What the Killing of Adobe Flash Means for Some Photographers

What the Killing of Adobe Flash Means for Some Photographers

This shouldn't come as a big surprise, as Adobe has been sending out warnings for quite a while now. Yet, some photographers have been clinging to the older technology and will need to make changes immediately.

The time has come to finally lay Adobe Flash to rest. The browser plug-in famous for its rich animations and interactivity on the early web is no more. Released in 1996, Flash was instrumental in streaming videos and playing games online back in the day. It wasn't long until creatives such as artists and photographers started taking advantage of the platform to build interactive websites to showcase their work.

Unfortunately, Flash struggled to keep up with the changing needs of modern-day users. Plagued with security problems and struggling to transition to the smartphone era really was the beginning of the end for the platform. From December 31, 2020, Adobe stopped providing any updates or security patches and all major web browsers disabled Flash from working for their users. Even those with the standalone version of Adobe Flash are on borrowed time, as the two-week grace period from the original cutoff deadline will see the official program cease to operate on January 12, 2021.

What Do I Need To Do To Check if I'm Still Using Flash?

Use Adobe's online checker to see if you have Flash installed

If your web browser is up to date, then you have nothing to worry about, as they have probably been blocking Flash content for you by default for quite a while. You can check if this is the case by heading over to this page, which can tell you if Flash is installed on your computer or enabled on your browser. Adobe has also provided instructions for removing Flash on Windows and Mac if you have the standalone version on your computer. 

What About Photographers Still Using It on Their Websites?

A now defunct photography themed website I created with Adobe Flash

This is probably only going to apply to a few people out there, but if you are still using Flash on your website, it will now no longer work. Believe it or not, I know a few dinosaur photographers that still have Flash-based portfolio websites. It probably comes as no surprise to hear that these people don't update their sites all that often! The problem for them now is that the few prospective customers and clients that could see their old sites will now be greeted with a blank screen, a blocked content message, or a 404 error, none of which is going to help them get work or make sales.

If you used Flash to create an interactive work of art, one way to keep the site alive is to record the experience with screencasting software and upload the video to somewhere like YouTube. It's not going to be the same experience that users will have had in the past, but it's a way for the work to carry on existing online. If you were going to go down this route, you are going to have to hurry, as the standalone version of Flash will stop working on January 12, 2021. After this date, it's going to become much harder to do any documenting.

Life After Adobe Flash

For those who want to relive the Flash nostalgia, there are projects like BlueMaxima FlashPoint and Ruffle Player that are trying to keep the platform alive. But for photographers who want to reach as many people with their work, it's best to let go of the past and embrace the more universally available options out there. If you need to build a whole new website, then I would suggest looking at places like WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace. These companies have ready-to-go website templates that will work on all devices and require little effort to keep up to date. You can probably find some templates that have the look and feel of a Flash-based website from the 90s but with all the future-proof compatibility for the modern day.

So, there you have it, the end of Adobe Flash. If you are of a certain age, you will probably have many fond memories of how it shaped the Internet into what we know today. This isn't the first and won't be the last piece of software that will become obsolete. For photographers, it is vital to stay on top of developments as our websites are our calling card to potential clients and customers. Anything that stops these people from seeing our work can only be bad for business.

Lead image by Hatice EROL, used under Creative Commons.

Paul Parker's picture

Paul Parker is a commercial and fine art photographer. On the rare occasion he's not doing photography he loves being outdoors, people watching, and writing awkward "About Me" statements on websites...

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For anyone interested in seeing someone document their old flash site and upload it to YouTube should check out this video. https://youtu.be/8yZmArkhqlA

It's an hour long walk-though of an interactive project called 99 Rooms...

There are a few open source implementations of Flash alternatives, albeit they do not (yet) support all the Flash functionality, especially not the newer Flash 9 and 10 versions.

I know of two Linux versions, Lightspark (http://lightspark.github.io/) and GNU Gnash (https://www.gnu.org/software/gnash/). Another possibility is ruffle (https://ruffle.rs/), which is a cross-platform implementation written in Rust and utilising webassembly, making it compatible with modern browsers.

I am not affiliated with any of these projects and have not used them myself, so I cannot vouch for their actual usability in any way.

Good riddence. Finally the crap doesn't work anymore.

I might just set up a Flash version of my site now, for nostalgia's sake, like how some people still appreciate vinyl... or film!!!

My friend and I were looking for a decent anime to watch last night and we checked out the Aniplex website. We found one that looked interesting and clicked on it. It took us to a Flash website and as as soon as we landed on it's home page the pc started cranking out the heat and the fans spun up to their max RPM's. It was insane how taxing that flash website was. This was on a $2500 spec'd out gaming laptop too and a flash website brought it to it's knees lol.

lol That happened at my job. I found out because one of our servers kept crashing and our electric bill skyrocketed. Our cameras also got hacked by some fool in ("presumably" with VPN's and all) Taiwan.

A black background with starbursts was so easy with Flash. O well. Haven't built websites since html5 came out so I'm missing nothing.

No Flash?! But I still want to have a 2 minute long animation of my logo (without a "skip intro" button) that I force people to sit through every time they come to my site!