Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Kid on the Block


Since 2006 I've been a loyal member of the Flickr community. It's been a great place to post my work, view and comment on others work and participate in discussions. I have long had a few gripes with a few things on the Flickr site, but what could I do? It's not like there was another quality photo community to go to. Sure there are other photo sites, but their "free" accounts were extremely limiting, or their look and feel left something to be desired.

Say hello to 500px.com. I hear they've been around since 2003, but somehow Id never heard of them till recently. I checked them out, opened a free account and gave them a test drive. My findings, highly impressive! You get more options with a free account than you do with most paid or "pro" accounts at other sites. But what really put a smile on my face was the sites layout. Everything about it is designed to present your work in the most eye catching manner possible. It even lets you create a portfolio slide show. It's really all quite beautiful and rivals some photographers official websites!

After setting up my account and uploading a few photo's, I began noticing a few things. As I browsed through other photographers galleries, I found there seems to be a high level of work across the board on 500px. It was very difficult to find anything that looked amateurish. Unlike Flickr, there were no profiles where they just used it as a "photo sharing" site and dumped their entire memories cards contents onto their account. No profiles with 5000 photos of a family reunion. No profiles with an endless stream of someone taking self portraits in a bathroom mirror. None of that non-sense, just jaw dropping, amazing photographs. In fact the quality seemed so much higher than most sites, I was very selective in what I choose to upload into my new gallery. The standard just felt... higher.

Now of course there are a few complaints with 500px and even a few notes they should take from Flickr. After all, Flickr didn't become the Goliath it is by accident. But it's their slowness to change or innovate which has led photographers like myself to be open to their options and try new sites. Ok, so here's a short list of dislikes.
  • Zero Photo Protection - All these beautiful photos are yours for the taking with a simple right click, "save as". Even Flickr puts an invisible layer over the photos which will only show up as a 1 x 1 pixel when you attempt that same technique. 500px MUST give photographers some options to protect their work. Many deny it but photo thieves are out there and are stealing photos daily. They will publish your work as theirs, they will create websites with your work, they will put together entire portfolios based on your photos if you don't do something about it. I use a light watermark across my photos. Some people say it detracts from the image. I'm fine with that because that's the same thing being said by the person trolling websites for that perfect image for their latest Ad campaign.
  • No Lightbox View - When I'm viewing someones 500px gallery, give me the option to go "lights out" and use my keyboard to move from one photo to the next. Its sleek, elegant and really lets you get into someones work. Not to mention looks great. Right now you have to manually click, click, click... ugg. Even Flickr has a series of keyboard commands to control and navigate their site. Its nice.
  • Lose the "Dislike" Button - People either click "Like" or just move on to the next photo. I feel like im giving someone a kick in the stomach by clicking "Dislike" before moving on. Not to mention, most photos are so nice I can't say i really dislike any of them. Anyhow, it just seems un-necessary. Save the dislike button for songs I can't get through on Pandora.
Ok, that's all I really have for dislikes about 500px. Im sure these are things they've already looked at and for all I know, might be rolling out soon. It seems like a rather young website still and changing fast. It also appears to be very popular with Russians. haha It seems like 3 out 5 profiles is written in Russian. Which is fine, their work is amazing. Just seems like a high ratio.

Overall 500px.com is visually everything I wish Flickr was. I can see this website growing very quickly. It will be interesting to see if they continue to grow and improve, or stagnate like Flickr has now. I hope they grow and continue to really cater to photographers and not people who want "photo sharing". I was so impressed with what 500px has to offer it only took a quick search to find the promo code for $10 off their pro, or "awesome" account, bringing it to $40 for a year. I felt it was worth it, i'll give the site a year and see how I feel. Oh the promo code is friends. :)

So check it out, see what you think, see if it could fit your photography needs. You can check out my profile at www.500px.com/thorpeland.

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