happy 10th birthday, flickr!

One of my first photos on Flickr - uploaded in
October 2006, two months after I joined.
Flickr was always on my mind back then.
In August 2006, almost 8 years ago, I had returned from a beautiful houseboat vacation in Ireland with my former partner. I brought back an SD card with several hundreds of photos, and I had no place to empty them, because my hard disk was full and my CDROM drive broken. So I was looking for online storage space for photos, and came across something called Flickr. Back then, I thought I basically needed a place to dump my photos before I would be able to get more offline disk space, so I uploaded a bunch of them there. Unfortunately, there was an upload limit of 3 per day and 200 in total for the free account, so I purchased the Pro version for $25 per year, which gave me unlimited storage space, as well as an unlimited number of sets (which is how photo albums are called in Flickr).
After a few days, people started to leave comments on my photos, and inviting me to join groups. In less than a week, I was hooked. I quit watching TV and started spending a lot of time on Flickr - joining groups, signing up for projects (my biggest one the 365 Days daily self-portrait project which I did for two consecutive years), making new photographer friends, learning a lot of things I hadn't known about photography, getting inspired - and finally, also, meeting Flickr people in the flesh. Here's a probably not comprehensive list of Flickr friends I've met in real life:

Briggate.com - My second-longest Flickr friend at all. Amazing street photographer, amazing wide-angle portraitist. He liked my self-portraits, and we became friends. Visited him numerous times in Leeds and had him over in Rotterdam, too - one of my most appreciated photographic mentors, and a truly generous and inspiring soul.
exfordy - Met him via the HiMOM group, one of the first 'rating' groups I joined. He was part of a bunch of maybe 5-6 people who heavily interacted there on a social, non-photography level. He took me up to the London Eye in 2009 and let me stay with him and his wife in Essex for a night. The three of us had a fabulous Indian dinner.
nicebiscuit - He drove over from Macclesfield with his lovely son one day while I was visiting Leeds in 2007. Even though we never met again, we're still Facebook friends to this day.
Synecdoche - A fellow 365er. She came up to meet me in London in 2008 and go shooting together with herspiral (see US Midwest) for an afternoon. We should meet again.
tootdood - Introduced him to the concept of self-portraits, but he took it to a new level with his humorous storytelling. He did several 365 projects too. I visited him on many occasions in Manchester, first in 2007. Long photowalks together and he also taught me some trickery in post-processing.
Chris Hester - We were Flickr buddies for a while already when he came along during a visit to the National Media Museum in Bradford with Briggate.com in 2007.
Strawbleu - I went to a number of the photo camps he organized in Leeds (first one in 2007), and he came over for a visit to Rotterdam last year too. Admire his capacity to make his projects fly.
Mojo... - We went shooting together on a rainy night in Manchester, together with a number of fellow Mancunians. Best real-life joke I ever heard involved her class and a long exposure shot of the Manchester Wheel. We laughed oodles.
Air Adam - another Mancunian who joined us on said photo walk - and a true gentleman who covered my ass while I was shooting in the filthy nightly alleys of Chinatown.
John FotoHouse - Met him and his wife during my first Photocamp in Leeds. He followed in my footsteps after listening to the talk tootdood and I gave about self-portraits.
foto.phrend - Wife of John FotoHouse, also met her at Photocamp. She does amazing texture photography and abstract minimalism. Such an eye for detail.
Wannasonic - Also met at PhotoCamp. She, her husband Len_Scapov, and the FotoHouses mostly turn up in a quartet - even on their holiday pictures. Nice people with a great sense of humor.
Len_Scapov - The other half of Wannasonic, and, like John FotoHouse, was inspired by my self-portraits and started a 365 project himself.
StripeyAnne - Another one of the Leeds Flickr group - apart from her photography I also enjoy her blog posts and her general good humor.
squirrelmonkey - The only Flickr staff member I've ever met (even though she doesn't work there anymore); got to know her also at one of the Leeds Photocamps.
Auntie P. - We met via Ms. Tea and the self-portrait crowd, and then in person on my 2012 birthday which Joey and I spent in London. Had a coffee together and are active Facebook friends, but should really visit for longer one day.
saraelhassani - Met her via Briggate.com and the Leeds Flickr group. An inspiring artist and blogger. She came over to Rotterdam in 2009.
griff le riff - Really inspiring street photographer based in Leeds. Joined him and Briggate.com on one of their shoots of the weekend streets in Leeds. I admire his balls.
bezzer66 - I met him via tootdood during a visit in Manchester in 2010, and on a second occasion in 2011 when he took us along to Photocamp Leeds. Sadly, I learned that he passed away very suddenly last month, at the age of 66. He was a very kind man, and I feel very sorry for his family and close friends.

The first photo I ever posted to Flickr was the inside of
a rose. I still remember the little park in Ballinasloe,
Ireland, where I took this shot.
US Midwest
wcm777 - He drove all the way from Kansas to Chicago in 2009 just to go shooting with me while I was there for a day; fellow-Pentaxian who even lend me his fisheye lens while we were taking a boat ride on the Chicago river.
Madison Guy - I saw a photo of a bridge he took and fell in love with it. We became online friends, which led to me meeting Miriam, which led to me meeting and marrying Joey - with Peter and Miriam as witnesses. We see him and his wife every year when Joey and I are in Madison. A beautiful soul, and what a photographer.
frau cowtown - Met her through her photos of cows. I stayed at her beautiful family home in Illinois in 2009 and visited Chicago with her and her family. Thanks to her I know the very spot where Bill Murray repeatedly stepped into the puddle in Groundhog Day, which was filmed in her town (and not in Punxsutawney, PA).
herspiral - She's a teacher of Miksang photography and contemplative writing, and also a fellow-Pentaxian (gone Nikon). Met her on Madison Guy's photos - she's another one of the many Madisonians I got to know over the years. She was in London while I had a job interview for a job in Rotterdam in 2008 there (got the job, too), so we met up (together with Synecdoche, see above). We clicked instantly, and she invited me over to her wedding reception in Madison, WI a year later. I went and met my wife there. The rest is history, and she became one of our witnesses. We've been visiting back and forth too, trying to meet at least once per year.
dylandigits - I met her via herspiral and became friends with her too. I particularly enjoy her thoughtful posts on Facebook, and we should really do Deutsche Kaffeestunde together again.
Joey Johannsen - While it is true that we're married and met via herspiral, which is by far the best gift Flickr has given me, she had been following my Flickr already for a while before we met at herspiral's wedding reception in 2009 and let me stay at her house, with the two cats which have joined her and became mine too when she moved to Europe and in with me a year later. I had just been rude enough to ignore her - something I try to make up for every day now. She's a great Miksang photographer and teacher too.
rocksinmypockets - Met her on herspiral's wedding reception too, and later a number of times during my visits to Madison. A very talented letterpress artist at Free Rabbit Press, Madison.
leedav - She's another one of the 365 crowd and happens to live in Madison too. We met for the first time at the cafe where she cooked. She's an amazing chef and also cooked for our wedding. Through her, I ment KAP'n Craig and Angela Richardson.
Angela Richardson - She's one of the most creative persons I know, and always has some exciting art project going on. We met at a pizza party at leedav's house and became friends. She joined us at our wedding, and lent us her bikes when we were visiting Madison. A very sweet and generous woman.
KAP'n Craig - He was at said pizza party too - and later took us kite flying and shooting from the kite. His photos are world famous in the area of kite aerial photography - he's had assignments as far away as China where he flew an indoor kite at the opening of a new sports stadium. Also, a truly generous friend who always tries to make time whenever we visit.
thechrisproject - Another one of the Madison photography crowd, with a specialty in street photography. He came to the opening of my first US solo show in 2010.
Nanotime Photography - We visited a Miksang workshop together in 2010. She's not really Midwest, but that's where we met. Later, we did a photo swap, because I adored some of her minimalist photos. Still friends on Google+, and she's one of the few who are still active on Flick too.
Energy Ink Arts - A Madison artist who I also met at my first solo show in 2010. She was so kind to organize my participation in an art fair in the region, which I couldn't do from a distance. We're still friends on Facebook.
lbsnaps - used to be a neighbor of Joey's in Madison - I met her in 2010. She was also the driver for our wedding which happened in Iowa, because the US only acknowledged gay marriage nationwide a few weeks ago, so back in 2010 we couldn't marry in Madison.
DrStarbuck - met her as a friend of Joey's in a cafe in Madison in 2010. She and her wife McBeth are beautiful, generous people who we try to meet whenever we're there.
nolamiksang - met her during a Miksang photoshoot in Madison in 2009, and last year again in Oakland where she happened to be at the same time as we were. Always such a delight.
McBeth - DrStarbuck's other half who I first met in 2012 and who finished her photography degree a few years ago, with a lovely project that I adore: The content of other people's drawers.

The oldest photo I ever posted to
Flickr is the wedding photo of
my maternal grandparents from
1922. They both wore black
because my grandmother had already
had a child - the product of a rape -
when my grandfather married her.
He was twice her age, she bore
9 more children from him,
and he died before she was even 60.
That's when her life began.
US East
ms. Tea - My first fellow-365er; met her in Amsterdam in 2008, visited her in Massachussetts in 2009 and stayed at her house, and then she came to our wedding reception in Wisconsin in 2010. One of my very early Flickr friends, and we're still in touch, mostly via Instagram and Facebook these days.
Flickr Dave - Also a fellow-365er; he came over to Baltimore with his wife while I was staying there in 2009 to have dinner together. Amazing kite aerial photography.
dogfaceboy - We met each other over pictures of brussels sprouts and beer - a very prolific fellow-365er with an incredible range of talents, including writing, photography, singing, and mosaic art. I visited her in Baltimore in 2009; we went to a lot of museums together, and she introduced me to a number of her friends from the region and online. When I was visiting New York we met up for a photo shoot with Aunt Teena and jodi*mckee. She attended our wedding reception in Madison and even played a song on her guitar for us.
Aunt Teena - I met her in 2009; she picked me up from Penn Station and let me stay a night in her and her husband's living room while they were still living in Midtown Manhattan. We went shooting together many times, and she is such enjoyable company. She joined us at our wedding reception in 2010, and Joey and I went back to New York and stayed at their new place in New Jersey in 2012. She was a trooper, joining us on our long hikes through the city - she even walked the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River with us, straight into Manhattan. A very faithful soul, and one of my very best Flickr friends. She also takes many photos of nameless pretty flowers.
imagecarnival - Another Baltimorean who is one of the few celebrity photographers I know. Check out his portraits of Prince. Met him in 2009 while visiting there.
Seton Droppers - A fellow 365er who joined us for dinner in Baltimore back in 2009 with his wife. We also became Facebook friends over time.
jodi*mckee - I stayed a night with her and her husband in Queens while I was in New York in 2009. We went shooting and dining together, and Joey and I visited her and her family again in 2012 for a dinner in Brooklyn, after she had her adorable little daughter and I had my adorable little wife. She's got an eye for pretty.
JKönig - Has a big heart for turkey vultures and stray cats. I stayed a night with her in the Hudson valley in 2009, where I also met Flo's Diner and Franchise. We went shooting together and had a barbecue at night. I always wanted to return there. Maybe I will some day.
lightthatbends - She went on a Staten Island Ferry ride with me and Aunt Teena during my visit in 2009. A very crafty person, and a beautiful soul.
Franchise - She was there when I visited JKönig in 2009. One of my few Flickr friends who is still very active there, as well as on Facebook. We share our love for animals, and our willingness to do without them on our plates.
pi c's - Another fellow-365er. She joined dogfaceboy and me on a shoot in Baltimore. There was lots of great beer involved, too. She's a killer at Scrabble, and we're still friends on Facebook.
TeeTa - used to be dogfaceboy's neighbor, but moved away. Met her during a pizza dinner on the porch. She once was stationed in Germany, and we talked about the German film.

My most popular photo on Flickr is still this 2007
self-portrait wearing the traveling socks. It's been viewed
over 67,000 times, is part of 27 galleries,  was faved 440
times, and received 220 comments.  
US West:
.Manisha. - We also met in the 365 Days group. She has this wonderful Indian food blog with amazing recipes. Joey and I visited her and her family in 2011 when I had an exhibition in Colorado. Great people.
Lalalaa Dolce Vita - Another fellow-365er, and one I finally got to meet last year when we visited the Bay Area. We met at a vegan patisserie in Oakland together with nolamiksang, then had a delicious lunch at a vegan Mexican restaurant in Berkeley, and we visited the local Shambhala Center too where she practices.
O Caritas - We were Facebook friends before we became Flickr friends. A fellow-vegan who let us stay at his house for almost a week during our visit to San Francisco in 2013. Also, a kick-ass tour guide of San Francisco, a truly generous soul, and creator of incredible beauty in his photos. One of the few Flickr friends I have who shoots for a living, so if you're looking for a really awesome photographer in the Bay Area, he's your man.

AurelioZen - He was the reason why I first visited Rotterdam - World Port Days 2007. I adore his urban photos.
joostburger - He was there too when I first visited Rotterdam and introduced me to the old North, off the beaten path. When I started working in Rotterdam, we did a web project together. Lost touch though.
Maerten Prins - I visited him in Nijmegen a couple of times in 2007 and 2008. We share our love for graphic architecture, and he came to my housewarming party in Rotterdam in 2009.
Kleiobird - Met him in 2007 on said visit to Rotterdam at the World Port Days, where he was brought along by AurelioZen. We became friends and later lovers. He was the main reason I moved my life to Rotterdam in 2008 - before I met Joey and realized that this was what I really wanted. I still see him every once in a while and still cut his hair, but he's not really active anymore on Flickr.
Lilly Dana - One of the fellow Rotterdam Flickreenos. Met her in a coffee shop in 2008, and later on a photowalk in my neighborhood in 2009.
kunstschieter - A cartoonist and graphic designer with amazing talent, and a fantastic macro photographer too. She and her husband live just down the road, but we got introduced in 2009 by Kleiobird during a cheese fondue dinner. Both she and her husband quit Flickr after the last redesign, but she joined again just yesterday. She also makes kick-ass vegan cookies. We should really get together more often.
krobbie - A fellow Rotterdammer who I met during a photowalk shoot at the Kunsthal.
Peet de Rouw - We share our love for industrial night shots. He pretty much owns the Rotterdam harbor - some of the most amazing nightly harbor shots you'll ever see in your life. Also, a true gentleman and a wonderful Facebook friend.
Karin van Bragt - Met her via Maerten Prins. Great shots of architectural detail. She also came to my housewarming party in 2009.
pink's - Although she lives in Rotterdam, I got to know her via Miriam who lives in Madison. She's an amazing collage artist, which also reflects in her photography. Plus, she took Joey and me on a trip to the Van Nelle Factory where we set off the alarm system and had to deal with the cops.
-hndrk- I invited him over to a lecture at the university, and he came and joined Joey and me for a shoot in the city. For a while we visited each other back and forth in Den Haag and Rotterdam, but haven't done so over the last year or so. He's a great art teacher and best company to visit museums with.
lugarplaceplek - Met him in 2011 via pink's. Great urban photography, and he was the one responsible for us being able to visit the Van Nelle Factory.

vollefolklore - She used to live where I used to live - shooting together in Offenbach's harbor in 2007, and still Facebook and Twitter buddies.
Ambidexy - We share the love for industrial landscapes. She also used to live where I used to live - we also met up for shooting, on the weekend after my mother had died in 2007. Still so grateful for the distraction.
topfloor - Great black-and white photographer. We met first during a strobist workshop in Frankfurt in 2007, and then again during a visit to Berlin in 2010.
Trini W. - She was also one of my fellow-365ers and took amazing self-portraits in THAT light - a spot in her hallway by the window. She's one of my most active Facebook friends, and I've visited her and her lovely family twice, once together with Joey. It's about time to return.
kimba77 - I met her via Trini. She joined Steffen and me on some photo walks in our old home town in 2007, where she lives close by, and at Frankfurt Airport, and I also once met up with her in Frankfurt downtown when I visited. Sadly, we pretty much lost contact over the years.

Kat Colorado - spent a weekend shooting with her in Basel in 2008 (she came up from Zürich, I came down from Frankfurt). Oodles of fun!

Flo's Diner - Met her while staying at JKönig's place in 2009. Inspiring woman. She moved to the West to become a farmer, and we lost touch.
Surly Bratt - She's one of my oldest Flickr friends, from the HiMOM group. Our physical encounter was only very brief and happened at the MOMA in New York City. We should really plan a visit to Toronto, where she's a cake artist with some of the most incredible creations you've ever seen.

Steffen Jakob - we grew up in the same small town in Germany, just two years apart in age, but never knew we existed before Flickr. He reacted to a geotagged photo of mine in 2007, and then one thing led to another. Introduced me to a lot of Viennese Flickr peeps.
Eve O. Lushion - met her via Steffen, went shooting together and did lead casting together on New Year's Eve 2007.
Regina J. - met her also via Steffen and stayed at her house a number of times - one of the most awesome hosts you may wish for! She also came to Rotterdam a few times for visits and stayed here. It's about time that we meet again.
~shrewd~ - Met him via Regina J. Went shooting together in my old hometown in Germany once.
b_highdi - Another one in the Viennese crowd who I met thanks to Steffen. We always try to go shooting at least one day when I visit Vienna. She's got a great eye and a gorgeous little son.
maxst001 - He first showed up during a shoot with the Flickr Vienna group in 2007, and then we met again when Joey and I visited Vienna in 2010 and 2012, when he and his wife joined us for a tour of the Viennese underground canal system and cooked dinner for us at their place. They also once visited Rotterdam for a day.

There are a few more who I've met, but who have quit Flickr, and many more who I would love to meet one day, most particularly: troutfactory, my only Flickreeno in Japan; Qathi, who I might get to see during our scheduled visit to Portland; JWas, my only friend in Alaska; Gamma Infinity, who has been a Flickr friend for so long, and, together with his wife, met up with Joey while she was in LA and won her over; AH in Pgh, one of the most amazing still life photographers I ever saw, with an Ecclestonian quality; penelope's odyssey who not only takes the most amazing photos, but also writes the most amazing stories; auntsmack4u who we almost met during our stay in New York 2 years ago, but then messed up schedules and missed her; jgcf who is more of a Facebook friend these days than a Flickr friend, but has always stayed in touch; Puff Dragon who is one of the most creative persons I've ever not met, but wanted to; dabblewit, my woman in Australia, who has repeatedly invited me over, but for some reason it never panned out; scribblegurl and smalldogs (one of these days I must visit LA, there's just too many cool people living there); Esther17, the desert photographer, who I really want to go shooting with together; beingjoey who I hope to meet during our visit to Portland this year; Szoff, fellow-vegan and the other half of O Caritas, who sadly wasn't there while we were (a reason to go back); Lotus Carroll and Thomas Hawk who are both stars on all social media they are present on, but still have enough human decency to occasionally visit the photostreams of those of us who are less famous and leave a comment or a fave.

My first ever self-portrait on Flickr, August 2006, in my
office at Siemens Frankfurt,  before the 365 Days
challenge even started. I still have that mug, but that's
about the only thing that stayed the same since then.
It's true: Flickr isn't what it used to be back in the olden days. The interface doesn't invite to interact anymore. It has become more of a portfolio show than a site where people really want to share thoughts along with their or other people's photos. Also, the arrival of mobile makes people fave more and comment less. It's still wildly popular, and I've seen a lot of people join lately who have never had accounts before, but now that it's completely free this becomes an option again. I've also noticed that my photos get way more views now than in the past, so there must still be some people who are active. I've made a number of new friends lately too, but these are people I hardly know on a personal level, so I don't feel the urge to meet up with them, which I did with my old friends who shared a lot of their personal stories on Flickr too. This is something that has decreased a lot over time.

I am still incredibly grateful for Flickr. It's been an amazing 8 years there, and it hosts almost 18,000 of my photos, all neatly tagged and bagged so that I can retrieve them again any time at any place. It went with me on my travels around the world, it brought me friendship and love, and it provided me with an endless amount of inspiriation and education. I never became friends with 500px, Picasa, Behance, or any other photo sharing service apart from Instagram which I only use for phone pics, as it's intended to be used for, and Facebook sucks for photo hosting anyway. Flickr changed my life in so many ways that it's hard to even list them all. And seriously: you can get used to the new user interface. I did, too.

Happy 10th Birthday, Flickr. I'll be around. See you there?


  1. Wow.
    I joined in April '06. I see I had my first Flickr mail from you in Sep '06. Remember that?..
    You are right - Flickr is not what it used to be re interaction. I use it more as storage / back up and comment much less these days. So the hundreds of car photos that don't interest Anne are on there and not on our mac.

    1. Of course I remember! You were one of my very first Flickr friends.

  2. And I thought I'd met a lot of flickrites! It's been a pleasure to know you and Joey. xoxo

  3. That is a boatload of Flickr people! What an accomplishment!

  4. It has been a pleasure to know you all these years and I am still amazed at your view of the world through a Pentax :)