slide show though and I couldn’t give a fig what anyone thinks of me using flickr.

  5. The stigma is there for a justifiable reason, but I agree it needs to go. Flickr is a tool, and it’s used by everyone from people uploading pics of the grandkids to work by the best photographers in the world.

    It’s a simple matter of whether/how you edit what you post there. I have a flickr page, but it’s more of a dumping ground for my day to day efforts. I wouldn’t send someone there to look at my best work by any stretch of the imagination. But it could be used for that..

  6. Aaron (le cinémasagiste) is right. For editorial/commercial work perhaps the stigma doesn’t matter that much. For fine art photographers it’s a problem.

  7. Ed, I like the way you think. It’s the work that matters.

    Some images probably look their absolute best lazer printed and duct taped to a wall.

    And that’s fine art, in my book.

  8. James Norville

    If I was a business advisor to both Flickr and Livebooks, I’d advise them to expand their business by adopting the Toyota/Lexus approach, or the Mazda/Infiniti approach, or the Ford/Lincoln approach.

    Take the core business from the starting brand, and then invent an upscale, more refined, more elegant, (and more expensive), alternative, for the customers who would “never drive a Corolla or a Camry”.

    But hey, maybe they’re just going for the masses, which on some level, if you take the WalMart approach, seems to be very profitable.

  9. oh and there actually are some total geniuses that used to just have flickr portfolios. Many of them are up on fjord now:

    and other sites like are curated from mostly flickr only photographers.

    The younger generation doesn’t seem as concerned with flickr stigma.

  10. Just did a search for work by the following photographers on flickr:

    David Alan Harvey
    Annie Liebowitz
    Alex Webb
    Sam Abell
    James Nachtwey

    Found a lot of picture of these people but not one photography made by these people.


    The stigma isn’t a stigma – it’s a mark. Don’t mark yourself with this as vehicle to promote yourself or your work.

    Rob, you should have set up an ftp account, created a frame for people to view the work here on your web site and hell, you should have required them to register just to be a part of it.

    You could have kept the content and the slideshow all on this wonderful little vehicle of your own complete with your own branding.

    Bottom line: Want to be exceptional? Then make sure you have an exceptional and exclusive vehicle to present your work.

  11. Tom Broadbent

    My feeling is it’s absolute nonsense to say that Flickr is for one thing, myspace for another and basic websites for another as well as high end flash driven gizmos for another.

    Get the work out there, displayed on whatever you can show it on. One of the biggest problems I find is that some of the best pictures are not easily obtainable because the owner has worries about people nicking their images and posting them all over the web.

    Well guess what, if the pictures are brilliant, unique or plain bonkers then eventually they’ll end up on someone’s blog site and then it’s my job to track down the copyright holder.

    But I wouldn’t have known of the pictures’ existence in the first place unless they had been posted on the afore mentioned website/s.

    Think of it as free advertising, a controversial standpoint maybe but different than someone appropriating your pictures for commercial reasons, the real copyright theft.

    The amount of photographer’s websites that use Flash and animate and move around. I’ve got no time for that. Most of it is pretentious drivel. Please give me html or database, fast, simple any day of the week.
    Pictures big, info, clients, biog, experience, for god’s sake no third person intro. The art of making it simple.

    I think Flickr could improve for sure, it’s not the most friendly interface but for a free product. It ain’t bad.

  12. Flickr’s relative merit notwithstanding, I don’t think citing those photographers’ use (or nonuse) of it is not exactly a stunning condemnation. They’re not of a generation I’d expect to exactly be on the vanguard of a technological movement.

    That said, I agree with James up there — flickr needs to seriously consider a more powerful framework for pro photographers that want to market their stuff. Smugmug has tried this to some extent by providing a “pro” service that lets you theme it, customize it, and sell prints directly from them, but the interface and execution is horrendous. It wasn’t built to do what they’re trying to do with it.

  13. Tom Broadbent

    And in answer to Sean’s point.

    What a surprise that these five well established photographers do not have flickr accounts? Or maybe they just haven’t heard how cool it is….

    It’s not going to be used by the ultra high end shooters but it is great for everyone else and is a very useful breakthrough tool.

  14. Dude, just FYI, Annie Liebowitz doesn’t even have a website. Actually none of those people mentioned do, except for Nachtwey, whose website is definitely not state of the art. Apparently your point is that if they had flickr sites, their work would tail off and people wouldn’t take them seriously?

    I think Flickr is ugly as hell. I mean, it’s insufferably ugly. And there is no customization. But I’ve found it extremely useful as a tool for keeping in touch with people. As I’m building a portfolio of personal work, it’s made the process of distributing photos back to my subjects a lot easier. And it’s definitely helped me keep in touch with people who are interested in what I’m doing. I wish they’d do a total redesign of the site, which is only about 2 steps up design wise from myspace, but at this point it is what it is.

    I’m working towards a website I’m totally happy with, but for a long time if it hadn’t been for flickr I would have bubkes.

    I suppose if you really think this is that bad an idea, don’t enter it. Could it be simpler?

  15. I’m with Ronald. My flickr page was instrumental in getting my second book deal. It’s helped me to get published in various media, all over the world.

    It’s about the work. Where you keep it shouldn’t matter. If the work is solid, it will sell itself, whether you have the images in an elegant site under your own URL, or they are on a flickr page covered in joke notes and “You Rawk!” comments.

    Any art director / curator not willing to look at someone’s work SPECIFICALLY because it’s on flickr is being a elitist snob who’s cutting his nose to spite his face.

    I probably don’t want to work with them anyway.

  16. So is it just flickr that carries this stigma or web portfolios in general?

    I am still in the process of designing a web portfolio I am happy with, sometimes I wonder however if once I do it will be worth sending emails asking industry people to take a look. If the site in question is not in Flickr is it given the same serious consideration as a print book?

  17. I’m a big defender of Flickr, and my Flickr site has gotten me tons of work just because, well, four million views is bound to pull in a few people who can pay you. But I’d never send it to a photo editor. It’s not just stigma — its default view is a pretty nasty way to view a photo.

  18. “given the same serious consideration as a print book?”

    If you make your own negatives and print them through an enlarger or even contact print them and do it at the time you make the neg you get maximum brownie points, if you can do it as well as Edward Weston and on Azo paper your the dogs bollocks.

    The obvious thing about slide shows like flickr is that everyone who has www access can view. If, who is looking at the work is making a judgment about flickr and not the work, well, again, I couldn’t give a fig about them.

  19. James Norville

    What continually surprises me is so many of you defend Flickr to the bitter end, yet, the last time I looked, this site was primarily about shooting magazine assignments. Yet, even after Rob’s clearly-worded post today about his perceptions about Flickr, you still defend it. Again, I wonder the actual percentage of Flickr users have shot jobs for Mens Journal, Outside, Esquire, Mens Health, Rolling Stone, etc. And I don’t mean front-of-the-book quarter page jobs either, just because you lived in the same city as the subject, and the magazine was trying to save on airfare.

    It’s human nature to generalize, but humans tend to generalize based on accumulated facts. Continually, from this site, you click on the Flickr defenders’s Flickr page, and there’s nothing there but 5D snapshots; rarely ever national magazine assignment results. Nothing wrong with being a beginner, but frankly, Rob’s marketplace is not a place for beginners. Read today’s post again.

    So what is your motivation? Just to be a dick? Rob hosts a site, makes a post that clearly shows his feelings about Flickr sites, and then you guy swarm here to tell him he’s wrong, or arrogant, or a jerk? I just don’t get it.

    This reason alone is why Flickr should never have been brought into the equation. This site is primarily about assignments for national magazines; and hopefully BACK-of-the-book assignments, which requires a whole other talent level and preparedness.

  20. Yet, even after Rob’s clearly-worded post today about his perceptions about Flickr, you still defend it.

    I’m guessing if he made a blog post about it, and has comments enabled, he’s probably attempting to stir up conversation, but maybe not.

    So what is your motivation? Just to be a dick?

    Who’s being a dick? Relax, sparky.

  21. “and there’s nothing there but 5D snapshots; rarely ever national magazine assignment results. Nothing wrong with being a beginner”

    As Ive said before I’m not a beginner nor do I use a 5D.

    to quote Rob :

    “anyone can submit but your work has to be up to national magazine standards to make the cut. the point of this is to connect photo editors with photographers.”

  22. From an editors point of view I feel the exact same way as APE does. If I see a link to a flickr account your status drops down a few knotches. For one, you look cheap. Two. You are showing your work alongside anyone with a camera. What can that possible say about your work? (this is crucial to marketing. Why is their this insistence to use every piece of marketing tool available just because it is there? As someone who hires a lot of photographers of varied styles, genres and experience I am totally of the belief that you must carefully manage your image – and using Flickr is not careful management)

    It has a stigma attached to it because it is accessible to everyone. If my grandma wants to shoot shaky out of focus ceiling shots and show the world, she can do it on flickr. Why on earth, as a professional, would you want your work associated with this? (sorry Grams) Be wise to the company you keep – even on the web.

    That said I have used flickr to find and run photos of places I have not been able to get images from. Not one of them though was taken by a pro. All of the images I have used have come from some average joe with a decent digital camera who happened to be in the right place at the right time. And in the end they got paid the same as a pro would have for their usage.

    And that is something you should all be more concerned with.

    @16 – All of those photographers have websites.

  23. Derek Winters

    A bit OT, but what do you think about editors who troll flickr looking for photos for their international publications offering no more than a photo credit?

  24. Yeah Myles, I’m cheap . . . and that keeps my rates low . . . for you.

    If I send you to this page: to look at that body of work on flickr you don’t have to see your granny’s pics, do you? No one else’s pictures are on my pages. I don’t get it.

    It’s a place to stockpile an unlimited number images for virtually free. It’s a useful tool when used correctly. Why are you holding it against us?

    It just sounds so snobby to say “Anyone who’s work is on flickr is beneath our publication.”

  25. Photographer’s turning up their noses at Flickr is silly. I get a ton of work through flickr including some from a nation retail chain. Why? They see my personal work, the shots I go out and shoot for fun…everything from airplanes to flowers! Flickr images are a slide show of the art that is in my heart, not on tear sheets.

  26. There seems to be a lot of talk about whether flickr is a good or bad thing, but, and please correct me if i am wrong here, the whole point of using flickr is simply so Rob can create a slideshow that he will then be presenting ON THIS BLOG, NOT ON FLICKR.

    Similarly as to when he showed a slideshow of the mailer promos he had on his desk, when he had a desk.

    I don’t think Rob is suggesting that any professional photographer should start using flickr to promote themselves, but simply that they upload two pictures to his flickr group which then may or may not make it into the slideshow which he will then present on his blog…….

    APE is simply using FLICKR as a tool, not the actual “platform”.

  27. Too true Troy but why not just send me your Lost America link? Which BTW is much more tasteful than flickr. I would much rather see your personal site then a site that is associated with the likes of my grandma’s celing shots.

  28. @24

    “It has a stigma attached to it because it is accessible to everyone. If my grandma wants to shoot shaky out of focus ceiling shots and show the world, she can do it on flickr.”

    Uh, yeah. You’re also describing the web in general.

    Everything’s a URL away. Buying into such stigmas is a habit for short-sighted people and for lame photo editors.

  29. I use flickr a lot it’s not part of any marketing program, more just a place to put up either new work I’m thinking about putting on my real site or experimental work I want to share with friends. It’s just a super easy place to share images. I’ve made a couple stock sales through flickr nothing big but it’s nice now and then. Any open site like that will be filled with hacks, wanna be’s and family photos, it is what you make it. That being said using your flickr site as something you actively promote seems like a dumb move.

  30. While I have respect for you, Rob, you’re wrong on this: “Editing photography and transferring to a client remotely is not easy…”

    It is extremely easy. Any user with a Mac and an FTP can do it in no time at all if they knew how to use Google, or their User Manual. Anyone still billing and wasting their time and money on CDs needs a slap on the head from mother nature. Don’t waste resources on sending files like that. If anyone wants to know what I’m talking about please feel free to email me and I will be happy to tell you about the process.

    Anyway, Flickr’s worst problem is it’s interface. Yuck. A designer should offer to redo that horrible layout for a trade link. That would be a smart idea.

  31. *Edit for above

    I was a little harsh from one aspect, which I rarely deal with so; if the client wants ALL of RAW files then I suppose sending a hard drive might be the best option. Which, if that is the case, the fee that is received for a library job like that shouldn’t waste much money at all. Sending a few high res files, a PSD or selects is still best done online.

    Okay, cool, I feel better now. :)

  32. “That way I know you won’t call me up the day before the shoot and bail because “something” came up or call me from the airport because the rental car company doesn’t take a debit card and you don’t own a credit card–yup, both have happened. I need a sign that you’ve done this before and that you’ve invested money in making it work.”

    Totally rational, and I quite understand why anyone using Flickr is failing to convince Rob on those points. Just statistically, most people are there for casual reasons. Nothing scares the crap out of magazine editors more than the fear of empty white spaces where photos were supposed to be. It’s certainly not that nobody on Flickr is capable of commitment, just that there’s no way of knowing who is or isn’t.

  33. I, too, do not quite understand why “editing photography and transferring to a client remotely is not easy”?! With iView Media Pro, ftp and a Digital Rail Road account things are pretty easy these days. I wonder if Rob could clarify what he meant?? Also, I think it’s funny to think about certain services having a stigma. I guess one does have to play by some rules, but Josef Koudleka for instance doesn’t even own a computer and yet he is doing quite well and everyone knows who he is(!) The photography is what counts. I mean if Koudelka sent a link to a client, a would be collector etc. with a flickr account do you think they’d turn him down?

  34. Thanks Myles, but my site gets an incredible volume of traffic. With the 125+/- images on there, I am hitting near my bandwidth ceiling every month. OTOH, I have 1600+ images on flickr laid out in in a wide variety of sets and slideshows for various situations. I can whip together a quick set for a specific request or client from what’s already on the site, or sort by keywords in an instant. Unlimited traffic too. Days with 15k page views for me there are common. That’d cost me $100s in bandwidth overages on my personal URL site. Overall, flickr’s just much easier for me to manage and live with.

    Truly, it’s disheartening to see you stigmatize my work simply because you don’t like the site it’s displayed on. It seems so trivial, so arbitrary, almost like galleries not talking to artists who don’t wear all black. It’s just silly and counterproductive for BOTH of us.

    No, I’ll never get rid of my personal URL sites, but they are static portfolio pieces where the text updates fairly frequently, but images don’t (it’s been almost a year at, a long time, even for me), OTOH I load new work to my flickr stream almost daily. It is constantly changing and evolving, reflecting what I’m shooting right now and where my work is heading.

    As mentioned above, it wasn’t that long ago that having your work online in ANY form was a stigma, and only about 50 years before that when photography itself was stigmatized as “not being a legit artform.” What is accepted as the norm is constantly changing and evolving, but clearly, there will always be a curve one needs to be ahead of if you want to stay alive in this business.

    So Myles, be that guy who’s ahead of the curve, not the one futilely standing in front of a speeding train hollering “Wait a sec, I’ve never used photographers from that resource, there can’t possibly be anything good there!” Because there are good photographers everywhere, sometimes right where you least expect them.

  35. One day I’ll be judged for the quality of my work. Until then if those don’t like the way I look, my website, presentation the fact that I don’t live in NYC or LA they can kiss my ass and not hire me.

    One day it will be about art and not about the song and dance.

  36. “It’s certainly not that nobody on Flickr is capable of commitment, just that there’s no way of knowing who is or isn’t.”

    You have to take the time to get to know someone, its a common sense no brainer, if you engage a photographer and don’t have the facts about whats required in relation to their ability to do something then maybe there is an issue with the person hiring as well.

  37. Funny really, a week or two ago was the post about the importance of portfolio sites; how they look; the potential premium value placed on higher end Flash sites and today, it is how good Flickr is as a tool.

    I am about to switch to a NeonSky site with Photoshelter customisation at the back end. I use Flickr all the time – for me it is one of the best online collaboration tools around. For all that, I only use it with friends and family. Flickr has a stigma, in part because so many people use it.

  38. This is an interesting discussion. Recently at an event I was shooting, an art editor was chatting to me about the shots etc. I gave him my business card with our website details including our (poor attempt) at a “stock” library to deliver images to clients, the very next question he asked me was “Do you have a Flickr address as well”? Which I then wrote on the back of the card.

    I think that we need to be mindful of all of the “new” communication methods on the web, flickr, myspace, facebook etc etc. We have a young group of editors coming through that have grown up with all of these tools and it’s just second nature for them.

  39. It seems there are over 850 members of the APE group over on flickr at the moment, with a couple of days left to run. So Rob has at least 1700 pictures to look through……

    I am wondering a couple of things –

    1. How many of those 850+ can seriously make it into the slideshow ?

    2. What will the feeling be among those who don’t make the cut ?

    As the “bar is high” we should probably not be expecting a huge slideshow – indeed surely a slideshow with more than a couple of hundred pictures in is going to put people off looking anyways. But what will the reaction be of those rejected ? Is Rob about to disgruntle 500 loyal readers ?

    As AH has pointed out on “WTJackanory”, how embarrassing to enter and not get i picked…… I imagine AH can handle the rejection, but what of other photographers not so secure in their own talent, with no blog to hear their sighs ? When the show goes up and they are not there how will the rejected be able to cope with seeing the work that did make it – “How in the hell could that make it in ?!”

    Are the cries of “Great idea, thanks Rob” about to turn sour ?

    We sit and wait.


  40. @39: “You have to take the time to get to know someone, its a common sense no brainer, if you engage a photographer and don’t have the facts about whats required in relation to their ability to do something then maybe there is an issue with the person hiring as well.”

    Yes, but that’s exactly the point Rob is making! If you give Flickr as your point of contact, then you’re not helping to further the engagement. He’s looking for clues about commitment and reliability and pointing out that the world’s largest photo album doesn’t help in that regard because it is so easy to bung a few photos up for no cost and no effort and with no commitment. Sure he can tell whether the work is fit for purpose, but not whether the photographer is.

    It’s the difference between eBay anonymity and a personal storefront. You can find out with effort who is who, which sellers are reliable and professional, but in an oversupplied world, it’s just poor sales psychology to expect a potential buyer to do the work.

    What he hasn’t said anywhere is that Flickr is crap or that the work on it is crap, or that it’s of no relevance to pro’s, or that people won’t get work through it, or that it isn’t useful. Yet most of the arguments here address those issues instead, which just aren’t in the OP anywhere. That’s really rather funny, and I bet his next piece will be about pro’s not listening to the brief.

  41. @ 12:

    David Alan Harvey:

    Annie Leibovitz:

    Alex Webb:

    (books, not website)

    Sam Abell:

    (Story, not website)

    James Nachtwey:

    (For the record, it could be argued that, with most everyone on this list, and anyone else that’s reached a particular plateau, that the website either transfers to the rep, or to their agency. At some point, very well known people don’t need/use websites in the same way that lesser-known photographers do. In short, once you’ve got your own Wikipedia entry, let’s just say that the rules change somewhat).

  42. Hi Troy, thanks for the thoughtful response. I think the point I was trying to make was missed by some which could easily have been the way I worded it.

    Aligning your marketing with a website that is used by hundred’s and thousands of photographers of all varying degree’s does not make you stand out. Yes it is easier and yes it is cheaper and when you are paying those huge overages per month I can see why that matters. I also think as poster #31 said it is a great tool for sharing images and showing new work. That said, when approaching new clients I think you would want to stand out from the crowd and not align yourself with them – How many times have you heard ‘your portfolio is only as good as your worst image in it’?. I think this trancends mediums and using a site that does host such a vast (and mostly amature) array of photography is just not the best approach.

    I have as I mentioned found talent on Flickr and used their images. There is talent there and no one is saying there isn’t. But I went looking for it because all the usual sources came up dry.

    Enjoy your Saturday!

  43. Mario Iviolli

    i would be curious about this:

    * if the goal for this collection is to hook up photo editors and photographers, would not it be equally useful, if not more useful, to take these submissions, but then also have rob haggart add in his own choices for quality editorial photographers, even if they did not submit? based on his new york city experience, i’m sure he’s met them all, or at least heard of them. what if matt mahurin, or any number of incredible editorial people did not submit; should not they be added, based on rob haggart’s experience?

    * will this collection of photographers be displayed by city of residence, or by shooting style?

    * i would also like to see an inverse/mirror list, which would be “which magazines are worth shooting for?”, along with their assignment rate, (and how long they take to pay). the list would be made up solely of magazines that use and display photography well, ie, Outside, Wired, Fast Company. it would be humorous to see magazines also “try out” for this rob collection, (and to see 70% of them rejected).

  44. I’m conflicted about the whole deal and that’s why I wrote the post. I needed an easy way to edit photos and instantly publish the results on the blog in a clean functional slide show viewer (without logos). There’s nothing better than Flickr for that. I’ve also discovered it’s a great tool for sending a stock pull to a client because unlike FTP I can make changes after I’ve sent links to the client and the client doesn’t have to download all the images they can look and grab their select.

    As a photo editor FTP can suck up valuable computer time waiting for the files to download (I used to make the associate photo editor download the photos so I could keep working) and at my last job our own FTP site was spotty and therefore worthless so CD’s/DVD’s/harddrive was the fastest method. Actually the best method was to get an email with the selects and a dvd with the whole take (not the whole shoot) the next day. Never underestimate the shitty IT departments at magazines. They’re the weak link in any solution.

    Someone should create a solution for photographers and photo editors and that’s another reason I wrote the post. Maybe Photoshelter will do it.

    The stigma exists and I’ve heard from a few photographers that don’t want to be associated with Flickr and will not submit images and that bugs me so I wanted to write the post to try and talk them into it but first I had to acknowledge my own bias. It’s not that difficult to see why I would think you’re an amateur if you put your images on Flickr. That’s what it was created for and that’s who primarily uses it. If I’m making an assignment it’s not just about finding someone who takes good pictures. I need a professional. That way I don’t spend two hours on the phone or email explaining what needs to happen. I can’t even begin to tell you all the things I take for granted when working with a professional. I wouldn’t even know where to start if I hired an amateur photographer. I’d probably need a four page list of instructions and highly detailed shot list.

    The great thing about this contest is If I don’t select your image you can tell everyone what a moron I am. You also don’t have to pay an entry fee.

  45. @ Mario: I asked Mahurin to submit. I can’t include people that don’t want to be a part of the promo but I can assure you there will be plenty of recognizable names because I asked many of my favorites if they would participate. That doesn’t mean they make the cut tho. Their work still has to be great and fresh.

  46. I don’t think anyone will be to crushed if they don’t get in. I’m sure everyone here at some point has entered a contest be it a juried show or a magazine contest like the ones PDN has nearly every month, and I’m sure we’ve all been rejected. If I don’t get in so be it, not a big deal there are so many things that go into judging these things that you really can’t blame the messenger. Maybe my portrait is Rob’s 12 th favorite portrait submitted but he only wants 11 portraits and then 11 product shots. Hopefully people will see it that way, so go a head and reject me I’ll survive, if I do get it in though I’ll have a special feeling all day long. I’M

  47. Mario Iviolli

    @ #48 Rob:

    interesting that you refer to it as a “contest”. i thought your initial post referred to it as a service to connect photo buyers with professional editorial photographers. to me, that’s quite a gap in definition (and feeling).

    i can’t imagine that any established photographer would feel the need to enter if it’s a “contest”, especially if they’re already working regularly. if you think about it, what do they have to gain — they’re already working; they’re already connected; they only have a downside, if you call it a contest, and then the two images that they choose don’t meet your criteria of great and fresh.

    the only ones that seem to have anything to gain are the guys on the way up, and by the images we’ve seen, would 90% of them meet your criteria of “back of the book assigment ready”?

    contest seems really different from service. in feeling. is there a defined limit to how many would be selected?

    and why “great and fresh”? paolo roversi been shooting the same 8×10 polaroid, one-second exposures for years now; if he submitted those, would those be considered stale?

    even with these questions pending, it’s still a GREAT idea, and I’ll bet, in the end, it turns out great.

  48. My Bad. It’s not a contest. It’s a juried free promotion.

    There’s two ways to be fresh. I’ve never heard of you fresh and I’ve never seen that photo before fresh. I think photographers and buyers will get more out of this if they present unexpected work. I certainly won’t penalize Paolo for sending in his normal stuff but he’ll probably get a better reaction from buyers if it were something we’ve not seen before.

    You can’t possibly have seen any of the work submitted. There are hundreds in my inbox and hundreds on Flickr that no one but myself can see.

    Photographers enter contests to get more better paying clients. You just raise your prices a bit and suddenly you need to add a couple clients.

    Plus people want their work validated. So they enter a contest.

    Anyway this isn’t a contest. I may have to do one tho. I’ve got plenty of volunteers to make a great panel of judges.

  49. Someone should create a solution for photographers and photo editors and that’s another reason I wrote the post. Maybe Photoshelter will do it.

    This reminds me — another feature that flickr (or some other service) would be wise to implement is more advanced support for RAW files. You could upload the RAW files for distribution along with whatever post-processing “settings” you want on it. (Much in the same way that bibble/et al. let you do non-destructive editing by applying “settings” on the RAW file).

  50. “I can’t even begin to tell you all the things I take for granted when working with a professional.”

    This sounds like a future post……

    “You can’t possibly have seen any of the work submitted. There are hundreds in my inbox and hundreds on Flickr that no one but myself can see.”

    Not quite so, Rob. All someone needs to do is go to your group, click on “members” and then see what any member might have just uploaded titled “ 1&2” recently.

  51. Editing is always subjective, and life is unfair.

    Most working photographers are used to a certain level of rejection.

    I submitted images to the promo. Should they not make the cut, it won’t ruin my life or career, and I will wonder how I might dazzle Rob on my next submission.

    If I make it to the final select – then yes – It will be validating.

    Then I will get back to work.

  52. Rob

    Very interesting thread.

    I agree that the right marketing materials are needed for the segment you are looking to get work in, as in Rome, well you know the saying …. I think from the reaction here this is experiment you are running is something that “pros” feel for most part valuable and certainly they respect your leadership.

    However, I get the feeling in this line “It’s not that difficult to see why I would think you’re an amateur if you put your images on Flickr. That’s what it was created for and that’s who primarily uses it.” that you may be missing something of value. I would argue that by focusing on the “amateurs” and not the audience we will be overlooking a valuable and sustainable marketing opportunity. You own an audience.

    This audience of “amateurs” are the same people who consume a photographer’s images in mass magazines. They are the audience. They are the consumers. The photo editors are gate keepers and curators. They are powerful filters but they are not in the case of mass magazines the audience. By perpetuating the stigma, we are keeping photographers from an audience, from the audience.

    I think by not encouraging some kind of long term involvement in a photographer’s body of work that a site like Flickr can offer through the mass audience platform it provides, we diminish a fantastic opportunity to connect with the very people who consume the photographs. I am not sure if magazines can make it happen themselves they have a vested interest in their brand – not in establishing a long term connection with broadest possible audience and enhancing the value of the photographer as recognizable.

    By dismissing the vernacular aesthetic of Flickr with the audience we dismiss “the audience”. I think photographers coming into the business over the next few years will have this in their DNA. A few top tier photographer’s will have other methods of direct to audience marketing. The more intimate an audience is with a photographer, the more valuable the photographer becomes to the properties that hire them.

    I am not an editorial photographer but have learned much form the readers contribution here over the last few months. Thanks for this valuable resource.

  53. Chris I have the same issue. In fact I have be designing and redesigning my own gallery / library to deliver just that.

    Because of the time zone differences between Australia and a lot of my editorial clients I have no choice but to set up some sort of delivery service that they can download the images in RAW (which a lot of them are now asking for), it’s either that or stay up all night sending images.

    The software that I am working on is Gallery2, it does have a RAW module called DCRaw, but the Gallery itself is a work in progress. I am trying to get it looking and feel as professional as possible so that editors like Rob feel comfortable viewing it and using it.

    Mike Brown

  54. The stigma exists and I’ve heard from a few photographers that don’t want to be associated with Flickr
    A few photographers don’t like digital, a few photographers don’t like film, others don’t like photoshop… the list really goes on and on. This is not the way to validate a stigma on flickr, though I think other reasons (a few of them mentioned above) do point to a stigma.

    That one has to work with such people is part of the job description. The same goes for how to maximize the use of a website not intended for a certain kind of work (photo editor may come to mind), but to make efficient use of it. Doing Google searches can be rather frustrating in general, but after a while, one can master the way to avoid false hits — the same goes with flickr.

    Having my own website is imperative, and I think this point is clear to most photographers. The problem seems to be that most websites come before the photographer is ready (to create a viable and useful layout), or the lack of ability to control the use of flash for easy navigation.

    I checked, which caters to a less-social, higher-quality photo-sharing function. However, it is rather unwieldy and problematic to check it out and learn how to make the most of it. The taming of flickr comes from both sides, the photo editor (or photo-searcher), and the photographer, but there is no consensus on how should this be approached either.

  55. @55: To some degree, that’s already happened — take the case of Rebekka Guoleifsdottir, who, as Flickr’s most popular photographer landed a deal with Toyota. While her photography is excellent, I’m not sure whether Toyota signed her on because Flickr brought her work to their attention or whether Toyota wanted the hip, tuned-in cachet associated with hiring the best-known photographer on the Web’s largest (24million+ users) photo board. Like the stories of microstock* photographers making six figure incomes, though, I’m not sure how much of an outlier Rebekka’s case represents.

    In any case, I’m not sure how valid a marketing strategy Flickr represents for most photographers. My impression is that it’s pretty time consuming to build a brand for yourself on there.

    *Ignore this word. Should you feel any urge to angrily discuss business models relating to it, find a different thread. It may help to mentally replace the word with something less incendiary. Try ‘broomsnaggle.’

  56. I am not a flickrite, but a friend who is told me to download the add-on “piclens” to my internet application (a one-click process. easy) and then go check out his flickr stream.

    it’s Pretty far-out! forget the slideshow from flickr, everyone should download this to check out the finalist!

  57. @55 Ron, that’s a wonderful follow-up comment and I couldn’t agree more with the analogy that our collective audience is the same audience that uses flickr and believes in it.

    I also agree that by dismissing flickr we (in some sense) dismiss the audience.

    However, where I think we’re off is very obviously the act of growing an audience. And from my professional standpoint, the only audience I want to grow is my own.

    And by that I mean I want to build an appropriate frame for my work that is easily distinguishable from other photographers. The audience WILL follow.

    That is also why some of the photographers I mentioned don’t have a web site. They have much more impressive frames with a much greater and more influential audience.

    What I really dislike about flickr? It’s clearly someone else’s frame, rather like a magazine is someone else’s frame.

    If, on the other hand, I focus my energies on building my own frame and growing my own audience I will have better ‘spent’ my efforts.

    Those efforts do not go unrewarded, whether it’s through more deserving, better paying assignments by magazine editors or another kind cliente.

    That is also why I suggested to Rob that he build his own frame. The payoff will be more than worth the headache.

    The argument I would also make against using flickr is one of independence. Let’s promote a way that empowers professionals.

    Don’t get me wrong, flickr is an important landmark in photography. It’s a connector and it gets people passionate about the subject. But there is also a massive fault line which (I hope) I’ve pointed out.

    My bet is this: flickr will always cheapen my efforts, diminish my own audience (with its very specific profile) AND it will diminish my own artistic and economic independence.

    I believe I’m capable of much more than flickr has to offer, whether the photo editor chooses my images or not. And so my efforts at growing my own also inoculate me from the inevitable let-down.

    Thanks again for your insight here.

  58. I don’t know what I can really add to such an already massive discussion, other than the fact that Rob (Photo Editor), in his post, was referring to Flickr in the context of submissions to picture editors and creatives at magazines/ad agencies. Sending someone a flickr link says, even if it’s not entirely true, “I’m too lazy to take the effort of creating a bespoke online and/or printed portfolio that fits my style”, it also says that you’re probably just someone who’s

    A) Had a bunch of people tell you that your shallow depth of field, close up photos of some peoples faces and rusty pipes are “sick”
    B) Thinks they take pretty pictures that are magazine worthy.

    Why is it any skin off a photo editor’s nose to instantly bin a flickr link, when they get hundreds of submissions a week and maybe 50% of those submissions are from genuine pros with exceptional work?

    Again, I believe Rob’s post is more about what is proper when submiting to magazines and agencies, rather than whether you personaly having a flickr page automatically means you’re an amateur (which I don’t believe is what he’s saying). I have a flickr page, a personal website and a book; I would NEVER send anyone I was trying to get hired by, a link to my flickr page, unless they explicitly asked for it (for whatever reason), which I can’t imagine ever happening.

  59. Dear Rob, somehow it appears like 2 different persons, or the same person with 2 diffferent profiles submitted the same image to your flickr site…

    Very Pro indeed.


  60. NW Photographer

    For better or worse, Flickr is creating another community. The WWW is a community, Facebook is a commnity, and Flickr is a community. Lets assume all pro photographers have a website. For the most part the only way to drive traffic is via www search or outbound marketing.

    What Flickr does is create a search sub-set for photography outside the www world. Photographers who don’t need to grow their brand or business don’t need Flickr. Anybody who wants to grow their photo brand or business should use Flickr to help drive traffic back to their own site.