Photos Spare Cycles MythBusters

Migrating Off Flickr (Partially)

I've spent much of my holiday vacation writing scripts to migrate my Flickr galleries to MovableType. It's still a work in progress over at, but I'm pointing out a bit early in case anyone has some feedback. So far I've only completed the first phase, which is to write the script that migrates from Flickr; the next phase is deblogify things so that it looks more like a photo gallery and then start moving in the photos. While the overall design will probably fall short of Flickr's, I have made it easier for visitors to copy photos for embedding and the performance will also be better.

I am still fond of Flickr and will continue to use it, but I want to de-emphasize its role for my pro photography -- I don't like the fact that I have become more reticent to post personal photos to Flickr. I also think I can deliver a better integrated experience and increase traffic (Google Image Search delivers 100x as many visitors to as my Flickr photostream).

Recently the blogosphere had a little flareup when photographer Lane Hartwell had a popular video pulled from YouTube because it used one of her photos without attribution. Bloggers, who depend on free, interesting content, were crying "fair use" and incensed that she wasn't grateful to see her photo appear. Pro photojournalists seemed to migrate to Hartwell's corner, glad that someone stood up for their rights that center around a licensing-based business model.

After initially siding with the bloggers, I found myself pulled towards the middle. Bloggers and photojournalists have entirely different models of success and compensation. As a blogger, I would be thrilled to know my content found its way around the Web -- links and traffic are how bloggers compensate one another. As a photographer, its difficult to cover costs and even prominent attribution isn't worth anything. I want to see creative uses of my photos, but my status is equated with who is willing to pay me: photographers from the top magazines get top access.

And so I wish to strike a balance between my blogger and photographer motivations. I'm pulling in many photos to so that I can own the traffic and project a non-Flickr brand. I'll continue to enable sharing of photos with even easier embedding, but I'm eliminating the availability of hi-res copies. I'll also be more focused on commercial aspects of photography, whether it be selling to magazines or pushing prints more.

I'm in a lucky and grateful position: I don't need to make money doing this. But any money I make from photography is 'free money' that I will roll back into taking more photos at more events in more places. And so this hopefully will mean more photos for you as well.

Comments (6)

Michael Rubin:

This is what I meant last night. Keep blogging! Also in a photographic vein I fond this link which talks about how high school photos are over priced.


Wow, I didn't realize that people actually paid big bucks for high school photos. I think mine were $50 or so as the photographer just shot us rapid fire.


I agree with you. I've always been hesitant to post personal photos to Flickr, and as I desire to shift away from amateur photographer to actually making money selling photographs, having portfolio pieces enmeshed with personal photos seems to make very little sense.

I'd love to have an open discussion around this (feel free to email me). I have spent years trying to find the right balance of: redundant metadata, multiple touches of photos, brand identity, etc. Initially I hand coded my solutions, but this became too big of a time commitment. Then I moved to PixelPost and WordPress, but I hated having multiple sites to manager, and most recently I moved to a CMS solution using Expression Engine. I currently use a blend of self hosted and "externally" hosted (Vimeo and Flickr) content. Of course, there are many pros/cons to each approach. I'm going to dig through your other articles that my friend Mark sent to me, but wanted to open the door for a deeper discussion.

As somebody who's used your CC-licensed content from Flickr, I hope you continue to make *some* of your photos available for us bloggers to use (writing from a completely selfish viewpoint). But if you can make some cash from your excellent work and you wish to develop that further I can completely understand your motivation and agree with your move.

kwc Author Profile Page:

@Fritz: I was a blogger before I was a photographer, so my loyalty will always be with the former and the community around it -- one of my motivations has been to provide CC-licensed photos of pro cyclists to the blogging community to use. The main change for bloggers will be venue: the photos will be hosted on on Flickr, which will create some inconveniences for those who leverage Flickr. The main change that won't affect bloggers is size: I will not be offering the photos in printable resolutions.

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