Step 1 – Show off your best
No one is ever going to know what sorts of photos you are interested in unless you get some of them online. If you take photographs regularly, upload regularly. Really, what excuses do you have?
Second only to getting the images online is making sure they can be found. I’ve spoken about tagging before, but perhaps an example might help?
If you want other folk to find your photos, you need to take some good guesses as to what they might search for, and add those word or phrases to your photo as tags.
Some people like to look at photos of roller coasters. I think this is the only one I have, so I’m not one of those people, but I’m not immune to wanting people to like it. So I’ve tagged the image with the search phrases I think people might use to find it.
Needless to say, your list would differ from mine. I posted this a few years ago as well, and these days I’d probably add “˜roller’ and “˜coaster’ separately as well.
But the focus here is to find other people’s images, so let’s move on.
Step 2 – Join groups
Aside from searching for images in Flickr, you can search for groups. Just in case there is any confusion, a group is like a set, except that it’s designed for multiple people to use. Most groups are public, but you can also restrict the membership of a group.
Search for groups that contain things you are interested in. That could be objects (like roller coasters), colours (careful with your spelling), techniques, moods“¦ I’ll be surprised if you can’t find at least one Flickr group on any reasonably broad subject, and you’ll generally find hundreds.
Join groups. Add images. Comment on other images you find there. Go on.
Step 3 – Create your own group.
Eventually, you might find that you’re searching for something that’s too specific for a group to already exist, and you’ll need to create one of your own. That’s going to take a little more work, so decide if you’re up for it first.
Just as an example, I like to take photographs of rusty things. Peculiar I know, but I’ve even exhibited on the subject, so I’m definitely not alone. Anyway, I became interested specifically in images that were rusty, and also blue. At this point, feel free to substitute your own obsession.
I’m going to cheat anyway, as this group already exists. I’ll create a similar one for yellow rust pictures.
After checking that a group doesn’t already exist on the subject, create a new one here.
You can see that various types of groups are possible. Given that we’re looking to find people, let’s make it public.
Supply a name for the group, and add some idea of what it’s all about. Make a decision about whether there’s anything that might be in the group that kids shouldn’t see. Click Next.
Decide what non-members of the group should be able to see.
Decide what to call the administrators and moderators.
You can make a whole set of choices about administration, addresses, moderation etc. Just remember you want people to join. Which leads me to the next part”¦
You can use all the means at your disposal to invite folk to your new group. You can email them, send them a text from your phone, put an advertisement on national television. Whatever you like. Flickr has its own method as well, so you can easily invite your contacts.
Go to the main page for your group and look at the top menu.
Click the invite Friends link, and invite anyone you think might be interested.
Of course for this to be useful it assumes you already know the people who might want to join. If you don’t, you need to locate some images that might fit in the group, and invite them instead. Let’s switch back to my real group of blue + rust to see how this works.
Basically, other than images I stumble across in Flickr, I want to know about images which are tagged with both blue and rust. You see why it’s important to correctly tag your images?
Click the search link on the main Flickr page, and then click on advanced search. You want something like this:
Run the search, and depending on what you’re looking for you’ll almost certainly get back a stack of images.
Click on one that’s of interest (such as my friend Kate’s wheel), and fill in the boxes”¦
Hit Post Comment, and you’re all set. Take a look at Kate’s image to see how it comes out.
One of the toughest parts of running a group is keeping things moving. You always want new members, more images, interesting competitions and discussions.
Assign some other folk admin privileges so things don’t stall if you’re busy. Start conversations.
The query process above is great for getting things started, but it’s not great for ongoing invitations. You need a way to be automatically told when new images arrive that might suit the group.
That’s where we add a little more technology”¦
The Flickr API is able to generate RSS feeds on the fly, based on a query string. Then you sign up for the RSS feed, and every few hours you get some more images to invite. How this looks depends on both your browser and your feed reader, but the way it works is fairly clear in the link.
Take a look at the query. Just replace blue and rust with whatever you want to search for, separating any additional terms with commas.
And that’s it. Now you have a group, some members, some images, and a way to build on it.
I’d love to know if you’ve used any of this and if you have any other tips or tricks. Let me know in the comments. Oh, and”¦ any chance you might want to join my group?