I’ve been a Flickr user (and a ‘pro’) since 2007. My pro membership was due for renewal on 15th of June – and I didn’t renew! I’ve found Flickr more of a pain to use as another and newer services have come along.
I decided to find an alternative.
I’m not a pro photographer, but I like taking and sharing photos and I’ve got a pretty decent camera. I wanted something that was easy to use, pretty to look at – on the web and mobile – (something that Flickr really isn’t in today’s standards), be ‘findable’ (no point in sharing photos if people can’t find them!) and be able to upload/access from iOS devices (’cause that’s how I roll!) and folders/galleries and easy posting to Twitter would be a nice extra.
So here’s a (brief) look at the alternatives I looked at (and tried in some cases) – and the one I’m happily now using:
Facebook - Yes, it may have the most uploaded photos out there, but I’m not exactly a fan of Facebook (if I didn’t need it for work, I wouldn’t have an account), so this was out as an option straightaway…
Instagram - Although lovely for making your photos all retro and square, and it’s on my iPhone, there’s no nice web service (without using a third party service/site) and now it’s own by Facebook, that also doesn’t encourage me!
Tumblr – I know several people who use Tumblr as their main way of sharing photos, but for me Tumblr is almost ‘too social’ and I’m not a huge fan of the Tumblr visuals/design.
Google+ – Google’s own social network is really getting into photos – well if you use Android! From the desktop and iOS I found no better to use than Flickr. Also I’m not really a Google+ user, so it didn’t really fit the bill (and the url of the albums/photos are very long and not exactly memorable!).
ZangZing - is a new and interesting looking service. There’s easy importing from a range of existing sites and services (including Flickr) and very security and sharing tools. In fact this is how ZangZing really works, it’s designed for sharing albums with groups of people – rather than being ‘out there’ for all to see. You can also allow certain people to add photos to albums. I can see this being brilliant for church youth groups, clubs, even missionaries, where photos taken at events/parties can be uploaded/shared between only to the people you want to allow to see them/comment on them. But it’s not quite what I’m looking for… (From July 2012 ZangZing is offering paid options for extra space – the free account will have 2GB, plenty for most people.)
SmugMug – is a great site and service with loads of great features. However, it’s really designed for pro & semi-pro photographers who are looking to show their services and sell their photos (not really me).
Pinterest – Now you can upload photos/pins directly to Pinterest, this rather appealed to me. I love the way Pinterest displays images and boards can be used as folders/galleries. However, I wondered about the ‘re-pinning’ aspect and just how I could control the use of my photos… Also I’ve not been able to find a sane iOS direct upload method. (And due the nature of Pinterest, I can always pin my own photos from another site…) Here’s my photos board on Pinterest.
Dropbox and views.fm – I LOVE Dropbox, it’s part of my daily workflow. And with it’s Camera Upload Feature, I thought this could be a great option. When you add upload/add photos (to the ‘Photos’ folder) it even turns it into a gallery/slideshow for you (albeit not a very pretty one). However, you have to give these urls out to people to find them (both a good and a bad thing…). I wondered if there was a service that could make Dropbox prettier – turns out there is: views.fm! It’s a brilliantly simple service that takes any existing Dropbox folder (or you can add a new one) and turns it into a rather lovely page. Here’s a very simple one I made with a couple of photos in: http://jpc101.views.fm/share. You’re not limited to photos either, it can display audio and video files as well. The one main drawback is it’s not easy to find. However, this might not be a bad thing if you want to nicely share items with a selected group of people. And although I didn’t go for this as my main photo sharing option, it’s certainly something I’ll be using to show layouts/designs to my clients!
Posterous – I used Posterous for my (very sporadic) personal blog for several years because of it’s ease of use. So I wondered if I could convert it into a photoblog/gallery. I’ve used my Posterous photo friendly theme and it’s pretty nice. However, iOS uploads isn’t the greatest by any means and I fear that now it’s owned by Twitter that it might suffer the same fate as Flickr under Yahoo! – stagnation and a slow lingering death…
Twitter – Having just expressed concerns about Twitter owning Posterous, it might surprise you that I very seriously considered using Twitter as my Flickr alternative! It’s very easy to upload photos using any good Twitter client (Echofon is my client of choice on the Mac and iOS.) and Twitter’s own photo storage backend is powered by photobucket (which isn’t listed here in its own right as it’s just too ugly!) and I really do like the photo grid it uses to display photos uploaded on a tweet, here’s mine. However, I decided it was a little too ‘one dimensional’ – no easy way to share a photo at a nice big size and certainly no folders/galleries. So I’ll be using it to share silly and ‘social’ photos but not the place to store my really nice, and larger, photos.
OpenPhoto – This is a new service on the block and looks very interesting. It’s an open source photo sharing service which allows you to store your photos on either Dropbox or Amazon’s S3 hosting (very cheap scalable pay as you use hosting). It seems to have a great developer community behind it and there’s some nice features being developed such as import tools and albums. There’s also an iPhone app for uploading photos (Google Play app is in the works). Here’s a few of my photos on OpenPhoto. However, it’s still very much in the growing stage at the moment and I’m sure will be a fantastic service, but it’s not quite what I’m looking for yet.
That’s quite a few services I’ve looked at, now all that’s left is the winner and the Flickr replacement I’m happily using:
500px – This great site and service was recommended to me by fellow ChurchMag author Jay Caruso – and I’m really glad he did! In a word 500px is BRILLIANT! It displays photos in a stunning way, is a joy to use and has all the features I was looking for. So here are my photos on 500px. The community on the site is great and there are some simply awesome and inspiring (and humbling) photographers on there. Overall feedback is given via ‘affection’ – a combination of views/likes/favs and comments and each photo has it’s ‘pulse’ again, calculated on those stats. There are three membership options, the two paid ones offering features like sets, stats and unlimited uploads (the free option allows up to 10 uploads a week). There’s an iPad app which allows you to view photos on the site, but not upload – for that I found PhotoStackr for 500px which works on all iOS devices and does uploading as well as a really nice browsing interface. You can also add the photos from people you follow on 500px and the editor’s choice photos on Flipboard. Although I’m not actively looking to sell my photos, one nice feature on 500px (for all users) is that if your photo is larger than 3600px on the longest size, it can be sold in the 500px market (either as an HD download or canvas print). I’m VERY happy with 500px and look forward to using it for years to come!
So that was my choice.
Do you still use Flickr?
Have you found an alternative – if so what?
[Image via ilker]