11 reasons why Flickr is (and always has been) better than Instagram

A lot of people are bummed about dropping Instagram because of their shady new privacy agreement. Don’t be. Here are 11 reasons why Flickr is (and always has been) better than Instagram. Especially now that they’ve finally figured out mobile.

1) FLICKR DOESN’T TREAT YOUR PHOTOS AS TWEETS

On Instagram, your photos are essentially disposable. They’re in your news feed one moment and then, for all intents and purposes, they’re gone. Looking for that one specific photo you took last year? Good luck finding it.

Flickr simply gives more respect to your photos. You still have a news feed, same as Instagram. But your images are also cataloged, tagged, and put in albums. So you can go back and find them as easily as the day you posted them.

That’s not just important to me because I’m a photographer. It’s important because every one of my photos, whether a carefully composed landscape, or a blurry snapshot of my dog, are my memories.

If I’m going to go to the trouble of shooting an image, editing it (even if that just means picking a filter), and uploading it – chances are I’d like to be able to find it again.

It’s the difference between tossing your photos in a pile on the floor and having a shelf full of organized photo albums, where you can go back and find your pictures anytime you want.

2) ON FLICKR, YOU CAN FIND YOUR STUFF WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING FOR IT.

With Flickr, there are lots of ways to go back and find your old photos:

YOUR PHOTOSTREAM
If you prefer seeing your photos in the order that you uploaded them like on Instagram, you can still scroll through your photostream and see them that way.

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TAGS
Add a few tags when you upload your photos. Then, if you want to go back in time and find those photos from your trip to Cape Cod, you can just search your photostream and they’ll all pop up. You can get as detailed in your tags as you want. Tag them all with “Mr. Sprinkles” and you’ll get every photo you’ve ever taken of your cat. Add “Driving” and you’ll only get the ones of your cat behind the wheel.

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SETS AND COLLECTIONS
With sets and collections, you can see an album of photos, organized however you want. Photos of your cat by location. Photos of your cat by season. Photos of your cat by your cat’s current mood. And your photos can be in as many different sets as you want them to be in just by ticking a box. So you can have the photo of your cat being resentful on a crisp autumn day in Paris appear in all three sets without having to upload it three different times.

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ON THE MAP
You can search your photos by map view and see down to the street level where you took them. This info is automatically embedded in your smartphone photos so you don’t need to do a thing. This is especially helpful when planning a trip somewhere and trying to find out what sites you want to see.

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3) YOU CAN UPLOAD MORE THAN ONE
Flickr let’s you upload as many photos at once as you want. And you can tag, describe, title and file the whole batch instead of doing them one tedious photo at a time.

4) EVERY PHOTO DOESN’T HAVE TO BE SQUARE.
How many times have you taken an awesome photo of your cat that you just can’t share to Instagram because some of the best parts are cropped off when you make it a square? On Flickr, you can use whatever dimensions you want. You can even use your iPhone’s panorama setting to take a breathtaking panorama of your cat posing on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Flickr will share the whole thing in all it’s rectangular glory.

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5) FLICKR IS FOR YOUR PHONE PHOTOS AND YOUR CAMERA PHOTOS
If you’re like me, you have photos in more than one place. On a trip, I’ll have photos on my camera and also on my phone. With Instagram, my SLR photos are SOL. With Flickr, I can put them all together in one place so I can share photos from the whole trip, not just the phone shots.

6) YOU CAN SEE YOUR PHOTOS BIGGER THAN 3 INCHES
How many times have you felt like a boob trying to pinch and zoom into a photo on Instagram? It’s like waving your hand in front of the airport bathroom sink only to realize that this particular sink still has the pesky knob that you have to twist if you want water to come out.

On Flickr’s app, you can zoom into that cat photo till your heart’s content. Or pull it up on your computer or iPad and see those whiskers in their full resolution glory.

7) IT’S EASIER TO REVISIT YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOS FROM OTHER PEOPLE
Your favorite friends, your favorite photographers and your favorite photographs. On an Apple TV, you can even make a sideshow of your favorite images. So when you go to work every day, you can play your cat’s favorite song while showing her a slideshow of the very best cat photos from around the world.

8) YOU CAN CONTROL THE PRIVACY SETTINGS ON EVERY PHOTO
You can choose to make your photos public, or change the settings so they can only be seen by friends, family, friends and family, or just yourself. So if you don’t want the whole world seeing your kid’s naked baby photos, you can keep those just between you and your spouse. (And then, when your kid is a teenager, you can hold it over them just how easy it would be to make them all public.)

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9) FLICKR IS TRYING TO SELL MY PHOTOS – SO I CAN GET THE MONEY
A few years ago, after realizing that lots of advertisers and publications look at Flickr to try to find photos, Flickr formed a partnership with Getty Images to help its members to sell the rights to their photos (ONLY if they want to). If you want to make your photos available for sale, Flickr will add a link to the bottom of your photo page (right next to the place where it says your photo is copyrighted by you, all rights reserved).

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Granted, you’re not going to be able to quit your day job and, frankly, I think Getty doesn’t give the photographers nearly as much as they deserve for the photo rights, but I’ve personally made a few hundred dollars over the years by licensing my photos on Flickr. Which, given recent events over at Instagram, is a refreshing change of pace.

10) IT’S EASIER TO TALK WITH PEOPLE

Email
Flickr let’s you email people directly. You can ask questions, share comments or even fall in love, get married and adopt a cat.

Activity
The activity panel on Flickr is more comprehensive, so you don’t miss any comments or favorites.

Better commenting
You can share links in your comments. Or other photos from the same shoot. Or those tiny emojicon things that I will never, ever understand because I’m older than 30.

11) FLICKR LETS YOU SHARE MORE ACTIVELY
On instagram, if people don’t see your photo in your news feed or search for the hashtag, they won’t see your photos. On Flickr, you can share your photos to groups – where they’re more likely to be seen. You can create an invite-only group to share all the photos of your cat from your family reunion. Or you can join a special interest group for people with cats who look uncannily like Robert DeNiro. Or people who take pictures of Dogs on Roofs.

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So there you have it.
11 solid reasons why you shouldn’t feel any remorse about telling Instagram where to stick their new privacy policy. They’re actually doing you a favor. As a long time user of both Flickr and Instagram, I think you’ll like Flickr better anyway.

Here’s where you can download the new Flickr iPhone app

And here’s how download all your Instagram photos and cancel your account.

Uploading them all back up to Flickr is easy. You can just drag and drop the whole batch into the Flickr uploader.

Brian Eden is a freelance advertising copywriter, photographer, long-time Flickr and Instagram user and the founder of the blog MuseumOfFlickr.org.

He did not receive any perks, gifts or compensation from Flickr for writing this op ed article. Though he would certainly welcome some.

You can follow him on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/brianeden

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21 thoughts on “11 reasons why Flickr is (and always has been) better than Instagram

  1. Well said.

    I’ve been team Flickr for years…and still am after the Instagram and 500px takeover.

    • brianeden says:

      Thanks Zach. I agree – there are a lot of good things about instagram and 500px, but neither has proven better to me than Flickr for cataloging and sharing all of my shots.

  2. sherry says:

    Brian ~ maybe you should create a snapguide to Flickr!

  3. 1AEON says:

    INSTAGRAM ‘s beauty was that is was simple and free. Make Flicker free and you’ll get a crazy result or charge $1. you can make that missing money on ads and will gain a few more million fans.

  4. Cadaverine says:

    Great piece! I only wish I didn’t have to log in through Yahoo. It’s the only thing I use that account for and I keep forgetting my arsing password!

    • brianeden says:

      Thanks! You should be able to use facebook or twitter to log in- that’s how I do it. I have no clue what my yahoo password is anymore.

    • SSL.MI says:

      You can log in through Google account or Facebook. It’s right on the sign-up page.

      • Judy says:

        I have two accounts, one that I started with Yahoo, and a more recent one started with gmail. Since I use gmail all the time, it is seamless to use that account. The Yahoo one has some old photos, but it also helps to have two accounts if you want to upload lots of photos and are sticking to the free version. I use just one of the accounts for sharing and setting up galleries, etc.

  5. Mateus says:

    The thing is, Flickr is a graveyard compared to Instagram’s daily activity. Why do you want to have such awsome features if nobody see your photos?

    As a content creator myself, I hate Instagram new TOs, but the social issue can’t be overlooked.

  6. [...] by these changes. And a read through of Twitter this morning proved me right. Many articles, blog posts, radio interviews ranging from “it’s terrible, delete your account immediately” [...]

  7. rzabcio says:

    Number one is just pointless. Instagram and Flickr are completely different services. This comparision is as good as comparing truck to family car and saying that trunk can store more goods. Pointless. Every single next point is bounded with this difference.
    But generally speaking – this is great comparision.

  8. rsmithing says:

    Thank you for illustrating your point in terms of cat photos. As I’m fond of saying, that’s really what the Internet was invented for, after all.

  9. Take a look at Pixplit (http://www.pixplit.com). It is a social photography app that let’s users create images (collages) together. As a matter of fact, our unique co-creation ability is what led AllThingsD to call Pixplit “A Photo App That’s Actually Social”.

  10. Thank you for writing this all down. I wish I had read it yesterday!

  11. Firdaus says:

    you should make a video for this so that people will know how better the flickr is. i admit, i’m also uploading to instagram, but the joy isn’t same as flickr. go make this video and share with everybody! :)

  12. Crystal says:

    Thanks for sorting out the differences between Flickr and Instagram. I always scratched my head over Instagram. Never got the hype around it. I’ve been a Flickr fan for 9 years because there’s just quality photos there, a lot of heart goes into the work and I love the visual narratives.

  13. Thanks for sorting out the differences between Flickr and Instagram. I always scratched my head over Instagram. Never got the hype around it. I’ve been a Flickr fan for 9 years because there’s just quality photos there, a lot of heart goes into the work and I love the visual narratives.

  14. Juan says:

    Great explanation!
    I have both, but you’re right, flickr is better in many ways than Instagram, the second it’s just for fun.

    Regards!

  15. Ryan says:

    I’m sold. I was trying to decide between the two and googled the topic for articles. After reading a couple other similar articles, I still wasn’t sure. Then I read yours… U had me giggling several times. u answered all my lingering questions and concerns, and most importantly I didn’t have to read another person’s opinion on the subject, because the answer for me was clear after reading yours. Flickr ought to send some Benjamin’s your way. This is a very solid interest article based on factual information about each apps features and usability, laced with your personal opinion as a longtime user of both apps, and sprinkled with humor for a more satisfying but still personally productive read. :-)

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