I’ve been a Flickr user since 2005. It’s where I shared my first attempts at photography when I got more seriously into it; where I learned to develop film; where I organised a photo flash mob against Scientologists in Glasgow which led to me nearly getting arrested; and ultimately, where I made some really good friends.
Over the years I’ve accrued almost four million views, with some individual pictures getting over twenty four thousand.
Unfortunately, it’s no secret that Flickr hasn’t really been what it used to be for quite some time. Seemingly half-hearted attempts by Yahoo to compete with Instagram failed, and it’s sat in a bit of a sad state since; groups abandoned, and the great communities from before almost non-existent now.
Some hope was breathed into things earlier this year when it was announced that SmugMug were taking over Flickr. Unfortunately, as part of the changes, they’ve just recently said that rather than being able to upload whatever you want up to 1TB, you’ll now need a paid, Pro account in order to share more than 1,000 pictures or videos.
In of itself, this isn’t necessarily a bad move. It’s how Flickr used to be in its heyday (albeit with an even lower limit). The problem is that if you aren’t prepared to pay for a Pro account, your images will start to be purged from early next year:
Free members with more than 1,000 photos or videos uploaded to Flickr have until Tuesday, January 8, 2019, to upgrade to Pro or download content over the limit. After January 8, 2019, members over the limit will no longer be able to upload new photos to Flickr. After February 5, 2019, free accounts that contain over 1,000 photos or videos will have content actively deleted — starting from oldest to newest date uploaded — to meet the new limit.
Quite simply, that sucks. Even back in 2005, if you chose to switch from a Pro to free account, your pictures over the free number would all remain stored in place until you decided to re-activate it. This meant that you wouldn’t lose everything and have to start over again.
Given that storage is relatively so cheap, and that this will essentially punish some of the longest-serving and historically most loyal customers, it’s a pretty poor move. I have over 8,000 pictures in my account just now, and I have almost no use for any of the Pro features being touted as added value like 10 minute video hosting (this was always a weird choice for Flickr. YouTube anyone?).
I do like being able to go back and easily find out what was posted when, and what pictures were taken with what lens. However, a Pro account comes in at about $50 per year, and the bottom line is that I’m not prepared to pay that just to keep an archive on a service that has been pretty much dead for years. I get that the idea is that the platform will improve over time, but to ask people to pay up or get lost before there’s been any real tangible change seems pretty naive, especially for something like Flickr that has gone through multiple failed reincarnations. Make the service work again, and then start charging – not the other way round.
For this reason, with a heavy heart I plan to delete my Flickr account in the very near future. That’s almost 14 years of history gone, but unless SmugMug reverse this decision, I’m not interested in paying for something purely out of nostalgia.