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Friday, July 15, 2011

500px - A site for serious photographers...only...

Over the past few years, I've been on Flickr and I've seen it grow from a site dedicated to showcasing and sharing your "best" photography to an behemoth that seems only concerned with the bottom line with no regard to the quality of images being placed up on there.

Now Flickr seems to be populated by high-school/college students (now don't take this the wrong way and assume that high-school and college students can't be AWESOME photographers - the Awesome HS and college serious photogs are certainly welcome to join 500px) intent on sharing their latest wild party pics with no artistic bent in any of them. That was not the Flickr I joined way back in 2005. At least back then, you could sort the wheat from the chaff. Now with the proliferation of drunken party pics that seem to permeate Flickr, I've gotten disgusted with the whole Flickr thing, thrown copyrights onto the remaining photos I've placed on Flickr and decided to amscray for the new Toronto startup 500px.

500px was just started a few years ago (2009 in fact), and it's been popular with professional and serious amateur photographers. That has been its focus and hopefully will remain that way. The site is self-critique: you put what is considered your "best" work up. Frankly, there is no excuse for not harshly critiquing your own work. People also get to like or dislike your images, depending on how they perceive your work, so you can get a good idea of just how popular your images are and tailor your image uploads accordingly. Also, you have the option of following other members to see just what the other members are producing in terms of quality of work and other members can follow you. If you go up to 95% or more in photo popularity, your picture will be placed on a Popular Images lightbox...and you will generate much more traffic for your overall 500px profile (don't ask me how it works, I haven't got there yet).

Now that 500px becomes more popular, I'm hoping that the image quality remains high and that new members will self-critique their images to keep their image flows in context with the high-quality that permeates throughout this photo-site. Or that members will harshly critique "stupid party" pics that are placed up just for the sake of "attention-getting". That's the only way that 500px will maintain its commitment to high-quality images when it goes mainstream like Flickr. Call that elitist, but that's how I feel with regards to this new place we've found. It's become an "old-boys n'girls" club and the only way that we can keep the standards high is to coldly evaluate and ostracize or completely kick out those who "flout the rules".

Previous 500px Profile Lightbox

Current 500px Profile Lightbox

My 500px profile is here: (let me know that you've followed me and I'll follow you).

For those of you who want to check out my spouse and photography partner's work. Here's the URL to her 500px account

I think Ian Sobolev (the Creative Director for 500px) says it clearly when he says "And thirdly, by showing only great photos and reinforcing this principle helps people realize that this is not a place for their family photos, even though we are not against those — they will be just ignored by the public. All this lead to an interesting effect — the quality of the photos in Popular is constantly improving, and comparing top photos from just half a year ago shows a great leap in quality. So I’m very excited to find out how it will play out in the future." Read the whole article at Naturography - Interview with Ian Sobolev Creative Director, 500px.

Call me controversial and antagonistic, but on 500px, I don't want to see your party pics. I don't want to see your friends making silly faces. I don't want to see the raves that you and your buddies have attended. I make NO apology over my stance on those type of pics especially on a site like 500px which caters to artistic photography. What I want to see from new members is PHOTOGRAPHY; tastefully and artistically done, This site is dedicated to art and should stay that way. There aren't as many restrictions in the way of censorship so you will see artful nudes and boudoir type photography tastefully done, however, outright pornography will get you banned. I tend to stick to my favorite genres, wildlife, aviation and landscape...and the photographers who do those genres are the ones that I tend to follow. I will not hesitate to use the "dislike" button when justified, if I see something that will contribute to the dissolution of the high standards for which 500px is currently known for, so be warned. You can call me a photography snob, but when I find a place that I'm comfortable in, you can be damned sure that I'll out the rabble who want to destroy the place.

Enjoy the place, have fun there, admire the works. Put up your own best work, but please keep the standards high. That way we can scare the rest of those who just don't care about standards into not even joining. Let's keep this a place for serious amateurs and professionals.

Edit: July 16, 2011 Update: after researching what others think about 500px.

I hear that people are complaining about the 500px "Dislike" button: Especially the conspiracy theorists here: 500px is conspiring to keep me down with the DISLIKE button

The Icebox (Flickr) is especially hilarious when it comes to online-theatrical rants against 500px

Periodically in some "so-called" artists profile portfolios I see a standard "head and wall" shot; just a "snapshot" of someone that somebody knows. I don't care for those type of shots. There is no artistic mien to those kind of shots. Anyone can do this with a point and shoot. And it degrades your art. If you're guilty of those kind of shots. Do us all a favor and get them off 500px. Put 'em up in Flickr. I'm not interested in your family shots and I will "dislike" it just to get it the hell off the wall. I don't "dislike" ordinarily out of spite, but I will "dislike" a photo if I feel that it doesn't meet the requirements of what most people would consider "their best photo".

Also what pisses me off immensely is people putting up minor variants of the same goddamned picture. Saw several like images of half-cut off b&w portraits. We get what you're trying to do with one shot. Don't inundate us with 50 shots of the same goddamned CRAP!!!!

Or people putting up gritty urban-style post-processed B&W shots of a blurry bench. WTFH are you trying to express? Because all I see is a f*ng blurry bench. OK? Unless I'm walking around in your brain at the time you pressed the shutter I have no f*ng idea what you're taking the picture for. And it makes me think that you're a "great artist-in-your-own-mind". Listen, Andy Warhol died 24 years ago and frankly you're just a wanna-be. The point of a picture is to get your viewpoint across to other people. And frankly...your picture ain't doin' it for me.

Wildlife photographers don't put up "cutesy animal images". It takes more thought and planning than you could ever put into photography with your just uploading a shot of a candy wrapper lying in the street and calling it "Urban Waste". And shots of models standing take more thought than just merely plunking a human being in front of a building and taking a shot. More Lighting and other effects that you could ever even dream about in your feverish little anarchist "rebel against the system" mind. Don't laugh at what you can't think of producing.

You know what, keep laughing at the photographers who produce award-winning images, keep stewing in your own bitter juices and let the photographers who know how to produce the images that sell...laugh all the way to the bank.

That's all I have to say to the "I'm the best...because I rebel against the system...and produce images that" supposedly "have meaning" type photographers who seem to litter places like Flickr.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, just started using 500px myself and I also hope that it keeps a photography centric focus.