Is 1x.com the serious photographer’s last best hope?

Update July 2014: So the answer to the question posed above is ‘no’ – 1x.com is not the serious photographers last best hope. Feel free to read the original article (when I was full of hope!) and the comments posted by others who’ve used the site, but the general consensus is that while 1x.com might have better quality photography on it, it is a closed circle within which most photographers will never get a look in. The search goes on …


So my feelings about 500px are pretty well known, but can best be summed up by one phrase – highly disappointing. I found that site so frustrating in fact that I’ve since completely deleted my account – I don’t think I’ve ever done that on any site I’ve ever joined in the 20-something years I’ve been online. Since then I’ve been casting around for a good replacement and I’m here to tell you that I think I’ve found it.

1x.com has been around for a few years now and has always been visibly different to DeviantArt, 500px, Flickr, Viewbug or any of other photo upload sites for one big reason – it is curated. What does that mean? Well simply it means that in order to make it into the site’s main gallery your work has to be approved by a peer group of photographers and it has to be high quality work. In fact they warn you before you even submit an image that less than 3% of all photos get selected. In other words, there is a bar that has been set and that bar is high and if you get a photo selected then it is a genuine achievement. I have yet to have a photo selected and I couldn’t be happier about it.

1x.com

Recently 1x had a big redesign and a relaunch and the changes are excellent. Each member gets a profile page which they can upload images to and have control over. As a free member you get 10 uploads a week which should actually be more than enough because the idea is to showcase your best work, not all of your work. You can view anyone’s profile page and click around at random or you can view in a ‘lights off’ slideshow mode designed to bring out the best in an image.

If you see an image you like then you can add it to your favourites and if you’re particularly taken with a photographer, then you can follow them. There’s also a cool Playlists feature which enables you to curate your own selection of images and then share that selection with everyone else in the afore-mentioned cool slideshow mode.

1x Playlists

In order to get your photo included in the main gallery it has to be viewed and approved by curators. As a free member you can submit one image for consideration per week, paying members can submit up to 10. Images are chosen based on idea, mood, technical quality and originality. You only have to spend a couple of minutes browsing through the main gallery to see that the system works – the quality of the images is incredibly high and because they have been chosen to be there, there’s no gaming the system like with 500px and Flickr.

One of the biggest problems with 500px is the utterly inane and completely useless comments you get – they make the average Ebay feedback look like high literature. This is not an issue on 1x thanks to its collegiate atmosphere but also because there is a specific critiques gallery where you are invited to submit your photos and have them analysed and commented on by other photographers. You never have to use these forums and you shouldn’t unless you’re prepared to accept some constructive criticism – I’ve never seen anyone be nasty – but you may receive some robust feedback. In other words if you would like to grow as a photographer, to improve and to take better photographs then there are plenty of people on the site who are happy to help you.

Critique

If you prefer to learn through the work of others, then the tutorials gallery is a great place to start. Here photographers post their work and explain exactly how they achieved the end result.  There’s a huge variety of styles and themes and they’re all incredibly informative. If nothing else it can inspire you to go and try some new photo technique you’ve read about, often a great way of breaking out of any creative lull you find yourself in.

There are also regular competitions run on the site, based around a theme (such as ‘vivid’) with various prizes up for grabs for the winner, including full membership of the site. As with everything else on the site the quality of the submitted images is always very high and it can be a great way to push yourself to try something new.

1x Landscapes

I have to say I’ve been very impressed by pretty much all aspects of 1x. As I mentioned, I’ve yet to have an image selected for the main gallery and that’s great because it gives me something to aim for. I’m not content to just churn out the same photos week in and week out and I now have a target to aim for – a level of quality that I can try and match and maybe even surpass.

If you’re looking for a site that will show off your images to great effect, but which also has a solid community of like-minded photographers then you should definitely give 1x a look. About the only criticism I have of the site is one that I also levelled at 500px which is that prints can only be sold in two sizes (at least that’s one size more than 500px) and the prices are determined by 1x not the photographer. But it’s a small gripe and I don’t think any serious photographer would use this facility anyway since it makes far more sense to run your own full-blown online store with someone like Zenfolio. So please do check out 1x if you get a chance, particularly if like me, you’re a 500px refugee. You can find my 1x gallery here – drop by and say hello.

34 Comment

  1. Totally agree, in fact I put that in my profile on G+, for those who might bother to read it.

  2. Great review. I agree with most of what you say when it comes to 500px. You have an absolutely amazing set of pictures on 1x.com. It really does show the quality they strive for when even your beautiful shots haven’t been selected.

      1. Sorry but I can’t agree that the quality of images is always high. They can be very inconstant IMO.

  3. I have to respectfully disagree about 1x. i did a little research about people opinions of 1x. the impression i got was the 1X was a victim of its own success.
    1.there are complaints that 1X criteria is too rigid and defined by their own bias of what they want ( and yet you are expected to pay for this privilige )
    2. the copyight protection is a joke, i was able to take someone photo from the website in 2 minutes.. its that easy. As someone who has had flagrant abuse of his images from personal use to corporate use, i would expect a high level of protection if you want photos of hi resolution images to be uploaded. This mean low res or a large waternark superimposed by myself to be accepted..
    3. i do wonder about what percentage of the selling price the website takes for its own cut when selling your photo given that you are already paying for the privilege of uploading ( don’t kid yourself about the free account ). 1X claim not to be a hosting site yet they do charge a “hosting” fee.

    the concept of 1X is a good one, but one I feel that has fallen by the wayside, and I for one will be willing looking elsewhere to host and possibly sell my work.

    Kind Regards

  4. 1X new sales agreement takes away almost all your copyright….

  5. lol:):) the switch form 500px to 1x is like a jump out from the frying pan directly into the fire:) rofl

    1. That became evident. I really should update this article. 🙂

      1. Please do update it.

  6. I’m just trying it now. It looks nice but first fail: it shouldn’t take about 5s for an image to load.
    Your article on 500px is excellent.
    Cheers,

  7. Go on research and check the photos been published from the Crew members. Then you will see that the system is not fair. Where many photographers get frustrated because their picture are rejected, the more pictures of crew members are been publiced and many are really bad. It’s a group of friends who find each other pictures great

    1. Don’t want to throw stones at anyone – but I tend to agree with Hidalgo. No doubt there are several great photos that are published but there are photos that you wonder how they are selected and published.

  8. Briliant post! Consider me a 1x.com convert for the interim (the site has a few faults, like inconsistent fonts, layouts on buttons, missing layout pictures, etc).

    One thing I’m a bit uncertain about it the ‘Curate’ part. More than often it displays a picture that I’m not at all fascinated y, or simply it’s not my style. Do I choose to Reject it (or reload the page). Initially I just rejected all the one that didn’t didn’t peak my interest. But like Hidalgo states it might have been unfair?

  9. Sekhar Ravinutala says: Reply

    My (brief) experience with 1x has been unfortunately quite bad. I found the powers there to be elitist, arbitrary, and unwelcoming. Yes, you can curate/comment on images, but then they rate your ratings (no kidding), making your regret you took the time/effort. No consistency with that either: same kind of comments got me ratings ranging from 1 to 5. Imagine thoughtfully giving a comment, only to be snubbed with a rating of 1.

    When I tried to complain, my posts got deleted because the moderator didn’t like my complaints (said they violated the policy), but then she kept a far more vocal comment by another member (happens to be paid)…no consistency on enforcing their own policies (or worse, they treat paid and unpaid members differently). Overall, the single worst experience with any forum since the nineties for me.

    I’ve now moved to 500px…let’s see how that goes, they seem to have some gorgeous images. I will re-visit 1x after a few months however to see if the culture has changed any and if they are more consistent, because they do have some nice images too.

    1. Other reports I’ve heard from photographers echo what you say Sekhar. It’s unfortunate, but the search goes on. 🙂

    2. My experience with 1x is very much like Sehar’s. In addition, there are no help features or guidance, and there is a total lack of transparency. Questions are often answered by referring you to the FAQ, which oddly does not exist.

      Take a very close look at the “Terms and Conditions” before signing on. In short, they describe in great detail how 1x will cover their butts, but do absolutely nothing to cover yours.

      They have a strict “NO REFUNDS” policy.

      1x.com looks good on the surface, but once you start using the site, it is not a pleasant experience.

  10. I found 1x OK. But perhaps that’s because they accepted by first submission – an abstract architectural detail, which I thought was very much their thing.

    It’s not the easiest site to get your head around from a user’s perspective – the process for submission, curation, FAQs, etc could certainly be made more obvious, but the FAQs are fairly comprehensive and I’ve found all commentary from other members very supportive – and they are mostly very capable photographers, which makes a significant difference.

    I think that to get an image up, it needs to be strong – to have something compelling about it that arrests your attention. This means that a landscape photograph, for example, needs to be more than just attractive, well-composed and technically excellent. No objective measures for that, as for any attempt to quality artistic merit, so there will always be disappointment.

    1. Thanks Greg – all good comments and, given the kind of photos that get picked up there, I suspect you’re right on all counts. 🙂

  11. akismetuser530961444 says: Reply

    Like with every gallery/curator – they pick what they sell. Shit sells most.

    I had lots of fun on 1x.com – there is many great “critics”. I once asked one critic, how he knows my image is shit made by rules. He said – he just know despite he never took any photograph in his life and refused to share his images.

    It is joke. But I must say it is most like a gallery with highest standards on net – unless you are Adobist who loves to share his images on internet.

  12. Hi Andy,
    I came to your blog from a search about 500px. I was wondering what other photographer’s think about it now, as it has added groups and has changed its licensing to 70% to the photographer. Anyway, I wanted to ask you if you have tried ‘your shot’ on national geographic’s site. There is a community there and you get to interact with editors. Due to some photos I had on there I landed a sale of an image to a big magazine (by another editor of a large conglomerate) – so it indicated to me this online venue was time well spent. I enjoy reading your blog and have subscribed.
    Regards from NZ,
    Lori

    1. Cheers Lori. I think that the Nat Geo option is currently the best available for photographers looking for realistic feedback and possibly a platform to greater things – in fact you’ve inspired me to do a write-up on it. Congratulations on your sale!

  13. Hi, Thanks for your review, it’s very helpful to me. I’m now wondering if you did find something better than 1X. I joined 5 days ago and although I had high hopes after trying Flickr, 500px and a few others. I have been following photographers and leaving comments here and there, but not much has been happening for me in terms of responses. I have the same feeling as you are describing, but I checked their facebook page and it seems to be happening there, but it won’t for me! Hopefully I will find a better place to evolve as a photographer. Any suggestions?
    Thanks
    Charles

  14. Thanks for the well written informative article…I’ve been looking for a Flickr/500px replacement for a while and I’ve just started a 1x trial account.
    I would “drop by and say hi” but unfortunately I don’t seem to be able to send messages quite yet.

  15. Hi There,
    Hi Andy, thanks for the article but more for the update, glad to know that the answer is NO.
    1x is a closed circle, only crews with their shit pictures are published or the people with a Pro account (mean you have to pay to be published and to keep you as a good payee, they published your pictures). But then when you think about their books they sell it with your own picture on it and asking you to buy it, this is a joke!!!! they make money on honest photographers.
    The competition they do also, 19 dollars per picture, who they think they are???? wildlife photographer of the year?? or nature best photography of the year?? not even this organisations are at that price.
    And on top of that their server is very very slow!!!

    1. Yep. The jury is in. The search continues. 🙂

    2. Just as an FYI, I submitted a photo during my trial period and it was published before it expired. So it is possible to be published as a non-paying member, but probably extremely hard.

      1. Yes 3 of our pictures have been published too in the beginning but it’s only to attract you and no more , I won’t pay them a cents for putting my pictures on a book and not get anything from it, it’s ridiculous !!! They fill their belly with our pictures!

  16. Hi dainneswildlifephotographers,

    I’ve had three photos published since joining 1x in August. FWIW, I’m neither a Pro account member nor part of the crew.

    I’m not sure how the conclusion can be drawn about paying to publish. I’m also not aware that they “sell (their books) with your own picture on it and asking you to buy it”. There’s nothing I’ve seen on their site to indicate that this is the case.

    $19 seems reasonable compared to many local photography competitions. For the purposes of comparison, Team Digital’s Golden Shopping Trolley Awards are $25 for a small-scale domestic compeitition. AIPP’s lowest entry price this year was $90 for three images (students) and a whopping $395 for up to four images for non-members.

    If you’re not getting published on 1x, it doesn’t mean you’re not a capable photographer – I know several highly awarded Australian professionals who have very little published despite many submissions.

    Like any photographic competition, 1x involves subjective judgement. It’s worth bearing in mind that the winner of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year for 2014 did comparatively poorly in this year’s national AIPP Awards. A friend who was awarded Emerging Photographer of the Year for Landscape in Capture Magazine has not fared well with the same images in other competitions this year. But both photographers accept that it’s the nature of the game.

    I find 1x a useful discipline. The feedback I have received there is frequently from exceptional photographers and certainly more helpful than sites such as 500px, where (with the exception of the Editors’ choice category) getting to the front page is based on likes and faves alone, where every vote is even, regardless of the judge’s capability. So pretty, uncomplicated and/or undemanding stuff does well. But don’t get me wrong – 500px is fun – it’s enjoyable to watch your photo fly up the ranking, and bet against yourself on how well it will be received – but I don’t find the images as interesting as those that get published on 1x.

    Cheers,

    Greg

  17. There are far too many good photos on the web to be able to play God and pick only “THE BEST”. What is the best for one could be the opposite for the other. This is an illusion. The problem is we are occupied with self-promotion so much, that we forget the core principle of photography – to deliver a message. And while self-promotion gets tougher every day because of the rapidly advancing technology and immense number of online photos, the slickest salespeople capitalize on it increasingly. And they will continue to do so until we return to the very roots – the message. Perhaps I’m just a dreamer. Regards to all fellows terrestrials.

    1. Thanks Alen. I agree. There are beautiful pictures that don’t tell anything. A picture without a message is like a body without a soul.

  18. john elliott says: Reply

    The quality on 1x is great and its something to strive for. A great contrast to all the other sites that frankly have 95% rubbish on them or photos of the same thing shot in the same way – sick and tired of waterfalls, bikes leaning against walls etc. I’m not good enough yet, but I’ll accept the facts and work on getting better (hopefully).

  19. Hello Andy, Thanks for this post, excellent points made. Recently I contacted the 500px folks and asked them to at least randomize the upcoming & popular pages to create a level playing field. I absolutely hate the fact that the first five or ten pages are full of people with thousands of followers and hundreds of likes.
    The support folks say they will review, I have my doubts. May I request you to keep updating this blog with your latest experiments & search for a good photo discovery platform?

  20. Some of the earlier comments above seem to be from insecure photographers who are afraid of having their photos judged. 1x has its share of insecure photographers and crybabies.
    I am a member of 1x and have enjoyed it so far. It is not perfect. Their curation system does not give every photo the same chance of being selected. But their curators give educated opinions that they can verbally support.
    Even the Impressionists and post Impressionist painters had their paintings curated before their first show.
    If you submit pictures to a physical gallery, they will also be curated before they are accepted.
    So get over it. Stop defining yourself by your photography. You are more than just your photography.
    Have a nice day!

  21. grover huffman says: Reply

    I just tried the free subscription they say I can’t upload any images. The free subscription is worthless.

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