Photo hosting

What’s Flickr all about?

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

Get inspired. Get answers. Get visibility. Discover Flickr, one of the world’s largest photo hosting and sharing sites on the internet.


Get inspired. Get answers. Get visibility with the world’s largest photo sharing web site.

Flickr has grown into one of the premier photo hosting and sharing sites on the internet, boasting an upload rate of more than 7,000 photos per minute. Flickr allows you to store and share photos with friends and family, or to the world. It’s entirely up to you.

Flickr provides features that allow you to browse exceptional photography by both amateurs and professionals to inspire you to greater heights. It is also a platform to display your photographs to a worldwide audience.

Here is a rundown of the basics of Flickring, and how you can take advantage of some of the site’s powerful features.

Getting onboard Flickr

FlickrYou’ll need a Yahoo! ID to create a Flickr account. If you have a Yahoo! E-mail account, you’re already there. Otherwise, you can quickly create an ID on Yahoo! or Flickr itself.

You can sign up for a free Flickr account, which allows you to upload 1,000GB of free storage for photos and videos. There are limitations on size, so if you’re interested in using Flickr, check out their upload limitations guidelines.

You can edit and organize your photos, set them for private or public viewing, order prints and other products and keep in touch with your family and friends.

A “Pro” account costs a nominal annual fee and includes unlimited photo and video uploads and other features we’ll discuss in a bit.

See and be seen on Flickr

Flickr lets you add tags to your photos so they can be found by those searching within Flickr as well as searches on internet search engines like Yahoo! and Google. You can build a network of contacts, such as photographers whose work you admire, and join groups devoted to various types of photography. Users can leave comments on public photos and mark them as favorites.


Flickr developed a patented feature called “Interestingness” which ranks your photos according to an algorithm that measures views, comments, favorites and the speed by which these are amassed. A daily collection of the photos with the highest “Interestingness” are featured on pages called Explore. Explore is a good place to browse for photo ideas and inspiration.

Placing your photos on a map to mark the location in which they were taken increases the chance that they will be seen. In fact, photos high in Interestingness show up on local Yahoo! news pages serving those geographical areas, increasing their potential audience. In addition, you can browse a map of an area to which you will be traveling to view photos taken there and gather ideas on what to shoot, where and when.

Peeking behind the lenses

Flickr camera finderFlickr users have the option of displaying their photos’ EXIF data (the More properties link), which lists the camera and settings used to capture an image, providing others with a measure of assistance in knowing how to capture a similar image.

Speaking of cameras, Flickr tracks the number of photos made on hundreds of brands of digital cameras each day. You can search for photos high in Interestingness made with virtually any brand of digital camera to:

  1. assure yourself that your camera is able to take pictures of similar quality and
  2. check out a camera’s capabilities before purchasing one.

Flickr group members also share knowledge about particular types of photography in groups dedicated to various categories.

Occasional opportunities

Flickr users maintain control over their photos by setting their licensing levels – whether it’s All Rights Reserved or allowing usage under various Creative Commons licenses. Many publishers and web content creators browse Flickr images for illustrative purposes. A number of Flickr members have negotiated their way to having their photographs featured in magazines, books and web sites.

Many groups hold competitions in which group members vote on entries in various themed contests. Some organizations have created partnerships with Flickr and have moved their competitions onto the photo sharing site.

Sponsors like Nikon, Hewlett-Packard and Ford have established groups on Flickr to solicit photos for use in their marketing campaigns.

Going “Pro” at Flickr

Users who opt for the paid account get additional features:

  • Their Flickr experience will be devoid of advertising, which only free account users encounter.
  • The upload limits are all but removed.
  • The Stats feature allows you to see how many views, comments and favorites any or all of your photos are accumulating and where those views are coming from. You can see who links to your photos from sites other than Flickr.
  • See the word “Pro” displayed next to your user name (for ego purposes). 😉

Flickr continues to grow and add features to serve the photo community. At an initial cost of free, it’s worth checking out.

Be careful, though, many users confess that Flickr can be addictive.

Share photos hosted on Flickr

Flickr offers several ways to share one or more photos uploaded to your account. You can choose to make them public, share only with family and/or friends, or post to popular social networking sites

Flickr photo sharing



  • James, if I understand you correctly, you’ll have to download them to a computer first, then upload them to Flickr. Log into your account and click on the “Upload Photos & Video” link. The process is quite easy but, if you need help, check the help files at Flickr.

  • Why is it that I can not transfer photos from my General ImagingCo. camera x500 onto my flikr account?

  • Honestly photobucket isn’t much better. They delete photos they deem “child porn” even if they’re NOTHING like child porn. I had some pics I’d shot at a friend’s wedding, the entire album was hosted there so there was plenty of context, but there was a pic of a toddler running around in a diaper with wedding cake all over her that the family/clients wanted so I’d put them in the album. Deleted, no warning no nothing and they couldn’t be reasoned with. Additionally they deleted some politically motivated pictures of mine. If these companies are going to be in the business of hosting the work of photographers they better back of their judging of people’s work. It’s not their place nor their job.

  • Joe, I respectfully and strongly disagree with you. alexjandra asked how his own mother could grab some personal photos off Flickr and have them in her own collection. I simply outlined the procedure. For other photos, respect the photographer’s chosen copyright; Or look for images under any one of the creative commons licenses.

  • alejandra, no you don’t have to buy prints. Go to an image and click on the Actions tab and then choose View All Sizes. For the best print, select the Large image size. Right-click the image and then select Save Image As and save it to your desktop. I think with a Mac computer you only have to drag the image to the desktop.

  • question:  once photos are uploaded can someone then simply transfer them to their own iphoto or other photo software application?  Or do they have to purchase prints?  I want to enable my mother to grab them off Flickr and have them in her own collection.

  • I know absolutely no html programming code.  Zilch.  Nada.  I just know when I see it that I don’t use–or know how to use–it.
    Just right clicked on the photo, selected Medium size (800 x 600 I think), then right clicked again on photo, selected “location” (I think).  Dropped that clipboard data between the Img tags provided by the other website (like toggling on and off).
    By the way Gail, James emailed me again and I replied by email, not this comment area.
    …when do you get to sleep? *grin*.  Thanks!

  • If, when you click on the picture appearing on your web site, you’re taken to the picture’s Flickr page, you’ve made the Flickr powers happy.

    I was a Microsoft Sharepoint Administrator for a former employer (and I always tried to make discussions with users more pleasant than eating dirt 🙂   I never could properly link a Flickr photograph on our company’s intranet. It simply would not accept the code. The company also had a blogging platform on which the linkbacks always bombed, so I feel your frustration.

    Then again, I’ve published a Blogspot blog with embedded Flickr pictures since 2005 and the transition to the new way of doing things was practically seamless.

    It may just come down to the platform you’re using to post content. Wish I had a better answer for you.  

  • Just saw James’ post..sorry I missed that when I was composing reply to Gail.  Yes, James, I had tried that when the “linkback reminders” were posted on Flickr.  In my non- computerese naivete, I always figured if my photo showed up on the website where I wanted it to, THAT ALONE was the “required linkback”.  Obviously not, though.  So, rather than violate policy–as a member of both Flickr and my fav plant website where I post frequently–I simply provided a Profile Link to my main flickr page that shows up on all my postings, hoping that would satisfy Flickr.  But it still bugs me that the “simple process” bombed for me.  So for the last number of months I have been right-clicking on the picture, selecting Medium, right clicking again, selecting “…location” (or something it says), and pasting it between the website’s “img” (toggle on/off).  That works.  But I gather that’s still not what Flickr wants.
    A colleague — also a Flickr acct holder — recently emailed me and said “photo embedding will never be as easy as it was before”.  And he’s a computer brain!   Talking to my website administrator?  Sheesh…would rather eat dirt.

  • Thanks for your so-very-quick answer.
    Before I try your suggestion, I should mention that the website I’m posting to has all these toggle on/toggle off buttons at the top, i.e. Img etc.  URL etc.  BOLD etc.
    So with the url location now on my clipboard, do I paste that info between the IMG buttons?  or URL button?
    I’m Firefox too, but have to use the Old Uploader at Flickr…their new one doesn’t work for me, but that’s another story…

  • Hi Barb, I’ve been with Flickr for more than five years now and it’s true that they’ve always required a link back to the Flickr photo page. The comment above is now out of date. All of the embedding options are located in “Share This” above each photo.

    Have you contacted the administrator of the web site to find out if there is a particular embedding method that is preferred?

  • Barb, try this. Click on an image, then with the Actions tab, select View all Sizes and select the image size you want, such as large.

    Right-click the image and from the drop down menu in your browser, select Copy Image Location. The image url will be pasted to your clipboard. Paste the link into a forum post, or whatever. The image should appear. I’m using Firefox so the menu names might be slightly different in other browsers.

    Does it work for you?

  • Hi folks…just stumbled onto this blog while I was Googling how to get the hang of Flickr photo “embedding” changes.  I’ve had a pro photo account for a few years and now that photo embedding has to link back to Flickr (which they say has ALWAYS been their policy prior to Yahoo ownership).  But now they’re cracking down on it.
    Your comment above: “You can still embed a Flickr image in a blog, forum, etc.  Go to Photo/All available sizes. Right-click the image to get the full URL.Nothing available in “Share this” seems to work.”
    I have less-than-zilch computer programming know-how and nothing I do on the “new” Flickr photo embedding instructions works on the website I participate in the most…think it’s one that uses PbbB or something.
    I’m so fed up…I’ve got 5,000 photos on Flickr and now it’s so difficult to follow their rules.
    Thanks. Barb

  • Thanks Gail. That worked. Not very elegant, but at least I can get pics into my forum thread now. Flickr is running much, much slower now tho 🙁

  • Kirk, I need a few days to get used to the changes in Flickr.

    Embedding options are located in “Share This” above each photo.

    Editors note: this comment has been updated.

  • Yesterday they completely overhauled Flickr and gave it a new look. Problem is, none of the URL links now work when you try to link a pic to another blog, forum or website. I just paid for Pro too. Since the main reason I use Flickr is to share my pics on the Sims 3 forums, Flickr has now become totally useless to me. Will be looking into Snapfish or Photobucket.

  • Your welcome.  I suppose the main point is that you have to keep an eye out on who adds you as a contact, as well as what groups you get invited to join.
    People you add to your list, that you select are one thing, you can control that.  You have to be aware of people that add you, to their lists as well.  That is one thing you do not have much control over.  I did not think it would matter, as the internet is a big place.
    As flickr deleted an unsavory character, as well as the people he had on his friends lists, of which I was one, I got deleted as well.  Though I did not choose this person, he just added me.
    But I now keep an eye on who adds me, if I see anyone adding me that I wouldn’t let my mother see, I use a flickr feature called…  Block.   Where you can block that person, so they can not comment on your photos or send you flickrmail.
    I also joined a lot of groups, a lot I was invited to join.  I was flattered that people wanted me to join their group. But once again, if flickr deletes a group and you happen to be a member of it, you could be gone as well.  So before accepting group invites, make sure you check the group out, both the discussions and members.  As well as the content of the groups photos.
    I know this may sound confusing. But from talking to other flickr users, some of whom had a similar thing happen, this is common for flickr to “Delete to be sure” policy. Believe me once they delete, you can not get anything back.  They have no restore or undo selection.
    So if you have a flickr account, keep en eye on who adds you to their contact list.  I do now, as flickr with all good intentions will keep deleting “unsavory” members, and you don’t want to be associated with them, or you could be gone too.
    Flickr staff have a tough time keeping the rubbish out, sometimes though, the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater.  As they don’t always have the time to check everybody’s contacts out 100% of the time.
    I stay with flickr because it is a great place to share my photos with my friends. But I am unlikely to get another pro account, as they do not refund any money. So I will be limited to only 200 viewable photos.
    I hope this additional info helps.  If I can save anyone the grief I went through, then it was worth it.

  • Thank you, Bruce, for supplying this information. I was unaware of this and it’s very good information for other Flickr users to know.

  • One thing you did not mention with flickr is that they can delete your account, at any time, for any reason they seem fit.  Their terms and conditions are vague and open for wide latitude of interpretation.
    No specific reason is required by them to keep you.  I had a free account for years. Got pro and 2 months later my account was deleted.  No reason, no explanation.  I had not changed anything, I had no illegal photos or anything that you could say was offensive.
    I had a free account for another 8 months or so.  Decided to go pro again, only to have my account deleted…  Yes, 2 months after paying for a 2 year pro account.   Flickr do not need to provide you with a reason.  They just delete you.  You may be thinking I had some bad photos or such.  I did not.
    No warning, no explanation.  Oh, and they delete your yahoo profile as well.  Be careful of who you add as friend and what groups you join. It seemed after much discussion with my flickr contacts that people are being deleted for being…  “On other peoples lists or groups”
    Flickr did not confirm this, they did not tell me why even after much requests for reasons from them.
    Beware of the flickr police!   Be careful of who you have as a contact. Don’t just accept to join groups from your contacts.