The best way to learn photography is to go out there and shoot. The second best way is to look at perfectly composed photos and get inspired. We do that by taking tips from the best photography blogs, and marveling at how the professionals do it on some of the eye-catching photography websites. After a hiatus, Flickr has come back into the frame. Of course, some keen photographers will say that it never went away. But even the most diehard Flickr users will admit that the new Flickr is in better focus than it ever was.
Flickr Groups is the town gathering for like-minded photographers. The ten Flickr Groups my friend Bakari mentioned a few years back are still popular on every list, but I am sure there’s room for many more. The ten uniquely beautiful Flickr Groups I managed to pick up below come from Group suggestions, recommendations, and personal preference. But there’s one common denominator – they all are unique in the photos they showcase.
Can it be argued that the art of photography is mostly about managing light? If that’s so, then the contributors to this group have it made. Light Junkies is a group about light graffiti, light painting, light writing and lights in motion. Light paintings are created with slow shutter speeds and for spectacular results, it combines well with night photography. Needless to say, you need a good light source to make it really artistic. The how-to of light painting is well documented in the discussion threads with tutorials, information, and discussions around specific themes shooting with silhouettes, traffic trails, and wondrous star trails.
Also if you are a good catcher, toss your camera in the air and see what comes up, look into Camera Toss.
Though light paintings can be surreal in themselves, this Flickr Group takes things much further. Creating surreal art forms takes a very imaginative mind that can see in abstracts in a zone between dream and reality. The photographers here do, and some really pull it off very uniquely. The one truly outstanding quality of a surreal photograph is that it will make you think. Quite a few of them left me scratching my head in wonderment. The one negative about this group is the lack of discussions. That’s a pity because there’s a lot to learn about the right photo manipulation techniques for the desired surreal effects.
The World Through My Eyes is a very open group, and as its name implies – it’s about seeing the world through your own lens…and the lens of others. The group is very active with chit chat, daily contests around themes (like, Monochrome Mondays, Textured Tuesdays etc.), weekly photo contests, and monthly showcase. So, you can be sure that the best photos usually surface to the top. If you want to have different perspectives of the world around you, this is one group to join. Think of it as a varied “gene pool” of diverse photographers.
The desolateness of abandoned places make for great photographers and not only because there isn’t a crowd milling all around your frame. Every abandoned place tells a story and if you can capture it in all its poignancy, then it makes for a timeless snap. The discussion threads though not very vibrant, are full of locations being name dropped. Personally, I do try to scout them out on Google Street View in my spare time. Do contribute your own recommendations.
If you are a rural kind of person, head out to Rural Decay.
The old favorite. The beautiful collection should cheer you up after the melancholy of the previous. This is a selective photo pool as the photos are by invitation only. The careful curation could also be the reason for lesser number of photos here. You might have a tough time getting your own through, but there’s nothing stopping you from admiring them in your browser. The beautiful photos are wallpaper stuff!
After a wide angle view of things, we zoom in with photography’s version of Mark Rothko’s expressionism. One of his recent paintings was valued at $35 Million at a New York Art Gallery. Your photos might not fetch the same stratospheric amounts, but this is an interesting art form. As the About page of the group describes the art form and what the photos should also represent –
“…work concentrated on basic emotions, often filling the canvas with very few, but intense colors, using little immediately-apparent detail.”
If you love nature, joining this Flickr Group should take just a perfunctory click. This group is not only about macros, but about anything that portrays a plant or a plant part in unique light. Pay attention to what the group is not looking for (e.g. they are not looking for just another pretty rose). Many photos here fail the test (I guess moderation is not strictly enforced), but the good ones should make you look at the greenery around you in new light.
A “no rules” completely open rule. There’s just one unofficial rule – kindly upload your panoramic shots; stitched shots are also allowed.
Black and white photography has its place in the age of color. In fact, if you look around, it probably has a large place. There’s something about subtracting all colors from a photograph and keeping it minimal. It makes me look at the familiar in a new way. The collection here proves it with every photograph. The group is also very active, and members start their own little games to keep the interaction going.
I left the best for the last. The Best 100 Only is a nice wrap up if you want to see some of the selected best 100 photos on Flickr. It is the “Hunger Games” for Flickr participants. As the site says, the photos are selected by — “one-on-one challenges”. The photos repeatedly viewed and compared with different challengers, until they are replaced by better ones. The intention is to provide a fun, respectful mechanism for constructive criticism, with worldwide membership.
The “toughest” ones make their name on the Hall of Fame.
Which Groups Would You Recommend?
Flickr has more than a million photography groups. You can be sure that they cover any aspect of photography you can think of. Heck, I found one entirely devoted to chairs and another that focused on pavements. Seriously. In other words, your photography inspiration could start from here and you shouldn’t let your camera collect dust. Which are the best Flickr groups you have come across? C’mon, send us your recommendations. This article will be the richer for it.