Gone Missing on Flickr

©Scott M.

I’ve been working on the edit for the first print issue of Street Reverb and wanted to use the photograph above.  Since the photographer only has a Flickr page, that’s the way I had to contact him.  I sent off an email. A week passed. No response. I tried again. No response.

It’s really rare that I don’t receive a response from someone I contact on Flickr, so I started to wonder. Going back to his stream I noticed the last upload was from August 9, 2007.  I think it’s fair to say that he’s given up on Flickr. I started to get a bit annoyed. Why would anyone do this? Just abandon an account like this? Why would they not leave any other contact information?  As I started to get a bit upset, I caught myself.

What was wrong with me? Why did I feel entitled to any sort of explanation? I caught my thoughts and began to think about the situation. Maybe photography was simply a phase for him and now he’s moved on. Maybe his family or job leave him little time for his hobbies. Or worse, maybe he’s passed on.

It’s not uncommon for people to ‘quit’ social networking sites like Facebook and Flickr, but usually these people are using their true identities and have other ways to contact them. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for leaving social networks, but in the case of photographers or other artists, it creates an interesting scenario because they’re essentially abandoning their creative output as well.

In the case of Flickr, I’m certain there are thousands of abandoned accounts with thousands and thousands of photographs. What becomes of all these photographs?  Nothing I suppose or maybe they’ll eventually just evaporate into cyberland, never to be seen again.

If I were more ambitious, and wanted to take on another project, I think it’d be interesting to set up a Tumblr for abandoned Flicrk accounts. Something like, “Has anyone seen this photographer? Gone Missing on August 9, 2007. Please contact the email below.”

Scott M. if you’re out there, I hope you’re doing well.  Also, we’d like to use your photo in issue #1 of Street Reverb Magazine. If it’s not a problem, we need a high resolution photo. 3,000 pixels on the longest side will due. Thanks!

  • Aaron Aardvark

    Speaking of people going MIA on Flickr, what ever happened to BrianF?

  • http://www.angelacappetta.com Medusa

    Remarkable picture.

  • Bryan Formhals

    Oh, nice work. That might be him. I’m going to wait it out and see if the interwebs takes this post to him somehow…

  • http://www.kickflop.net/ Jeff Blaine

    “scott m. chicago street photography” results in the following likely match @ yelp.com from no more than 28 days ago:


  • hendoe

    ah, damn, what i was originally going to say: good luck finding the boy!

  • hendoe

    it is not, because the dpi tells us how the pixels translate to size in print. you said that already actually.
    in your mention equation you have the size and dpi, which will result in pixel. it is _not_ nonsensical to exchange one of the variables thus speaking in pixels and dpi (which will result in size).

  • http://www.kpraslowicz.com K. Praslowicz

    I wouldn’t be surprised enough people out there “don’t get it” to the point that if an arbitrary DPI wasn’t asked for, they’re be a flood of e-mails gumming up the tubes asking what arbitrary DPI is needed on their 3000px image anyways.

    DPI goofabouts aside, I just ripped the original image through Tineye hoping for a hit on a defunct blog or website somewhere. No dice. :(

  • Bryan Formhals

    yeah, I normally work with people who take care of the specs on that stuff because I’m not all that interested in that part of the process.

    Thanks though. I’m sure I won’t screw it up again.

  • http://twitter.com/grrrth Gareth

    Of course, but accuracy is important. Especially as you’re printing a magazine. I’ve run in to this problem with galleries and exhibitions, and I know other photographers who have too. It’s not a complicated thing to get right. Anyway, keep up the good work.

  • Bryan Formhals

    Fair enough. Not really the point of the post, so I don’t care that much.

  • http://twitter.com/grrrth Gareth

    So, you still don’t get DPI then. The DPI setting of any given pixel resolution is irrelevant. 3000 pixels is 3000 pixels, whether you print it at 72, 150 or 300 DPI. 300 DPI does not make the image higher (or lower) resolution.

    10″ at 300 DPI OR 3000 pixels.

    3000 pixels at 300 DPI is nonsensical.

  • Bryan Formhals

    It was a typo. I meant 3,000 pixels. My friend Ben Roberts caught it right away, and as you can see he was courteous enough to ask.


  • http://twitter.com/grrrth Gareth

    “300 pixels on the longest side at 300 dpi will due”

    That will make the photo 1″ on the longest side when printed (at 300 DPI). It is certainly NOT high resolution. You can download a version of 1024 x 679 pixels from Flickr – 3x more than what you asked for – which would be 3.4″ on the longest side, printed at 300 DPI.

    I really do not understand why so many people simply do not understand DPI. DPI = dots per inch. It has nothing to do with the resolution of the image. It is only to do with the resolution of printing. Pixels are pixels on a computer screen (there are settings for proofing in DTP / image packages, but essentially all they do is reset the image zoom percentage to a different scale).

    If you give a print size – such as 6″ x 4″ then you need to specify a DPI, such as 300. And vice-versa – if you specify a DPI then you also need to specify a print size. The person sending the photo can then multiply 300 x 6 and 300 x 4 to get the pixel resolution (1800 x 1200) to match. You have not done that here, so what you are asking for is meaningless (and certainly not what you require).

    Or, just give a pixel resolution, and then you can print it at any DPI you want.

    Or just ask for a master file which you can do what you want with, depending on the resolution (and as it’s the master there can never be any more resolution).

    Why is this so complicated for people to understand. This is the third or fourth time in the last few months that I have encountered people who have no idea of what DPI actually is, or how it works.

  • http://www.skyenott.com/ skyepn

    I doubt they will ever be deleted – server storage continues to increase density.

    I would imagine in 10-20 years trawling through these abandoned accounts will be the equivalent of today’s scrounging through garage sales for family slides and other “found images”.