At the end of this month my Flickr Pro account will come up for renewal. It turns out that they doubled the price last summer (from 25 to 50 USD/year). Recently Flickr also announced that free accounts will be limited starting January 1st, 2019. The new limit will be at 1000 photos, and accounts with more images will see their oldest images deleted.

I have been a Flickr Pro member since early 2005, and store some 25.000 photos there, making up 75GB. I took a paid account in 2005 because back then they had a 200 photo cap for free accounts, and I easily reached that limit.

With a rate change like this it is a good time to evaluate whether the service is still good enough for me to keep at the new rate.

How do I use Flickr?

  • It’s an off-site back-up of photos
  • I use it to find Creative Commons licensed material for my presentations
  • I publish photos under such a license myself, to enable others to use them
  • I embed Flickr photos in my blogposts, so I do not have to store them on my hosting account (which has much less storage, 3GB)
  • I use it to quickly find things back in my own photos, through its album structure and search. “Don’t I have a picture of that building from when I visited that conference in Copenhagen a few years ago?”

So if I would want to replace Flickr, e.g. by bringing it home to something more under my control, what would that need to look like?

  • For the off-site storage I could easily find cheaper alternatives, in fact I already run several of them where there’s still over 50TB of total storage available.
  • Finding CC images on Flickr is still possible if you’re not a registered member, but it misses some showing me photos by myself and those I’m connected to first. I have a preference for using photos from my network.
  • Contributing CC images is important to me, also as I feel reciprocity is important, as I do use CC images by others a lot too. I don’t know of any other place where I could add CC licenses to my photos that casually. I have seen places where you’d pool your curated images under CC but that is additional work. Part of the utility is to automatically add CC licenses to everything I store online. Maybe some of you know an alternative?
  • Embedding photos easily at various formats (using HTML only, as I strip out the javascript stuff Flickr also provides) is something I have no ideas for an alternative currently. Probably it would mean exposing a replacement storage to the public, but not sure how to replace resizing on the fly. I could also try and do what Peter did, replacing all currently embedded photos on my blog, the photos I made at least, with locally hosted ones. It would solve this for the past, but not for the future.
  • Search replacement like embedding replacement would depend on having public storage, and would require keeping the album structure, added titles, geo-locations etc. That added metadata (80% of my photos have tags and geotags) were all added manually during upload, geotags mostly added manually, some automatically)

The ‘cost of leaving’ is mostly sunk efforts like added titles, tags and locations. So even if it feels differently, that is not a rational consideration to keep an account. Especially not as you can download all Flickr material including that metadata, so it is more about how you would make that metadata useful in a new set-up. The decision to make is if I want to find and set-up a workable alternative in the coming three weeks to save 100 USD, or do I buy myself 2 years of time with those 100USD?

If you have left Flickr in the past few years, what does your current workflow around photos look like?

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