Menu Close

500px – Why I’m No Longer a Subscriber

Note: This article was first published in 2012 and as such, some of the information below may have changed, but user feedback would suggest otherwise. My feeling is that a number of awful photographers sitting atop the popular pages are gaming the system with bots – I wrote an article about this here.

For a long time the only half decent place you could show off your photographs online was Flickr. Unfortunately the website was seemingly abandoned by its owners and the horrible interface, incomprehensible promotional tools such ‘Explored’ and meaningless ‘pro’ features lead to a drift away from the site. All the people I spoke to used it only as an online backup service or somewhere to show off holiday snaps and had long since given up on it as a decent photo site.

So when 500px came along, all serious photography enthusiasts (whether pro or hobbyist) applauded. Finally here was a site that was designed by photographers, for photographers. Its cool interface and community driven voting system attracted the best and the brightest. The first page of the ‘Popular’ section of 500px displayed stunning photographs taken by the best snappers on the planet. I remember cheerfully signing up for a full membership of the site, days after seeing it for the first time, inspired by the first rate photography and motivated to try and produce equally awesome images. Fast forward a year and I let that membership lapse a couple of months ago and I wonder if I’m the only one. These are my main issues with the site:

Popularity is winning over quality

500px like all upload sites is, of course, democratic – in the sense that anyone can upload their photos – and that is as it should be. However over the last year or so I’ve been seeing photos which could, at best, be charitably described as average, sitting pretty on the most popular page while high quality images of all types languish at the bottom of the list. Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, but I don’t think any impartial audience would claim some of these images should be as high up the rankings as they are. So what’s going on?

If you look at the comments on such photos it’s easy to work out why it’s happening – the same clique of people are upvoting each others images irrelevant of their quality. If you are a member of good standing of this clique then you could cheerfully photograph your backside and expect it to be front page by morning.

The good news is that you can join the clique too – all you need to do is cast aside your integrity and press ‘V’ and ‘F’ on your keyboard, for every photo you see, no matter how good or bad. Then you simply let the photographer know what you’ve done by leaving a comment such as “lovely v+f” on it. What happens next is that the grateful photographer returns the favour and v+f’s your photo. Do it to enough photos and before you know it, you’re charging up the charts to the front page.

I don’t want to sound like an elitist arsehole when I make these accusations, I just strongly believe that photos should be upvoted based on their individual merit, not because you’re returning a favour to someone. I also don’t think that hitting the Like and Favourite buttons on a photo that is clearly awful makes you a nice person – if you produce bad photos and everyone tells you they’re great then you’re going to continue taking bad photos. I have no interest whatsoever in having a high ‘Affection’ count, but for some people it seems to be the reason they get out of bed in the morning.

Scott Kelby, the highly respected photographer and author warned that this situation would happen, over a year ago. In this blog post he said, ” … if they want to keep this from eventually turning into flickr 2.0 (and I saw a number of comments that fear exactly that), I think someone (or a group of editors) are going to have to be the “gatekeepers” to keep people from uploading snapshots and lowering the overall quality. I know this opens up a Pandora’s box of “Why did my photo get turned down?” and so on, but if someone doesn’t set a bar somewhere, we could wind up in flickrland before you know it.”

The Dislike Button is Being Used Strategically

500px might claim that the counter-balance to the V+F brigade is the ‘Dislike’ button. This only appears on your account once you’ve uploaded a certain number of images and have gained enough ‘Affection’ points. If you click it then it will typically knock a photo back about four pages in the popularity rankings, so it would appear to have a far greater weighting than a V or an F.

Unfortunately the Dislike button seems to be deployed very often by people, not because they do actually dislike a photo, but because they want to increase the chances of their own image. If they’re sitting just short of the front page, they can strategically ‘Dislike’ a photo and watch their own take its place.  Personally speaking I don’t mind the button’s existence, I just object to the way it has been used – call me old fashioned, but I use it myself when I genuinely dislike a photo.

Dislike certainly isn’t a popular feature as the endless pages of support requests bear out. It is clearly being used from fake accounts in order to game the system and the loser in that regard is quality photography. 500px’s official view on the subject is here; in short they say that only 10% of users have access to dislike and that art is subjective anyway, so don’t get all pissy if you garner a few dislikes. Glad that’s been cleared up then.

The Pulse alogirithm is meaningless

Pulse is something that’s unique to 500px and it is supposed to represent the ebb and flow of a photo’s popularity over time. As a photo garners likes and favourites its pulse increases and then as that subsides, its pulse drops too. The idea behind it was to give photos a fighting chance in the popularity stakes, but as 500px themselves point out, “It is not necessarily a measure of photograph’s quality.” All photos record their highest pulse and this is seen as the image’s high water mark of popularity.

Unfortunately your photo’s pulse can be badly affected simply by the fact that you’re not in a North American timezone. The algorithm uses a time decay variable which happens at the same time each night. According to 500px, “To get the most out of your photos [we] suggest uploading them in the morning, Eastern time.” That’s right – make the mistake of uploading during the daytime in Australia and your photo will not fare nearly as well as a photo uploaded during the daytime in America because it will be affected by the ‘time decay’ variable far sooner. Awesome.

There is no community aspect to 500px whatsoever

This is my biggest issue with 500px and it’s one that they show no signs of addressing. As crappy as Flickr is, at least there is a modicum of community involvement thanks primarily to the Groups feature and their associated chat forums.  There is nothing similar on 500px whatsoever. You occasionally get a bit of brief to-and-fro with another 500px user but this is inevitably because they are new and trying to garner favour with you. There are no meaningful photographic friendships on 500px, above and beyond I suppose, the afore-mentioned V+F clique.

So instead of introducing community features in order to encourage worthwhile interaction between paying members of the site, 500px introduced useless facilities such as Stories (a half-arsed photo-blog tool) and Flow which shows you photos people you follow have Liked or commented on (who cares?). It all adds up to a depressingly soul-less experience where photographers prostitute themselves for the sake of meaningless ‘Affection’ points.

The photo sales features are incredibly limited

After an interminable delay 500px finally introduced photo sales earlier this year and they even managed to cock this up. Rather than give photographers some control over this, there are just two options – both of which are awful.

Firstly someone can download a desktop version of a photo. This costs them $2.99 and 500px take a third of the purchase giving you $2 from the sale.

Secondly someone can purchase a 24×36 canvas print of your photograph for $207.99. From this sale the photographer earns $63. There is no option to sell other sizes (despite claims to the contrary) and no option to change the price of the print. Also the prints are only available for purchase in Canada and the US. You’ve got to wonder why they even bothered.

The subscription packages are a rip-off

As I mentioned, I signed up for 500px’s main subscription (about $50) shortly after signing up for the site. Apart from the word ‘Awesome’ appearing beneath my avatar there seemed to be very few other benefits. In fact at that time, the only real advantage to paying for membership was unlimited uploads. Besides, 500px was encouraging its users to only upload their best work, so unlimited uploads was somewhat meaningless – who takes more than 10 (the free account cap) excellent images a week? All unlimited uploads does is encourage people to use the site exactly the way they do with Flickr.

The other features a subscription gets you are domain linking, unlimited number of sets (wow!),
option to add custom logo and icon to portfolio, SEO optimisation (that’s a feature?), Google analytics, statistics page (the only way to find out which of your images has been ‘disliked’) and a few extra portfolio themes.

I had buyers remorse about a day after signing up for the main 500px subscription package and when they sent me a reminder that my account was due for renewal, I immediately went to the site and cancelled it.

Is there a way back?

500px seem to have totally lost sight of why they started the site. They say, “Over the years, the 500px platform went through a number of revisions and changes, growing together with technology and photographers, and keeping focus on the highest quality photos.” That might have been the case, but it isn’t now, the focus has shifted from quality to popularity and quantity.

In the last couple of years, since 500px went from a niche site to a high profile photo sharing phenomonem, other sites have come along which handle the quality/quantity issue with far more grace – in particular ‘competition’ sites like Pixoto and Viewbug and portfolio sites like Photoshelter. And let’s not forget, the long-awaited Flickr relaunch is due soon. So in all honesty, given the way 500px have handled things up till now, I don’t believe there is a way back for them. Which is a shame, because it showed so much promise.


  1. Mike Salway

    Interesting thoughts, thanks Andy.

    I’m a late-comer to 500px. I’ve seen loads of my friends and others with 500px accounts and a lot of people seem to get traffic from it, but I haven’t signed up an account yet.

    Over the past few years I reduced the number of forums and sites I shared my photography on, because it just became burdensome and time-consuming to upload the same image with the same description to all the different sites, go back and check on comments, likes, whatever. I felt like I wasn’t really part of the community because I was just doing it to get my work out there and not giving other people’s threads/photos any attention.

    So I’ve been concentrating on Facebook, my own website (mikesalway) + forum (IceInSpace), and Google+ (though not as active there as I’d like).

    I was going to sign up to 500px but now I’m not sure after reading your post. I don’t have any time or inclination to worry about ‘gaming’ the system, uploading images only at a certain time of day, worry about my ‘pulse’ or ‘affection’ , etc. But I do know there’s a lot of great photographers on there and it’s a great site to get some inspiration from.

    However like most photo-sharing sites, it’s usually just photographers looking at other photographers work. It’s not really a place where you’re going to get ‘customers’ from – someone who will actually part with $$$ to buy a print??

    That’s the hardest part, right.. how to reach the people who might actually buy your work.

    Anyway thanks again for your post – given me some food for thought.

    • Andy Hutchinson

      Thanks Mike. In all honesty you’re unlikely to get generate any print sales through 500px. I’ve only recently started selling my photos and so it wasn’t the reason that I signed up for 500px in the first place, but if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have bought a subscription. I guess its main use is to get your name out there, but even that’s far more difficult now that it has so many users.

      There have been a couple of breakthrough photographers on 500px, including AmishBoy (the guy that photographs the snails etc), Kenny Barker (English landscape guy) and Lincoln Harrison (the night sky photographer), but on the whole it’s hellishly difficult to get any sort of presence on the site without gaming the system.

  2. Kim Barton

    Interesting article, thanks. I’ve had an account at 500px for a year or so, but never have uploaded more than a few images. I loved it at first, but lately have noticed the decline in image quality and wondered if it was just me who thought that.

    I started out on and loved it for several years, and learned a lot from all the critical comments, but that’s what I wanted. I never could get into Flickr, mostly because the photos and thumbnails are too small to see well. For the past couple of years I’ve used Redbubble for my website. There are few critical comments on Redbubble, and not nearly as much traffic as Flickr and other sites, but the sales options are wonderful, the community is friendly, and the website is free, so it works well for me for now.

  3. Diana Vaughan

    I understand what you are saying and why. Still as an appreciater of photography long before it became accepted as an art form, I enjoy seeing the work of both types of photographers, I like many of the “bad” or “mistakes” in some photos because of the art form created unintensionaly not for anyother reason. You never know what may come from it unless you take the opportunity. As a hobbist, I learn from all of it and am grateful for this venue to study from many kinds of photographers and their special sight. As far as the sale of the work, I am glad it is available to me through this avenue- What I buy is in the eye of the beholder-me and has nothing to do with any other reason. I know the games that are played, just remember, there are those % that are really into the total process.

  4. Chuck jason

    I enjoyed this article Andy. I was part of Flicker for over a year and found the same clique problem there. Now I was about to join 500px until I read this. I’m trying to get myslef out there and recognized but don’t have the time for all the above that you mentioned on 500px. I mainly post on Facebook but find it difficult to garner over 50 likes on a photo. Ok maybe my photos are not Art Wolfe quality but when another photo simplymakes a statement about “How would you like me to just post a photo at random” and get over 40 likes I feel like something is wrong. A few of the different venues on Facebook show how many views have occured on a photograph and then you can see how many likes or comments have accompanied it. I like that, but am surprised at the low ratio. I don’t know what the answer is but I would certainly like to hear your views on Facebook and how to get your name out there to help encourage sales of your photographs.

    • Andy Hutchinson

      Thanks Chuck. I think Facebook and Google+ are the way to go. Everyone thinks of Facebook as a social networking site, but in reality it’s simply the biggest photo sharing site on the planet. I am pleased to have built a strong and very engaged audience on Facebook and I greatly appreciate being able to see great photography by others that I’ve added to my interests feed. It has enabled me to connect with a worldwide audience in a way I simply could not have accomplished through traditional photo sites like Flickr or 500px.

      With regard building up an audience on Facebook, I make sure I regularly share my photos on the site – usually on a daily basis. I share them on my own page, but also on the main tourism sites for my region. There is a symbiotic relationship between photographers and tourism agencies in that the photographer gets his/her photo shared widely and and the tourism agency get awesome photographs to showcase their region for no cost. It’s also important to engage with your FB fans – I greatly enjoy getting to know them all and try and respond personally to most comments. I also share Facebook covers and wallpapers.

      I think Google+ has really been embraced by photographers and while I’m still working out the nuts and bolts of it myself, I think in the longterm it may well take over from Facebook as the preferred venue for photosharing.

  5. Peter

    Andy, you hit the nail on the head several times. I too will not be renewing my subscription once it expires, which has about a year left on an “Awesome” account.

    I really started to notice the voting gang thing about 3 months after I had joined. I wasn’t paying much attention to it until I noticed that one of the people I had originally started to follow was getting all sorts of high rankings for some pictures, which in my opinion were mediocre, in an unbelievable short period of time. Sure, some of his images were good, but several of them were not so much.

    He would upload a picture and within a few hours had over 100 likes and tons of comments, many of which included that famous 500px phrase “Voted”. Really… what more can I say.

    • Andy Hutchinson

      Thanks Peter. I think it’s getting worse and worse to be honest. I checked out 500px yesterday and the first 6 pages of Popular were full of really mediocre images. It’s pretty depressing.

      • mau7000


        i do have an account at 500px, honestly i dont mind about what’s better than what, whats on display and whats not. YES i dont like people writing under my photos ‘V and F if you have time come see my gallery’ i never do!, and i have always told myself “should i write somewere PLEASE VOTE ONLY IF YOU LIKE NOT TO GAIN A FAVOUR BACK” (am gonna add it now). i just ignore such people, and i do vote what i like not just everything.
        this is me, however a part the ranking and platform of 500px, i still consider it a very nice place to upload photos (facebook no thanks).

        i was considering to get an awesome or plus subscription on holidays sale, but they do offer really little, im fine as free account.

        another thing i miss from flickr is the ‘groups’ (group lenses, themes etc)

        but overall there is no real alternative out there
        am gonna use 500px and accept its downside and enjoy the upside
        all i can do is make it clear, i do not return favours if i dont like your photo.

        what could they do ?
        try to explore new strategies and put on the hold the graphical aspect.


  6. Eyes Wide Open

    I have to agree with everything you have said here Andy. I am also a very late comer to 500px and after uploading 3 photos which I think are not too bad I simply can’t be bothered with it. I realised after seeing the few comments on my pictures that I would have to return the V/F favour to everyone and seriously – who has that sort of time? So I will let my free trial run out and delete my photos from the site.

    I now use facebook, but find it hard to build an engaged audience of fans, and I use flickr mainly to store my images but also because flickr images do show up in Google searches so it is a good way of getting some traffic to your flickr account and if you have a website you just put it with each photo. Plus like you say, it is a good internet backup 🙂

    The opposite end of the scale to 500px is 1x – each photo is moderated by not only the moderators but also the site members, and all the photos are of super high quality. I don’t think my humble efforts would be accepted but I enjoy seeing the awesome talent on that site, and there are tutorials of how some of the photos are created.

    • Andy Hutchinson

      Thanks mate. Yea – 1x is definitely the high water mark – I’ve submitted two images to the site which I thought were okay, but got knocked back. I’m totally cool with it because it encourages me to raise my game and I’ll know that if I ever get an image accepted there, that it’s of very high quality. 🙂

      • Peter

        Totally agree about 1x. I also use or frequent 72 dpi, Behance and Blue Canvas but I don’t think they give me as much as I am looking for in terms of viewing.

        I find G+ is just too overloaded with a lot of plain images and it also seems to be about chasing popularity. I look at Deviant Art once in a while but overall I think 1x shows the best quality of work in terms of there being very little shown to the public on the main stage that is not outstanding.

    • AimeeCandelaPhoto

      I was on 1X a few years, but had my profile/account suspended for not properly following the way to leave comments!? Nothing negative. 1X has a set criteria in the way to leave detailed comments about someone’s work. I suppose my brief critiques didn’t match up to their standards. I was blocked for about 10 days, strange.
      I decided to close my account after it was unblocked and politely left an explanation as to why. High end in content, but their attitude wasn’t something I didn’t want to contend with. Maybe it’s different now but there are more online photo sites to chose that will work best.

      I have a Behance profile and looking to build that up more in time.

  7. Wesley Picotte

    Appreciate the informative post. I ran across it at random but it’s poignant. I have yet to do anything with the 500px profile I created, mainly due to lack of time to manage yet another social profile. After reading this post I jumped over to the 500px and everything described here is apparent. Guess you saved me a few bucks, so thanks.

      • Wesley Picotte

        Thanks Andy. I really enjoyed yours, too, and bookmarked it for when I make my way to NZ! This has been on my list for a while.

        There are definite similarities between PNW and NZ landscapes, especially noticeable (from my perspective) when you look at Washington state’s alpine country — the North Cascades, in particular.

  8. Chris

    The issues with 500 px are as clear as daylight!

    I have seen photos that look really bad, and even ridiculous in some cases, get wide attention, as well as a plethora of thumbs up and overzealous comments. Yet, many photos that are clearly deserving of such a response get few views. It’s quite pathetic, when you think about it.

    This has led me to conclude that photo sites such as 500 px are not worth using. It’s better to learn how to do seo, set up your own photo blog, and draw traffic to it through other means, such as organic search (search engines), Twitter, Facebook, and Google +.

    It will take a lot of hard work to do it on your own. But, in the long run, you’ll be better off, as you will eventually accumulate far more views of your photos than you would on 500 px, and other sites like it. Moreover, you will gain a steady flow of traffic to your site, and ultimately build a solid reputation online as a photographer.

  9. Gene lowinger

    Couldn’t agree more. Good post. Many wonderful photographers have come and gone from the site because of its cliquishness, me being one of them (well actually I was banned twice for being so outspoken). Also, maybe you are not aware of this, but the admin of the site has a strong arm in using the dislike button and have been known to ascribe dislikes to people who they don’t favor.

  10. Brad Griffin

    Hi Andy. This isn’t a spam post. I have been a member of Redbubble for quite a few years (somewhat inactive over the past couple for personal reasons unrelated to Redbubble). You may want to have a look and see if it suits your needs. They have a wide variety of ‘groups’, a shopfront and other features that have been set up based on member preferences. It’s here:

  11. Ivor Wilson

    100% in agreement Andy, it’s such a missed opportunity. My own personal peeve centres around photo-dishonesty, and 500PX’s admin’s apparent reluctance to moderate this issue. I contacted them about one particular user, “Jamil Ghanayem” who has posted a number of “photos”, clearly composite images, with some content that is demonstrably not his property. I messaged him and requested that he clarify his technique, and credit those parts of his photos that are not his, but the only thing he did was change the descriptions in a very vague, obviously reluctant fashion. He’s still completely avoiding the whole intellectual property issue.

    I digress, partly… my main gripe with 500PX is that they discourage direct communication with other users concerning complaints, instead suggesting I contact them (500PX admin) directly. I did, nearly four months ago, and he’s still portraying this stuff as his own, still lying about how he took the shots, and he’s still getting pats on the back from his little V+F clique.

    I’m glad I didn’t take the subscription plunge.

  12. Mike Beecham

    Hi Andy,

    I really want to congratulate you on your very excellent post.

    I’ve only been using 500px for a relatively short time, after getting my first DSLR at Christmas. I initially started using it because it was suggested to me. I looked at the photos and concluded that this would be a great site for stretching my skill, learning a few things and, hopefully, meeting other Photographers who might be able to help me stretch.

    2-3 months in, and I’ve discovered the directly proportional link between likes and likes. On a couple of occasions recently I’ve tested the theory by uploading half-decent shots, but not commenting on others’ photos…just to see what would happen. Well, no surprises to see that my photos have not even reach popular (not that popular is the name of the game here, but you get the point!). I uploaded one yesterday and made a few comments and BOOM…everyone started posting on my photo..but it was all ‘nice V&F’, which help me not a jot!

    So, I’ve decided that 500px is a self-defeating website, that will strongly urge you to compromise your integrity and get you voting for votes…and I dont want to go down that route.

    I’m fascinated with your decision to use Facebook as a place to show your shots. How do you build up a network of people there? Do you promote your facebook albums, or actively network with other people regarding photography? Do you use groups to do this?

    Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated, as I really want to get off this roundabout which is 500px voting and go get some serious (and harsh) feedback on my shots, which will help me improve.


  13. John Hubble

    Hi Andy

    Just came across your article and it would seem I am going to be a lone voice here. I can’t fault your analysis of the problems with 500px but but would question your assessment of their significance.

    I joined 500px at Christmas when offered a 50% discount on their awsome account. At this price the cost was about the same as web hosting for a year in the UK so made sense for the portfolio feature.

    The problems of V&F became clear almost immediately so I concluded that if I played this game the “affection score” I achieved would reflect politics rather than aesthetics. The solution was obvious – don’t play that game. Sure I don’t get fantastic scores but my better pictures do tend to make “popular” and an indication of the true appriciation for an image is given by the ratio of votes to views rather than the total number of votes.

    As I am using the site to mount the results of a personal image a day for a year project there is a greater variation in quality of what I mount than might otherwise be the case, but by not engaging in the V&F game the scores I get tend to match my own assessment of an images worth. The key point is that there are some very clear discrepancies (both higher and lower) and it is this allows me to go back an reassess my work as part of the learning process (comments like “great capture” don’t help much).

    I feel that I am gaining from this feed back and am aware that I have to make a return contribution. I do this by voting for images I like, but I don’t comment, don’t select favorites and don’t use dislikes.

    I certainly would not try to sell images through 500px, Alamy provides a far more attractive option form me.


  14. Rusty Parkhurst

    Your post describes exactly how I feel about 500px. I am so perplexed by the site that the way I ended up here was to type into Google “What’s wrong with 500px”. I should probably add that I’m fairly new to photography, at least in terms of being a “serious amateur hobbyist”. In no way do I think of my photography as spectacular…that my photos deserve top spot on the “Popular” pages.

    Some of the photography on 500px is incredible, the type of shots that I hope to be capable of making some day. That is what attracted me to the site in the first place. As I started posting images, I realized that my photos would receive virtually no attention, and when they did, the comments were/are basically useless to my growth as a photographer.

    On the other hand, there is a lot of what would be considered “snapshots” on 500px as well. Shots that could have been taken by anyone using a cell phone…shots that are just plain bad (in my opinion). I realize that not everyone sees things the same way and there are many differing opinions on what makes a good photo. But come on…how many different “awesome”, “brilliant”, “amazing”, “fantastic” shots can there be of a common house cat? (or a flower, or your dog)?

    So why am I perplexed? There are so many of these average (at best) photos that make it to the “Popular” pages of the site. Many that receive thousands of views, hundreds of Vs + Fs. How could that be? Even what I feel are my best photos have not come close to matching the popularity of some of these snapshots.

    Your post confirmed what I have suspected…I just wanted to know if there were others who felt as I do. I have not opted for a paid subscription to the site. It is ashame, as I thought the site looked promising. But there seems to be no point if it will not help me to grow and become better as a photographer.

    Thanks for posting!

  15. donald yorke-goldney

    Just stumbled on this while looking for something else.
    Im a member of 500px and totally agree, its not about great photos any more its a popularity contest.
    I think a lot of the old hands know this, and if you can be bothered to sit there for hours V+F all the photos and paste a comment , then so be it.The no vote button (dont have) is just a way the in crowd control any one who is a thret to there page one status. Bloody disgraceful behaviour.
    I wont be renewing my pro paying membership, but will still upload photos on occasions
    Donald Goldney
    If you care to look at my page i state the experiment i conducted on how to gain page one status.
    cheers and well put

  16. Thomas Campbell

    I joined 500px before Christmas after remarks from Scott Kelby on the standards of the photos. I posted a few photos to start me off and was pleased to recieve some kind remarks from Photographers who had amazing photos on the site. I made contacts with very nice people and enjoyed viewing their shots. Like you have stated I soon found pictures on the site with extremely high ratings that just did not warrant them. I had people who took photos of other subjects that I don’t take commenting on my shots which I at first thought was very nice until I realised they were looking me to vote on their shots in return for their comments.
    Some were very poor but had high rating and this seemed odd to me until I noticed that they all had Facebook accounts and twitter accounts which I assume they used to attract large numbers of viewing and votes. I realised that you could upload a shot and check for it on the fresh stream to find it was already on page 8 or 9 due to someone uploading 90 snapshots at one time.
    I decided to deactivate my account and call it a day.
    It is such a pity for there are some amazing photos and photographers using the site.

  17. Greg Forcey

    Thanks for writing this blog post Andy. I 100% agree with your assessment about popularity dominating quality at 500px. I’ve seen the quality decline even since I joined only last year and get frequently frustrated with the copy and paste comments. I have a plus account now, but I don’t plan on renewing; after my plus account lapses, I’ll use the free account if that.

    And to show you how insane the popularity contest has become, some people a fiverr are offering 100 likes on 5 photos for $5. This is crazy and certainly show the irrational mindset of some people in their quest to be popular.

  18. Paul Emmings

    Dear Andy

    I am one of the individuals that you have identified within the ‘Clique’ .

    I have been with 500 now for some considerable time . I follow around 800 people and i have a following of around 4,000.

    I am lucky enough to be travelling around your lovely country for a year , and have the time and motivation to get up at 0300 , drive for god knows how long , get to a location and snap away taking photos at sunrise , return and post what i consider to be a photo that is good enough for 500px.
    I also have the time and the motivation to visit and vote on people i am following . There is nothing wrong in this . I enjoy my photography , and through the contacts i have made on 500 , i have improved , and have sought to help others as well . I have had the pleasure of meeting and shooting with 5 followers/friends from 500 , and one flew in from the other side of the country to do this . All because of the relationships i had formed within this photo community.

    I invite any reader to visit my 500 page , any critique is welcome. I believe my portfolio is of reasonable standard and improving , i work hard at my photography hobby and i enjoy looking , and discussing with others who do the same .

    In regards of the identified secret clique , i follow 5 of the individuals , have never heard of the others.


    • Andy Hutchinson

      Mate – if you’ve found happiness at 500px then all power to you. However if you’re leaving meaningful comments on photos because you think they’re good – then you’re not in the clique. The clique is full of people who leave feedback less helpful than an average eBay response and who leave their comment litter on any and all photos irrelevant of their quality.

  19. Mr ben robson hull

    Excellent article. My sentiments exactly and it took me about 3 months to work out what was going on. I just used the free account but joined Awesome today because of the brand new portfolio feature – this does look good.

  20. Miguel Valencia

    V+F!! Excellent post please visit my website hahaha…. I also hate how 500px lost the original way to engage good photographers, Ive been using other alternatives to share my work, like G+ and recently FB Pages, and Ive seen good results.

  21. George

    Amazing article, and I was always suspicious that something wrong is going on with all those “v+f” or “check out my newest bla bla”.

    Yet, let’s be honest: There are some stunning pictures on 500px, and the majority with a “pulse” of 90+ are really beautiful and professional. I agree that there is a lot of crap, but it’s relatively hidden.

    And I can’t agree with the statement that you have to be part of a clique to get a high rating – some pictures of mine made it to “popular”, yet without any interaction, commenting or whatsoever from me. But to my surprise by far not my best images – they somehow go “down” unnoticed.

    I keep away from 500px too, because I want to get real ratings on my pictures, so I can learn to improve. I prefer one comment, explaining what someone likes or what I could better next time, rather than 10 nerd’s pasting v+f without even looking at it.


  22. Leslie

    Don’t great photos become popular?

    There are many enthusiast photographers who are either amateurs, semi-pros or pros.

    There are hidden communities in 500px, and in order to progress in life, you have to be linked up.

    If a new product of 100% is sold at 100% high cost, who can afford?

    It’s not about 500px being weak, but about the how you channel your works.

    • Andy Hutchinson

      No – pretty often great photos do not become popular – particularly on 500px. Besides – you’re pretty much proving my point by suggesting that you have to be linked up in order to progress. Some of us like taking photos, not chasing meaningless karma points on websites.

  23. Aurélien

    Hey, I wanted to do the V+F joke, but somebody already did, so I pass 🙂

    I’m just an amateur that tries to have fun at photography. However, I do look for constructive feedback and after 1 year on 500px and 41 pics, I got something like 2 real comments. Obviously, I noticed the fake pics getting high scores, even though some are really badly executed. Not even mentioning material that you can easily find on the 1st page of a Google images search.

    Thanks to your post and the comments, I’m investigating the alternatives and will not renew my plus account.


  24. Liz

    Thanks for this post, Andy!
    I’ve only been taking photos for about 18 months and am on a huge learning curve. I will unashamedly say that I am on Instagram and while I love the community and it has (for me) been a great place to meet like minded people. I have had the fortune of meeting some great people who are professional photographers and I’ve learned a LOT from these guys who are very happy to teach me some skills (and even in person) for free!
    I have had numerous encourage me to join Flickr & 500px. I joined 500px for the trial period but wasn’t too impressed with it. I’m a member of Flickr just to test the waters and be inspired by others who are great photographers.
    I’ve joined RedBubble too but I was incredibly disappointed with their print quality when I ordered some of my images as greeting cards. They insisted it was my images (not their printers) and only gave me a credit voucher. I took my files and had them printed elsewhere to be sure… they were fine!!

    Anyway, I’m enjoying your site. I discovered you via your Facebook page & glad I did!! I also have a Facebook page but by no means profess to be anything more than an amateur.

    • Andy Hutchinson

      Thanks Liz – glad you liked the site. Interesting about Redbubble print quality – never actually bothered getting anything printed there. I think Flickr’s slowly on the way back if Yahoo continue to play their cards right! 🙂

  25. paul o toole

    very good article, the main issue at the moment is the voting system
    on the site, it is quite plain to see some kind of a game
    is to be played in order to have your work displayed on the popular section of the site
    but myself i never seen the harm, im only there to give people a look at my work it really doesnt bother me who or what is on the popular section, as for the v+f i always thought it was part of the site ive done it myself at random from just really
    liking a photo and got nothing in return! 🙂 i just thought it was something people on the site do i may stop in shame now! 🙂
    but i agree with you completely it turns things into a bit of a joke when you look at a bad photo with hundreds of votes and a great photograph with 2 votes, the editors choice is also a bit funny as sometimes they seem to have great names
    of big time photographers but terrible photos, i have always laughed at these things but reading your article has got me thinking a bit deeper about it, i really think they should get rid of all the likes and affection altogether and if people wanted to comment on someones work
    then maybe there would be more interaction, i never use the dislike button because with so many different people, different styles and different views on photography
    i personnally would not like to be negative towards anyone, silence is bad enough

  26. Russell W

    Great article! Actually that is what I think of 500px now. The voting system is suck. I also tried the F+V mechanism and got high ratings. But after several times, I found it meaningless. It is just a waste of time. I just could not believe how much time people have spent on F+V others in order to get a higher place on the list…

  27. Amer Sweidan

    Interesting article. When 500px started it was much better, it was a service for passionate photographers. It’s really frustrating to see comments such as “I just voted, please check my work…”. I am considering alternatives but I am still not sure.

  28. Grant cassar

    Wow its plain to see a lot of people agree with you. I am one of those people, within a minute of your image uploading it has moved up so many pages you dont get any hits. Unless you have a large following but its impossible to get without being cheeky. I dont know what to do now. I just want to show everyone my work and engage other people who love photography or want to buy it. Why is that so hard lol.

  29. John B

    Thanks for the article! I came across it as I was looking on Google for some more info on a previous contributor, Paul Emmings (who has some wonderful photos on 500px, IMO). I couldn’t agree more with many of your comments.

    I mainly went on 500px to set up a website as it seemed the easiest way for a mug like me. However, I noticed the things you and others have mentioned – photos (mine and others) which I though were reasonable getting 1 or 2 views with other crap getting hundreds of views in no time at all. Knowing photos stay on the first ‘fresh’ pages for only a few moments, I couldn’t see how this was possible. So I ran an experiment. I went onto 500px fresh photos for a day and ‘L & F’d all he ones I LIKED. Soon I started getting comments and votes and ended up getting some scores in the 80s and 90s.

    I think there’s a simple solution – limit ‘Likes’ to say 5 or 10 a day per member and a maximum of 20 favourites at any time. That way, people really need to think about which photos they really think have merit.

  30. Florin

    I reached your post by googling for opinions on high prices they charge, and guess what, it’s now 75$ for being ‘awesome’. Sheesh!

  31. Greg Padgett

    Reading through the comments I see one central theme. You want your work seen and recognized but don’t want to invest the time it getting it so.

    Time and time again I hear this complaint and it baffles me. Picture this. You create a website say at wordpress, upload some photos and then sit back. Do you honestly expect your site will get hits with that amount of work? I hope not. You get hits through advertisement and name recognition. Well, the same applies at 500px. You get your name out there by commenting and voting on other’s work. Yes, you’ll garner some attention by voting everything but you’ll gain so much more by leaving an honest, well thought out evaluation of another’s work. I don’t care who they are, if you leave a real critique, it will get noticed and that photographer will check your work out guaranteed. Now it’s up to your work and that photographer’s taste as to whether you get a vote back or not. If you are as good as you think you are, you’ll soon have your work being viewed on the first few pages which will then snowball into more votes. Because remember, your work is that good! Basically, it’s social networking. If you don’t like it then the internet may not be the way to show off your talents.

    As to limiting voting to however many you think should be practice, well that’s a perfect way to really turn the place into a popularity contest. Now you’d have friends only voting for friends and good work by new people wouldn’t see the light of day.

    As to lack of community. You can make contact with photographers from every corner of the globe there. Wonderful people from all walks of life sharing their experiences and work and eager to share in yours. You just have to make contact and be a real person.

    I’ve had a smugmug page for 3 years. I’ve received 5 times the views in less than a year on 500px as I have had in 3 years on smugmug.

    So in closing, you’re only going to get out of anything what you put in. No one above me is better than anyone else. You don’t deserve special treatment just because you’re you.

    • Andy Hutchinson

      Not entirely sure you actually read the article before riding to 500px’s defence. However …

      I have a strong photographic presence all over the Internet, on just about every photo-sharing site there is and have done for many years. In fact I’ve been a member of DeviantArt for 12 years now and Flickr for eight and, for the record, I joined 500px very early on and watched it nosedive into “V+F” oblivion from very promising beginnings. The simple fact is that 500px has the biggest single-syllable userbase of any photo-sharing site on the Internet – a cursory browse through the site will confirm this to anyone.

      So please don’t presume that I (and other like-minded photographers) are not prepared to put in the effort to cultivate good relationships with like-minded snappers. We are – we’re just not prepared to play some endless game of back-scratching tag with people. I don’t comment on others work in the expectation that they’ll do the same to me – I comment because I admire their work. That’s it.

      Also Smug Mug is a place to sell photos isn’t it? Just like Redbubble? Not a huge shock that you got more V+Fs at 500px – I could post photos of my sock drawer and get more interest there.

  32. Eizenheim

    I realise this is an old post so I was wondering.. Is there site you’d recommend in addition to the 3 above? I read your article on 1x and I saw (according to the last comment on that article) that you weren’t very happy with 1x either

  33. Roxie

    Thank you for confirming my suspicions.. very late to the party, I set up a trial over the weekend. Uploaded maybe 30 pics, and my email was flooded with comments and favs and ‘your photo is on the popular page’, in minutes. I figured most of them were just looking for favs back. I may keep the free membership, as then I only have to upload to one place and can share it to facebook, pinterest and google+ without having to upload multiple times. Definitely won’t be signing up for a paid subscription! Thanks for the info!

  34. Chris K.

    I hate to say this but likes in facebook or wherever mean nothing sorry, look at the big name photographers on facebook then look how many people are following them and how many friends they have and then look at their likes, well say the have 6,000,00 friends and followers together, now look at the likes what a mere 200-300, example I have Art Wolfe as a friend and sometimes I like and sometimes I don’t, but the times I don’t does not mean I don’t like his pictures, I think they are awesome.

  35. Confused :-S

    Ok, so I’ve read the article (you raised some interesting points!!) and all the comments (rather a lot!!) and now I have a question:

    What’s the best online presence for a photographer? Be it for an amateur or otherwise?

    I only ask because I’m considering having an online presence again after a 3 year absence and to be quite honest I haven’t got a clue what would be best! I don’t like the fact that you can download stuff really easily from Flickr (unless your account is private), the voting system on 500px doesn’t sound so hot neither do their terms, Facebook is a no-go due to their terms also so is a blog or an own website the way to go?

    I just want somewhere to showcase my images and have as much ‘control’ as possible. I’m well aware of just how easy it is to steal pics…What do you recommend?

    It’s a damn mine field out there!!!


  36. rob

    having recently joined 500px i feel maybe the point is being missed

    The work you deem not worthy is actually someones attempt at creating something and maybe the encouragement gained from the site can inspire someone upwards

    Not long after joining i gained more sense about my work than i managed anywhere else and also seen some of the most inspiring photos available anywhere online

    I see your point about the games and i can see how it works with folk giving you a link to like their work , but they are a minority in my opinion and looking at the bigger picture does give a sense of what your achieving or not achieving

    I can understand for someone like you , (and ive looked at your work and admired it ) maybe you need something more , and are above a lot of the aspiring snappers on the site so maybe your pics get lost for something less impressive , which would annoy you im sure , i understand that

    for someone trying to make it looking for ease of use and and a broad spectrum of critic i believe the site will gain more fans , and alongside the more professional like yourself giving something to aspire to i think the formulae is unique at the moment

    anayway , it was very interesting reading your site and viewing your work i wish you well

    • Andy Hutchinson

      Cheers Rob. As I mentioned, the quality of an image is a relative thing and what I consider to be high quality may be very different to someone else’s viewpoint. However there’s little doubt that the system is being gamed by many users of 500px and it’s to the detriment of all photographers who use the site. 🙂

      • Tom Maughan

        Hi Andy, thank you so much for your comments. I found them to have the ring of truth to them But, what would I know? Having just joined 500px and had some photos hit the (alleged) heights, I now feel like you have just destroyed Stana Claus and ten for good measure , cancelled Xmas! Not your fault though becuase I know that you are spot on with your views.

        So now believing yours and many others views, what does a very old newby like me do now?

        i crave honest feedback, constructive comments and above all else I want to be able to feel good about my Art. o, where do I get tis from? Facebook..No, Flickr.. No, 500 px.. not any more.
        I would like to be able to get some measure of honesty, so have you considered formng a Panel, alng with Scott Selby, Julanne Kost and perhaps Serge Ramelli and perhaps 5 or so others that the Panel would approve?

        I guess it all boils down to trust. I for one would trust that you and the select Panel would offer great and invaluable critique. I feel sure that genuine Snappers would even be prepared to pay for this?

        Anyway, the way it is now is that we olde Wipper Snappers are like the proverbial Dead Atheist..” all dressed up with nowhere to go”

        Any thoughts or advice on this Expert Panel idea (A place to welcome “dead atheists would be most gratefully received?

        My sincere compliments for your comments and views expressed, along with most all others of a like mind as you and I.
        Kind Regards.

        • Andy Hutchinson

          Hi Tom – I think the answer to this question is actually quite a traditional one and it’s something you’ve partially touched on here. I was invited to give a talk at a local photographic group’s monthly meeting fairly recently and I was struck by the constructive feedback that club members were giving to each other, along with useful tips and general guidance. I think the Internet’s great for getting your name out there – and 500px is as good a service as any other in this regard. Maybe the new discussion groups will improve things over there? Perhaps Flickr will come full circle? It’s hard to tell and I certainly don’t have the answers – I’m looking like everyone else. 🙂

          • Tom Maughan

            Thanks Andy. I guess the heart of the problem is that whilst there are numerous sites for posting photographs to in order to obtain honest critique, they have become corrupted.

            However as you said in one of your bloggs “I dont want constructive criticism”. in my most humble opinion, what would be required is to obtain agreement by our peers and the market that what we produce has value and meaning. Given that agreement, then the next stage would be to be directed to a “Panel Approved collective” site (which is yet to be created)for developing sales and marketing opportunities.

            Such a Panel and Marketing site could be a collaborative run by businessmen such as yourself and the panel members on a purely commercial basis. The fundamental building blocks could be no vested interests other than being part of the worlds’ first
            incorruptible Photographic Clearing House for existing and aspiring photographic professionals.

            What we have at present is a flawed model for doing this, namely 500 px and also Facebook.

            I personally would prefer submitting photographs to a Panel
            (body corporate is another term) for some kind of “adjudication'” on the intrinsic worth and value of the work. That the Body was comprised of unbiased but recognised leaders in the field of photography and marketing then their views would have real meaning.
            People such as yourself, Selby, Ramelli and Kost immediately spring to mind as being the best ‘Names’ in Marketing their own and others products. Imagine the benefits from getting these people together?
            Still it is all a pipe dream really if no one cares to try and resolve this conundrum that your have already and so eloquently identified.

            Kind regards and genuine thanks for your inspirational words and photographs. (Trust is genuine not like V+F in 500.)

          • Andy Hutchinson

            Not sure I’d plump myself in with the likes of Scott Selby, Tom – but I appreciate the comment. I’ve actually just re-made an account on 500x to see if anything’s changed in the two years since I deleted my account! I’ll post a new article here when I’ve tried it out.

  37. Kevin Rosinbum

    Hi Andy – I’ve attempted to tear myself from Flickr but nothing seems to fill the niche like Flick did back in the old days. I joined 500px about this time last year at the recommendation of a couple photog friends who enjoyed the site, uploaded a handful of images, but then quickly (within the course of a couple days, experienced much of what you’re describing here. I’ve returned just today within another handful of images and have perused the changes thought the climate seems essentially the same. I’m still half-engaged at Flickr though most of my, as you put it, most “meaningful” photography relationships that began there do not exist much these days. There seem to be so many other options – I’ve accounts on Ipernity and Fotoblur, as well as FAA and Viewbug, all of which I enjoy but they too fall short in one aspect or another. I’m curious where you spend the bulk of your online photography time these days and why?
    Cheers y salud 🙂

  38. Kristopher Busby

    Thanks Andy for such a well written article. I will be pointing others to it. You put it all so precicely. 🙂

  39. Linda Medhurst

    Hello Andy
    I am a relative Newby 500Px and NOW l find your beautiful article! I have been becoming progressingly mystified by the ware and tear of the workings of it. I noticed Anonymous peoples, Large favouritism’s and the selling? well, you said it! I don’t sell. It is a waste of time and MONEY, my money. I am fed up with it and l want to leave, now. Your article has explained all l needed to know and yes l have Flickr, and l have ignored as people jumped ship. A website of one’s own is the only way to go in this life of Photography and that’s the road l’m off on.
    Disheartened and disbelieving of ‘Good Time’ pic sites!

  40. tonilaird

    Hi Andy

    Very well written and informative post. I am a member of 500px, ViewBug, Pixoto and a few others which I deleted my account to recently. I still use Google+ the most as we are now members of a strong photography community and find FaceBook appears to compress images resulting in poor quality.

    For me the best and only way to either sell or showcase your images is to develop your own website. I have my own WordPress photography and web development websites with galleries, comments, tips and tricks etc. I will be adding a plugin to sell images later. The main advantages are quite simply; The images on the front page are mine, the images for sale are mine and later I will be adding my photography friends to contribute to my site. This ensures quality images and topics. Your post is a fine example on why I did this and it’s really fun having my own site not forgetting it costs almost the same as membership fees …. but it’s mine! Have I said that already!

    I recently developed a photography website for a friend I met at a very low cost and his site is doing extremely well! I have not added links to mi or his site as I do not wish to appear as spam or trolling!

    • Larry

      Hi Toni + Andy,

      I really like this thread.

      Toni, I have a question. If developing our own website is the only to go – in that only our images are showcased there, then isn’t Smugmug a viable option? Despite their membership? Would it essentially be the same thing I mean because we would have to generate our own SEO on either option?

  41. Clive

    Good article Andy. I joined 500px about a year ago I think it was and still have a free account. I was wondering about becoming ‘amazing’ (that term is enough to prevent me) and glad that I found this article. Something had been irritating me and I couldn’t put my finger on it, until now.

    I have presence all over the net and my main site is on Smug. Smug have had there fair share of this sort of thing as well. There is/was a daily section that had the ability to ‘thumb down’ an image, which was being used/abused to remove an image from the gallery, or if the in-gang didn’t like a photographer:

    Smug, as a matter of interest is first and foremost a display gallery which you can sell images from if you chose (referring to a comment of yours earlier). Since the revamp last year, the site really does offer attractive galleries. I would not join Smugmug for community, though. It really simply offers a great looking web presence.

    I have also had an account at Red Bubble for a while now (who also have their fair share of this sort of thing as well, particularly with challenges). In a group that I moderate, we decided to stop running challenges for this reason. People actually went to the effort of setting up ghost accounts to be able to vote for themselves more than once. There was a time that we offered a $50 voucher as a prize (this has been stopped now, fortunately) and it didn’t take long for the $50 Gang to setup shop!

    So it seems that the VF brigade move around a bit!

    Thanks again

  42. Debra Loberg

    Hi Andy, I appreciated your article and I have to agree with everything you said. I noticed you wrote this back in 2012, and have to say it still applies to the way the site is run today. I joined 500 px a year ago, but only uploaded a few images. I added a few more last week, but noticed nothing had changed. Images that were poorly composed and slightly out of focus had 100s of likes and 50+ favorites. I am glad I never paid to upgrade my membership. I am doing my research on the other sites you mentioned. Thank you for the information.


  43. Neel

    Hi Andy, thanks for this excellent writeup.

    I joined 500px three years ago, and uploaded some work I was proud of, and it received very few views, zero attention. I didn’t think much of it (I am a hobbyist after all) until recently after joining a local photographers’ critique circle. I reposted some of those exact images and suddenly they were Upcoming and Popular! Well it was quite a thrill but honestly they are probably just evidence that the bar for great photographs has just been lowered.

    Despite this, it is nice to actually get views for a change. I suppose these effects go hand-in-hand: as a site builds a user base the expected quality of photos should regress to the mean. So I don’t take too much stock in the Pulse of a photograph – 99.6 is no different than 25.0 if I don’t find your photo interesting.

    But I totally sympathize with the utter lack of useful feedback on 500px. I do leave specific comments on photos that I like. At least I want to comment on something I think was done right (I need practice in how to offer constructive criticism when it comes to photos). And I want to hear things about my photos too. But it simply doesn’t happen. I think people want to be nice to each other’s face and get along and all have popular photos.

    I was led to this post by your other post on 1x, it could be a clique or it could be a great learning tool. I suppose the ultimate goal is to take the best of all these resources and use them as you please. After all, we are masters, not slaves, of the Internet.

    Pardon the rambling; thanks for the site and articles.

  44. Dean Preston

    So far I think 500 px is a great site.
    Like minded photographers getting together to showcase their work to a audience interested in photography.
    The fact that photos only have a 24 hour window to get attention is a good one and gives other photographers a chance to get their work out there.
    It keeps everything current and fresh.
    The fact that there will be “average” photographs appearing and getting more attention than photographs of a higher quality is just a fact of life.
    The pictures I like will always be different from the ones you like.
    Getting a 90% pulse rating is nice but what it’s really about is getting your pictures out there to people who would never ever see your pictures anyway.
    The actual quality on 500 px is very high compared to facebook and other platforms where anything goes.
    Plus 500 px doesn’t limit your audience.
    It’s open to anyone not like facebook which limits your posts to only 5% – 10% of your audience unless you pay. Let’s just embrace people’s creativity and give them a chance to get their work out there and learn the wonderful art of photography.
    Give them encouragement when it’s needed and a chance to be artistic at the same time.

    Happy snapping 🙂

  45. tony

    Such a great blog thank you.

    I would love to know what an ideal photography site would be, and if there was such a site what would everyone suggest.

  46. Isabelle

    Thank you Andy, I won’t bother with 500 now, but I have one question for you….all these media sites are used to promote your work, right?? Which ultimately if it is any good, people will contact you via your email or website to buy your work, right? Could you please tell me then which is the BEST website I could use to display my portfolio and prices? Smug mug? WordPress? Others? I am a French photographer who would like to become a pro. Any feed back would be greatly appreciated. Merci beaucoup!!

  47. Carol Collins

    I found your article when searching for info about 500px. I’ve been on it a couple of years but I really don’t know why. It’s just a place to back up some of my pictures. The only person who ever buys them is me. Which leads to my question. I went on the site to purchase a gallery canvas print and for the life of me I can’t find any way to buy my own pictures. I’ve googled for directions and found nothing. I’m befuddled.


    almost across the board, well intentioned photography forums fall prey to some of these fault. people want to be told, wow, what a great photographer you are, not – “um did you mean for it to be underexposed and out of focus? post that sometime – they will attack you. Revenge rating and cliques killed all interest I ever had in The old had ceased to really function long before the server crashed and their new incarnation is just a “look what I did” forum where any real critiquing is likely to start an argument. several other forums are either too complicated or designed to reward networking to get votes, not so much learning or improving anything. and every one of them could be improved with a little bit of moderating. I use Flickr for the exact reasons you mention, storage and it’s really easy to send a file for free. I will say this about that. I have REALLY enjoyed looking through the work of the wide variety of photographers on Flickr and somewhere in the is some magic. Young photographers by the hundreds teaching themselves about film, doing things with digital that are fun and different and I’ve been inspired by much of it, bored silly by all the “here’s a flower and my kid” photos, but if you have some free time, take a look, the place is full of cool stuff.

  49. DM

    I joined 500px recently and like others its V+F and time of post patterns raised my curiosity level and I found your post as I googled on the topic. Yeah can relate to it very much. Thanks. Not really sure what the solution is. Too many content generators, but too little attention span and time available to consume them.

  50. Frank

    I have been a member of 500px for over a year now. Before I comment further, I must tell you that I have been a college teacher of photography, art history and film since 1979. Most of what I see on 500px that seems to attract attention and it is also prevalent on the Internet is what I call rehashed surrealism. This is quite sad because surrealism was a style that has long since played out for the rest of the art world. The images reek of a clinically sanitized world of constructed perfection. But because of photo imaging programs this version of surrealism has reared its ugly head only to be done again and again. True creativity has long since left the building and what remains is tired and trite. I also see many self-proclaimed photo geniuses who just after a few days of picking up a camera have conquered the medium of photography and bask in the acclaim of their vocal audience. What has happened to photography is now it appears too easy and the challenge of thinking about how to create seems to have taken a back seat to cliche. More and more I see sites riddled with cliche. Even my students succumb to this less than creative convenience. Sadly, I do not think it will get better, instead it will get worse. As a teacher I can only offer some resistance to this democratization of photography by the digital age. It is good to read your blog Andy where another opinion is expressed and the larger trend is challenged.

    • Andy Hutchinson

      Thanks for the great comments, Frank. I guess the world is split up into those who realise all creative expression is a journey without end – and those who think they’ve arrived. 😉

      • Tom

        I cannot disagree with any of these recent comments Andy, but they all do not ask the question..’where now?’.
        Unless we have a peer review group made up of respected – but more importantly, honest professionals, we are just endorsing each other’s points.
        My only thoughts is to open up this issue to the likes of Selby, Koch, Ramelli (or others) that are recognised and held in esteem by us “blind hopefuls”.

    • Annette Flottwell

      Frank and Andy who merits all the praise for starting the discussion, I have discovered 3 factors of (sad) 500px experience.

      -If I got lots of time in the day to go on 500px and vote or comment (which doesn’t happen very often) I get lots of votes. Exactly as you say.
      -If my picture happens too be uploaded at the same time that a person in the US or another country with fantastic internet uploads 20 pics of the same rubbish value within one minute, while my upload took 5 minutes for ONE pic it gets buried in ‘fresh’. No chance of coming up unless you go yourself in the flow and trick somebody into looking at your gallery.
      -if the picture is not TWEAKED it does invariably get less votes than an honest one. I am, like Frank, totally disgusted with the various Topaz, HDR and glow tricks. Also I am totally sick of In camera tweaking like Father Christmas beard water and mushy clouds. Why does a building or a skyline have to be free of people and life? What is the point of in camera filters with fake colours?

      But then, what is the alternative? I have been quickly disenchanted with 1x who clearly prefers artificial to natural, bored with facebook groups. Also ephotozine is quite nice and has some real discussions but the image quality is not good enough. Will give pixoto a try but again, what is out there for real photography?

  51. Graham

    I’ve just joined 500px… and it’s quite interesting to read your piece here: to me it is a recapitulation of what happened on what, 12 years ago? Circular ratings, highly rated family snaps and flower pics, silly advice on cropping 🙂 So I guess it’s the natural cycle of photo sites… sad. Anyway, since I’m new and naive, it has inspired me to pull my camera out and start pointing it at things again. And it doesn’t censure nipples.
    These are good things…

  52. Hans

    Hello Andy,

    You are so right about 500px. I am a member since one year now. I hardly follow anyone since it creates some kind of loyalty. There are enough members (especially women) who have a high ranking on every shot that they upload. Thanks to that loyalty. And now with links to Twitter and Facebook a lot of the members get a huge amount of views. Yes, for a lot of photographers it is all about popularity, not quality. Is it bad? No, they only fool themselves. 500px is still a great place to get inspiration. To learn from those who are really good. Look at photography differently. Just what Graham said, you see it happen on all those sites. You can’t stop it. So be critical, go your own way (as Fleetwood Mac would say) and have fun. And the ranking and pulse? F*CK IT!!

  53. monsterlogic

    I am a newbie to 500px and relatively new to photography in a serious sense. This is what I have found in just two days. As my own experiment to just to see how my photo’s would be received I decided to set up an account to create a portfolio (not realising that I could not do this on a free account. Yes I know, I don’t read everything), Anyway, totally new and with no research into this site and prior to reading this post, I added 20 photo’s and purposely included some of my own personal favourites, a snapshot type piccy and some that I thought were OK. Out of the 20 images 6 scored above 80 two of these went to 93. Now interestingly I have 2200 views and about 10 comments which were all pretty bland. I only had one comment asking me to view their photo’s. The thing is, I have not liked or commented or voted on any other photographers site, therefore, to me, the photo’s which I deemed good attained high scores, albeit bar one which was just a popular subject (lightning) but was really not a great photograph (which I think went to about 83). I also put up a couple of my more arty looking shots which scored quite low. Now to me 500px is a great site except, as I see it, the popularity thing is just the masses voting which eventually gives a medium or average assessment, real art or inventiveness will not be recognised in a masses voting forum, cats, flowers, colourful birds or action shots which happened to capture (mostly by luck) an outstanding event moment, will always win the popularity stakes. I still think it is a good site though, It confirmed in my mind that some of my humble photographs that friends say are stunning do have some merit, my more artistic photographs were expected to score low in this forum but they did have some likes so they cant be all bad, and I guess if I wanted some feedback I could try to contact the persons who liked these images, as I guess that with no V+F favours happening here or no comments on these pictures asking for a return of favour, then maybe these viewers were generally interested in a dark moody street-scape! I think at any one time there will be far more vivid humming bird liker’s than the moody shadows of a well executed street-scape, its about taste, its about genre, and maybe the site needs to be more specific about it’s categories to sort out the avant-garde from the commercial or just plain aesthetic or vividly visual pap. At the end of the day it is all photography, a few workers of the system will not dissuade me, if they are happy to live with them selves then good luck to them.

  54. masya2000

    What a great article! I was on Awesome account with 500px for more than 3 years. What benefits I’ve got so far?… Nothing.
    Today I received an email that my account has expired and I have to renew. I put everything on a scale and started to think and then to google thus got this story. What surprises me is that this article has been written more than 3 years ago and it is still actual! What I was reading here is all the same that I see now. Moreover, custom domain feature is so poorly designed, no SEO at all. Decided to build my own website. Thanks again for the opinions above

  55. AntonioAcuna

    Great article, I have the misfortune of being on the early months of an awesome account and I am rather unimpressed. I have been a flickr user for ages and stayed through the ‘Long Dry Years’ when Yahoo! forgot it existed. I tried 500px because I wanted to up my game as an amateur photographer and start forcing myself to select but a few of the best of what I do.

    I started playing along with some upload scripts from IFTT, which caused complete sets from Flickr to appear in 500px. No issues, I was getting my bearings with 500px and was happy to work through the photos, learn the metadata flow of the site, etc and then ‘clean up’.

    Well, just like monsterlogic, within a few hours some photos were already trending, upcoming, etc…now, some of the photos on the set are very good, I don’t mind saying that (at least I feel so) but some of the photos being faved, etc where the most average of what I had in the set. To make it short, the speed at which things got faved made me wonder if there was any critical assessment involved.

    I think I am staying with Flickr, it is not just my possible best, I share ok and good photos alike there, but not convinced that the awesome account is worth its money yet…

  56. Larry

    Hi Andy,

    Thank you for the brilliant article. I also perused your website and your images are breath taking, and yes NZ is on my bucket list too!

    I found your article helpful because I am at the cross roads of what to do next for my internet presence and sales.

    I am currently on Smugmug and use it as my portfolio and gallery of albums. I have generated no sales from it though, although I think my SEO might be to blame and in the early stages relied on Etsy to generate international sales.

    It was fine but Etsy has changed so much in this past year that I am having a bit of a love hate relationship with it.

    So I am looking for another site to add to my portfolio and to generate internet sales.

    500px was one of my considerations but after your article and everyone’s comments I think i will pass on it! 🙂

    I have considered Fine Art America, and uploaded one image but am a little turned off by the lack of insight I seem to be getting from it. Stats etc.

    I think I will work on my Smugmug SEO first and assess, while I research other options.

    Thanks again.

  57. Steve Branley

    Great article Andy.

    I fully agree with you about Flickr and 500px. I was a long standing member of Flickr, and I tried 500px, but deleted my account after a few months for most of the reasons you stated. I’ve also tried Youpic, but to be honest, it seems to be very similar to 500px. Now I use Ipernity, purely to have my photos online, it’s not as engaging as the old Flickr, but the layout is crisp and clean…..

  58. Marlon van der Linde

    Hi Andy
    I feel the same, and I just paid tonight. Hoping that I can get a refund for being honest. I see the same thing. I uploaded a bunch of crappy happy snaps of my dogs, by accident (in a filepicker batch). I had a bunch of favourites on them, photos where half of the dogs ears are cropped out, or blurred. It’s ridiculous, people are ridiculous.

    May I ask, what do you use nowadays then? I was busy migrating from smugmug, but it seems I am going to stay there and see if I can draw some traffic.

  59. emiliatokes081683

    I would recommend you – at least for a visit and congratulate you for a wonderfully written article 😀 I loved the style – the expressions – very adorable and graphic, poetic at times 😀

  60. bob

    500px has turned into a joke- used to be an ok site- but now you pay for a site to host YOUR photos, and ONLY your photos on YOUR pages, because that is how photo sites work=- not 500px- nope- you pay to display OTHER people’s photos on your site now- as well, the photos are now crammed way down at the bottom of page, cut in half- and when you click o n a photo it takes you to an ugly display

    500px has been the worst experience I’ve ever had with a photo site- I was patient through all the stinking growing pains, broken updates etc- but now this last crap they are pulling was the last straw- when I pay for a photo site, I want MY photos displayed prominently on my portfolio- not crammed and cut off because some design geek thinks he or she knows best what I want for MY photo site

  61. Marlon

    Bob, it is very hard to take you seriously when you phrase it like that, but let me continue.
    It seems you have some aggressive stance against 500px, the real reason we will never know, and it is your business and right. You could spend your life hating whatever you like, no problem.

    However, you have the cat by the balls.
    FYI, I have my photography on Smugmug, 500px and a site I developed myself for a more personal approach.
    All I see is “me me me”. YOU had a bad experience, I did not. Millions of other are not having bad experiences either. I had a bad experience eating a waffle once, you probably didn’t.

    Your misinformation, lack of, ignorance, call it what you want struck me with your dash-punctuated-english scream

    “- when I pay for a photo site, I want MY photos displayed prominently on my portfolio- not crammed and cut off because some design geek thinks he or she knows best what I want for MY photo”

    This is completely ignorant, or you never figured out how it works.

    You DO have everything on your profile page. Your photos ARE INDEED just yours on a page, grouped in sets and categorised(yes, s, not z) the way YOU WANT it. Secondly, you can ignore the (what you so comically call crammed and cut off) Fresh, Popular and Upcoming pages. This is a VERY COOL side effect of your upload. You can pretend they don’t exist, but in the end, even if you don’t go there, they bring views to your photo that a ‘portfolio like’ hosting page will never bring. My SEO’d, domained and beautiful personal site, gets about 400 views a week, my SmugMug profile (and I love these guys, the backup system, the whole shebang) brings me maybe 50-100 views (and I don’t even know from where, I do not advertise it, I do not subscribed to groups). My 500px brings me hundreds of views for every photo I upload. I do not like the FLickr mentality either (I comment you, so comment me back sort of thing), so I ignore those people. I do however spot the real comments between the insincere crud, and when I check it out on their side, I find beauties I can stare at for hours.

    You are using it wrong, and you misunderstand the word “Freedom” and “Features”. You appear to be a naggy 70 year old, or a whiney 14 year old, and it makes your comments hard to read. Furthermore it devalues Andy Hutchinson’s post (which he wrote with creative and technical reasoning, as opposed to your vehement drivel).

    Lastly, the word geek refers to someone who takes a lot of care and attention to technical detail. If most of today’s photographers (and devs, and graphic artists, and electronics designers, and painters) aren’t geeks, then by golly, they are just fooling around and missing a lot.

    If you take anything from this, it is to keep your images hosted everywhere you can. If you don’t like that page on 500px that spotlights your image to thousands of people the minute you uploaded it, then ignore it, and use the portfolio view of your profile. You can extend this useful advice to anything in life. If you drive down the road, and there’s a hotdog stand, YOU DON’T HAVE TO STOP!!! It’s a choice….

  62. CJ

    It was my fault that didn’t do research well before sign-up 500px. & luckily found the issue in short time. Yes! some photos on their Popular page are horrible bad, I couldn’t even look at. some fairly good, but not deserve that high pulse.
    I got this ” ” later on YouTube, It explained everything. I believe robots all-over there around 80~90% now. Photography is a Culture industry which is a Human profession.
    Who kill the Photography industry?

  63. Gerry D'Anza

    Hi I am a quite new to photography and surelly not a pro, but as an Architect and a former artist my eyes are not surely not bad when it comes to judge a nice picture or composition. Well I joined 500px a few weeks ago and posted some nice (not amazing but nice) shots. Well I was quite sad to see really terrible shots getting hundrends of likes while I never reached more than 10 then I understood that its all about followers and following, nothing really to do with quality of the posted images.

  64. Rick Landry

    I am relatively new to 500px. I had been on Flickr for eight years, and was frustrated with a Photostream which in actuality becomes more of an archaeological dig site: great images become helplessly layered over, until they are effectively buried from site. I managed 48 ‘Explores’, but never understood how or why images made it in. So now I’ve dusted off some of the Flickr entombed images and shifted them over to 500px, where they enjoyed a brief rebirthing.
    But by this time, I have begun to notice the downside of 500px, as has been so well-documented here in Andy’s Forum. Bummer.
    I have a question no one has addressed, and I have no idea who/where to inquire? So I’m tossing it out here And hoping it will stick: how do these guys with 16 MILLION views keep the total of their photos posted well below a hundred count?when I remove images, it appears to me that this action subtracts the associated views as well? How do you keep your total views growing yet keep the total number of images posted down to a reasonable or manageable count? It seems to me that if one doesn’t do this, the Flickr Archaeological Dig Syndrome will rear its ugly head?
    Confused in Montana.

    • Geoff

      Gerry, I agree with what you say. There is one guy at the top of the tree on 500px who must spend all his days clicking on likes for photos just to get them in return.It is all about a false ego trip and not about the quality.

  65. Marlon The SittingDuck

    It’s been 2 years since my last comment, and things are even worse now. 500px have done nothing but choose money over photography. Bots, like-for-likes… Still have some stuff there, but i have stopped voting or looking at others. Me and my wife, we’re using it to host and display our self-critiques work, screw the rest.

  66. Thomas Logan

    Just my two-cents, and I couldn’t agree with most of what was said here… recently my Pro account expired and everything I have uploaded since has (on average) gotten about 15 pts. on the “pulse” lower than when I was pro. It could all be in my head, but it’s been pretty clear on the numbers. I have no idea what math goes into those calculations but too many things seem very odd, notwithstanding all the game-playing going on to increase your likes. As one member commented above, I simply don’t have time for that. Between what Instagram and 500px needs to maintain your popularity, one would have to hire at lease one full-time person to sit all day and comment, like and spread love all over the world to keep the statistics in your favor.

  67. Federico

    Stephan, a good question. I am wondering the same.500px needs to fix their forums. Nobody shares anything even remotely meaningful, the is no activity and the “reddit” style approach is just so deeply flawed. The v+f could die very easy, if they could charge by the amount of people you follow, exponentially. You cannot possible keep track of more than 50 people. 100 could be a limit of Pro. And 1000+ should be reserved for those buying work, or partners (like Adobe). If you BREAK the symmetry of tit for tat liking, then Follow would become a more serious reason. Also, the algorithm should note how often you really check the work of those you Follow. If you have little engagement, it should downgrade Notifications without actual Following. And the big challenge is how to get non Photographers engaged. I think having in some museums a place for “Digital photography” could rotate curated Albums, and these albums could be displayed in 25 museums on the same day, even if just 1 room each, on a related topics. And the names of the photographers displayed along with 1 paragraph videos. This would require voting Albums. I also think to make things work, the shared photos should only display with certain (low) max resolution, and the most interesting way to sell photos should be to let buyer OWN the photo (a copyright). While they want to follow the music or movie business model, part of what makes physical artists more unique, is that only one person owns some physical Rembrandt or sculpture. I think we need to replicate that. People want to OWN something (even if it’s shared with the owner the right to copies, but never to sublicense to multiple), not just share and stare at the same thing maybe 5 or 150,000 have as wallpapers. So if somebody walks into my home, I could know I financed these photos, and they will only be able to see them at my house. is this selfish? yes. But that’s also why there’s an endless market for wedding photography…because nobody ever cares one bit about other people weddings, or lack there of. It’s their wedding, it’s them, it’s theirs, and it’s pretty. Photos purchased could still be available to view in low res, with indication of who owns it and how to see it high res. i think at some point, something better will come out, that creates work, interest, sense of uniqueness to make people want to own great photography…not just pay $50 for a download, or $1 and have nothing more special than a $1 investment that’s worth nothing more. And those purchasing the photos, should be allowed to sell them. So you as a buyer could buy all high quality carnival photos, from 72 photographers, and then kind of own that category. I think photography’s problem with stock sites, Flickr, instagram, is that they are all about getting more members to pay for advertisement and maximize people sharing and connections, without any real purpose in mind other than reading your stats, displaying to you, and selling your personal information and time spend for cents.

  68. Roger Kohlmann

    Well, maybe I am not in the position to leave a comment, cause I’m a bloody beginner trying to learn from others and from critics…so I am one of the bad or low quality photo contributors. Sorry for that… My solution would be to create a beginner category and just the members willing to help them see their work. Furthermore implement also a Marketplace to sell photos without any likes, so just potential customers decide what they wanna buy, you can count and publish the sales! They are real and not fake. And for the “ego trippers” make a third category for competitions. Just my non professional thoughts…

  69. Eva

    my name is Eva and I have just deleted my account in 500px I use photoshop and do light painting and color creative commons free copy right images and I drop birds and animals etc in some of my images I love doing phantasy images I spent 4 years learning to be okay in photoshop and all its magic I like being creative but i have just been warned by 500px that this is no longer exceptable they will now only except that everything must be taken with a camera no drop ins no enhancements which are not natural and taken by me I find this so limiting for imagination and being creative i was warned i would be banned if I did not adhere to these rigid rules
    I was so dissappointed and felt it was no longer worth being on this site so i closed my account it seems i am not the only one who has had the same problem with the moderators on 500px

    • Polo Borbon

      Sadly 100asa is more of the same. Their curators are chosen randomly, To curate an image means to establish a motive with the author of the image: why, how and when… Not to criticize about what the curator thinks is his art. Photography is art but manipulations on photoshop aren not. That would be digital software. Creating a unicorn from a horse. Curators within 100asa look to some type of images and that’s it. It becomes a race towards who has the best image (manipulated) of i/e El Capitan in Yosemite. As if painting 1000 times the Mona Lisa would finally produce a better image than the original. All these websites should be fun. And those that curate images should teach, not criticize nor accept tens of comments just to increase the narcissism of some infatuated curators.

  70. Terry Stahly

    The people who run or moderate this site are horrible. The stats feature which I really enjoyed which tells what countries your views are coming from for the last 7 says, 30 days and all time was something I liked. I liked the favorites, most commented, most used lens and cameras breakdowns for the same three time frames very much also. This has been broken for four or five months now. Nobody at 500px will return an email or even respond to say it will be fixed let alone when. When you are a pro member with 32,000 affections who posts a pic almost every day I do not like to have my last fifteen emails over the last five months totally ignored. Without the stats I have little use for 500px and now a disdain for the people who operate it. I enjoy and recently uploaded my best to Flickr now that they support high resolutions but am being careful. The last time years ago on Flickr it was uploading pics off my computer and phone without my knowledge or any actions on my part and I deleted my account.

Leave a Reply to Annette Flottwell Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

contact me