500px.com: The New Sharing Site for Pro Photographers is Getting a Lot of Buzz

Two or three weeks ago, I started getting emails and reading articles about a new photo-sharing site for pro photographers called 500px.com, and after a dozen or so people sent me emails asking if I was on there, I finally signed up to see what all the fuss is about, and now that I’m on there, I’m really glad I did. (Above is how your personal photo page looks on an iPhone, and when you click on a thumbnail, you see the larger view shown on the iPad).

A free online portfoli0? I’m listening….
For those of you that follow this blog, you know I’ve been struggling for the past year in getting an online portfolio that looks decent on the Web and on mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone, and with RC’s help, I finally got one in place. The only downside is; I have to edit the Web page itself, using a text editor, which makes adding or rearranging photos a bit of a pain. I guess that’s the first thing interested me in 500px—-you get a free, good looking online portfolio that you can link from your web page/blog/whatever, with different layouts to choose from (that’s one layout shown below), and updating it with new images, or changing the order, is a no-brainer—you do it right from your Web browser.

The Social Aspects
I’ve always joked that “flicker is where you go when you need a hug” because anybody and everybody is on flickr, so when you post a photo you took accidentally while loading your camera back into your camera bag, you’ll get 50 comments like, “Brilliant! Incredible composition” and “Fantastic shot! Keep ’em coming!” and stuff along those lines. So, if you’re ever feeling down about your photography, upload a shot or two to flickr.com, and 30 minutes later you’ll feel like Ansel Adams. So, another angle that interested me is that the site is geared more at pros (well, that’s at least what it has appeared to attract so far), and there are a lot of truly great photographers on that (like flickr), but unlike flickr the quality overall seems really high.

(Above: here’s another theme. Just one click to change themes, and they have about 10 or so to choose from).

Getting Feedback from Serious Photographers
The way the site produces statistics, it’s easy to measure which photos are resounding with other pro photographers, and which images are getting totally ignored, and that’s pretty eyeopening. They rank images in a way that makes everything pretty darn clear, and it had me weeding things down in short order, and removing shots altogether that weren’t getting any views.

(Above: Here’s the theme I’m probably going to stick with, which is their default scheme. Again, you’re seeing this on my iPad, but it looks even better on your computer screen).

How it looks matters
I think one of the main reasons why 500px is getting so much buzz right now, is that it looks so cool. You can choose different layouts with just one click, the images are presented at a large size, and when you compare the look of your page to either flickr, facebook, or the new Google+, I think 500px has them beat hands down, and as photographers, how our portfolio layout looks matters to us. A lot.

Best of all, it’s free
Although I went ahead and got the Upgraded account (with more features, and no limits on the number of photos you can upload) for $50 a year, you can start right away for free (here’s their link). If nothing else, head over there and look at some of their popular photos, or Editor’s Choice collection. There’s some really inspiring stuff there. You’ll dig it.

  1. There was a discount code by entering `friends`, not sure if it still works but you can save $10. Just in case you need a `hug` Scott…. YOUR GREAT , FANTASTIC , BETTER THAN MCNALLY ……. Also Zack arias is on there.

  2. “when you post a photo you took accidentally while loading your camera back into your camera bag, you’ll get 50 comments like, “Brilliant! Incredible composition” and “Fantastic shot! Keep ‘em coming!” and stuff along those lines”

    You do realise that’s just you and not the rule…

  3. I love 500px, it’s a great site, they’re actively making it better, and that’s awesome. I’ve pretty much given up on Flickr and am putting all my new stuff over on 500px (when I think it meets the bar).

    One thing I thought was worth raising was about the idea of Flickr being a place to go when you need a hug. I think you might be forgetting that your Scott Kelby. :-) For most folks, getting three, “Great Shot,” comments on Flickr is something they work for months (or years) to be able to do. They take a lot of pride in them.

    Check out this photo of mine: http://flic.kr/p/9TG1xW I think the image is fantastic, it’s had 192 views, and as of now, not a single comment. If it sucks, I would love to get comments that say so too! :-)

    Cheers! and I love the blog!


    1. Two reasons I don’t use my flickr account any more:

      1. Too many narcissist psychopaths

      2. Too many sparkly gif ‘awards’ and gushingly meaningless comments. Three ‘great shot’ comments would be four too many for me. I’m far more interested in getting and giving constructive commentary — flickr is not the place for that. Neither is 500px by the look of it so far.

      I put two pictures on flickr an hour ago. No views so far so definitely no comments and I don’t feel like Ansel Adams. It really is just you and the other “famous folk”, Scott.

  4. I also signed up to 500px, looked around and upgraded to awesome. Because it is awesome! It’s really easy to get an nice looking portfolio page. But my main reason is that I get such a lot of inspiration over there.

    And there is integration into Google Analytics and Fotomoto. Nice!

  5. I liked the big thumbnails when you’re in a browing mode, its really nice to the eye. It feels like 500px.com is a modern day premium website. And ya I would visit 500px.com when I would wanna see these days Ansel Adams. lol. Btw I come across RC’s Dusk in NYC shot while I was on my first browsing of the 500px. Fantastic shot! Keep ‘em coming, RC. :D

  6. I signed up a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it. I sometimes spend hours just looking at the great photos. It is so inspiring. I can only dream of receiving an Edititor’s Pick. The photos truly raise the bar.

  7. So, while 500px seems to draw a more professional crowd at the moment, with free accounts what’s to stop it from turning into the next Flikr before too long?

    1. Flickr’s biggest problem is that it is part of Yahoo, which makes progress slow… 500px is independent and are much faster to adopt to user requests.

      But yes, there obviously is a risk that the masses discover 500px and ruin it like they did with Flickr. It’s still social media.

      1. Yes, it is social media and therefore, it *will* go the way of Flickr, Facebook et al. Even has a “wall”…

        Why did I even bother.

  8. I recently joined in 500px. Loads of features, great site. Would rank it muuuuuuch better than Flickr. I think Flickr is just another social media site rather than something really worth. Explore feature is one of the worst one can I have.

    On 500px the content is really good and the replies, comments are worth. I hope as it’s fame grows the loose the quality to quantity.

  9. Just be sure to read those terms and conditions because you basically give up the rights to photos you post on there (do a Bing search for 500px and copyright to see what I mean). Also there’s absolutely no image protection, so anyone can right-click-save-as and take your photo. Seems like basic protection like that should have been built in from the beginning.

    1. not completely true. from their Terms page (and they say more than this, but here’s the start):

      Your photos will preserve whatever copyright they had before uploading to this site. We will protect the copyright and will not sell your photos.

      Also, when I right-click on an image, I get a friendly “this photo belongs to XXX” message.

      1. Depending on the browser you use !! Chrome goes ghive you a copyright message, but Internet Explorer lets you download them !!

    2. If your images are on the internet … there is NO way to stop anyone from saving/copying them … whether right-click is disabled or not … it’s purely an exercise in futility to do anything more as far as “protection” is concerned …

      1. exactly. i wasn’t saying that right-click disabled was a solution, just pointing out that 500px is at least taking steps to discourage.

  10. Terrific site and full of inspiration for photographers of all skill levels!

    Scott, your pictures still get a lot of hugs there too.


  11. There’s an initial “cool” factor associated with any new photo sharing/hosting site like 500px.com. Flickr, Zenfolio, SmugMug, Picasa, Photoshelter each benefited from the initial hype factor. Almost 10 years ago it was PBase.com. Free sharing/hosting in particular attracts everyone from the casual amateur to the serious pro. Like the bar in Cheers, everybody knows your name. They’re “where you go when you need a hug.”

    Serious professionals, like Jay Maisel, have their own customized sites, their own brands and graphics to reinforce and convey those brands, and don’t rely on comments from anonymous Internet groupies to improve their art. You probably won’t find them on 500px.com or Flickr.

    Yes, eventually even 500px.com will lose its luster. But if it helps you get your images out there so others can see them and be either inspired by them or give you constructive feedback, use it. Or use something! It always surprises me how few people who participate in online photography forums, like Scott’s blog, include links to their websites or photo galleries. Show your work people! RC has published some good stuff on Kelby Training and in print explaining the “how to”, and all of the sharing/hosting sites are easy to use. Just do it!

    1. Joe, I see your point. Just a couple of comments
      – Actually 500px was born back in 2003. Initially it was LiveJournal community and became a website after. It was huge in Russia and really big in Europe.
      – I agree, you do need your own web site. This is the reason we’ve created portfolios. Here is an example of what you can built with 500px: http://p0lly.com/

      1. Umm, nice link, Andrey, but you should give a warning that some of those pictures are NSFW!! Not that I minded, but you know how these things go…..


      2. Good point, John. I’m considering 500px as a site for my own photographs, but when I clicked on the link, my first reaction was: Wow, did I get that link correct? Or is this a soft porn site.

  12. Had a quick peek and signed up within 30 seconds! I’m really impressed by 500px so far, it may be THE photo portfolio/critics site we’ve all been searching for. Flickr is, as someone just mentioned, more social media than photography. What really stuck me about 500px is how easy and fun it is to casually browse through, while Flickr is a complete nightmare unless you want something very specific. Have to admit though, at first look the pure quality of the pix at 500px feels a bit scary to an amateur like me, but on the other hand it’s great to have something to live up to (that famous “gotta have some challenge in life”). Besides, one could always turn to Flickr for a hug if the critics are too harsh.
    – Per

  13. So Scott, are abandoning the site you made with RC for 500px? Or will the two be linked? I am working on my website now and I am just curious how you are going to incorporate the two.

    Love your work! I go see you every time you tour in Chicago


  14. I joined about a month ago because I read a write up by Zack Arias and took a look. I enjoy the people on there and like Mr Kelby says there is a lot of pro there. Plus the work on there inspirers me on my own work. Thank you for a great write up and hope to see more Photographers show their great work on 500px.

  15. Ive been using 500px for a couple months now. I upgraded to “Awesome” to experience all the site had to offer. I’ll agree with most the others, its a visually superior site compared to flickr or most other photo sharing sites out there. They are making changes to the site almost weekly and the guys who run it are very responsive to comments. I follow them on Twitter and have had discussions with them on more than one occasion about questions and concerns on 500px. Try getting that kind of response on flickr!

    About the comment Mr. Kelby made on the type of comments you’ll see on flickr and to go there if you need a hug…. I still do see many of the “Great shot!” comments on 500px. Face it, people are people… if they like your image and they want to say something nice, they’re not going to leave a full critique of your image. They just want to say they liked it. “Nice shot”. hah

    For those that say they aren’t getting any feedback or comments at all on their images, that usually means they haven’t invested enough time/effort into the social aspect of the site. To get comments, faves, thumbs up… hugs, you’ve got to visit others photos and show them some love. Eventually you’ll build your circles and see some return.

    So far i really like 500px. Its off to a great start. If you’d like to see my profile and add me, i’ll be sure to have a look at your work as well. :)


  16. It is a great-looking site and, unlike Flickr, it’s not just a dumping ground for all your family shots and holiday photos. Yes, it’s easy to copy images, but as someone before me said, it’s the internet and once an image is published you can copy it in many ways.

    With regards to their TOS, have you actually read Flickr’s – or actually its parent company’s (Yahoo) TOS? They should give you food for thought.

    I interviewed one of the founders of 500px Oleg Gutsol for my blog – it was a couple of months ago, but I think it’s still worth a read: http://www.dzierza.com/2011/05/500px-com-where-quality-meets-simplicity/

  17. I love 500px! It’s definitely a good place to display your work if you’re serious about your stuff. I signed up after Zack Arias mentioned it on twitter a few weeks ago. There isn’t a feeling of you need to upload everything on your sd card to get a response. I like that it limits how many images you post and with all the great work there you really have to think about what you display there.

  18. Bye-bye, Flickr. 500px ROCKS! I’ve only set up a free site so far, but if you’re ever in need of some inspiration, a single click on the Popular or Editor’s Choice collections does it for me… No longer do I have to tread through 1000’s of images of people’s cats, or “post 1, comment on 3” to be involved in some really incredible photography.

  19. Like most others, I’m impressed with the quality of photos displayed on 500px. I staked my own claim there, but I haven’t uploaded any photos yet. I’m not sure if I will, either.

    I also recently signed up for Google+ and shared some photos there, but I’m wondering just how far I can, or should have to, spread my social identity online. If anything, I’m more in the mood to retreat to my own blog. For a portfolio, I’d like to have it contained within my own domain. If I’m trying to reel in someone’s attention, I’m not sure that sending them to an external site is the best idea, particularly a site with so many other wonderful distractions.

    There’s certainly an argument of using 500px or other sites to try and draw people to your own site. I was particularly interested in your observation about the stats showing which photos got attention and which didn’t.

    For now, I’m not convinced yet. As the community develops, I may change my mind.

      1. I wish you’d address the issues more specifically vs. just saying you saw some interesting comments. Are there issues with copyright infringement or not?

  20. Some ofthe comments I have read are sadly completely inane & mean nothing, just like Flickr! Also the validity of any comment is porortional to the skill level of the photographer leaving the comment. Sadly this is uncontrollable & I fear this site will gradually be smothered with thousands of 3rd rate pictures & completely irrelevant comments.

    Only the other day on TWIP when interviewing the 500px CEO, a question was asked on Twitter, “How can I upload 45,000 images & 150 sets from Flickr”!!! Very worrying, some people just don’t get it!

  21. Like anything else, the site is a tool. It depends on how those using it wield it. Gonna have beautiful mansions and shanty shacks. I like the look, feel, ease and versatility. It’s a step up from Flickr. Not sure if it will be the answer to a “personal” web site or if i will go the route suggested in RC’s book.

  22. I’m on 500px, also, and what attracted me was how cool my pics look there, and even moreso is the current quality of images by other photographers I see that inspire me. I like Flickr for the ability to be involved in particular groups, but 500px just looks awesome! Plus, Flickr is blocked at work, but 500px is not. :)

  23. I’ve been on there for a few weeks and I like it a lot (me: http://500px.com/ejpphoto)

    At the moment it’s got a really polished and professional feel. Photos look beautiful there, and it’s easy to find some really incredible work.

    It’s missing some of the social features of Flickr (like groups), as well as some of the other bells and whistles. But it’s got a remarkable number of key features that Flickr doesn’t, and I expect that 500px can grow to match Flickr faster than Flickr can match 500px.

    Let’s just hope 500px never sells out to Yahoo…

  24. {please excuse if this is a repost, but my initial comment has not appeared yet. Anyway, I have more to say :~}

    HA! I guess I’m one of those who has “polluted” Flickr :~)

    But don’t you know that anyone can call themselves anything they want these days? A jewelry designer, a fashion designer, a graphic designer, a writer, a musician, a film maker, a photographer… {said facetiously}

    There’s a lot of mediocrity out there in the arts, but I applaud it because it means that people are not afraid to be creative!

    And if 133 people want to comment and favorite and award and invite my photo of a watering can and peony, which I think is nice, but faaaaaaar from award winning (and I do not intend for it to be), then who am I to stop them? :~)

  25. ……..so when you post a photo you took accidentally while loading your camera back into your camera bag, you’ll get 50 comments like, “Brilliant! Incredible composition” and “Fantastic shot! Keep ‘em coming!” and stuff along those lines.
    WOW!! I must be a REALLY lousy photographer because I seldom get comments on flickr. So, could I please have a refund on the 3 Kelby photography books I bought. I guess I haven’t learned anything.

  26. I agree with your comments about what’s to stop it from turning into the next Flickr. With the publicity the site will continue to get as more well known photographers start to use it’s services, other people will begin to take notice and join for free accounts. I’m not sure if having 500px turn into another Flickr is a good or bad thing. I’m trying to decide if I should upgrade to the Awesome account or go with a site like Zenfolio to host my photographs on.

  27. 500px looks great – I’ve considered making the switch from Flickr like so many others – the main drawbacks – manual image uploading through a web browser and no publish plugins for Adobe Lightroom.

    Those are showstoppers for me right now and probably for many others who prefer to manage their flickr, smugmug, zenfolio and other accounts directly through Lightroom. Hopefully features to come later!

    1. 500px guys have actually said that a plugin for it is actually coming, which im going to be happy about. Me personally, I kinda like like that there is no mass plugin to upload. That should desuade me from wanting to post everything..

      1. Good point RC, Im thinking, I have the free version still and am deleting and uploading images to make those 20 the best they can be. If I had more slots Id be uploading things that might not be as good at the moment. Plug ins for uploading make it so easy but not really a good thing for stuff like this when you want it to be your best.

  28. My first reaction to 500px was “I’m not worthy.” Some will be disappointed and go grease pans for Pizza Hut, but others will go “Hey..I’m going to get worthy” and show there stuff and get some responses to learn from. I’m shooting for the “worthy” catagory. How many of you feel stuck in the Flickr/Facebook “Hug Club” right now?..where you post stuff there to just get your followers reaction?

  29. Hi there,

    My name is Andrey Tochilin. I’m one of the people creating 500px. Scott, thank you for this post. It was great to meet you last week in Toronto and I hope to see you in September in Vegas. Guys, thank you for your comments. Please feel free to contact us with any question at any time. I’m reading your comments now, will answer to all of them shortly.

    Thank you,
    Andrey Tochilin

  30. I’ve been reading a lot about this site, but had not had the chance to head over there until today so thanks Scott for drawing my attention to it.

    I’m considering signing up as I want to take my photography to the next level. What better to way to see how I’m doing than to select what I consider my “best of the best photos” and see what this pro community has to say. I would expect it to be a humbling as well as a learning experience.

    On the ledge…



  31. Anyone got a LR3 Plug_in for the Uploads yet? That way the copyright info can not only be embedded but also watermarked.

    I am a Zenfolio guy and don’t yet see how this displays any better (it is however currently cheaper) :-)

    I don’t use anything Apple (I am an ‘iphobe’) but it views fine on Android and BB, FYI.



  32. The idea is good, but it has quickly become something of a popularity contest, much like the photography on photo.net

    Great photos, but trying to gain visibility is already akin to being a needle in a haystack…

    1. Meant to have this in the above, sorry:

      If they had an automated rotation where if you’d been in the EC within the past x weeks, you are not eligible for a certain window….kind of like the unspoken tenet in the NAPP portfolio feature area…

    2. Jason, I see your point and one of our goals is to help new photographers to be discovered.
      – The whole rating system created for that. You’re rating is not only how great your photo is, but how new it is. In other words ratings are automatically dropping over time, letting new photographs get on the popular pages. Details are here http://500px.com/iansobolev/blog/6256
      – We have volunteer site editors around the World who are monitoring the _whole_ stream of uploading pictures and selecting the most interesting one.
      – Many site visitors looking not only at Popular, but also at Upcoming (might become popular) and Fresh (the whole stream). It really helps new photographers to be discovered.

      Please let me know in case of any questions. Andrey @500px.com

  33. Didn’t see it mentioned, but there is also a $10 discount for the 500px upgrade – use the code “napp” (no quotes).

    Am interested in Scott’s comment about removing the photos that don’t get any views / love – hmmmnn. Will have to consider that option. So far, my plan is only to upload my best photographs (and there won’t be that many!). I’ll leave my whole collection on smugmug. The instant feedback is helpful (positive / apathy / negative), but I do worry about how useful it will be once a zillion folks are members.

  34. Thanks for the heads up on this place. Pretty cool. I had to make a account and upload my images. Hey since you got the awesome upgrade is there any more templates to chose from other than the 4-5 extras they show?

  35. even pros need a hug – and probably more so than joe blow – and 500px.com is the place to be. it’s a very nice site with quality photos, definitely separates the good from the bad and the ugly.

  36. Although I really liked 500px.com, I deleted all the photos that I had uploaded. I found out that depending on the browser used, viewers can download the images (e.g. IE can do it, while Chrome gives a copyright notice). I prefer an online portfolio where I can control who and when downloads my photographs.

    FYI !!

    1. FYI there is no way to make your photos unavailable to download, including flash sites, depends on how much one wants to get those photos really )

  37. I’ve been very happy with 500px – I upgraded to awesome for $40/year which allows me to use my own domain backed by 500px. Pretty cool. And, they’ve integrated Fotomoto for sharing and selling images, cards, etc. Nice to see they’re getting some good exposure.

  38. As much as I like 500px I truly believe 1X http://www.1x.com is a much more pro site. It is curated and and it is a lot more challenging than 500px that simply takes everything.
    500px is also a site for people who need a hug, plus there’s no community. 1x is no place for hugs and the community is easily the best aspect of it.

    1. Hi Nick:
      I just went and looked at 1x, and I have to say, there are some absolutely amazing photos there! I’m not sure I like their interface nearly as well as 500px (which, as I mentioned, was one of the main reasons why I like 500px so much), but the images there are stunning. Thanks for turning me on to it. :)

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