It helps to get out in the real world and get a reality check.
The participants in the Santa Fe Workshops and the Maine Maine Media Workshops have in common that they’re dedicated, enthusiastic photographers. In addition, several people I met this summer and last were professional photographers or educators in the area of photography and media. And virtually none of them had heard of Flickr; and none were using it.
Of the nine other people in my workshop this year (seven other students, a teaching assistant, and the instructor, the latter two of whom are professional photographers), the instructor has a Flickr account with no public photos and one contact; one student has a Flickr account he hasn’t uploaded to in a year; the rest had never even heard of it.
People wanted to stay in touch after the class. When I suggested a Flickr group, they were adamant that it had to be private, they didn’t want anyone else to see their images. I set up the group and posted four images. So far, one person has posted two images, from her Santa Fe workshops.
The one who hadn’t uploaded in a year said: “I tried Flickr but got discouraged because everything seems to get lost in the scrap. There are people out there who don’t edit; they just upload their memory cards.”
Last year, in Maine, I had more opportunity to talk with people in other workshops, and never found anyone who had even heard of Flickr. When I described it to my classmates, no one could imagine ever wanting to use it. One said he had enough images to keep up with; why would he want to see even more?
I and most of my students travel in a very limited world where almost everyone we seem to know participates in social media. But that’s definitely not the world at large.
A caveat: apparently the target group for the Santa Fe workshops is the 45-65 crowd; largely a matter of cost, I’m sure. Maine is trying to widen its scope (changed its name from “Maine Photography Workshops” to “Maine Media Workshops” and has workshops aimed at young people and/or video and film), but I had little contact with the younger crowd. (The one young person I talked to a lot, a teen-ager housed next door to me, was taking, of all things, a black and white film darkroom class.)