Featured Photography

How to get your photos Explored on Flickr

Explore is Flickr’s Daily Artist Showcase. Every day Flickr admins choose 500 of the most interesting images determined by “interestingness”.

Being chosen as one of these elite few can mean a huge increase in your photo’s views and the number of comments and favourites you receive. Land on the front page of Explore, Flickr’s home page, and magical things happen, all of which having to do with increasing your ego, none of which actually leads to earning money as a photographer. But who cares, when you are royalty on Flickr for a day. :P

I’ll admit to feeling proud like a peacock when my mum first spotted my photo on the Explore home page. Within minutes, the comments and praise flooded in from the Flickratic. I began to pump out more quality shots and I continued getting Explored. I felt like my photography was finally reaching people. It was a great feeling, like a really perfect high-five or winning cookies. It also pushed me to try new techniques and really perfect my images before putting them up on Flickr.

A lot of people have asked me if there is any secret to getting Explored. The most obvious thing is take a great photo. But, beyond a great shot, there seems to be a definite pattern in which photos get Explored. After all, photography is art and the personal taste of the Flickr admins does impact the photos that are chosen. Using my keen intellect and the power of the internet, I have compiled a list of power tips on how to get your photos Explored and because I’ve been a lazy, good-for-nuthin’ blogger as of late, I’m going to share these with you.

Here are my top secret tips for getting your photos Explored on Flickr:

1. Mo’ Bokeh

Through the The Mist

Bokeh of street lights created with a LensBaby and the star shaped Creative Aperture disk.

By far the most popular type of bokeh photos on Flickr is that derived from taking out of focus pictures of small clusters lights, like on a Christmas tree. If you haven’t heard, the phrase Bokeh, “a photographic term referring to the appearance of point of light sources in an out-of-focus area of an image produced by a camera lens using a shallow depth of field”, then you probably haven’t been on Flickr for very long – because people are nuts about bokeh. Those little out-of-focus orbs of goodness can give a photo a magical, almost surreal quality. And the hip Flickratti are pumping it out faster than you can say, “Ashton killed twitter”. I mean… ahem. What?

How to get this shot:
Crossing your eyes is the easiest way to find cool bokeh. Snicker as you may, but seriously try it the next time you are out at night on a street with street lamps, stop lights, restaurant twinkle lights. Practice this technique in moderation and definitely not in combination with making a funny face because that would seem unprofessional and may weird people out.

Once you’ve found a cool bokeh source like a row of street lights, set your camera’s aperture wide open (>f/3.0) or >f/3.0, >f/5.6 if it’s a telephoto focal length (ie. 200mm at f/5.6) and set your lens to manual. Now pull it almost completely out-of-focus until you see nice fuzzy bits. That the good stuff. Now snap!

Shaped bokeh i.e., stars, hearts, is also really hot right now and companies like LensBaby are making it really easy to do with inexpensive Creative Aperture Kits. If you can’t afford a LensBaby ($100-$270), you can even make your own bokeh shaper lens hood with some black paperboard.

2. Lens Flare

Brisbane Eye

Lens Flare of sunlight streaming through Brisbane Eye Ferris Wheel.

I love lens flare, Michael Bay loves lens flare & so does Flickr. Go ahead. Break all the rules and point your camera at the sun. Within reason of course. Like don’t burn your eyes out or anything. Aim to head out during magic hour (1 hour before sunset) when the sun is low and golden and play with different angles of flares. Also, make sure you’ve got a UV filter so you aren’t damaging your camera’s lens.

3. Hot Chicks

Kylee Epp Promo Shot

Hot Chick & Musician, Kylee Epp. See behind the scenes shots here.

Like most people, Flickr love pictures of hot chicks. Pretty much any photograph looks better with a hot chick in it. Think about it. A nice still life shot of a bowl of fruit? Boring! A nice still life shot of a bowl of fruit with a hot chick holding a banana? Shizzam! A breathtaking image of a white sand beach? Meh. A breathtaking chick in bikini on a white sand beach? Explored!

It probably won’t surprise you that one of the most commonly explored content is pictures of hot chicks.

More often than not, they are beautiful young photographer/models AKA “modelographers” who have taken their exploration of narcissism to the next level with daily self-portraits called Flickr 365. They are blessed with looks, talent, and a passion for photography, and they are the new power elite on Flickr.

I have to give these young modelographers credit, because they produce near professional quality fashion-esque images of themselves nearly everyday and they are not afraid to try new and creative methods to light, take, and process their images, including film, toy cameras (lomo), strobe. Their photos are edgy, trendy, painful, naked, and oh so indie. They will often get a friend to do makeup or approach young designers whose clothes they or their other young hot chick friends can model. I am constantly amazed and bemused by the sheer number of beautiful images they create and the community wide adoration and respect they receive on Flickr.

How to get this shot:
If you happen to be a young hot chick with a camera, perfect your photography skills by snapping photos of your self and your friends, because the world has never been more open to the idea of a 16-year-old female fashion photographer.

If not, then take a lesson from these young photographers, go out and find someone to model for you, someone hot that looks like they could be in a fashion magazine and all of a sudden your photos go from 2 views to 2, 000 views. Need some tips on finding models I have a post on that :D

4. Cute animals

Lovely Currumbin Koala

Lovely Koala taken at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary in QLD, Australia.
If you can’t get a hot chick, a cute animal is your next best bet. Everyone loves a cute animal, especially when it’s displaying seemly human characteristics. Ooh, that’s one angry squirrel! Aww look at those fuzzy ducklings. Ooh, a rare hummingbird!

How to get this shot:
Find cute animals. Pets are a good place to start. Zoos are great. Check your backyard, or the park. Go out and find cuteness. I suggest you take shots of animals at eye-level. Take different angles, use different lenses, get creative with these shots. Take a shot of your pooch’s nose close up with a wide angle. That always looks funny. Flickr loves animals in action, animals with personality, and whimsical cat/dog photos.

5. Soft Flower & Plant life Macros

abstract of a large leaf with raindrops

Leaf found in Queen Elizabeth Park on a damp Vancouver afternoon.
Flickr loves soft flower & other plant life macros like leaves and stuff. It’s as simple as that.

How to get this shot:
Find some blossom, blooms, pedals, leaves or flowery things. I am quite the botanist, can’t you tell? Choose an interesting angle, probably one where you are lying in mud. Bring a water sprayer and lightly mist the flowers do they are all dewy. Open your aperture up to f/3.5 and lower so you get some nice background bokeh and you are money.

6. Photos with interesting and tragically bohemian titles


I call this, “Oh love you have bewildered me with your absence”.

You won’t just get explored simply for a title. But, it definitely takes the artistic merit of your shot up an notch and will increase your chances of getting noticed. Even if you are not exploding with photo titling talent, anything is better than IMG_9807. Here are some tragically bohemian titles to get you started:

*broken flight*
where’s my freedom?
love is a trap
my peace is gone, my heart is heavy

Ahh, I poke fun, but you get the idea. The point is, there are types of photos that are more likely to be Explored than others, but there is no easy way in. You have to take great shots. And to take a great shot, you have to be out in the world taking shots. Take risks. If you always go on a photo walk to the beach at sunset, go in the opposite direction and take some urban landscapes. If you always snap pictures of your cat Mookie, turn the camera on yourself and do some self-portraits. Keep your work fresh and keep posting your best shots on Flickr and one of these days maybe it will be your shot on the front page of Explore!

Got any tips and tricks or great photos you’ve taken that you’d like to share? Add them in the comments!

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  • Reply
    Therese Tamase
    October 18, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    I really love photography but my Flickr’s like a ghost town. I have two photos, no views and no friends. Lol do you mind checking it out? :) thanks!! http://www.flickr.com/photos/77980951@N03

  • Reply
    Linda De Volder
    February 22, 2013 at 1:50 AM

    I think the best way to get explored is to join the cheaters at http://www.getexplored.com/

  • Reply
    August 1, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Sad to think that EXPLORE is run by hormone enraged men if HOT CHICKS is one of the criteria for choosing what gets displayed. There are a lot of technically beautiful images taken by seasoned photographers what never get a look. Perhaps more women should be involved in the selection process? lol

  • Reply
    December 28, 2013 at 12:40 AM

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  • Reply
    January 7, 2014 at 10:42 PM

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  • Reply
    October 19, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    I’m new to Flickr…I posted my first set of pics the other day and started receiving comments and “favorites”, but I’m not sure how these people are seeing my pics??…I can only see others pics that come up in “Explore”…so if my photos aren’t in Explore how are people seeing them??

  • Reply
    Aeon Jiminy
    January 28, 2016 at 3:12 PM

    Good advice! I hope I get attention.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2016 at 1:08 PM

    This article was not only entertaining, it was insightful. I laaughed a few times.

    Any suggestions for where I can find a community or place to share and find “dark” or “spritual” photography?


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