We’ve had a string of heavy storms across the south-east this afternoon. Once they reach my neck of the woods they get stuck in the Medway valley, where they roll around and around until they run out of steam. About every half an hour or so we get a bout of torrential rain, impressive bolts of lightning and some glorious rumbling thunder. These storms simply don’t seem to be running out of puff.
I’ve been a Flickr user for some time. It’s my first choice when uploading new images and when pointing folks at what I do with my camera gear. I quite like Flickr, with all its faults.
My friend Gavin, on his Techbeast.net blog, commented about Flickr thus:
Flickr can be a lot of things to a lot of people. Some use it for sharing their holiday snaps, or pictures of their new baby. Some use it to host their portfolio and others will like to get involved in the group discussions. It is also a very useful place to host your pictures for embedding into a blog.
For all of its benefits, there are a few glaring drawbacks for the keen photographers among us. The first thing that springs to mind is the way things are organised. There is no useful way to display a portfolio, aside from in a set or collection. The white background is not the best backdrop for most images and it is very easy to get lost in the sheer volume of images that are uploaded every hour. The slide show function is really handy, but it is Flash-only, so pretty much out-of-bounds for the millions of iPads out there and a veritable battery killer for the Android tablets that have Flash.
I have to say I agree with most of what he said, but I still choose Flickr for displaying my new images first. Which isn’t to say there might not be a better solution. It was Gavin who suggested I take a look at a new photo sharing site—500px.
If you want to read Gavin’s take on 500px, from where I also lifted the above quote about Flickr, then you can find it here.
I am always a bit sceptical about adding more social networking and sharing to my already cluttered online life. I’ve already given Facebook the elbow, mainly because I didn’t trust it, I wasn’t enjoying the experience, and felt it was time to trim things back a bit. I remain a Twitter fan, and enjoy blogging and an active forum life in a couple of places, but Facebook was just too intrusive for my satisfaction. Nevertheless I visited 500px, found I was impressed, and signed up for a free account.
Rather than try and explain here why it’s different to Flickr, take a look at the 500px “about” page. They can explain it far better than I can.
Anyway, after I’d signed up, found out how to upload images, discovered the limits to a free account (restricted numbers of uploads per week), and figured out I couldn’t afford to make myself “awesome” just yet (“awesome” being the 500px take on a Flickr Pro account), I found I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the experience. I had uploaded 20 of my better images, and literally within seconds had comments coming in. This, if I am truthful, scared me a bit. I am used to a delay before having anyone comment on uploads. It seemed the 500px community was incredibly active—and full of photographers from Russia!
I felt a bit like the new kid in school. I only had one friend, Gavin, and didn’t feel at all comfortable just accepting all the new commentators on my photos as friends without getting to know them first. With thousands of new potential friends, how the heck could I get to know anyone at all? Overwhelmed, I had a change of heart, and searched for a way to delete my new account. There wasn’t one, although the site developers say they will add one eventually. They suggested I just log out and leave it for now, which I did.
Time passed, and I began to see more references to 500px appear among Twitter friends. I logged back in, and tried again. Starting by following a Twitter contact, I then decided to add some more photos to my collection. Again, I got comments and favourites almost straight away. Only, this time, I didn’t feel quite so overwhelmed.
I have tweaked my account settings so I don’t get a flood of email notifications. I feel a little more in control of things. I’ve also decided to be a little more adventurous by following some of those who have chosen to follow me, or made comments on my images. Making new friends seems to be the way to make such sites work, and it seems so much easier to do this with 500px than with Flickr. I’m still not ready for being “awesome”, and I shall only upload the images that I decide are the best of my best work, unlike my Flickr account.
If you want to see my 500px portfolio—though if you know my Flickr photostream or have visited my MobileMe galleries, you’ll have seen the images already—search for Snaptophobic. Although I am unsure of the URLs as I am logged in most of the time, you could try this direct link: http://500px.com/Snaptophobic
There is still a nagging doubt about spreading my photo portfolios across so many outlets, but then it’s really a case of being out there to be seen. Limiting myself to selected images on 500px will help me manage things, and being limited to 20 uploads a week will also help me keep things in trim and avoid overload.
While there are plenty of photo sharing sites out there, Flickr has had the high ground for some time. I think 500px is a worthy, quality contender to take on the big kid on the block. Competition between two quality sites is a good thing, I think.