How Your Church Can Use Flickr

April 5, 2006 by

Part 2 in a continuing series on What Web 2.0 Means for Your Church

Let’s start with the photo-sharing site Flickr. It’s the media darling that began as an online game until the creators realized they had made a cool—and profitable—photo site. Fast forward and Yahoo! snatches them up for an undisclosed sum (i.e., millions).

We’ll focus on Flickr since they’re the most well known, but the idea applies to any photo-sharing site. The basics are pretty simple. You post photos. You share them with your friends. Add comments and tags and notes and all sorts of fun tools to categorize, view and enjoy your photos. Suddenly you have the family photo album digitized and put online so anyone can add a new page. Pair that with the proliferation of digital cameras and you’ve got yourself a winner.

What About the Church?
So where does the church come in? Some churches have set up their own Flickr logins and posted photos from their church:

Others have set up Flickr groups where individual members can have their own accounts and share photos together as a church:

These are just a few representative examples, but however they do it the result is church members getting together and sharing photos (it’s all about community). It didn’t require a fancy set up or expensive software (less is more, do it cheap). Accounts are free and it takes minutes to set up (anyone can do it). Visitors can see real people and get a visual glimpse of life in your church (authenticity). In the end it’s simple and easy—power to the people.

We even use Flickr for the Church Marketing Lab to share designs and get feedback.

There are negatives to sharing church photos online. There’s the ever-present privacy issue. Some people don’t want their picture taken and for some people it can be downright dangerous to have their photo taken and publicized (abusive situations are the main example). Of course these concerns aren’t unique to photo-sharing sites—they’re the same issues that always exist with photography. But the increased exposure makes the issues harder to ignore.

Downsides always exist, but you can deal with them by being smart when taking pictures. Ask permission. Make it known that you take photos of church events and have people talk to you if there’s a problem. Youth or childcare workers may want to add a photo sign off to permission slips asking parents to check if they don’t want their child’s photo taken.

Bottom Line
Nobody’s going to accept Jesus because you posted photos from your church online. But that’s not the point. The point is building community. Sharing photos can be a small part of that, and that community is where accepting Jesus might happen.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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6 Responses to “How Your Church Can Use Flickr”

  • Cory
    April 5, 2006

    Organizational idea…
    I’ve signed our camp up with a Flickr Pro account (necessary if you take a lot of pictures – and cheap).
    Flickr (like other sites) allows you to “tag” photos with keywords, and organize them into sets. These can all be connected to by specific URLs (links).
    Our intention is have a “Photo” section of our website that would be comprised of links to various groups of Flickr photos (i.e. “Click here for photos tagged “High School Camp” etc.)
    There are lot’s of other ideas, too many to fit in a comment.

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  • trey
    April 7, 2006

    Problem, American Family Association filter does not allow Flickr or MySpace. When I try to access it shows both are blocked… no matter if it says St. John’s Episcopal or not.

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  • kk+
    April 11, 2006

    great article about how religous groups can use online tools to grow and foster real interaction and *community*. thx. :)

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    We have opened up two new online photo albums: one for pictures from fc2 events and activities and one for other church events. You are encouraged to add your own photographs to the albums but you must not identify any individual under the age of eight…

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  • Church Marketing Sucks Web 2.0 Series

    Web 2.0 is yet another techno buzz term that’s popping up everywhere. Our Church Marketing Sucks blog just finished a series exploring web 2.0, sorting out the hype and figuring out what it means for churches: What Web 2.0 Means…

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  • Donnie
    March 21, 2007

    I know I am way late to the conversation… Anyway, I was looking at the example sites listed in the post and at least one no longer exists and the mjority of them have no comments on their pictures. Most of the pictures in each account were uploaded by the same person. I agree that there are other ways to create community. However, I wonder why nobody is commenting on pictures and nobody else is posting pictures. It almost appears that the communication team and or pastor is the only one doing it. I wonder why that is?

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