Category Archives: Photos

Flickr says it won’t delete Creative Commons photos

Flickr will spare both the Flickr Commons and Creative Commons photos from deletion, the now SmugMug-owned company announced today. However, its new storage limitations on free accounts may impact its use as a home for photos with a Creative Commons license in the future.

When the company unveiled its big revamp last week, one of the immediate concerns among users was what the changes meant for the Creative Commons photos hosted on Flickr.

Under its new management, Flickr decided to stop offering free users a terabyte of storage, and instead will begin charging users who want to host more than 1,000 photos on its site. Users with more than 1,000 photos either had to choose to upgrade to a Pro account to retain those photos on the site, or see them deleted.

Ryan Merkley, CEO at Creative Commons, expressed some concern last week over what this meant for the millions of CC images hosted on Flickr.

Would they be gone, too?

Flickr today says the answer is “no.”

It vows not to delete either its own Flickr Commons archive or any photos uploaded with a Creative Commons license before November 1, 2018.

The Flickr Commons is a resource consisting of photos from institutions that want to share their digital collections with the world, such as NASA, the National Parks Service, the UK National Archives, and The British Library, for example. These organizations were either already Pro account holders or have now received a free Pro account from Flickr, the company says.

If any of these photos disappear from Flickr, it will be because the organization itself chose to delete them.

Meanwhile, any photos (or videos) licensed before November 1, will also remain, even if the photographer has more than 1,000 under their account. But users who want to continue to upload photos – Creative Commons or otherwise – past the 1,000 mark going forward will have to upgrade to a Pro account.

Flickr is also carving out an exception for non-profits  – aka 501(c)(3) charitable organizations – to offer them free storage, like SmugMug does. It’s already working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),, and Second Harvest, on this front.

“Freely licensed photos are deeply important to us. After SmugMug acquired Flickr, one of the first meetings we had was with Ryan Merkley, the CEO of Creative Commons. We want to keep that partnership alive and strong, and we are actively working on how to grow it for the future,” wrote SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill in a blog post. 

However, the move to limit free storage on any uploads, including CC photos, could impact Flickr’s use as a home to this sort of content in the future.

It’s possible that some photographers will opt for another service like 500px’s $3.99/month tier with unlimited uploads, instead of Flickr’s $5.99/month Pro plan. Or perhaps, they’ll publish photos in public albums on Google Photos, under one of its affordable TB plans or on newcomer Unsplash’s website, where they’re licensed under its own free-to-use license type. Or maybe they’ll just host photos on their own sites instead.

Merkley, however, promises to focus on continuing to grow the Commons and finding solutions.

“We’ll be working with Flickr to look for ways to continue growing and archiving the commons,” Merkley said. “When Flickr users apply CC licenses to their works, they are inviting everyone to use their works freely and with very few restrictions. That’s an incredible gift to the world, and that generosity should be acknowledged and preserved into perpetuity for everyone to enjoy,” he said.

Flickr’s new business model could see works deleted from Creative Commons

Following yesterday’s series of announcements about Flickr’s plans to revamp its site under its new owners, SmugMug, one major concern has been raised: its decision to now limit free accounts to 1,000 photos may impact the number of photos available through Creative Commons.

Creative Commons is a U.S. nonprofit that helps make creative works — like photos — available for legal use through several different types of copyright licenses that respect how creators want to share their work. For example, many creators make their photos freely available under the condition that their name and a link to their profile or to the original work is also cited.

Flickr has been a longtime partner with Creative Commons, and today makes millions of photos available through its site under the various license types.

But with Flickr’s plans to reduce storage, some are concerned what this means for this valuable resource of legally free-to-use photos.

“Many users are concerned such a limit on free account capacity might cause millions of CC images to be deleted from the Commons,” writes Ryan Merkley, CEO at Creative Commons, in a blog post. “A lot of people have reached out to us directly and asked what we can do. I’m confident that together we can find solutions, if we assume goodwill and bring our collective creativity to the problem,” he says.

He says the nonprofit is already working with Flickr and parent company SmugMug to find a way to “protect and preserve” the Commons and help it grow in the future.

“We want to ensure that when users share their works that they are available online in perpetuity and that they have a great experience,” says Merkley.

Like SmugMug’s new owners, he also believes that Flickr’s business model prior to its acquisition was broken. Giving away massive amounts of free storage (and the accompanying bandwidth) at Flickr’s scale — billions of photos — was incredibly expensive. He understands that, for Flickr to continue, it has to explore other options.

That’s exactly what Flickr is doing with its revamped account plans. Users now can store 1,000 photos (or videos) for free, but unlimited storage is $50 per year.

It’s unclear how this change will impact Creative Commons. Merkley says the organization will be the first to step in if works from Creative Commons are being deleted, though.

He also says he met with Flickr’s new owners earlier this year, and believes things will work out.

However, the organization says it’s looking for ideas on how it can help Flickr to continue to support Creative Commons, and hopes to have answers on that front soon.

SmugMug hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment, but we’ll update if they do.

Collections is a better way to organize those photos you snap as mental notes

Wi-Fi password sticker on your router? Snap. Cute sweater in a store’s window display? Snap. Party invitation? Snap. Cool gift idea for mom? Snap. If any of this sounds familiar to you, then you probably also use your iPhone’s camera to take photos of the things you want to remember – maybe even more often than you use Notes to write things down. If your mental notes are more visual in nature, then you may want give the new app Collections a go instead of relying only on your Camera Roll.

I know, I know…isn’t visual bookmarking already handled by Pinterest?

Well, okay, sure. You can go that route.

But using Pinterest feels heavy. There’s a vast collection of images to explore and search. A Home feed of new stuff to look at. (Why, Pinterest, are you showing me spider tattoos? Why?). People to follow. A feed of notifications to check in on. (Where I get to write back to people things like, “hi, you’re messaging the wrong Sarah Perez. I don’t know you.” Ugh, too often. Stupid common name.)

Collections is just a little app for you to use.

It’s not overwrought. Its simple interface just helps you to better organize those photos you’ve snapped for inspiration, ideas, mental notes, or whatever else you may need to refer back to – like clothes you like, restaurants you passed by and want to try later, art or design ideas, the best photos of your dog, events you want to go to, screenshots, gift ideas, travel inspiration, or really anything else you could think of.

But unlike saving these things to the Camera Roll, where they quickly get lost into a feed of photos, Collections lets you write down little details – like the vendor or price, or your notes. For example, “Great gift for mom. Shop owner says it also comes in blue. Having a summer sale in 2 weeks.” 

While your collections are largely meant just for you, if you ever want to share them, you can use iCloud to do so – friends and family won’t have to sign up for a new service to view your shares, just download the app. You can also share them to social media, iMessage, email, messaging apps, and elsewhere, if you choose.

If you prefer to keep your collections private, you can turn off iCloud syncing during setup to keep them saved to local storage only.

On iPad, the app is even better because it supports drag-and-drop – meaning you drag images from other apps to your collections.

The app was designed by a team of two indie developers, Emile Bennett and Dave Roberts, based in Chamonix, France and Liverpool, U.K., respectively. Bennett had previously launched a budgeting app called Pennies, but built Collections because it’s something he wanted for himself.

“I often find myself in clothes shops just ‘window shopping’. I’ll find a shirt, or a pair of shoes, or yet another over-priced GoreTex outdoor jacket  – I’ve got a bit of a thing about them…I have too many! – and I think “yeah I like this, but I’m not going to buy it now, I’ll pick it up another time,’” he tells TechCrunch.

“So I’d take a few photos, the item, the tag, maybe me wearing it and also maybe the shop front so I remember where it is. I’d always think ‘it’s in my photo stream, I’ll remember it later.’ But, of course, that doesn’t happen as the photos just get lost down in your stream, and even if I did find and remember the photos, there’s no context around them,” he says.

He tried Evernote and Notes to keep tracking of these things, but found Evernote was too bloated and Notes was too text-centric. He also feels Pinterest is too focused on discovery and public sharing to be used for collecting your own private inspirations.

One of the best things about Collections, in my opinion, is that there’s no sign-up. Radical idea, right? Bennett is sick of it, too.

“I’m really passionate about not forcing people to sign up to my apps – I want your data to be yours, I don’t want you to have to sign up to a new service just to use this app,” he says. “I think we’re all getting a bit of ’sign-up fatigue’ these days. Most apps do it because it’s the way they make their money – they give you the app for free, make you sign up to use it, collect your data, and then use that data to make their money. That’s really against my ethos,” says Bennett.

Instead, Collections is a $2.99 download.

Hey people, this is the kind of app development we should be encouraging.

Bennett gave me a few promo codes to try out the app with friends, but I forgot about that, and purchased it.

So here you go, first come, first served:





Promo codes are just free downloads. It’s not a scheme to make money, cynics. Nobody’s getting paid here. I just like this app and figured I’d share. Have a good weekend. 

Google Clips gets better at capturing candids of hugs and kisses (which is not creepy, right?)

Google Clips’ AI-powered “smart camera” just got even smarter, Google announced today, revealing improved functionality around Clips’ ability to automatically capture specific moments – like hugs and kisses. Or jumps and dance moves. You know, in case you want to document all your special, private moments in a totally non-creepy way.

I kid, I kid!

Well, not entirely. Let me explain.

Look, Google Clips comes across to me as more of a proof-of-concept device that showcases the power of artificial intelligence as applied to the world of photography, rather than a breakthrough consumer device.

I’m the target market for this camera – a parent and a pet owner (and look how cute she is) – but I don’t at all have a desire for a smart camera designed to capture those tough-to-photograph moments, even though neither my kid nor my pet will sit still for pictures.

I’ve tried to articulate this feeling, and I find it’s hard to say why I don’t want this thing, exactly. It’s not because the photos are automatically uploaded to the cloud or made public – they are not. They are saved to the camera’s 16 GB of onboard storage and can be reviewed later with your phone, where you can then choose to keep them, share them, or delete them. And it’s not even entirely because of the price point – though, arguably, even with the recent $50 discount it’s quite the expensive toy at $199.

Maybe it’s just the camera’s premise.

That in order for us to fully enjoy a moment, we have to capture it. And because some moments are so difficult to capture, we spend too much time with phone-in-hand, instead of actually living our lives – like playing with our kids or throwing the ball for the dog, for example. And that the only solution to this problem is more technology. Not just putting the damn phone down.

What also irks me is the broader idea behind Clips that all our precious moments have to be photographed or saved as videos. They do not. Some are meant to be ephemeral. Some are meant to be memories. In aggregate, our hearts and minds tally up all these little life moments – a hug, a kiss, a smile – and then turn them into feelings. Bonds. Love.  It’s okay to miss capturing every single one.

I’m telling you, it’s okay.

At the end of the day, there are only a few times I would have even considered using this product – when baby was taking her first steps, and I was worried it would happen while my phone was away. Or maybe some big event, like a birthday party, where I wanted candids but had too much going on to take photos. But even in these moments, I’d rather prop my phone up and turn on a “Google Clips” camera mode, rather than shell out hundreds for a dedicated device.

Just saying.

You may feel differently. That’s cool. To each their own.

Anyway, what I think is most interesting about Clips is the actual technology. That it can view things captured through a camera lens and determine the interesting bits – and that it’s already getting better at this, only months after its release. That we’re teaching A.I. to understand what’s actually interesting to us humans, with our subjective opinions. That sort of technology has all kinds of practical applications beyond a physical camera that takes spy shots of Fido.

The improved functionality is rolling out to Clips with the May update, and will soon be followed by support for family pairing which will let multiple family members connect the camera to their device to view content.

Here’s an intro to Clips, if you missed it the first time. (See below)

Note that it’s currently on sale for $199. Yeah, already. Hmmm.