Finding Inspiration on Flickr

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November 23, 2010

Flickr hosts millions of photos from photographers, both professional and amateur, from around the world.

It's a fantastic resource when looking for inspiration, but it can get a little overwhelming. After all, you can't exactly browse a few million photos in an afternoon, right?

Flickr Groups can be a great solution to photo-overload. There are groups for virtually every subject under the sun, and for photographers of all skill levels.

Some groups focus on the artistic merit of the photo itself, while others focus more on the content of the image than the composition.

In either case, the groups below are sure to inspire you. We've even included similar groups for most of them, to offer more variety.


Lomo photography is a fantastic source of inspiration. It's not quite abstract, but it gives us a different way to look at common things. Lomo photos often have unique lighting and color effects, turning even the most basic subjects into works of art. The group currently has 175,000 photos.

Some related groups include Lomo of Fauxmo?, Lomo Kompakt Automat [LC-A], Holga Chic, and Holga.


Abstract images can be a great way to get inspired. After all, our brains will often interpret them in a way that's unique to each person. The feeling one person gets from an image may be completely different from the feeling someone else gets. This makes them perfect sources for inspiration, as it's unlikely anyone would link the original image to the final project. The Abstract/Surreal/Strange795 pool has a ton of great abstract and surreal pics.

Similar groups include Abstract Photos, 1-2-3 Abstract Architecture, Technicolour Abstract Art, and Abstract Reality.

Female Self-Portrait Artists' Support Group

There's an art to self-portraits that isn't often apparent to the casual observer. This group for female self-portrait artists has a ton of inventive and creative self-portraits to inspire you. It's amazing the amount of personality that can be revealed in a self-portrait if you look closely at the composition and overall feel of the image. Try to capture the same in your own projects.

Some similar groups include Bare Essentials (Self Portraits Only) Just B.E., Uniquely Post-Processed Self-Portraits, and Turning the Lens on Flickr.

The Portrait Group

Taking portraits of others is a different animal than taking self-portraits. Given the number of people who dislike having their photos taken, portrait photographers have to be part psychologist and part motivational speaker, on top of being a photographer. So good portraits are a fantastic source of inspiration and can really shed light on the subject and their personality.

Similar groups include The Flickr Portrait Gallery, Portraits in Africa, Interesting Portraits, and Unreal Portraits.

Art in Black and White

Removing color from an image places the emphasis on the composition of the photo and lets our mind focus on shapes and content. This is why black and white photography can be such a great source of inspiration, especially if you already know what your color scheme for a project will be.

Similar groups include Black and White, Quebec Black&White, Black and White HDR, and I Love Black and White!

World's Most Stunning Shots

If you're looking for beautiful images, the World's Most Stunning Shots is a great place to start. The photos here are just what the name suggests: stunning. They include subjects of all kinds, from nature to architecture to macro images. Currently, there are more than 7,000 images included.

Similar groups include Stunning Shots, Stunning Planet Earth, and Stunning Nature.

Folk & Outsider Art

The Folk & Outsider Art group is a great place to go if you want to check out artwork from around the world. The images posted cover everything from paintings to sculpture to handicrafts.

Similar groups include Folk Art and Art You Wear.

Vintage Advertising

Vintage ads can provide a fascinating glimpse into how life was lived twenty, forty, even a hundred years ago. The products, as well as the way they were pitched to consumers, offer an idea of not only what was popular at the time, but also what values people held dear. It's because of their ability to let us see things through a different set of eyes that vintage ads make such great inspiration.

Some related groups include Retro/Vintage Magazines - Ads/Fashion, My Favorite Ads - Vintage Only, Beer and Booze: A Damn Fine Product [Vintage], and Vintage Car Ads (up to 1979).

Minimalist Landscapes: Take the Long View!

Too often when looking for minimalist inspiration, we turn to other minimalist art forms. We overlook the fact that the world around us can have just as much inspiration for minimalist designs as it does for "busier" designs. The Minimalist Landscapes group is filled with simple, spare landscape photos from around the world to inspire you.

Similar groups include Minimalist Race, Minimalist Art, Minimalist Nature, and Minimalist Perfection.

Markets of the World

Open-air markets are common in many countries around the world. Historically, markets were not only a place to buy and sell goods, but also a place to socialize, catch up on the latest news (and gossip), and meet new people. Markets are often a great representation of the culture in which they take place. They're also often filled with sites and sounds that could inspire anyone. The Markets of the World group showcases photographs of markets, as well as their products and people, from the far corners of the globe.

Geographic Photosets (Traveling the World)

Looking at photos of places we've never been before and imagining what they might be like is a great way to feel more creative. And looking at beautiful places for a few minutes (or an hour or two) before you get started on a project will certainly influence the way you design. The Geographic Photosets group has some of the most striking travel photos on Flickr.

Some groups with similar images include Intelligent Travel - National Geographic Traveler's Blog, Travel Photojournalism, The World of Travel, and Lets Travel Together.

Macro Awards

This group showcases some of the best macro photographs on Flickr. There's everything from insects and plants to man-made objects included, and the super-close-up view gives a different perspective on things.

Other groups featuring macro photography include Macro Household, Macro Mondays, Macro World, Flower Petal Macro ... Petal Art, and Closer and Closer Macro Photography.

A Natural Landscapes Photo Group

This group focuses on natural landscape photos. Everything from mountains to seascapes are featured, often with absolutely phenomenal color palettes and composition.

Similar groups include Paisajes del Mundo/World Landscapes, Clouds, Natures Beauties, The Nature Conservancy, and Beautiful Scenery.


The Artshow group is an invite-only group that features the work of contemporary artists, including digital artists, painters, and artistic photographers. There's no restriction on subject matter, so the images show a ton of diversity in that respect.

Damn! I Wish I'd Taken That!!!

This group posts fantastic photos of just about anything. The one thing they all have in common is that they're outstanding, in terms of composition, color, subject, and/or lighting.

The Unforgettable Pictures

Here's another invite-only group that focuses on quality rather than theme. The images included here all have artistic merit. You're sure to find at least one to inspire your next project. There are also some photo-manipulations included in the group.

Shades of Inspiration

This group seems to place an emphasis on soft colors within images, and especially on pics with mostly monochromatic color schemes. It's a great source of inspiration if you're looking for color scheme ideas, and the limited color palettes in most of the images put the emphasis on shape and composition.

Other groups that place an emphasis on color include Flickr in Full Color, Flowers & Colors, Two Colors Dos Colores, It's Multi-Colored!!!, and Color My World Daily.

The Inspiration Tree

The photos collected in The Inspiration Tree group are specifically chosen for their ability to inspire. They're all beautiful, with interesting compositions and subject matter.

Web Design

Of course there's a Web Design group on Flickr. This group showcases screenshots and design materials from across the web. It's a great alternative to more traditional web design galleries.

Groups with similar content include Editorial Design, Design : Diseno Web / Grafico / Illustracion, and Web Design Edge.

International Graphic Design

This group showcases great graphic designs from all over the world. A variety of disciplines are featured, from posters to stationary to typography.

Graphic Design Magazines

This group displays layouts from a variety of graphic design magazines, showcases some of the best magazine design out there. It's a great source for both layout and practical typography inspiration. Also featured are individual elements for use within layouts.

Graphic Design & Art Direction

Here's another great group that showcases fantastic graphic design, with a special emphasis on more artistic examples.

Seattle Streetart / Graffiti / Stickers / Posters

This group showcases some of the best streetart from around Seattle, as well as posters and stickers found around the city. Streetart can be fantastically artistic and inspiring in terms of both composition and color choices.

Similar groups include Athens Street Art, Street Art in Japan, Montreal Street Art, Street Art London, and Los Angeles Street Art.

Poster Design

This group features more than 25,000 examples of exceptional poster design. It features both commercial and creative posters, as well as a ton of indie posters.

Similar groups include Polish Posters aka Posters from Poland, Movie Poster Art, Posters - Poster Designs, and Gig Posters.

Experimental Typography

This group focuses on typography that stretches the limits of good design to create something new and fresh. It also includes images that create lettering through unconventional means.

Typography *

This group showcases some of the best typography out there, from signage to promotional materials to artwork. It's a fantastic resource for seeing how type is used across mediums.

Similar groups featuring typography include Japanese Typography, Typophile, Design & Typography, and Graphic Design & Typography.

Fashion Editorial Photography (Critique)

Critique groups present an interesting opportunity for inspiration, as you can immediately get input on what works about an image and what doesn't. This group presents editorial fashion photography from around the world. Beyond just the photos, the clothes themselves can also serve as excellent inspiration.

Groups with similar content include Street Fashion - Worldwide, Fashion Photography Award, Fashion & Style, and Fashion Photography Critique.

Craft Revolution

This group focuses on content rather than the merit of the photos themselves. It includes more than 115,000 photos of handmade craft items, spanning everything from dolls to clothes to jewelry and everything in between. It's a great source for inspiration, especially if you're working on a project that you want to have a more organic feel.

Similar groups include CRAFT, The Arts & Crafts Cooperative, Crafting 365, and Hand Made Craft.

10 Million Photos

If you can't find inspiration in any of the above, check out this group. Their only goal is to get to 10 million images (they're already up over 7 million). Images don't have to have any artistic merit, and a lot of them don't. But there are some gems in there, if you look hard enough.

Written exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.

If you know of any other Flickr groups that are great for inspiration, please share them in the comments!

WDD Staff

WDD staff are proud to be able to bring you this daily blog about web design and development. If there's something you think we should be talking about let us know @DesignerDepot.

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