Tips for making better use of Flickr

One of my colleagues has recently started to use Flickr, and asks "how do you get anyone to actually notice your pictures?".

I've been using Flickr for about 6 months, and I'm hardly the most popular photographer on the site, but I've got a few photos into Flickr's Explore pages now.

To me, the basic principles of Flickr are similar to those for blogging – it's all about collaborating, commenting, and getting noticed. Here are some of my top tips:

  • Use the Explore feature to find photos that you like. If you see something you like, add it as one of your favourites (click the star icon at the top left above the photo). You'll find that people whose photos you've favourited will come and visit your photostream. Here's my photostream, by the way.
  • Once you've found a photo you like, look at other shots by the same photographer. Look at their profile, and maybe visit a couple of their contacts. Don't just limit yourself to the one shot you like.
  • Leave comments on photos that you like or that inspire you. It could be anything from "cool photo" to a much longer description of what you like or dislike about the shot. The person who took the photo will be grateful for the interest. I make a point of visiting the photostreams of anyone who comments on my pictures.
  • Reply to the comments that are left on your photos. You can check back on comments you've left for other people using the Comments you've made link on your Flickr homepage.
  • If you find that you like several photos by an individual, add them as one of your contacts. If a stranger adds you as a contact, it is friendly to add them as one of yours.
  • When you visit Flickr, check out the latest shots by your contacts… you can configure the Contacts page to show either the most recent 1 or 5 photos by your contacts. I always set it to 5, so I can try to avoid missing interesting shots that don't happen to be the most recent picture your contact has uploaded.
  • Join groups and add your photos to them. If you've got a picture of a swan, search for groups about swans.
  • Participate in group discussions. You can follow groups that you find interesting by subscribing to their RSS feeds.
  • Blog about your photos. Some of your readers may start to visit your Flickr photostream.

Of course, that's just what I think. Here are some links to more advice on how to make the most of using Flickr:

It can be great fun. I'm building up a community of people who I know fairly well and discovering new ones all the time.

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