Flickr, SmugMug, and WordPress

Flickr

Back in 2005, I signed up for an account on Flickr. I wanted to be able to share albums of photos with friends and family, and Flickr did that incredibly well.

Sand Ridge
Very first photo uploaded to Flickr

Eventually, I started making photos public, and discovered the Flickr community. I’ve had exactly one photo make it to Explore, and that was a great feeling.

Black Star Brewery
This photo made it to explore in March of 2005

Flickr was social media before social media was a thing. I paid for a pro membership, joined the PDX group, went to meetups, joined photo walks, made new friends, and loved the community aspect of the site.

Portland Flickr Meetup
PDX group meetup at McMenamins

Then Yahoo! happened. And Facebook happened. Yahoo let Flickr stagnate, and Facebook gave people a different way to share photos with friends and family. It was an inferior way to share, but most people didn’t care.

Pro memberships went up in price, and I started to wonder if it was even worth the money anymore. The free unlimited accounts turned the site into a dumping ground for bad home made porn, and the community aspect dwindled away.

Then SmugMug happened. Free accounts were limited to 1000 images, which helped clean up the site a bit. SmugMug started actively developing improvements, and the site perked up.

SmugMug

I had looked at SmugMug before, but it never had the community feel that Flickr had. About a year ago, I decided to set up a SmugMug account as a way to distribute images to clients and models, and it worked great for that. Then my Flickr pro membership came up for renewal, and I started wondering why I needed both services. The Flickr community isn’t what it used to be, I no longer live in a city that has groups or meetups, and my family and friends have all moved on to Facebook for sharing. The problem was that I had over 17,000 photos on Flickr–and no easy way to move them to SmugMug. I tried SmugMug’s built-in Flickr import tool. It works, but not for huge libraries. I tried a few other ideas, but nothing worked.

I finally bit the bullet and paid for a MigrateMan migration. I was skeptical–the app isn’t the cleanest, and the payment process is a little sketchy. I didn’t get any kind of confirmation or status update. I did email them, and they acknowledged my payment and assured me the migration would be started within 24 hours. They did say I’d get regular status updates, but the next update I got said all my photos had been migrated. Sure enough–what had taken me months of trying and failing to do took MigrateMan about 48 hours. It was worth every penny.

WordPress

There was a time when I was a huge Squarespace fan. Over time, though, it just started feeling bloated. Features felt buggy, and I started spending more time trying to get this or that to work than I did actually creating content. WordPress has simple and inexpensive plans, so I moved both this site and 406 Photos over to WordPress. In my opinion, the writing experience on WordPress is so much better than Squarespace. I can draft a post in iA Writer and send it directly to WordPress with a click.

One thing Squarespace did well is display photo galleries. WordPress? Not so much. There are plugins and blocks that do alright, but in my experience, they don’t always work. What does work well is embedding SmugMug images in a WP blog post. No plugin required–just paste a SmugMug link, and the image is embedded.

NOTE: Embedding doesn’t appear to work if you use a custom domain/subdomain with SmugMug. I’ve had to change the image URL to be danielhedrick.smugmug.com for any image I want to embed.

The Solution

Every image is uploaded to SmugMug (directly from Lightroom) and shared from there. The only exceptions are the WordPress featured images for each blog post. SmugMug has the ability to create virtual copies of images, so I can curate images to form a gallery specifically for a blog post. Since the images embedded from SmugMug are clickable, this keeps people from having to wade through a bunch of unnecessary images in a gallery.

I’ll let my Flickr Pro expire next year. There’s no point in paying for both when SmugMug does everything I currently need a photo hosting service to do. I hope SmugMug can return Flickr to its former glory, but I won’t be going along for the ride.

Use this link to get 20% off your SmugMug account.

UPDATE 12/19/19

SmugMug CEO sends an email to Flickr users asking for help. He calls Flickr:

the world’s most-beloved, money-losing business

Don MacAskill, CEO of SmugMug/Flickr

The whole vibe of the email just comes off odd to me. I can’t tell if Don is asking for help to keep Flickr alive, or if he’s preparing an exit strategy. It almost sounds like a bit of buyer’s remorse. Either way, I’m glad I moved my photos.

One thought on “Flickr, SmugMug, and WordPress

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s