One of the advises that I offer to any beginner in photography is to create an account in flickr.com. The intent of this article is that beginners and casual photographers, who don’t have a Flickr account, would come to know the absolute purpose of the same after reading this article.
Why Flickr, why not facebook??
One common practice among beginners in photography is that they upload their photographs in Facebook rather than flickr. The reason is pretty simple: they want their friends to see it, appreciate it and comment on it. This is always fun. But if you had noticed, most of the friends always have something very nice to say about the pictures: “good, awesome!”, “mind blowing”.
What they don’t offer is suggestions or minor improvements that you can make in the picture to make it a better one. Flickr does that. This, to me, is the biggest USP of Flickr – the ability to connect to a vast pool of professional photographers, who can appreciate, comment and share their knowledge with you. What more can you expect! A gain, I’m not against uploading pictures in facebook. But also upload them to Flickr, so that you can learn and as well as entertain your friends with your photography skills.
Flickr gives you a chance to get inspired:
A common trait that runs among photographers (or for that matter, any person in the creative business) is inspiration. Even the best in the business have been inspired by legends & geniuses who went before them. So, inspiration is extremely crucial for beginners who can use as many ideas and techniques to get inspired from, that serves as learning tools in their quest to become better photographers. Flickr gives that opportunity like no other photo sharing site. By looking at others’ works, one can learn a lot about composition, post processing, perspective and what not.
By adding your favorite photographers into their contact list, a user can send mail to another photographer appreciating his work and gain knowledge from his experience. The user can also mail their work to other photographers and get comments and suggestion. By providing such avenues for learning, Flickr acts as a powerful platform for beginners and amateur photographers to hone their budding skills.
Weekend Photo Groups and photo walks:
Beginners can look out for Weekend groups on Flickr that give them the much-needed opportunity to learn from other photographers, in person. Beginners can find photo groups specific to their city by defining the search appropriately in Flickr. There are also specific groups available for every camera model, where users generally discuss issues they are facing, features of the equipment, improvisations they were able to perform and pictures that were taken with their camera.
Many active groups organize weekly photo walks around your city or town and this will be a great learning experience for a beginner or any one who wonders what to do with a newly bought camera. Photo walks play a very important role in learning because, as a beginner he/she will be joining other amateurs and professionals who can help them gain knowledge in real time. They can see others framing and composing shots and learn the techniques in a practical way than learning them from YouTube videos. A beginner can also learn other things like interacting with the subjects, staying inconspicuous while shooting photos and lot more. You learn something new from each photo walk and you are a better photographer at the end of every single photo walk.
I want to be clear here that I’m not advocating beginners to go all out and get themselves a pro account (as Flickr is a premium service and you have to pay for the pro account). The free account is a good starting point, as you can most of these Flickr features discussed above. And when you are ready to that next big step, you can always upgrade to the pro account.