Why Flickr Lost Me as a Pro

Posted on June 7th 2013

Why Flickr Lost Me as a Pro

I recently uploaded this photo to Flickr.

I was a dedicated Flickr Pro. I paid annual dues since 2007, most recently at $24.95 a year, for the privilege of uploading an unlimited quantity of photos and viewing zero ads on the Yahoo-owned photo sharing site. I uploaded 2,030 photos.

The bulk of my photos are from the first year under an older account. My newer uploads — over the past 12 months, anyway — are predominantly copies of photos that began on Foursquare or Instagram.

Compare my Flickr and my Instagram portfolios and you’ll observe lots of similarities.

Despite my Flickr usage waning in recent months, I was still willing to be a Pro member. No more. With the latest announcement of a new design and that every Flickr user gets 1 terabyte of storage, I asked myself why I needed to pay them anymore.

Do you see the above photo (which you can click to visit it on Flickr)? It is approximately 240 kilobytes.

The basic math is
1,024 kilobytes = 1 megabyte
1,024 megabytes = 1 gigabyte
1,024 gigabytes = 1 terabyte

In other words, imagine a single page in a magazine can store 5,000 characters. A single terabyte is about 220 million pages.

Why was I paying for unlimited storage when I could have a terabyte of storage for free?

I looked at the new site and, while I commend the Yahoo engineers for bringing it into 2013 to resemble Pinterest, MySpace, and other photo-rich sites, a lot of the simplicity I used to take for granted has been stolen away from me.

I wasn’t alone.

Gary Marshall elaborates:

Users are complaining about basic usability, unwanted infinite scrolling, slow loading, the removal of titles (they only appear on mouseover now), problems finding stuff, the ability for someone else’s glamour shots to dominate your front page, the complete impossibility of clicking links in the front page footer… you get the idea.

Most of it sounds like the sort of teething problems you encounter when a free service undergoes a radical revamp — but for its most loyal users, Flickr isn’t a free service. It’s something they pay for, and have done for a long time.

Jennifer Van Grove used to pay Flickr but she pulled back some time ago. She wonders if even a terabyte of data is enough to sway away folks who upload photos to Facebook where there are no storage limitations.

Yahoo’s real pitch seems to be one of practicality. Upload to Flickr. Store forever. And you can still share to Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr in the process, even when you’re on an iPhone or Android. But who actually thinks like that? Certainly not Instagram users who have gravitated to the app because of its speed and simplicity. And where’s the fun here? At least Google+ launched a photo experience with funky photo extras.

Flickr’s approach is more mature. It’s for the grownups out there. It’s not sexy enough to motivate most people, youngsters in particular, to change their behaviors — or their preferred photo-sharing network.

My mind was made up.

I logged into my Flickr account.

I looked at the differences.

Here are the benefits of Flickr Pro.

I canceled.

Flickr asked me if I wanted to cancel.

I am free.

I am now a free Flickr user.

It is bittersweet.

Gary says it best:

[E]ither Yahoo has completely lost its mind or Flickr doesn’t want the pros any more.

The smart money’s on the latter. Pros may have made Flickr what it is – and kept it alive during Yahoo’s long years of neglect — but they’re not a great demographic for ads, and that’s what Flickr is chasing now. Flickr used to beg photographers to go Pro. Now, it seems, it wants the pros to go.

P.S. Here’s a great resource to learn and read more about the Flickr changes.


Ari Herzog

Ari Herzog is a storyteller, speaker, and media consultant. Since 2009 he has helped organizations of all sizes create and integrate social media strategies to connect with their audiences. Ari holds a Master in Public Administration, is an elected city councilor in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and is campaigning in 2014 to be elected as State Representative. Learn more about Ari on his campaign site and media blog.

See Full Profile >


Zach Taiji
Posted on June 7th 2013 at 3:30PM

I've been using Flickr Pro for awhile now too (since 2009), but also recently stopped because of their new changes. A cap on storage, and a really half-assed "new" design. I noticed that while the top half of pages has a new look, the bottom half still has the same exact design of the older Flickr. The new pricing really got me though - so I went ahead and finally made the switch over to 500px (which many enthusiast-pro photographers have been doing) for $40/year. Signing into Klout got me a huge discount, and I've got unlimited storage, a much prettier interface, more professional community, and a free standalone portfolio site. 

I'll miss how big the Flickr community is, and the groups, but otherwise I won't. Honestly not happy with Yahoo/Flickr's new changes, and the more professional focused community of 500px encourages me to only post my best work.

Posted on June 8th 2013 at 1:18AM

Nice one Ari, same situation here.

I have been a Pro Flickr member since 2005 and today 'downgraded' to a free account for the reasons you have discussed here.

I too find the UI painful and annoying. It may sound odd but I feel it is now too focused on the photos and not the users experience. It's also about discovery and the UI to do this is now buried below the images, out of the way.

The old Flickr let you view all the details about the photo in a single view - that's what I liked!

Really struggling to find a use and purpose for it now, particularly as Qoop (printing sservice) has closed down - hence the downgrade.