The photo that briefly led the Flickr blog
I’ve had a basic Flickr account for about a year now and before this past weekend, I don’t think I had more than 2,000 hits across the 150 random photos in my stream. After Flickr spotlighted my photos of the Times Square snowball fight at the top of its blog, I received about 71,000 hits and hundreds of comments in three days:
The funniest part of it is, is that I had uploaded pretty much the exact same set of photos more than 30 hours before. After work, while at the office, I noticed that CNN had spotlighted freelancer Doug Kim’s excellent B&W photos of the incident on his blog; I didn’t realize until I saw the reaction he got how amazing this event was to anyone who hadn’t been there that night, possibly even more interesting than for even those of us lucky to be there. I re-uploaded those same photos at a slightly larger size so I could post them “Big Picture” style to my blog. I’m pretty sure the important tags (“snow”, “snowball”) were in both versions (in fact, the picked-up version lacks “snowball fight” as a tag, which is the term that the Flickr blog post links to.
Apparently, I had good timing. Maybe ten minutes after I uploaded the larger-sized photos, I started noticing a stream of comments…and when I finally noticed that the thumbnail of my photo was not just showing on my Flickr page, but on everyone else’s…I hastily did a quick edit of the hundreds of other snowball fight photos I took that night and uploaded them. My two favorite of the secondary bunch…actually, of the whole bunch period, and I only bothered to look at them again because I figured Flickr users were OK with slightly more quantity than quality.
According to the NYT’s City Room Blog, one of the earliest popular mentions of the event was on BoingBoing, which linked to a Tweeted mobile phone photo. It wasn’t the clearest, but making something known is more important. I’m kicking myself a little for editing my photos when I got home but then only posting them to a private online album for friends. I’m glad Kim’s excellent photos got huge play when CNN’s iReport gave it a spot on CNN.com’s homepage.
Two days after the snowball fight, I didn’t have much to add to from what Kim’s photos had shown, so I figured the least I could do was license my photos under Creative Commons so that everyone could freely share them. I’m lucky enough to have a steady job now, so I’m just happy to show as many people as possible the cheery, smiling side of New Yorkers (or, at least its tourists’).
Some of my favorite comments, on Flickr and this Reddit post, which made it to the top of r/photography. I forget that not everyone knows what Times Square has been like since the pedestrian-calming measures took effect (and now I realize that this snowball fight probably wouldn’t have taken place any other year beforehand), or even what a snowstorm is.
This made me feel a little bit better about the world, so thanks! When I think of NYC, the last thing I expect to see is people laughing and having fun! 😛
Gets way too much crap for being an unfriendly city. Glad these photos show how untrue that reaction can be sometimes.
kevinbhookun Pro User says:
Reminds me of a Scene from Gangs of New York, except this is much cleaner
judo_dad1953 Pro User says:
I’m listening to Franz Schuberts Unfinished Symphony No.8 in B minor; as I’m wandering through your photostream. Its a perfect combination; it draws me to the image, making me wish I could pass into it and experience the moment wholly. Still, doing so vicariously is no small thing. Its an enviable record of an enviable moment. A tip of the hat to you for posting such a beautiful photo!
Kyle_Butler Pro User says:
I was so excited when I saw this picture I did a back flip. However, I was in a sleeping bag…so it got really weird. My cat looked at me as though he no longer accepted me as his owner. Then I realized I had no cat, and wondered why this creature was in my home!
See, your photo has set off a chain of events that not even Ashton Kutcher could fix!
Eric Austria Pro User says:
i was just there last nov. what a difference a day of snow is. if i’m gonna be stranded from a snowstorm this would be the ideal place.
hah) “snowstorm”…for us it’s really fun to hear such a word. I know that you are not used to the weather like this and it’s really a storm for you, but here in Moscow we would have called it like “huh, snowy again”)) anyway, amazing pics)
Well, if spotlighting my photo was Flickr’s roundabout way to get me to sign up for a Pro account…well, it worked. I had a vague sense of the Flickr ecosystem work…but when no one stops by your photostream, you don’t see it in practice. Having interacted with dozens of other photogs and spending some time seeing the other great work out there…I’m seeing a lot more utility for a Flickr account than just providing people a repository for the random CC-images I have. And I’m going to try it out as the hosting service for my images. Dreamhost’s recent spottiness as of late didn’t give me confidence that it could handle serving up pages with multiple large images to thousands of visitors.
So lesson learned: when you have a nice camera, don’t keep the good memories to yourself. Happy Holidays.