Flickr’s archive is different. While you might search through Facebook’s 240 billion photos on social terms—using the social network’s new graph search to find, for instance, "photos of friends in New York"—and Instagram’s search-box surfaces "users and hashtags," only Flickr prioritizes its photos before real-world social networks.
The site's broad inventory spans more than 1.6 million interest groups. It's designed to help you find content you’ll enjoy browsing, even if you don’t know who took the photos or why, and that gives it a unique niche in the photo ecosystem.
"I think of Flickr as a marketplace—not necessarily buyers and sellers, but contributors and consumers," says the service’s GM and VP, Brett Wayn. "There are people who are huge contributors, and there are people who are good curators. They don’t actually contribute, but they pull other people’s contributions into collections like groups. And then they have a huge amount of people who are consumers."
Flickr houses predictably fascinating collections from the Library of Congress, NASA, the White House, and the British Royal Family. But it’s the hidden gems that make its archive special. Wayn, product head Markus Spiering, product designer Cindy Li, and other Flickr team members share some of their favorites in the slide show above and the list below:
- Flickr user notcatherinezeta chronicles the rehabilitation of a duckling found, without a mother duck, on the side of the road.
- Flickr user kiwi_kirsch, a bike courier, documents his elevator rides.
- Analog photography from Flickr user rougerouge.
- A collection of portraits from Flickr user Lou O’ Bedlam. Each comes with a story.
- Flickr user miki** shoots lifestyle impressions from Japan.
- Flickr user Khanh Hmoong in Nha Trang, Vietnam, swapped film with Samantha Ann Francis in Singapore. They each took turns exposing these photos.
- A set of photos that are, well, colorful from Flickr user lomokev.
- Insects, from a perspective closer than the one from which you usually look at them, by Flickr user Thomas Shahan.
- Flickr user danny st. captures portraits of strangers.
- A group photo collection of Tokyo’s buildings.
- Shooting in Tokyo, Flickr user _torne creates photos with a whimsical touch.
- Flickr user Thomas Hawk’s collection of photos, taken in the North Beach district of San Francisco, is a colorful portrait of the neighborhood.
- This 29,415-member group focuses on minimalism.
- If you love VW buses, like Flickr’s head of product Markus Spiering does, you’ll love this photo group.
- For, you know, when Nutella is sold out.