How Flickr makes you a better photographer

No, just wait!

It’s true! Trust me!

Really! Really.

Flickr can actually make you a better photographer. Flickr has made me a better helped me become a less crappy photographer. Sure, Flickr has warts; half of the community lives for HDR, another quarter want their Safe Search filters off all the time (if you catch my drift) and the rest have their strobes stuck so far up their own…

Getting way off topic here. Flickr, in the right doses and when used the right way, can help you become much better than you were/are, if you’re willing to shut your mouth and swallow your pride.

Consider this case study.

The Case of the Empty Mountain

Flash Parker v. the Seoul Photo Club

Once upon a time, Flash Parker took a photograph of a hill. He thought it was a nice photograph; a sunset that turned the sky a striking ruby red (or thereabouts) and a silhouette of a tree. Who can go wrong with a silhouette of a tree?

He thought he had a winner on his hands. A simple, clean shot, unlike many of the complicated flash photographs he had been throwing at the internet in previous weeks. So Flash posted this photo to the Seoul Photo Club:


Expecting hoping for a warm response. But the response was not that warm. While his friends were too kind to come right out and say that he missed the mark, Flash’s contacts did have things like this to say.

From Helje:

“…great painterly colors here. Sure would be nice to have a person in that silhouette…”
A dagger to the heart. Over the course of a few days Flash received more comments in the same vein “…a silhouetted person would work a treat here,” and “…a group of people walking will probably make a great silhouette,” and so on and so forth, before the photo sunk deep into his stream to be forgotten for all time.

At first, Flash was indignant.

“But this is a nice photo!” he said to himself. It’s simple, clean, different… I don’t get it. These guys don’t know what they’re talking about.

But after marinating on these words of wisdom, these helpful bits of advice, Flash gradually came to realize that indeed the photograph was missing something. He hadn’t seen it. He had settled on the first thing he had seen, in fact. But the Flickr faithful had seen it and pointed it out to him, even if he didn’t want to hear it believe it for himself.

Looking back at the photo a few days later, Flash brain said to him;

“Yup. Nice photo. Nice and boring.”

And he began to think. He spun the gears. He went and sat down with his notebook and looked at the photo and wondered how he could make it better. Nothing came to him initially, but coming back from the kitchen with a glass of water while editing some of the less boring parts of his new novel he tripped over the monopod in the doorway and it hit him…


Flash raced back out to the hills with a sack of gear, tore off his shirt and set about making it rain. The result, while not technically perfect, is wholly different from the original photo.

Dust Country

Different? Yes. Better? Undoubtedly.

Because neither photo was in explore the stats are comparable, and they tell much of the story;

Crappy shot: 49 views, 2 favorites

Less crappy shot: 623 views, 23 favorites

Would it have happened naturally? Maybe. Flash likes to play in the woods with his shirt off, so there’s a chance this photo gets made eventually. But it wouldn’t have happened this way without flickr and the Seoul Photo Club. So the next time someone slams one of your “favorite” photos, or something you spent days and days composing and processing, don’t take it personally. Most of the time, people are just trying to help. Sometimes, your contacts will hit one out of the park – like they did here. Sometimes, they will be way off the mark. But it’s important to listen during those times, too. Maybe more so.

And that’s how Flickr can make you a better less crappy photographer.


6 thoughts on “How Flickr makes you a better photographer

  1. Pingback: To Give is Priceless - Welkin Light Blog

  2. Pingback: The Incumbent « For Interest's Sake

  3. Pingback: To Give is Priceless « WelkinLight Photography

  4. Pingback: How to Respond to Criticism « Flash Parker

  5. Pingback: How to Respond to Criticism | Flash Light Photography Expeditions

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