Have you ever been in a long term relationship when all of a sudden what you thought was a stable, if maybe a little stale, partnership got turned upside down and inside out? One day you wake up and your beloved turns to you and says "You're so boring. I need some excitement." All of a sudden the person you thought you knew so well is exhibiting a totally new and unpleasant personality. You feel bewildered and betrayed. That was how I felt on May 20th when I turned on my computer and logged onto Flickr to be greeted by an entirely new, and to my mind, garish user interface. With no warning, the familiar had become totally foreign.

Flickr was recently aquired by Yahoo! and CEO Marissa Mayer and staff have embarked on a new marketing strategy. Make the site look and act like every other social media website and offer 1T of storage to anyone who wants to sign up for a free account. The catch? That free account will come with advertising. Gone are the "Pro" accounts unless you already have one. If you want to avoid the ads it will cost you $50. As for myself, I'd be willing to pay the $50 to avoid the ads, but only if I liked the new UI. Which I don't.

Plenty of Flickr members are saying things like "Well, I'm not crazy about the changes, but I'll get used to them." or "I'm finding some work arounds." or "I don't like this new layout, but I don't want to go somewhere else and start all over again. I don't want to lose all my contacts." A few people actually like the new look and that's OK too. We all have our own ideas about what looks good and/or works well.

It didn't take long for the feedback thread on the Help Forum to start getting negative feedback. LOTS of negative feedback. When the number of comments - some of them nasty to be sure, but many of them well reasoned and just asking for some options - hit close to 30,000, the Flickr staff closed the thread and buried it.

I finally decided that even if Flickr decided to bring back some of the old functionality or give people at least the option of having a "classic" look, I didn't want to do business with a company that treated its loyal customers so shabbily by ignoring their questions and denying their requests. I spent many of my working years in retail sales and as far as I'm concerned Flickr is a text book case of how NOT to treat your customers.

So...here I am. I feel like the kid who just moved to a new town and a new school. Will I like it here? Will the other kids like me? Will they invite me to their parties? Will they make fun of me? Will all my old friends forget me?

Many of my contacts encouraged me to stay and reminded me that change is often difficult, uncomfortable and even painful. That's all very true, but this is surely an even bigger change for me than staying behind and adapting to the new way of doing things. I believe staying in a situation where you feel your ethics and your esthetic standards as a photographer/artist are being compromised is worse than striking out on your own and taking the gamble that things will get better. So here I am!