Occasionally, you wonder how things go viral, how a particular site or piece of content starts to steamroll and gain popularity. Well, this morning, I think I saw the process firsthand.
A little while ago, someone mentioned the site 500px. I’d never heard of it. The someone else did. Then another. It’s been only a couple hours so far and I can’t count the number of times people have mentioned @500px.
If you haven’t heard of them, 500px is a photo sharing/social media site that’s run by a company of photography enthusiasts in Toronto. It’s designed as an alternative to Flickr, and although Flickr is immensely popular, a recent blog post from a Flickr designer that heavily criticizes the Yahoo!-owned site has seemingly sent photographers over to 500px in droves. And after a very short look, many of them have already plunked down the $50 yearly fee and are setting up shop.
What’s the deal? Is 500px really that good? As of May 20 at 11:05 AM Alaska Standard Time, I haven’t joined yet, but that could change any minute. I can’t tell you much, but so far, I like what I see.
First of all, their terms are clear, concise and photographer-friendly. After ASMP’s recent statement against TwitPic, we’re all reading these kinds of things much more carefully now. And for those of us — ok, still most of us — who just skim the terms, 500px has give you an alternative column of terms that very briefly and clearly explains what each long, legal paragraph says. Good one, guys!
Secondly, and more importantly to the overall success of the site, the layout and design is gorgeous. (Ok, I just joined, but just for the free version. For now, anyway.) Thumbnail pages all have a cool, original look that’s very appealing to us visual creative types, and the full size image pages are simply stunning. Photos are WAY bigger than on Flickr. You can upload JPGs up to 30MB in max file size and add titles, descriptions, tags and select categories, just like you can on Flickr.
Unlike Flickr, though, you can also sell your photos through the site. 500px has teamed up with Fotomoto, which provides a customizable e-commerce system for pricing and selling your work. I haven’t looked into this yet, so I can’t comment on how it works.
500px generally has a community-focused feel, and touts the standard social media features that includes comments, following, friends, favorites, a wall and viewing stats for your images. The $50 upgrade (twice as much as Flickr) gives you lots of additional features including unlimited uploads, custom domains, premium portfolios, custom logos, exclusive custom designs for your pages, and stats from Google Analytics. And, of course, no advertisements, although I haven’t seen any yet with my free account either.
Although 500px has been around since 2003, their traffic and user base has grown by leaps and bounds during the past few weeks. Will they totally stomp out Flickr? No, probably not. The site is billed as as portfolio-based site instead of just an all around photo sharing site. However, it might be a great place to highlight your newest and best work for prospective clients, or just browse some beautiful imagery and find inspiration.
I know what you’re thinking, you already have too many social media sites to juggle. Maybe so, but check out 500px anyway. You’ll probably get hooked and be glad to add one more.
Senior contributor Dan Bailey is a professional adventure, outdoor and travel photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.
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