Flickr Picture Tags

By Deane Barker on September 2, 2004

Popular Tags on Flickr Photo Sharing: I swear that some of the best photography these days is coming out of amateurs. This page on Flickr displays the keywords that people have assigned to images they’ve uploaded. The bigger the font size, the more times that keyword has been used.

These are fantastic to browse. I like the Architecture category, with images like this one and this one. You can also view by author if you find someone you like which leads to more pictures on a topic, like more of this old house. Here’s some comments from the photographer:

An ancient hous[e] caught between highways 152 and 1 in Watsonville california. I don’t know all its history, but I know it once belonged to a japanese family who lost it when they were interred in WWII.

Where are you going to get that kind of story anywhere else? If you want to know what kind of bent a certain photographer has, you can pivot your search to the tags they submit, again with font size indicating most frequent.

It gets better: each keyword and author has an RSS feed (2.0 or Atom). Too cool. I wish these images were all licensed under Creative Commons.

In a larger sense, I really enjoy loose metadata systems like this where people just self-classify with wild abandon and, due to the massive volume, patterns start to develop. Self-classification with no central oversight and monitoring doesn’t always work well, especially when the content domain is small, but Flickr has really nailed it.

In the interest of proper attributation, I think I originally saw this in Boing Boing a couple weeks ago, but I’m not sure. I’ve been playing with it for a while now.

Finally, if anyone has a Flickr account, please post a link to this entry as a comment to one of the photos. I’d like the photographer to know how much I appreciate his work (I mean, geez, look at this one…), but I really don’t want to sign up for yet another account with yet another site. He has a site, but no email address that I could find.



  1. I only signed up to flickr on a whim, and posted those photos of the Redman House as a test. Now I’m glad I did. Thanks for your kind comments. Sorry I’m so difficult to get a hold of. I’m traveling right now, but when I get back I’ll be fixing my comment system.

    I really like the idea of flickr, but I don’t like storing my photos on someone else’s server. Their API is pretty complete, though, so it should be possible to tie a Gallery or Movable Type based photo site to a flickr account. Another project for when I get home.

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