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Flickr adds new photo-sharing idea: Galleries

Sets, collections, and favorites not enough? Members of the Yahoo service can now "curate" galleries of others' images. An 18-image limit emphasizes quality over quantity.

Flickr galleries let members collect and 'curate' a presentation of up to 18 photos and videos.
Flickr galleries let members 'curate' a presentation of up to 18 photos and videos.
Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Flickr has added a new feature called galleries to showcase photos--and this time not just your own shots.

Galleries, announced on Monday, lets Flickr members assemble collections of up to 18 photos. The photos are shown on the page along with the gallery curator's comments.

Flickr has a reason for the 18-image limit: it wants to emphasize quality, not quantity.

"While it might seem like an arbitrary number, we want to give our members an opportunity to engage in activity that is similar to what a curator of a gallery or museum might undertake," the company said on its gallery FAQ site. "Even a sprawling retrospective of a genre or specific artist wouldn't include every single piece of work available. A curator takes the time to choose a selection of artwork that together becomes something in itself."

Unfortunately, Galleries does not lift one limit I see for Flickr. It's good for sharing photos with others, but not so good for assembling multiple members' photos from group events--say, a family's photos from a vacation or attendees' photos of a wedding.

That use seems well-aligned with Flickr's vision. As a half-measure, Flickr users can create unusual tags to link photos from multiple people, but that's kind of nerdy, doesn't offer a lot of control over presentation, and is open to problems with other people using the same tag.

Of course, a member might have concerns about having his or her photos included in somebody else's gallery. But Flickr provides a mechanism to remove a photo from a specific gallery and a preference setting to keep a user's photos out of galleries in general.

Overall, the idea of Galleries reinforces some of the social and exploratory aspects of Flickr that help it rise above just a place to stick your photos online. I just hope that the average folks out there can figure out the distinction between Flickr's sets, collections, galleries, and photo streams. Heaven forbid they add albums to the mix.