Accomplish something today…
(it will make sense at the end of the post)

As a photographer I love sharing my work, but it is incredibly difficult to find a place that shares your images the way they should be seen.  For a while I liked Facebook.  It was quick, easy and I was already posting all of my social jargon on there anyway, it just made sense.  However, as the years have gone by and I have become more and more of a “professional” at the trade I have been forced to venture into other avenues to share my work.  Here is some insight and what I am doing now.

Why I don’t use Facebook for image posts anymore:

1.  They retain the Rights to your posts (including photos).  While this may not seem like a huge deal, if someone were to contact you and want exclusive Rights to a photo of yours you could be looking at huge $$$.  However, if it were ever posted to Facebook it could be the difference of $700 or $7000, just because it was on Facebook.  To remain on the safe side, I have decided against Facebook as my avenue for showing my best work.

2.  The Likes and Comments are not really coming from devoted photographers, but friends and family.  I love my friends and family, but they are not a great measure of affection on my artwork.  They have been telling me my whole life they love my photos (even when they were sub-par).  Now I am venturing out for other photographers thoughts, and most times I want some solid criticism not sympathy likes and comments.

3.  It does a horrible job of showcasing the images.  The image compression algorithm sharpens the photo and sometimes degrades the quality of the color and tone in the images.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still posting to Facebook, but this is limited to family photos or cell phone snaps while on the scene with my gear.

So where am I posting?  Glad you asked!  I am now showing my work more exclusively at 500px and here is my profile if you’d like to see it.

500-PX-profile
The profile image on 500px. Such a beautiful display space.

 So, why 500px?

1.  I strongly feel that 500px hosts the world’s most incredible photos.  Anytime I want even an ounce of inspiration I stroll through the “Popular” (we will get to this in a moment) section and take a look at what is trending.

2.  500px showcases your work beautifully when you view images there.  It basically turns your screen into a black walled gallery wall with your art hanging right in the middle.  You can maximize the image by pressing ‘M’ on the keyboard to remove all of the distractions on the page giving you some alone time with the piece.  This is my preferred way to view anything on 500px.

3.  There are some amazing photographers on 500 px to aspire to and communicate with.

4.  There is a sense of accomplishment with the Pulse system.   This “Pulse” as 500px calls it is a way to measure your photos success among the community.  It is based on an algorithm that calculates likes, favorites and views and generates a percentage number.  While this is a useful tool to measure an images “likability” it is not something to get hung up on or beat yourself up over if your image isn’t in the top 10 percent rank (many of mine hardly make it there).

What’s with the Pulse?

An example of a Photo's Pulse on 500px

An example of a Photo’s Pulse on 500px

The pulse is unique to 500px and shows you a running measure of how ‘popular’ your photo is among the masses.  When you upload an image to 500px it is by no stretch of the imagination a stagnant on the internet!  There is a series of stages it could go through, if you so decide to make the image public.

1.  Fresh:  This is the first phase your photo will go through.  As soon as you click upload you go into the Fresh pool of images.  As people view, like, and favorite your image your pulse will increase.  It is imperative that you make an attractive thumbnail for the photo to as this will be the viewers first impression. Once you reach a pulse of 70.0, your image becomes “Upcoming”.

2.  Upcoming:  The second pool your image will transition to is the Upcoming section.  Your photo will remain here until it reaches a pulse of 80.0 then it will move to Popular.  I really enjoy browsing this section of 500px.  When I am trying to pass time on my phone I usually go here on the 500px app and look for photos to like and favorite.  I like this pool, because these are the images transitioning into Popular and I like to give them a little push if I can!

3.  Popular:  From 80.0 -100 your image will remain at Popular.  It will continue to gain momentum as others like and favorite.  It will hold it’s Pulse for 24 hours from the time you uploaded it then it will drop a bit.  It will hold that pulse for about a week giving it some more latitude on the site before it begins to plummet some more.  Your highest pulse will always be recorded on the photo and displayed accordingly alongside its current pulse.

4.  Editors Choice:  This is another section that has been added to the pool of places your image can go to showcase what the editors at 500 px feel is worthy of a little extra spotlight action.

Don’t get discouraged by the Pulse!

It takes quite a bit to transition through to the top.  I have rarely been higher than 92, but I don’t let that get me down as I don’t really see this as being a measure of what a good quality photo is.

For example.  These two images were uploaded on the same day about 20 minutes apart.  The image on the left is probably my favorite photo I have ever taken.  I love the composition, the environment, the atmosphere in the photo and just about everything really.  It only scored a pulse of 85.4.

Then there is the photo on the right.  I don’t have a real attachment to it.  I went on top of the hill where my house is and snapped a sunset I liked.  The composition was alright so I added a tree to help it out.  Yep, I added a tree in Photoshop using a random tree generator (I’ll tutorial this on Friday) and posted it to see what the masses would think and I even made a fun little contest out of it for the HDR Insiders to see if they could spot the fake tree(s)… they did, because they rock!  It scored a pulse of 92.2.

Image-Comparison-for-Pulse-500px

I would clearly say the image on the left is better all around from the composition to the subject matter.  So do I measure how good it is using the 500px pulse?

Absolutely not!  

I enjoy the pulse, I think it is a fun feature because it encourages other photographers to interact with the photo.  I would hate for someone to get discouraged by a low pulse as it really is just a fun little tool.

While I do like this feature I tend to not worry so much about the numbers to determine what a “good” photo is.  A lot of my photos get stuck around 90-92% these days, but I don’t let that bring me down.  If anything it pushes me to make better images in Photoshop, regardless of whether I post them to 500px or not.  I use it as motivation.

What do I post to 500px?

I do a couple of things with my portfolio on 500px.

1.  First and foremost, I use 500px to showcase what I feel my best work is.  I don’t post everything from a memory card to 500px.  Sometimes I don’t post any images from a shoot to 500 px.  I reserve my 500px profile to images I am really proud of.

2.  I also post images to 500px when I am curious to see how far they will go… Yep, I am a junkie for numbers and stats.  I used to play World of Warcraft before I realized it was eating away at my soul!  Why that game is so successful is because of the achievements and the constant sense of accomplishment.  It makes you feel good inside when you accomplish something.  That feeling is very similar to the pulse on 500px.  Sometimes I will post images strictly to see if they will make it to popular and just how far they will go.

I still post my Fine Art images to Facebook…

I still post my images to Facebook.  However, I do it through 500px now.  In the upper right corner of your images are social sharing buttons.  I will click that and update my status on Facebook with something about the photo being published.  As a matter of fact, while I was writing this post, I made this image composite, posted it to 500px and watched it go from 0-93.4 and then it got stuck there for a very long time!

That is why I love 500px, today I accomplished something!  

Tree-Sunset-500px-facebook-post

Where do you post your photos and why?  I am curious to hear your thoughts and see your portfolio.

Feel free to post your response in the comments below.

Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it is less about the art and more about the process. He dives deep into difficult topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside the box thinking.
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