Last week (click here if you want to read it) I began a two part article talking about Facebook Vs Instagram Vs Flickr, and I ended up by saying that I’d talk about Instagram this week.
I really don’t feel qualified to speak much about Instagram, I know it works for many of you, I know photographers that say they get work via Instagram and other photographers that have been employed to shoot people’s Instagram selfies. I’ve even been commissioned to shoot material for a start-up that was sorely to be used on Instagram.
This suggests to me that Instagram is, if nothing else, a serious marketing tool.
There are many Instagramers that are very serious, passionate and talented with their photography. Unlike Facebook, Instagram is JUST the pictures.
But for me, Instagram just seems a little like a hollow popularity contest, maybe I’m just bitter because well y’know I’m just not that popular on it… but the followers you have seem so important, and people follow you purely to get you to reciprocate, then unfollow you straight away (there’s several apps for telling you when that happens by the way)
The other thing with Instagram is of course the tags. Tags seem to be a cottage industry all of their own, with many blogs and sites etc offering advice on the best tags to use. I’m afraid that I have no advice to share about this. I recently conducted an experiment in that I cut nearly all my tags (eg #Fujifilm #repostmyxyz etc) from my posts and my images got just as much/little attention as they ever did.
There’s some very seriously impressive photography on Instagram, and an awful lot of talent. It’s entirely possible to have a dialogue about photography on Instagram, although PERSONALLY I often find I need urban dictionary open in my browser to understand what’s being said. (In case it crops up for you, turns out that dats propa lit m8 means they like it. Go figure.)
The thing with Instagram for me (so YMMV) is that when your 24 stops of DR, lovingly blended in Photoshop from 86 separate exposures you made half way up a mountain in Iceland gets 6 ‘likes’ and some teenager pouting in front of the bathroom mirror, while her kid brother takes a leak in the background gets 13,546 likes, I wonder if it’s a serious photography platform.
Perhaps that’s a little unfair… like Facebook, there’s some truly compelling work on display, but like Facebook you’ll need your Sherlock Holmes hat on to be able to find it.
You’re welcome to check out my stuff on Instagram, I’m @adamjbonn
This brings us to Flickr.
I like Flickr a lot. I like that I can upload full res images, I like that it lists me as the copyright holder, I like the groups, I like being able to make albums.
I’ve been on Flickr since 2008 and although I’m slightly scared Instagram will force Flickr away in the same way that Facebook did to MySpace, I really do find that Flickr works for me and what I want out of an online receptacle to host my images. As a Flickr ‘Pro’ member I get to see decent stats about my work.
For me (so as ever, YMMV) I find Flickr to be the best place to post and also the nicest place to hang out!
Not only has my personal experience with user interactions been nicer on Flickr, but I feel the whole set up is more geared towards photographers than Facebook or Instagram.
You get tags, as per Facebook and Instagram, and albums as per Facebook. We also get groups and galleries.
Anyone can set up a group or a gallery, and (much like Facebook) there’s groups for just about anything you’d care to think of, from specific cameras and lenses, to genres such as Street, Fine Art, DOF, Landscape etc
Flickr also allows you to host your images on other sites (by copying and pasting the ‘BBCode’) such as forums and even your blog!
When I engage with other Flickr users, I actually get the impression I’ve talking with people that care about photography. I’ve been blessed with some insightful and flattering comments, and some helpful feedback.
There’s no easy mechanism to see who’s followed you / unfollowed you on Flickr. Simply put, Flickr is about the photos, and in my opinion that’s a breath of fresh air these days!
Flickr also promotes what it calls the ‘top 500’ pictures a day via its explore channel. There’s a lot of speculation about how to get into explore and Flickr apparently often changes the algorithm, but one thing’s for certain – being desperate for attention is not the correct recipe!
The more tags you add, the more groups you place your photo in, the less likely you are to get ‘explored’
Being “explored” isn’t a life changing experience, but when it happens you usually pick up some new followers and a couple of days of extra attention (say 20,000 extra views on your photos)
I like that Flickr logs views as a stat – with Facebook and Instagram you only tend to know who’s liked or commented, but knowing how many people have actually looked as well is nice.
As much as dats propa lit m8 is a well-meaning compliment, and as heartfelt as anything else, there’s something about a dialogue about your work or a group/gallery invite to one of your shots that I just personally find more pleasing than someone taking the ‘time’ to click a little heart or a thumbs up symbol as per the other social media channels.
Whether I’m browsing or joining groups based on the gear I shoot or the gear I covet, or on the genres of photography that inspire me, I just feel better catered for on Flickr than on Facebook and Instagram.
There’s a reason that I post the least on Flickr, the most on Facebook and the medium on Instagram… I try to keep my Flickr quality at the highest between all three channels and the reason for this, is that I feel it deserves it.
If you want to browse my Flickr Photo stream I’m there as Adam Bonn
What about you?
What’s your favourite social media platform for photography and why?
Perhaps you feel I’ve been too harsh on Facebook and Instagram?
As ever let me know!
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