Top 10 Ways for Photographers to Get Attention on Google+

FFear of a New San Francisco -- San Francisco, CA

Another week, another Google+ post.

Last week I wrote about 5 reasons why Google+ is winning the war in photosharing. In the comments to that post were a few people who said that they did not feel like they were getting traction even though they were getting involved.

Today I thought I’d put out a post on the top 10 ways for people to get attention on Google+. Some of these will apply to non-photographers too. Keep in mind that developing a large audience on the internet can take years of work, there is no magic bullet to automatically getting attention. There are, however, some best practices that may help you find more followers and get more attention.

1. Post great photos. “Great” is totally subjective though right? Post what you feel are the strongest photos you have. They don’t have to have been taken yesterday. You should strive to reserve your very best work for Google+. If you want attention as a photographer, make working on your craft a priority.

My friend Sly Vegas has only been shooting 6 months, but he has poured himself into photography in a huge way. He’s shooting every day, he’s devouring tutorials for Canon and Adobe Lightroom. He’s trying to step up his game. If you post mediocre photos none of the rest of this will count. Make sure dust spots are cloned out. Post process your work to make it look it’s best. Find unique and interesting subject matter to shoot. All of this matters.

Even if you’re not a photographer, consider posting strong and interesting visual imagery with your post. Tom Anderson does this. His posts are all about his thoughts and words, but with almost every post he makes he posts something visual to go with it. Google+ is heavily optimized to show the visual. Posts with photos do better than posts without.

Well now that we’ve got that out of the way…

2. Reciprocation. The number one way for you to get attention on Google+ is to reciprocate. Reciprocate like crazy. This is no different than Flickr, or Facebook, or Twitter or whatever. The most basic formula for every social network has always been reciprocation. Believe it or not, +1’s are *FREE* for you to give out. They don’t cost you anything! They are unlimited. +1 like crazy.

If you like a post or photo or whatever, +1 that sexy thing.

Comments are even more valuable than +1s. Don’t be shy. Even if all you have time to say is “nice!” A comment in someone’s post puts your link there for others to discover you.

If you want to ramp up attention to your own work, spend some time giving it out first. Have a philosophy of giving out 2, 3, 4 times, hell 100 or 1000 times when you’re starting out, what you get. Give and you shall receive. Don’t be disingenuous — comment when you really feel it and of course everyone always loves those super thoughtful, funny, positive comments too.

Also don’t forget to +name someone when you respond to them in a comment. It’s hard to keep up on every single conversation on Google+. If someone asks you a question or you are directing something at someone specifically, make sure to +name them. This way they are better notified (don’t abuse this).

3. Add a bunch of interesting people to your circles. Nothing gets you a follower quite like following somebody else first (again, see reciprocation). This will take some work. You have to be willing to work. My favorite way to find new people to add? I look for people who are making interesting and engaging comments on mine and other’s streams and I add them. The lists are a place to start too, but there are tons of people who are crazy talented who aren’t on these lists yet. (btw, you can add yourself to a lot of these lists, have you done that yet?)

It’s ok to add strangers. Put them in your “I Don’t Know These People Yet But They Seem Hella Talented and I’d Like to Get to Know Them More” circle.

Don’t just blindly add people, but actively look for interesting people and add them liberally when you find them.

4. How you post matters. Are you posting photos? Post them *directly to Google+* in order to get the huge big thumbnail. You have no idea how important this thumbnail is. Don’t just post a link to a flickr photo of yours, or a photo on 500px, or a photo on your blog. Bigger is better!

If you are so tied to these other places where you post, still upload the photo to G+ but add a link (if you must) to the site that you want to link out to.

I’ve heard a lot of people say things like, well if I post my photo to Google+ then I won’t get the traffic to my blog. Fine. But this post isn’t about how to get more attention on your blog, it’s about how to get more attention on Google+. A text link to your blog or a small thumbnail to a flickr or 500px will get far less attention than a big, bright, bold thumbnail image directly on G+.

5. Don’t overpost. I post 5 photos a day. That feels about right to me. I spread them out during the day. The best way to get people to ignore you is to flood their stream with 50 photos of your recent vacation (unless you’re Trey Ratcliff and they are all from Burning Man and you are posting them to make a point about how the comment on photo spam needs to be fixed by Google). 🙂

Resist the urge to post about what your eating like you do on Twitter — unless what you’re eating is raw sushi off Lady Gaga’s naked body on a table at the Playboy Mansion — again joking, I so would NOT post about that if I were actually doing it, which I wouldn’t be, I mean which I probably wouldn’t be.

6. Don’t post a GIF... unless it’s a really, really, really, really good GIF that nobody’s seen before. Seeing someone’s face morph into 14 other faces was sort of cool the first time you saw it. The 20th time, not as much. Resist the urge. I love a good Caturday GIF as much as the next guy, but a lot of people see these as noise.

7. Be a great curator. Guy Kawasaki is great at this. So is Morgaine LeFaye. So is Robert Scoble. Look for the best, most unique content that you can find on the web. Use your space to showcase work by other talented people on G+. When a new person shows up who you know has talent, make a post introducing them to the rest of the community.

8. Participate in hangouts. Hangouts are a great intimate way to get to know people. Somehow when you spend a little time with someone face to face (albeit with computers between you) you get to know them a little better.

9. Cross promote your Google+ account. Is there a link to your Google+ account on your flickr profile? Why not? That’s soooo easy to do. Have you posted a kick ass photo to flickr, reminding the people that follow you there that you are now on Google+, maybe even with a link to your invites url? Why not?

Have you tweeted out your Google+ posts page? Have you posted it to Facebook? Is it on your blog? Your tumblr?

What about people in real life (IRL, don’t you just hate that? I mean the web is in fact IRL if you ask me)? I hear people say that their family are not on Google+ yet, that they are still on Facebook. Whose fault is that? Yours. Get them on there. My sister just recently joined by the way. What about your co-workers? Ask them if they’ve heard of it and offer them an invite. You’d be surprised how many people are interested in G+ right now but just need that little personal touch and push over.

Are you a celebrity? Mention your Google+ account the next time you’re on the David Letterman show (joking), but you get the idea.

10. Make sure you are posting *PUBLICLY*. Alot of people make this mistake when they first post to G+. They aren’t aware that you have to type “public” into the little box below your status update. If you only put “your circles” or “your extended circles” or you leave it to the last way you sent something as a default, or whatever, you’ll miss getting your image out to a TON of people.

Unless there is a specific reason why you need to keep a photo limited, if you want attention, you are going to want to make sure it says “PUBLIC” down at the bottom, every time you post a photo.

Bonus tip: Be nice and be *positive*. Nobody likes a hater. Nobody wants to hear that their photo sucks and that it looks like crap (unless someone is *specifically* asking for this sort of criticism). Nobody wants to see someone saying that their model looks fat. Resist the urge to bash Obama on unrelated photos of the Grand Canyon.

It’s so easy for someone to uncircle you, move you to the “Don’t pay attention to these people because they are negative haters” circle, block you, or even use the new ignore feature that Google rolled out last week (for when you really do want to block someone but it might feel socially awkward).

People are on Google+ for a lot of reasons, to find interesting content, to meet interesting people, to promote their work, to get inspiration, to social network, but most of all they are on here *TO HAVE FUN*.

You can find me on Google+ here. 🙂

Google+ vs. Flickr vs. Facebook vs. 500px vs. Twitter

The Hatch

Yesterday I posted a photograph of mine on 5 different sites at about the same time. The photo above, The Hatch, was posted to Google+ (Google’s much hyped new social network), Flickr, Facebook, 500px (an exciting up and coming new photo sharing service) and Twitter.

I will try to compare, the best I can, the attention that the same photograph received from each of these sites over the course of 24 hours. If as a photographer you are looking at photo sharing sites, in part, as a way to promote your work to a wider audience, the engagement your photographs receive online may be of interest. This case is very specific and of course everyone’s circumstances will differ, but this is my experience.

Before examining the attention the above photograph received in various places, I think it is worthwhile to look at some of the numbers (for me) behind each of these sites. Following are the number of “followers” roughly that I have on each of the sites mentioned, the approximate time I joined the sites, and how active I engage on them.

Google+: Google+ is a brand new social network It was opened to limited beta users last week. I’ve been on it now less than a week, but I enjoy shiny new things and so I’ve been somewhat active. At present I have 1,861 followers there.

Flickr: Flickr is the largest well organized library of images in the world. It’s the grandaddy big gorilla of photosharing. I joined Flickr in August of 2004 and have been active almost every day that I’ve been on the site. I generally upload 50 photos every day to flickr, have favorited or commented on over 100,000 photos of other users, and am active as an admin in a large and popular group. 21,125 people call me a contact on Flickr.

Facebook is the world’s largest social network. I have 3,161 friends following me on Facebook. I joined Facebook in September of 2006, pretty shortly after they allowed non-college students to join. I’ve never been impressed with Facebook and spend the least amount of time on the site of the five mentioned. I do however post daily to Facebook and occasionally engage with other people on the site.

500px is an exciting new up and coming photosharing site being built by a small innovative team out of Tornoto. 500px currently has some of the best photography being shared on the web being published there. I joined 500px a few months ago in April. 1,558 people are subscribed to my photos there.

Twitter is the world’s most popular micro blogging service — I joined shortly after it was launched in December of 2006. Twitter just started photo sharing last month with a partnership with Photobucket. I currently have 19,285 followers on Twitter.

So not all of the sites above measure views. But here are the breakdowns on the photo published.

Views: Unknown
+1’s (i.e. likes/favorites): 45
Reshares: 2
Comments: 14

Views: 102
Faves: 7
Comments: 2

Views: Unknown
Likes: 10
Comments: 3

Views: 52
Favorites: 4
Comments: 5

Views: Unknown
Faves: 0

Conclusion: My photos posted to Google+ receive far more attention than posting them to any other social network. Part of this might be due to the fact that Google+ is still a brand spanking new super shiny social network with lots of activity as people are checking it out. Part of it also may be the fact that every time someone comments on my photo there it “bumps” the photo back to the top of my followers’ activity stream.

Google+ doesn’t seem to report views on your photo, but based on the engagement on the photo I’d guess that it was viewed far more on Google+ yesterday than any of the other sites. Whether or not this sort of high activity will continue is anybody’s guess — but at least for now, if you are a photographer who wants to promote their work on the web, Google+ seems like a place that you definitely want to be sharing.

As an aside, I think how each of these sites shows your photo is important to the attention that they receive. There are two ways that people see your photo, in more limited stream view and then in better detail/lightbox view. In my opinion Google+ and 500px do the best job sharing your photos most beautifully. Both provide big oversized thumbnails that are elegantly shown to your contacts and both have really nice detail pages when you click through to a photograph.

Google+’s lightbox view, however, is over the top. It really is the best detail photo page on the web today, big giant oversized photos that load super fast and are on a black lightbox background. It is a very fast one click away from a photo in a stream and one click back, encouraging people to click through. Flickr has a lightbox view but it’s 2 steps away from your contacts looking at your photo (not one like Flickr and Facebook). Also Flickr and Facebook’s lightbox views are not as elegant as Google+.

It should also be noted that photos on various social networks generally do not get as many views on a weekend day as they do a weekday when everybody is working. It also seems that because this weekend is 4th of July weekend that there are less people around and online than usual.

From Blogging Photos

Photo Sharing on Google Plus

From Blogging Photos

Photo Sharing on Flickr

From Blogging Photos

Photo Sharing on Facebook

From Blogging Photos

Photo Sharing on 500px

From Blogging Photos

Photo Sharing on Twitter

On Watermarks and Signatures

On Watermarks and Signatures

Earlier today I caught myself unfollowing someone on 500px because I clicked through on their photo and found this garish looking signature on their photograph. I know I’ll probably take a lot of heat for this, but I HATE watermarks and signatures on photos and many of the particularly bad borders and frames as well — so much so that more and more these days I’m not faving them or commenting on photos that I find them on and have actually started unfollowing some people who use them.

Some people will say that they put signatures on their photos to stop the “photo thieves.” But I think that’s just an excuse. It’s so easy to remove almost any signature on a photo using content aware fill or other super easy tool in most image editing software. To me the real reason why people do it is that they think that it gives them some means of promotion for their work — that and just pure ego. It’s like an advertisement for their work – except that if I’m a contact and I’m looking at your work already, it feels dumb to me that you want to continuously hammer me with this same advert on your photos over and over and over again.

To me signatures are also a pure sign of an amateur (not that there is anything wrong with amateurs). William Eggleston doesn’t use them. He has a copyright notice on his site, but on his photos on display on his site, none of them are overlayed with something that says “William Eggleston Copyright 2009, Fully Party Promotion Production BABY! Richard Avedon doesn’t use them (RIP). The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite run by Ansel’s son Michael Adams doesn’t use them. Mary Ellen Mark doesn’t use them.

Is your work so much better than these masters that it must be protected with your watermark?

Some of the best photosharing accounts that I know don’t use them. Bernie DeChant doesn’t use them. Ivan Makarov doesn’t use them. Kelly Castro doesn’t use them. WatermelonSugar doesn’t use them. Bill Storage has some remarkable work up — no signatures here either.

And yet some brand new account with some underexposed photo of a flower (not that there is anything wrong with flowers) somehow thinks that unless they have their name emblazoned across the bottom of their photo in 24pt Helvetica, that someone is going to “steal” their photograph.

For me looking at photos online is a new way of consuming art — and online photosharing sites are sort of virtual museums for me in a way. If I went to see the Richard Avedon show at the SF MOMA and every print was stamped with a garish “COPYRIGHT RICHARD AVEDON” I’d be just as put off I think. But they aren’t.

I don’t use signatures or watermarks on my own work because I care about the art. I care about how it’s presented to others. I want it to be beautiful. I want it to stand on it’s own. I trust you. I respect you. I want you to see my work the best that it can possibly be and come back and see it again and again and again in the future.

As an artist my biggest ambition is to have my work seen and appreciated, at all costs. To get it out there and distributed as broadly as possible and to make it as welcome and inviting to those who might come and visit it.

I might blame the software makers for adding this functionality into their products — but they only do this due to consumer demand and some people want this, I suppose.

The thing is that I have friends and photographers that I admire that use signatures. And some people feel super strong about them and so I’m sure some people will react badly to me saying how much I hate them. I certainly don’t mean to upset people who do use them and feel this way. It’s just an opinion. Really, don’t hate on me for hating your watermark. If you want to use it, you just go right on using it. The important thing is that YOU like it. It’s your art after all. This is just my blog and my opinion.

How to Browse Flickr Like a Pro

Important keyboard shortcuts for flickr. (Note: for a PC cmd=ctl)

cmd-click (to load a page in a tab in the background)
cmd-w (to close a window)
f (to fave a photo)
c (to comment on a photo)
cmd-option-arrow key (to move between open tabbed windows)

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that how you browse photosharing sites matters quite a bit. Not just where you go to find great photos to see and interact with, but specifically *how* you navigate the site with maximum efficiency.

My two favorite photosharing sites at present are 500px and Flickr. In this post I’ll try to explain how I browse photos on on Flickr to find and uncover great photographs and also how to navigate the site. You can see the companion article How to Browse 500px Like a Pro here.

How to Browse Flickr Like a Pro

The first place I go to browse photos on Flickr is in my contacts/friends most recent photos. Here you can toggle between friends/contacts (I keep people I actually know or whose work I super admire in my closer circle of friends and I pretty much add anybody who adds me as a contact back in the contacts grouping).

This should probably be your starting page on Flickr for looking for new flickr photos.

One of the most important ways to increase efficiency when browsing photosharing sites is to avoid wasting time while pages load. So typically what I do first after loading this page is cmd-click on each of the paging icons at the bottom of the page — this loads me the most recent 7 pages of my friends/contacts photos in new background tabs.

Next I go through each of these thumbnail pages and cmd click every thumbnail that I want to see larger. What this does is opens up many, many tabs in my browser of choice Chrome (doing the page loading while I’m doing something else). Once I finish with a page I cmd-w the page to close the page and it automatically starts taking me to the photo pages that I’ve opened.

On a photo page I can see the photo larger and have more choices of things I can do. If I want to fave a photo, rather than use the mouse, I’ll simply press the F key. This is much faster. If I want to comment on the photo, I’ll simply press the C key. This will automatically jump my browser right into the comment field where I can start typing a comment.

Because I have Dan Pupius FittrFlickr installed, I can also easily see (very unobtrusively) the major EXIF data for a photo right beneath the photo. I also have links to different sizes (including large and original if available) that I can cmd click to load an even larger version of the photo in the background if I need a closer look.

How to Browse Flickr Like a Pro 4

After going to my contacts photo uploads page, next I’ll go to my recent activity page. This is where reciprocation on flickr takes place. Looking at the most recent activity on my photos I see who has been interacting with them – who has been active on the site recently with my work. From here I start cmd clicking on their names. This loads up their photostreams where I can see their first page of photos. From here I’ll cmd-click the photos that I want to see larger and possibly interact with.

How to Brows Flickr LIke a Pro 2

The next place I go to find great photos is to The Hot Box. The Hot Box is a group that I’m active on in Flickr where great photos are voted into a pool of winners. Here, again, I’ll cmd-click the photos that i might be interested in and then interact with them.

How to Browse Flickr Like a Pro 3

After this I might go favorite diving. Here I will look for some of the people on Flickr whose taste I admire the most, and go through their favorites and cmd-click anything that looks interesting. This is such a superior way to find new contacts and photographs vs. Flickr’s crappy Explore section which not only blacklists photographers but is full of mediocre photos by strangers with the worst signatures, watermarks and borders humanly possible.

By using the techniques described above, I can find some really amazing photos by some really amazing photographers on Flickr. By relying heavily on the cmd-click function, I can more rapidly and efficiently navigate the site, allowing load time to take place in background tabs, leaving as much time as possible for me to actually spend appreciating and interacting with a photograph.


As a bonus tip, one other thing that I’m starting to do on both Flickr and 500px is curate photographs with Pinterest. I’ve just started doing this, but if I especially like a photograph on flickr or 500px (or anywhere on the web really) I’ll pin it to a gallery on Pinterest. Here is a gallery I’ve started called “So This is America” which includes interesting and compelling photographs of America and here is another gallery that I’ve started of some of my favorite photographs by one of my greatest inspirations, American photographer William Eggleston. Pinterest is really what Flickr’s own galleries should have looked like if they hadn’t of done it so half-ass and with so many restrictions and limitations.

How to Browse 500px Like a Pro

Important keyboard shortcuts for 500px (Note: for a PC cmd=ctl)

cmd-click (to load a page in a tab in the background)
cmd-w (to close a window)
f (to fave a photo)
L (to like a photo)
cmd-option-arrow key (to move between open tabbed windows)

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that how you browse photosharing sites matters quite a bit. Not just where you go to find great photos to see and interact with, but specifically *how* you navigate the site with maximum efficiency.

My two favorite photosharing sites at present are 500px and Flickr. In this post I’ll try to explain how I browse photos on 500px to find and uncover great photographs and also how to navigate the site. You can see the companion article How to Browse Flickr Like a Pro here.

500px is one of the most exciting photosharing sites on the scene today. It’s a stark contrast to Flickr.

Flickr is a slow moving slow innovating behemoth owned by crappy Yahoo. 500px is a scrappy, fast moving, weekly innovating startup that just received over 500k in VC financing.

Flickr’s community managers / staffers are abusive with their users and ban and censor people and ridicule their users. 500px owners are nice and pleasant and actually interact with their users on their site, Twitter, etc.

500px has a fresh new elegant photo page design. Flickr still looks like a tired old website from 2004.

500px seems to actually care about great photography. Flickr could care less (the quality on flickr declined dramatically overall when they turned it into a dumping ground by integrating Yahoo photos into it a few years ago and has gotten worse and worse).

500px is not frightened by the artistic female form. Flickr is scared to death of the female form (they censored this photo of a painting I took of a painting at the Art Institute of Chicago — ridiculous).

It’s exciting to see people that actually care about photography and photographers in charge at 500px. And it’s been great watching so many of the best flickr accounts migrate over there over the past several months.

So where do I go to find great photos on 500px? All over the place.

How to Browse 500px Like a Pro

For starters (like flickr) I go to my friends most recent uploads. Unlike Flickr (who will only show you the last 1 or 5 photos by your contacts) 500px shows you all of your contacts most recent uploads. The first thing I do here is cmd-click all of the paging icons at the bottom. This opens up the photo thumbnail pages in background tabs that I can tab to later without wasting time while they load. As they load in the background I’m cmd-clicking other photos on the page most recently loaded where I want to see larger photos. 500px gives you nice big thumbnails on this page in contrast to flickr’s tired old page.

After browsing my friends most recent uploads to 500px, next I move on to my own recent activity page there. They just started paging this page this week and so now you can see all of your recent activity (like Flickr). Here, similar to flickr, I’ll cmd-click the names of people who have interacted with my photos to load their photo pages in background tabs. From there I cmd-click the photos that I like on their page to open them up bigger and so that I can interact with them. If I like the photo I’ll use the keyboard to quickly press “F” and “L” to both fave and like the photo.

How to Browse 500px like a Pro 2

Next I go to 500px’s version of Explore (called Popular Photos). Here you will find some of the best photographs being published on the web today. I’m not kidding. 500px’s Popular Photos page BLOWS flickr’s Explore page out of the water. And 500px doesn’t even need a secret “magic blacklisting donkey” algorithm to produce it.

Along with Popular Photos, 500px also has Fresh Photos, Upcoming Photos, and a staff curated section called Editor’s Choice.

On each of these pages I’ll cmd-click thumbnails to load photos to interact with in background tabs. Further, 500px allows you to filter these sections by subject, landscapes, people, nature, fine art NUDES! (did he just say nudes? don’t worry folks, you have to check a NSFW tab in order to see these — can you imagine FLICKR actually giving people an option to see the most popular nudes?)

By using the techniques described above, I can find some really amazing photos by some really amazing photographers on 500px. By relying heavily on the cmd-click function, I can more rapidly and efficiently navigate the site, allowing load time to take place in background tabs, leaving as much time as possible for me to actually spend appreciating and interacting with a photograph.


As a bonus tip, one other thing that I’m starting to do on both Flickr and 500px is curate photographs with Pinterest. I’ve just started doing this, but if I especially like a photograph on flickr or 500px (or anywhere on the web really) I’ll pin it to a gallery on Pinterest. Here is a gallery I’ve started called “So This is America” which includes interesting and compelling photographs of America and here is another gallery that I’ve started of some of my favorite photographs by one of my greatest inspirations, American photographer William Eggleston. Pinterest is really what Flickr’s own galleries should have looked like if they hadn’t of done it so half-ass and with so many restrictions and limitations.

Testing Out Twitter’s New Photo Sharing Feature

Testing Out Twitter's New Photo Sharing Feature

I just sent my first tweet with Twitter’s new integrated photo sharing feature. I was one of the lucky ones to get early access today to the new feature. 🙂

The feature seems pretty straightforward. If you click on the message box there is a little camera icon right below it and you just click that to add a photo. You can then attach a photo and send it to your Twitter. So easy, even a Congressman could use it.

The first photo I tried didn’t take, because it only supports photos 3MB or smaller. It’s not really meant to be a replacement for Flickr or anything in that regard (Flickr allows photos up to 20MB in size — and some more forward thinking photosharing sites like 500px actually allow photos up to 30MB in size, time to step up your game Flickr) — but with most phone photos being smaller then 3MB, this shouldn’t really be a problem for mobile uploads.

The second photo I tried sending was a smaller one that I’d taken with my phone (pictured above) and it worked just fine.

I was impressed with the speed at which the photo had uploaded to Twitter. In the past I’d had problems with twitpic hanging on me when trying to upload, but the photo to Twitter’s own service was fast and flawless.

The photos are hosted at photobucket, but you don’t have to have a photobucket account to use the service.

I updated my Android Twitter app on my Samsung (piece of crap) phone to the most current version, but when I clicked on add a photo using that it still sent the photo to twitpic, not to to the new twitter service — so I don’t know if the new service supports the Android app yet — I don’t think it does.

Supposedly the new Twitter photo service is integrated with the new IOS5 on the iPhone though — which I suppose will be one more reason to ditch my horrible piece of crap Samsung phone and go back to the iPhone when the new ones come out this Summer or Fall — although I’m sure Twitter probably plans on integrating the photo sharing feature into their Android app too at some point in the future.

I also tried downloading “Snapbucket” to my Android phone (which was the app that the photobucket promo page suggested). I was able to get the app installed (you have to set up a photobucket account) and tried to send a photo to Twitter with it, but it seemed to take a long time. I sent the photo to photobucket (and it’s in my account) about ten minutes ago, but I told it to send it to Twitter and it’s not posted to twitter yet for me. I’ll probably still continue using mobypicture to share mobile phone shots directly until either Twitter updates their Android App or I move over to the iPhone.

One thing that is nice about this new Twitter photo sharing service, is that like all of your text tweets, the photos that you upload to it belong 100% to you. This is in stark contrast to the sleazy move by Twitpic to try to try and actually sell people’s Twitpic photos (keeping 100% of the money for themselves and giving the photographers 0%). There’s a certain sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing that this new photo sharing service by Twitter is going to end up putting Twitpic and their sleazy photographer rip offs out of commission.

Overall I’d say the new service is a win for Twitter. It simple, easy to use, and most importantly FAST! Nice work Twitter! This new service is just what I need to upload all those awesome new shots of my buffed out totally waxed new body.

More on the new service from TechCrunch here.

500px Shows Promise as Sort of a More Artistic Version of Flickr

My 500px Photostream

For the past week or so I’ve been spending some time playing around with the photosharing site 500px and am really starting to like it. The site has been around awhile (since 2003) but went through some major redesigns, most notably in the Fall of last year. The result seems to be a very elegant photosharing community that is far more focused on fine art and artistic oriented photography than Flickr is.

In a lot of ways, the site reminds me of an early Flickr, back when the staff seemed to care more and back when Flickr actually seemed to care about beautiful photography and their users.

The site has two different versions. There is a free version which features a basic photostream and limits you to 20 uploads per week and one collection. And then there is a paid version at $50 per year which offers unlimited uploads and collections.

Both versions offer unlimited hosting and a basic photostream organized by most recently uploaded photo in an elegant large square format with oversized photos when you click through. Both versions also include a free photoblog to blog your work in a different way if you’d prefer that over the traditional photostream as well as a wall where people can leave comments about you. 500px also claims that the photos are optimized for SEO so that your work can be found.

In addition to allowing unlimited uploads, the paid version allows a number of other features including the ability to link your photostream to a custom domain, an RSS feed, the ability to remove all 500px branding from your stream (aka white label), advertising free, as well as the ability to hook your stream up to a Google analytics account to better monitor traffic and activity.

My 500px Favorites

In addition to your own photostream, like Flickr, you can build favorites of other photographs, comment on photographs and either “like” or “dislike” photographs which results in a public numerical score that a photograph receives. There are several areas where you can also explore some pretty amazing photography, including popular, editor’s choice, upcoming and fresh.

Perhaps what I find most refreshing about the site as it’s structured right now is that it seems to be attracting some of the most talented photographers I’ve seen on the web in any one place in long time.

Scrolling through many of the members photostreams it reminds me of some of the early photographers who gravitated to flickr using it to express the beauty of the world around them. Comparing some of the showcase areas above, for example, with Flickr’s super crappy Explore (complete with blacklisting users, sparkly gifs, and obnoxious watermarks) there simply is no comparison as to which is showing superior fine art photography. 500px is better.

Also, in contrast to Flickr’s puritanical censorship, 500px doesn’t seem to have a problem with the occasional artistic representation of the female form that, God forbid, might (gasp) actually show a naked breast. I guess it probably helps that they are Canadian and more laid back about those sorts of things. Flickr on the other hand censored this photograph of mine of an 1874 painting by Jules-Joseph Lefebvre from the Chicago Art Institute that doesn’t even show boobs.

Creating an account and profile was very easy on 500px. I liked that they don’t seem to have a problem with html markup in your profile and I was able to link all of my other social media sites. It’s also nice that your profile accompanies your photostream, favorites, etc. giving good exposure to the photographer.

Uploading photos was pretty easy. It’s also nice that 500px allows images sized up to 30MB. Flickr is stuck in the dark ages with the pre-2004 20MB limit still. When popular cameras like the Canon 5DM2 routinely produce images between 20MB and 30MB it sucks that when you use Flickr’s bulk uploader that they mangle images so badly, resizing them in some cases down to less than 500kb (example). It’s bad enough to have your images resized without being told about it, but to resize a 22MB image down to less than 5% of it’s original size just seems really cheap on Flickr’s part.

It is a drag that 500px doesn’t seem to read a photo’s metadata and allow you to auto-populate titles, keywords, descriptions/captions, etc. Hopefully they enable that soon as there is no sense in doing that work in lightroom only to have to rekey that data in after uploading to 500px. There are also lots of areas that 500px seems to have room to grow in. It would be nice to see groups there like Flickr has.

Like Flickr, 500px allows you an embed code to blog your images, as well as the buttons necessary to share your image to other popular social networking sites like Twitter, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Google Buzz, etc.

I think more than any of the above items, what’s got me most interested in 500px though, is what feels to me like a truly refreshing view of photography from the people who work there. Flickr staffers have routinely expressed their disdain over the years for the fine art photographer. They’ve deleted accounts without warning, they’ve censored artists, they’ve blacklisted many from Explore, they’ve banned artists from the public help forum areas, and in general just routinely treat us (their users) like garbage. We’ve been talked down to, treated like children, and been openly abused.

Compare and contrast Flickr’s disdain for the artistic fine art photographer with this “about” page from 500px.

“The mission
Being an artist has never been easy, especially in today’s fast paced, digital age. Photographers can’t be just artists anymore, they have to be managers, accountants, marketing teams, assistants, web developers, and their own ‘mean, lean, shutter-clicking machines”. Too many things to handle? We sure think so! We started the company to help photographers get greater exposure, reduce some of the marketing headaches, and to let creatives concentrate on what they do best. We love seeing amazing work and equally love promoting it! A sense of inspired community is also important to us. We believe that the way forward is through presenting, discussing, supporting, and socializing with like-minded people.”

Our Team
500px is a group of individuals that live and breathe photography. We like to share art with others and have the means to do so. Our small company is based in Toronto and from there we broadcast the awesomeness. We truly enjoy what we do.

That reads so refreshing.

500px still has a lot of work to do to continue competing with Flickr, but thus far I’ve found it to be very community centered and certainly with great potential. They state that they are currently seeking angel and VC funding here.

You can check out my photostream and follow me on 500px here.

Thanks by the way to my good rooftopping Pal Tomms, for turning me on to this awesome site. Check out this amazing photograph that he posted on 500px!

Update: Ian Sobolev, one of the founders of 500px, commented in the comment section below and added a link where readers can get a 20% discount on the paid Awesome Upgrade for the site. If you want to upgrade to the paid version you can save 20% by upgrading through this link, with no expiration date. Thanks, Ian!