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Raising Awareness for Big Cats Through Photography

October 2020, by Carol Benovic-Bradley[ —]

As National Cat Day (October 29th in the United States) approached and we were curating a gallery featuring the felines of Flickr, we happened to be introduced to Stefanie Kraus. Stefanie has been a member of the Flickr community since 2005 and her profile is full of captivating photos of big cats – lions, tigers, leopards, and more. Stefanie is a product designer, photographer, and animal advocate and has been volunteering with animal sanctuaries since 2007.

Stefanie’s mission in documenting big cats is to get people to see these animals can “feel joy, fear, or pain just like we do.” Here’s more about Stefanie and how she approaches her work.

Lioness b-w

Stefanie, please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a digital product designer, photographer, and animal advocate. I run my own design consultancy in the San Francisco, California Bay Area and work with animal sanctuaries and rescue organizations to raise awareness.

When did you start practicing photography and what got you into it?

Photography is something I always loved! Growing up in Germany during the ‘80s, I played with my dad’s Polaroid camera. Things got a bit more serious when I started art school. Back then, I was fascinated with textures. Urban decay, old farmhouses and factories, and the rust on metal were my preferred subjects. I think I always loved getting very close to things and seeing details that the naked eye could not grasp. Something that may look boring, or even ugly at first glance, became truly beautiful.

After I moved to the US, I got interested in macro photography of plants and had an exhibition at the Mendocino Art Center in 2008.


Can you tell us how you got involved with big cat sanctuaries? What drew you in to helping and advocating for big cats?

I like the quote “be the change you want to see in the world,” [so] I have been a volunteer and board member of local rescues since 2007. When I started looking into volunteering for big cats, I realized that what was advertised as volunteer opportunities abroad were actually places that allowed for canned hunting. Through online research, I also learned that there was a huge industry that bred, sold, and exploited big cats here in the US. I had no idea that owning tigers privately was even permitted. This was a turning point for me, and I wanted to use my skills and professional experience to help.

So, in 2013 I did a six-month internship at Big Cat Rescue in Florida. I lived on-site, gave educational tours to the public, helped with outreach, and took care of the animals. I also learned about the Global Federation of Accredited Sanctuaries, an organization that validates true sanctuaries.

Through GFAS, I found WildCat Ridge Sanctuary in Oregon. They are not open to the public. As a true sanctuary, they provide a forever “retirement” home for wild cats that have been exploited, abused, or privately owned. I went for a visit and was impressed by the care, love, and respect for the animals I saw. The founder loved my photos, and the rest is history.

I have been working on a website redesign, an online store, and I visit several times a year to take photos and videos. I am actually there right now, putting together our 2021 calendar.

WildCat Ridge is home to over 70 cats, all of them were rescued. As a true sanctuary, we don’t breed, sell, trade, or buy animals. In fact, we hope for a world where sanctuaries are not needed anymore. My presentation on the private ownership of big cats goes into more detail.


How did you discover your knack for photographing big cats? And what are you trying to accomplish with your work when it comes to documenting them and sharing that photography?

When I first heard about roadside zoos, pay-for-play schemes, or swimming with tiger cubs, I cried. Both Big Cat Rescue and WildCat Ridge have residents that came from such places. Their stories touched me deeply. I thought about how most people are not aware of this and assume that getting their photos taken with a tiger is ok. It’s not their fault, it’s just a lack of education on the issue. 

At the same time, people love looking at beautiful, majestic animals. I realized that my photos can be used to inspire and educate the public. When it comes to advocacy, I believe in giving people the opportunity to come to their own conclusion. What could be better than showing the portrait of a beautiful cat and telling their story?

What is your favorite shot (of a big cat) that you’ve taken and why?

As a photographer for animal sanctuaries, my favorite cat is usually the one right in front of my lens. However, sometimes there is that very special connection. Something you can’t quite put your finger on. It feels deep and touching, it’s rare and special.

Kennewick was such a cat for me. He was clearly wild and strong. But there was also such wisdom and knowledge in his eyes.

One of my favorite moments was when I visited shortly after my domestic cat, Jojo, had passed away. I was grieving and felt lost. I sat down outside Kennewick’s enclosure. He walked right over and laid down on the other side, in the corner closest to me. I don’t know what was on his mind, and I don’t want to project. All I know is that I felt better and that my sadness was ok.

Kennewick was 24 years old when he left us. This is very old for a cougar. In the wild, they usually live up to 12 years. He left behind a huge hole, he will always be remembered with love and respect. Run wild and free, beautiful boy!


What’s the most difficult or surprising aspect of photographing big cats?

Something I didn’t expect is that some big cats can be afraid of the camera lens. This is different from the domestic cats I have photographed at the shelter. I usually lower my camera and only pull it up quickly to take a shot.

[Also], I generally use a long lens and make sure that there is enough distance between the bars and the cat. But cats tend to walk the perimeter of their territory, and that’s exactly at the edge of their enclosures.

What tips would you give to other photographers that are looking to share a message or raise awareness for a specific cause with their photography?

If possible, show your photos, share the facts, and let people come to their own conclusions. Try to meet them where they are and always remember that everyone is at a different stage in their life journey.

If you could communicate just one thing to people that are taking in your photography, what would that be?

Every animal can feel joy, fear, or pain just like we do. They are here for their own reasons, not for our pleasure or entertainment.


Flickr FAQs: Finding Your Flickr Community

October 2020, by Carol Benovic-Bradley[ —]

A few weeks ago, we announced that we are creating a series of video tutorials to help people find their footing on Flickr. Several of you suggested ideas to help us get this series going. Our first video is complete and we’re excited to share it with you.

In this episode of Flickr FAQs: Finding your Flickr Community, we address the following questions:

  • How can I make sure that others members of the Flickr community can find my work?
  • How can I find other Flickr members that share my interests?
  • How can I get meaningful feedback on my work?

In this episode, we mention the following areas of Flickr:

If you would like to suggest a topic, question, or area of Flickr for us to discuss in a future episode, share it with us here.
To stay in the loop as we launch future episodes of Flickr FAQs, follow Flickr on Flickr and follow Flickr on YouTube.

Join us at this year’s Creative Commons Global Summit

October 2020, by Carol Benovic-Bradley[ —]

Flickr is proud to be sponsoring and attending this year’s Creative Commons Global Summit. Free to attend for everyone, the Summit will take place virtually from October 19th through October 23rd and will feature over 150 sessions with more than 200 speakers across 40 countries. The sessions cover a range of topics including the ethics of “open,” increasing language diversity, and artificial intelligence and creativity.

Join us at our virtual booth for the following programming:

  • We’ll be premiering our interview with photographer Sebastiaan ter Burg, where we discuss why he uses Creative Commons licenses for his work. The premiere is scheduled for Thursday, October 22 at 12:30pm ET/16:30pm UTC, in our virtual booth at the Creative Commons Global Summit. A recording of the conversation is available here.
  • Share your view of the Creative Commons Global Summit! With the Summit taking place virtually and open to all, we’d love to see what it looks like for you. Whether you’re enjoying the Summit from your home office, tuning in on your phone, or taking a sketch during one of the talks, share your view of the Summit by commenting on this gallery.
  • When we’re not hosting a live session at our virtual booth, we’ll be broadcasting our SmugMug Live series, featuring interviews with Flickr and SmugMug members including Michael Shainblum, Bella Kotak, and more.

Check here for more information about the programming for this year’s Creative Commons Global Summit and we hope to see you there!

Flickr photowalk at the Creative Commons Global Summit 2019, Lisbon

Interview with Members of the ‘Roid Week 2020 Group

October 2020, by Leticia Roncero[ —]

Polaroid Week is a celebration of instant film held on Flickr twice a year— Spring and Autumn. This community-driven project started as far back as 2006 and continues to drive interest and significant participation after almost 14 years of sharing and engaging with other lovers of the medium. To celebrate the start of this year’s Autumn ‘Roid Week on October 18, we’ve done a Q&A with some of the group’s most devoted members: Therese Brown, Julia Beyer, Laura Watt, and Chris Blackhurst. Read on to learn more about their love of instant film and get inspired to participate in this month’s Polaroid Week.

favorites page 840

Can you please introduce yourself?

Therese: I currently live in Richmond, VA, after transplanting from the SF bay area. I’ve been practicing photography since my kids were babies, so about 30 years. When I came to Flickr in 2004, it introduced me to many different kinds of cameras, techniques, and options for bringing my ideas to expression.

Julia: I live in Essen, in the Ruhr area in Germany. I work in a huge media agency full-time where I am juggling with numbers the whole day, so being creative with Polaroid film is a nice counterpoise to that. Before I started to dive headfirst into Polaroid photography, music always was my main focus in my spare time.

Laura: I’m Laura Alice Watt, and ordinarily, I work as a professor of environmental history at Sonoma State University in northern CA, but this year I have a Fulbright scholarship to work on a landscape research project in the Westfjords of Iceland. Lucky me!

Chris: My name is Chris Blackhurst, and I live in a particularly grey area of North West England called Wigan. I normally just say I come from Manchester, as it’s the nearest city and more people have heard of that. And it’s a bit more glam! I’m not a “pro-photographer” by any stretch of the imagination. I have a day job that is actually a lot less glamorous than it sounds. I usually just refer to myself as a civil servant to avoid prejudice.


Can you tell us about your journey with instant photography and why you chose this medium?

Therese: I don’t only use instant photography, but it’s one of my go-to forms when I want small, unique pieces of artwork. I love how I can have a little physical memento from the get-go, to scan and incorporate into books (I’ve done a couple of those), or to frame in unusual ways. The immediacy of having the physical piece of work is what inspires me.

Julia: Starting to shoot on Polaroid film was something like a revelation to me. The dreaminess of the film captivated me. When I started shooting, I couldn’t afford to buy a lot of Polaroid film, so I shot it very carefully and mostly when I was out in nature or on vacation. I was amazed that the Polaroids I posted online quickly gained some attention, even by Polaroid (The Impossible Project back then). It then started to get somehow serious around the same time that I started to shoot with people in 2017. I was too insecure about my photography before, but I realized how much fun this is once I started shooting portraits.

Laura: I got into Polaroids and instant photography through Flickr. In February 2007, my friend Cate Rachford (we met in person at a San Francisco Flickr meet-up) gave me a Spectra camera, as I’d admired her recent dip into Polaroids, and Spectras were selling for about 20 dollars back then. I quickly added several more cameras to my collection. I just fell in love with the serendipity involved with shooting instant film. The amazing glow one can get with the light, that’s very different from other types of film, and far more interesting than digital photography at the time, which felt very flat and lackluster.

Chris: I first showed a real interest in photography in 2008, inspired by my dad, who used to take me out with his Minolta SLR in my childhood. I bought a DSLR and had absolutely no direction. This was soon replaced with a Voigtlander R2M after happening across an online forum, and from there, my love of film photography blossomed.

Polaroidweek 1/2:

What instant camera do you use and what makes it unique?

Therese: Currently, I’m using a Lomo’Instant, Lomo’Instant wide, and Instax Wide cameras with Instax film. I tend to use the Instax wide for outdoor photos because it gets appropriate exposure and vibrant colors—the Lomo’Instant for carrying in my pocket on walks, using for multi exposures, especially in nature. Finally, the Lomo’Instant Wide I use for more fantasy multi exposures plus close up work with the close-up lens.

Julia: I mostly use the Mint Camera SLR 670s. It is an original vintage Polaroid SX-70 camera but tweaked by the Hong Kong-based company Mint. They alter the electronics in the camera and add a control piece at the flash slot that makes it possible to control the camera’s shutter speed manually. It also has auto settings for both SX-70 and 600 film, so I feel that I have the most possible flexibility in a very compact body. And the image quality is amazing!

Laura: I currently use a combination of my Polaroid SLR 680, SX-70, Automatic 250, and most recently added an Automatic 180. I no longer use my Spectra, as the recent batches of film were too buggy, and I think they’ve stopped producing the film. I’m heartbroken that peel-apart film is going extinct, as I think it’s my favorite medium—a combination of clarity of images with a good dose of filmy weirdness. My stash of peel-apart film is dwindling rapidly, but I’m glad I brought everything I had with me to Iceland. It’s the perfect place to use it up.

Chris: I have two vintage, classic Polaroid bodies. I have a Polaroid SLR680, which is my go to body for indoor shoots usually. I felt quite lucky with that, scoring it from a charity store for a lot less than they go for online.I also have an SX-70 Time Zero Sonar. It’s a bit special, in that it’s a beautiful example that has been fully refurbished and re-skinned by Dan at Polanthropy in the UK but also modified so that it shoots both SX-70 film or 600 at the flick of a very discrete switch. I love it!

early spring 1

How do you define your photographic style?

Therese: Homey, warm, and emotive, I would say. Plus fantasy figures in different settings.

Julia: I don’t want to show the scene that I see before me like it is—then I could as well shoot digital—but I love to add a dreamlike and surreal layer to it. This is why I work with expired film or prisms and color filters a lot. Instant photography is a much-needed escape from reality for me, and I also want to convey this feeling in my photos.

Laura: It’s opportunistic and eclectic—I use a lot of different cameras and films, and I am fine with just using my cellphone if that’s all I have with me. I’m interested in the relationships between people and the natural world, as I am in my academic work, and that certainly comes through in my photographs.

Chris: I describe my style as “dreamy, evocative and intimate, often sensual, frequently abstracted and occasionally ethereal,” but you’ll probably find a lot of those descriptors used by other Polaroid shooters. Especially dreamy. And with good reason. While I have historically concentrated on shooting people, especially beauty, I’m upping my game this year by moving onto other subject matter. We’ll see how that goes.


What are your best tips for someone who wants to get started with instant film cameras?

Therese: Pick up an Instax and have fun! Get familiar with the camera and how it works in different settings. When you’re happy with that, if you find you need more controls, check out some of the other cameras on the market that allow for long exposures, multi exposures and have various lens adapters.

Julia: If you are not sure yet if this is for you, I recommend beginning with an easy-to-use camera like the new Polaroid NOW or a vintage Polaroid box camera like the 636. The latter is available at very affordable prices on eBay and does nearly always still work perfectly. Also, Polaroid film loves a lot of light, so you get the best results when shooting outdoors in bright light. Considering the relatively high price for the film, you might want to think carefully about your subject. When I was starting to shoot on Polaroid film, this really impacted how I shoot, and I love the deceleration that comes with it. And don’t let yourself get disheartened when the first results don’t turn out like you hoped – keep shooting!

Laura: My best tip for someone interested in instant film is to get the best second-hand camera you can afford and start shooting! One of the great things about any kind of film, in contrast to digital, is that it forces you to slow down and really consider your shots since you only have a limited number. I firmly believe that makes for better photography.

Chris: Unless you have a decent disposable income, maybe shoot Instax first. It’s cheaper than Polaroid film but just too perfect for me. I love the chemical flaws and unpredictability of Impossible, Polaroid Originals, and Polaroid films. If you can reconcile yourself with its occasional flaws and the relative expense, you should just jump straight in and maybe start with a boxy Polaroid 636 Close Up if you want vintage. Or if you’re particularly “down with the kids,” go for the newer One Step+ or Polaroid Now. The less you spend on the camera, the more food you can give it! But that was a lesson I never really learned.

Polaroidweek 2/1:

Have you joined any interesting Flickr groups around instant photography lately?

Therese: I try to always participate in the ‘RoidWeek groups twice a year and belong to the Instax group.

Julia: I am part of a lot of amazing groups here that never fail to inspire me. Especially in the discussions. I often find so much knowledge and support that is immensely helpful for my photography!

Laura: I prefer to stick with the sense of community and camaraderie that’s built up over time in the older groups, like Polaroid Week or The Polavoid. We’re a scrappy bunch!

Chris: There are too many! And they’re all equally as nice, and the community is lovely, welcoming and helpful—more than any photographic community I’ve ever happened across, but if I had to pick because I’m not young and nostalgia does it for me, I like groups like The Impossible Project. I loved the Impossible Project and miss the brand and their connection with their community. Also, The Polavoid, Pryme Magazine (now seemingly frozen in carbonite), and Polanoiders. I have a sweet spot for the ‘Roid Week group too, of course.

Polaroid Week is a tradition recognized on Flickr year after year, in which people share their latest instant film captures. No matter what instant camera you use, we’d love to see your captures.

Flickr groups for Artists and Illustrators

October 2020, by Leticia Roncero[ —]

This year marks the 11th year of Inktober, a doodle fest where artists from all over the world share one ink drawing a day for the entire month of October. Created by artist Jake Parker in 2009, the challenge became so popular that the hashtag took off on many different social platforms, including Flickr, where the challenge became an annual tradition.

To celebrate Inktober 2020 and the vast community of illustrators and artists on Flickr, we’ve pulled together a list of four awesome Flickr Groups that we think all art lovers should join right now. Take a look and join your favorite ones:

Urban Sketchers: One of the most popular, most active art groups on Flickr. A community for all sketchers out there who love to draw the cities where they live, always on-location! Not from photos or memory. The group boasts weekly challenges and is connected to the Urban Sketchers blog, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the art of on-location drawing.


Inktober 2020: A community-led group run by Flickr member Donald Campbell, aka Zog the Frog. A group devoted specifically to the 2020 Inktober challenge and an established community that has been celebrating Inktober and setting up annual groups since 2015. If you enjoy the concept, be sure to check out the Flickr Inktober 2020 group for additional inspiration.

Inktober 2020 Day 8 - Teeth

Your Art: A true art oasis for the creative mind. Fine art, illustrations, comics, doodles, sketches, paintings, digital drawing and painting, collage, calligraphy, and sculptures are all welcome here with one important exception: no photographs other than the photos of your art. This is a highly-curated group, so be selective and, as usual, don’t forget to read the rules before submitting your artwork.

Picking baubles

Black and White Artwork: If you’re into pen and ink art, this is a great group for you. There is a vibrant community of really spectacular sketch artists on Flickr and this group makes it easier to connect with some of them. Beware: black and white photography is not allowed in the group’s photo pool.

INKtober jour 3 : Bulky

Do you have any other favorite art groups the community should know about or an artist whose work has recently fed your creativity? Let us know in this discussion thread!

A Love Letter to Polaroid

October 2020, by Lou Noble[ —]

This entry is a guest post by Lou Noble, editor-in-chief of The Photographic Journal, and an active Flickr member for fifteen years.

Re-imagined Self Portrait, by Seth Moses Miller

When people say “the gear doesn’t matter,” I tend to agree. But then I think of the Polaroid camera I’ve been carrying around for the last 15 years, and have to stop short of agreeing completely.

With my Polaroid, an old Polaroid SLR 680 instant camera, I want to be close to my subjects, I want their faces to fill the frame. This camera lets me do that. It’s the right tool for the job. And when the job is creating a unique event, I’ve found no better tool than a Polaroid.

I consider what I do more than just taking a picture, if I may be so bold. A photo shoot, for me, is a shared, personal experience between subject and photographer. Using a Polaroid adds a specific kind of performance to the shoot. My subjects are more conscious of the camera, this strange thing in my hands that doesn’t look like anything else they’ve seen. They’re more aware of that sumptuous mechanical sound the camera makes every time a photo is ejected.

Watching the photo develop, those moments of anticipation, they add to the thrill. When my subject and I see the photo developed, when we see that we, together, have created a good photo, the mood is electric. There are smiles and laughs and always just a little bit of surprise.

It’s been minimized, in these days of digital, but having an actual tangible photo in your hands helps root that moment in the physical world, giving it a sense of “THIS HAPPENED” that digital doesn’t. As much as I love being able to take 100, 1000, 10,000 photos, it’s very difficult to feel the same quality of attachment to them. They’re just ones and zeroes, they aren’t something I touched, my subject touched, something I put in my pocket, protected from the sun. They can’t be handed over as a gift to a stranger whose style happened to catch your fancy as you were walking past a health food store.

There’s a person out there, in the world, with a photo of mine on their wall, or on their fridge. Remembering that brief moment our lives intersected.


Every picture taken with a Polaroid is something brought into the physical world. A blank piece of light-sensitive paper transformed with the click of a button.

I once used it to take a picture of two Hassidic men in Manhattan who had stopped me on the street and asked to pray with me. As the photo ejected from the camera, I saw the most remarkable expressions appear on their faces (wish I’d gotten a picture of THAT), utter amazement at the world and its surprises.

That’s what Polaroid is, every time one of its cameras makes a picture. A bit of real magic in the world. That’s what I feel every time I take a shot with my Polaroid 680.

So, when it comes to picking your next camera, or your next piece of gear, think to yourself, “does this feel like magic in my hands? Does this feel like alchemy?”

If no, move on. If yes…oooooh, you’re in for a ride.

Julya, for Flickr

Visit the Polaroid Edge group and the Polaroid Addiction Monkey Group for more Polaroid inspiration.

Helping new members get started on Flickr

September 2020, by Carol Benovic-Bradley[ —]
San Francisco Macro Flickr photowalk event photos

Over the years, we’ve helped many people –– photographers, institutions, artists, and more –– get started on Flickr. These one-on-one conversations have helped us learn about what people are hoping to accomplish on Flickr and how we can help them get there. Whether that’s getting feedback on your photography and art, sharing your work with a wider audience, or finding people who share your interests, all of our work is aligned around helping you reach these goals.

In this spirit and in an effort to welcome new members as they join Flickr, we’re recording an interview that addresses some of these frequently asked questions, including:

  • How can I make sure other members of the Flickr community can find my work?
  • How can I find Flickr members that share my interests?
  • How can I get meaningful feedback on my work?

What other questions or topics do you think should be addressed? What information helped you get started and find value in being a member of the Flickr community?

Share your feedback with us here and we’ll follow up soon with our launch date for the orientation video. Thank you!

Community Recommendations: 100 Flickr Members to Follow

September 2020, by Leticia Roncero[ —]

Last month, as part of our World Photography Day celebration, we asked our community members to share their favorite Flickr accounts to follow. We were overwhelmed with the response and decided to put together a list of 100 Flickr members to follow based on your recommendations. From architectural to portrait to landscape photography and everything in between. Get a sneak peek by checking out the categories below and then head to the official Flickr account to view all of them and leave your comments and suggestions.

Ready to discover new photography you’ll love? Be sure to follow your favorite accounts for more of their work.



Rioja Alavesa - Basque Country

Conceptual and Fine Art

Ready to Move On


Blue night

Lifestyle and Family


Nature and Wildlife

Mataranka madness
Lamprima adolphinae 2 [Explore #30  2020-09-06]


I suspect we need a superwoman to save us from the current crisis...
Refugee Camp of Ghazer. Woman crying. Her husband has been interrogated for hours and she doesn't know where to go in this huge camp.


Sojourner Hazelwood-Connell

Street Photography



Moments in Time Season 2 Premiere

Urban Landscape

Hachinohe,Aomori pref.

Check out the full gallery

Forever young...

The Library of Congress seeks photos of COVID-19 experiences in the US

September 2020, by Leticia Roncero[ —]

Starting today, the Library of Congress invites all Flickr members based in the United States or territories to share photos of their experiences living through the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Whether you are a professional photographer or just someone capturing pictures for fun with your cell phone camera, the Library of Congress would like to see your photos.

To participate, join the “COVID-19 American Experiences” group on Flickr and submit your pictures. Library curators will review your submissions and select images to add to the group’s photo pool and to preserve in their permanent collections. You can contribute up to five photographs or graphic artworks. The Library encourages all participants to consider assigning their images a Creative Commons license such as “Attribution-NonCommercial” that would enable them to display the photos in larger sizes on its website if selected for acquisition.

What types of photos should I submit?

Photos that depict your experience of the pandemic are welcome. Examples of topics include, but are not limited to: pictures related to protective measures, online birthday parties, street scenes, distance learning, panic buying, lost jobs and new kinds of jobs, child care and elder care, etc. along with expressions of anxiety and sorrow, hope and humor. All photos submitted must be safe and acceptable to all audiences.


What’s the goal of this project?

The Library of Congress wants to expand its documentation of the COVID-19 pandemic. After securing special projects from nationally recognized artists and photographers, the Library is now looking to cover many more parts of the US and many more aspects of the pandemic with the help of your contributions.

Please be sure to read the full rules for entry on the group page. By adding your images to the group, you are giving the Library of Congress permission to add your photographs to its permanent collections and to display them on its website. Images selected from this group for the Library’s permanent collection will also be shared in galleries from the Library of Congress Flickr account.

We’re looking forward to the great contributions you will make! And don’t forget to check out the Library of Congress’ Flickr account to explore their historical photo collections.

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