Flickr: The value of going Pro

Just over a year ago now, SmugMug announced the acquisition of Flickr from Verizon’s Oath (née, Yahoo). At the time, I didn’t much care, frankly. My use of Flickr was the same as many people who were suckling at the free storage teat that the site offered; I had (and still have) about 4,000 digital photos uploaded which I put there for accessibility to family and clients.

Then late last year, SmugMug started sending lots of e-mail to me and others: The free ride was, in large part, coming to an end. Or, at least, a truncation — only the newest 1,000 photos would be retained unless I acted promptly. I hemmed. I hawed. And in the end, I paid. Why?

If SmugMug’s e-mail barrage notifying me that “changes are coming!” did nothing else, it made me log into Flickr. Look around. Evaluate my own use of the site. Do the mental calculations of what it was worth to me. In the end, I did nothing. At first. The dire warnings that my content was going to get truncated back to just 1,000 photos didn’t stir me to action by itself.

Then, April 2019 came, and if you’ve read the series here, here, here and/or here, you’ll already know that I rediscovered film photography just a couple of months back. I kicked Flickr’s tires a little more, and hiding there in plain sight was an entire community of like-minded people. There were groups for film photography, but not just that, there were groups for 120 film. Groups for 120 Fuji film. Groups for 120 Fuji Velvia 50 film. And tens of thousands of others, some with tons of members and photos, and some with far fewer. I started browsing. I started getting ideas. And suddenly my film photography interest went from ember to full-on inferno — and it was Flickr I can thank for that, by allowing me access to similarly-minded people’s work that in turn, inspired me.

I decided that before all my historical digital images were purged, and with the intent to post my best film work there, I’d go Pro, and did just that several weeks ago. My reasons were as much altruistic as personal. The MacAskill family, who owns SmugMug (and now Flickr), are reportedly passionate about photography; like really passionate. Flickr clearly suffered under the ownership of Yahoo / Oath / Verizon, there’s nothing like it elsewhere on the internet (no, Instagram is no Flickr), and I wanted to support that as well.

I have to say that my decision was not even slightly influenced by the “Pro Perks” that SmugMug lined-up to get people to pay-up:

First off, I haven’t heard of most of these companies. Second, I don’t need online photography classes, or Lightroom presets, I don’t qualify for the Adobe discount, and I don’t really need photo books.

Then the Pentax 645 happened. And I want to shoot with the other cameras too. And you try to find a single camera bag that holds a medium format body, two 35mm bodies, and a passel of lenses, a flash or two, a light meter, and the usual required bits and bobs you want to shoot with. Seriously, try it. I dare you.

In a random moment, I saw that one item on the Pro Perks list: Peak Design. Hmmm. Who are they? “Gear.” OK, let’s check it out. I did, and well, one word: Score!

Peak Design is a cool San Francisco company that makes some interesting gear and accessories with photographers in-mind. (They also have YouTube video demos of their products which border on annoyingly lame.) But they hatch ideas with Kickstarter (which now that they’re well-established seems a bit cheesy, but anyway), and it seems to work for them:

Scoring US$6,000,000+ for a product with a US$500,000 funding goal seems a pretty clear success.

In any event, the company has some pretty innovative case options for photographers, and after about a month of unease at pulling the trigger for a US$500 purchase, I finally did so with the understanding I could always return all of it within 30 days.

I chose the Travel Backpack 45L with some of its accessories:

I’m not convinced that I want to lug a backpack around; I’ve never been a fan of them. But three cameras plus lenses and accessories isn’t going to work in a shoulder bag in any way I can envision. And the modularity of the Peak Design solution means I can carry some of the internal parts separately when needed.

But the best part? That 20% Flickr Pro discount that dropped a significant US$100 off the final tab. Essentially, I bought the gear for full price and got two full years of Flickr Pro for free — if you want to look at it that way. Regardless, US$100 is non-trivial.

If Peak Design is listening, for the record, until Flickr Pro I’d never heard of you. So whatever deal you made with them has created at least one customer where you didn’t have one before.

When the gear gets here, you can look for a full listing of what I got, along with a review. Until then, I’m feeling pretty smug (bad pun, in light of Flickr’s new owners) about scoring a massive discount on the heels of signing-up.