NOTE: I’m not affiliated with 500px in any way, shape or form. I’m just a huge fan.
For those not yet familiar with it, 500px is a relatively new photo sharing site that… okay, yes. I know. Another one? But this one is a little different. Whereas Flickr is meant as a sort of “socially-oriented photodump” and SmugMug is meant as a sort of “pro-oriented photodump,” 500px is more of a “pro-oriented online portfolio” than anything else.
The Best of the Best
500px repeatedly makes a point of saying “Only upload your best photos” and if you go from profile to profile, you’ll find that most have very few photos in their collections. The average seems to be around 20-50 photos for the entire account, whereas that’s the size of one of my average Flickr sets. The result, though, is glaringly obvious. Amazing photos abound, and while not all are winners, even the “mediocre” ones are worlds better than what you’d find on other photo-sharing sites. This is clearly a site with photographers in mind, and just as it’s a site of photographers and for photographers, you can count on
This is probably my favorite aspect to 500px. Rather than use some arcane algorithm based on favorites or number of comments to decide what’s “Interesting,” 500px keeps it simple: votes. Every photo has a Like and a Dislike button beside it, and you can cast your thumb up or down just like Caesar himself. These votes are then computed and turned into a score from 0 to 100 (photos with no votes just get an N/A) to let you know what the masses think of your image. And since “the masses” are primarily photographers and enthusiasts, you know that you’re receiving informed opinions and not the cantankerous caterwauling of some computer. The best part? Photos ranked high enough wind up in the “Popular” pool, and if you have a photo that shows up there, you can expect
I’ve been on Flickr for over five years now. Never once have any of my photos appeared in the “Interesting” pool because I don’t get a lot of comment traffic on any of my photos. Four days into my 500px membership, one of my photos got enough Likes to wind up in the Popular pool. In the following three days, my number of followers spiked from five (all friends) to seventy-eight. I received 7,580 views, 76 comments, 1 Free VAL offer from a nearby photographer, and a $30 filter suite from PSKiss. In three days. From one photo.
And that’s not even the best part of all that visibility. It’s the fact that the more views I get, the more my photos get rated, and the easier it makes
Culling the Herd
I’ve always hated sorting my portfolio because whenever I go through my work I know that I’m really only getting one opinion: mine. And my opinion is the most biased of them all; I’ve seen these photos again and again and again. I’m sick to death of them. Who am I to judge what’s good and what isn’t?
With the availability of all that feedback, though, I can poll the electorate to see which of my photos land and which ones miss the mark. Every day I’ll upload a new photo that I think is one of my good ones. Some get immediate praise and reviews, and some languish in obscurity for days. The former get to live while the latter get deleted and replaced with new ones. The end result is a collection I can be proud of, and an easier short list of photos for
Through a quick step-by-step process, you can organize your photos into various groups that show up in a proper portfolio. A nice feature for photographers that might not have their own dedicated portfolios on their sites, or even those of us that do. Management is a breeze, and there’s a small selection of themes available to help customize your portfolio to your tastes. All of them look great, though, and while they’re more “Generic Online Portfolio” than “whiz-bang custom jobbie,” they’re still pretty sharp and again, better than nothing.
One note: if you remove a photo from your gallery, it isn’t automatically removed from your portfolio. Depending on how you use your account, this could either be a feature or an annoyance.
All in all, it’s an amazing site and a fantastic service. Like a lot of people, I ignored it when I first heard about it, thinking it was just one more photo social media site in an already-saturated field. But already it’s done more for me in a week than Flickr has done in half a decade, so I think I’ll be sticking around a while.