Flickr’s acquisition: Smugmug and a history of caring about photos

I was surprised when I got an e-mail Friday night that Flickr had been acquired by Smugmug. Flickr was the premiere photo community for years but had diminished greatly when Yahoo purchased it. I had not used the service since Yahoo purchased it and news about the company’s security breaches came to light. But now with the Smugmug purchases, owns Flickr I’m onboard 100 percent with Flickr. Why? Smugmug has saved some of my most precious photos from a failing service.

Let’s go back to 2016. I had been using a service Picturelife to back up and store my photos. This was before iCloud Photo Library, Google photos or any of the other modern services. Picturelife allowed unlimited service, convent cloud storage. For the first time, I could easily have access to all of my photos from my phone.

Picture life was acquired and things started to break. Users couldn’t download their photos. The new owners were nowhere to be found and were not responding to support e-mails. We had no idea what was going on. Our photos were in limbo.

See: Picturelife, trust and having data out of your control

I started a Facebook group for users to communicate with each other. None of us had any idea what was going on. We were talking about pressing legal action. Then, when I was on vacation, an announcement came out that Smugmug had purchased Picturelife and all of our photos were safe on their servers.

This was nothing short of a digital miracle. Throughout the whole process, I realized how naive I was to trust years of photos to one company, particularly a start up in an industry where companies did not last.

I went from feeling helpless to empowered. I immediately purchased a subscription to Smugmug and will continue to use the service as long as it exists. They saved our photos because they care about photography.

So what does this all mean for Flickr? I know that Smugmug is a good company that cares about photographers and their photos. They saved an entire service’s user’s photos. I don’t know how many Picturelife users they converted to paying Smugmug customers, but I don’t think they did that’s the reason they ultimately did it.

I am looking forward to see what Smugmug does with Flickr and can’t wait to start using the service again. In a world where the motivations of tech companies are questionable, and becoming more so every day, it’s good to know there’s a family-owned company that’s going to take control of one of the largest photography networks.

Here’s to good companies making good places on the web.

April 22, 2018