If you’re a serious shutterbug, there are few places on the Internet better than Flickr for sharing photos and discussing all aspects of digital photography.
Flickr offers both free and paid subscriptions, and after you open your account and start building your own photostream, you’ll want to sign up for several of the tens of thousands of groups on the popular photo sharing site.
The following is a suggested list of the various types of Flickr discussion groups you might consider joining.
1. Your Camera Model Flickr Group
One of the first groups you should search for and join is one based on the camera you use. Nearly all popular digital 35mm and compact cameras have at least one Flickr group dedicated to it. If you’re a Canon user, for example, there’s the Canon DSLR User Group.
But more specifically there’s groups based on different models of Canon cameras, such as the Canon Powershot G9 group with well over 3,000 members. There’s groups for Nikon and Kodak camera users, as well as for Sonys and Panasonics.
2. Your Town or City
If you’re the kind of photographer who likes to get out and take photographs, search for a group based on the town or city you live in. If such a group doesn’t exist, create one. These Flickr groups can be a great places for discovering nearby shutterbugs, as well public locations for photo shoots. For example there’s one group called San Francisco Graffiti with 900 members. This niche groups shares some awesome finds.
3. Black-and-White Photography
If you like black-and-white photography, there are hundreds of groups on the subject that not only includes awesome monochromatic photographs, but also great discussions about lighting, post-processing, and film related issues related to black-and-white photography. One such Flickr group has nearly 85,000 members, and it’s name is simply, B&W.
If you’re an iPhone camera shooter, you’ll want to join one or more of the growing Flickr groups on this subject. One such group, iPhoneography has over 600 members, while another group, iPhone Camera Shots has well over 2,000 members.
There are even smaller groups based on different and popular iPhone camera applications, such the Best Camera app group. There’s not a lot of discussion in this group, but they share really awesome photos, and you can share yours as well.
5. Photography Tips
Beginning photographers will want to find a newbie Flickr group. One such group is Your Photo Tips and another was created by author/photographer Derrick Story, and it is called The Digital Story Group . Derrick’s group, of about 1,000 members, includes discussions about all kinds of camera features, accessories and photography strategies.
6. Project 365
The best way to build and improve your photography skills is to take photos every day, or as often as you can. There are over 11,000 members of the popular Project 365 group that have or are attempting to complete a photo-per-day project. Even if you don’t reach the goal, you’ll improve your photography trying to. There are several other smaller and similar project groups that you should also query using the keyword, 365.
If you’re wanting to learn about using external flashes and lighting equipment, the must-join group is Strobist.com, started by 20 year-old veteran photographer, David Hobby. The group, with well over 62,000 members, is an outgrowth of his popular blog site of the same name.
8. Nature Photography
If nature photography is your hobby, check out this wild nature group of 22,000 members. The discussions are little sparse for a group of that size, but there’s lots of great photos of plants, animals, fungi, landscapes and flowers.
One popular thread in the group is “the best flower shot.” These “best of” topics are common in groups where you simply share your own favorite photos based on a discussion topic.
9. Artistic Photo Group
If you approach photography from a artistic perspective you might check out a popular and respected group called UTATA: Tribal Photography. Its 17,000+ members are made up of both professionals and serious shutterbugs. It has over 8,000 discussion threads with weekly photo projects for its members.
10. Photoshop Support Group
If you’re serious about photography, you’ll no doubt spend lots of time in Photoshop. Flickr’s Photoshop Support Group has over 92,000 members, with over 5,000 discussion threads about all aspects of the popular image processing program.
When you join a group, look for the typical “introduce yourself“ discussion thread and add a few sentences about you as a photographer and why you joined the group. From there, add your own photos to the group, being careful to follow the posting rules of the groups.
If none of the above groups interest you, you might want to check out what Flickr staff members suggest. Each time you reload the Groups page you’ll get a list of three or four suggested groups. While writing this article and checking the Groups page, for example, a group called Cloudporn popped up. What a great idea. I love taking photos of clouds, so I immediately joined. There’s currently no discussions in this group, but its 5,000+ members are sharing some great images of spectacular cloud formations and lighting.
This list of groups is mainly based on my five years of being a Flickr member, and thus it’s partially subjective. So what groups do you suggest be on the list? Please include a URL to the group and maybe a line or two about why you think the group is worth joining.