I've been watching Google + very closely
since it's launch and for the most part have not been massively impressed simply because I don't see a need for it. Like most people I have my social networks and I really can't be bothered with another one but having said that there are a couple of little ways in which I could see Google + carving out a niche for itself and one of those is for photographers. Although services like Instagram, Twitter and especially Facebook are massively popular for photo sharing the photo sharing site of choice for the professional photographer has long been Flickr. A recent article by a prominent photo blogger and some photographers I've seen chatting on Twitter recently show that there is a shift happening among the passionate online photography crowd and Google + might just be the ideal new home for them all. Here are some of the reasons why they are all starting to flock to Google +...
Most serious photographers use Flickr because of the quality of the images on the site and the fact that they can use it as a place to store a vast amount of their high res images safely online. Facebook was never an option because their image quality sucked and Instagram chops the images in to an ugly square format. Google + stores your images in beautiful high res quality and displays them in one of the most visually stunning ways you could ever imagine.
Photo from Thomas Hawk Google +
If you read any of the articles about people moving from Flickr to Google + you will see that there is huge community starting to form there. Have a read of this piece or this one to see the movement that is happening there among photographers and what is really interesting is even though Google is one of the biggest tech companies in the world they are down on the ground with the photographers going on photo walks. Getting a photo site going is about community more than anything and Google + looks like it has the start of something special.
Image showing a Google + photo walk
This is a huge advantage for Google + and you can't be sure that Google + will keep this free forever but there is a very strong chance they will. Most of the professional photographers (and indeed anybody with more than a handful of images) on Flickr have a pro account which they pay for every single year. Given the choice between two equal services in terms of quality with one costing money and the other being totally free and ad supported there is very little choice to be made. You go free.
The one big features that users of Flickr love is the groups and even though Google + doesn't have those yet there is no doubt they will in the future. When you look at how many additional social features Google + has there really is no competition. Even something as simple as the +1 button is a perfect tool for showing appreciation of a person's photos and will allow the best photos to surface to the very top.
A lot of people want their photos to be seen by as many people as possible. Not everybody but the vast majority. That is why we share them online rather than keeping them on our computers after all. Flickr is like a big stagnant relic of a site that is just sitting there whereas Google + is coming up with all sorts of new ways to make your photos discoverable by others. Although the community is small on Google + at the moment it has much better features and once the numbers start going up the exposure of your photos there will be much bigger than anything Flickr could ever offer.
The Cool Factor
Seems like a pretty lame reason for people to move to Google + but most people online like to stay on top of trends and be part of the next great thing. Google + is as hot as anything right now and it's important to remember that even though Flickr was once thought of in the same way that is a good six or seven years ago now. That is a huge amount of time in the online world and even though users might have 1000s of photos there online users are fickle and will always jump to something sexier if it pops up and offers the same or better service.
Mobile In The Future
Even though users are not using this as a reason to switch at the moment they will in the future. Smartphone cameras are getting better all the time and even though they are no good enough for pro photographers yet the improvement has been immense. Flickr's mobile app has been stuck in the dark ages for some time and there is little or no innovation coming out of that company. Google on the other hand own Android and the role of smart phones in photo sharing is only going to grow and grow. Although mobile might not be a reason for power users to switch just yet it very well could be in the future.