If you're new to sharing your photos online you may be wondering which websites provides the best platform. Wether you're looking for feedback, be it likes or constructive criticism, a photography orientated community or simply a gallery URL you can link your friends and family to, you'll probably end up picking between these three sites. I'm going to quickly run through the pros and cons of each platform, in the hope of making that decision easier for you!
Owned by Yahoo, Flickr was for a time the main player in the photo sharing website pool. It retains a large user base although its updates are infrequent and the user interface can feel quite dated.
- Exif data can be displayed by uploaders, and often is. This allows you to see the settings with which the picture was taken as well as the camera/lens combination. If you're struggling with the technical side of photography this can be a useful guideline, provided you can find pictures similar to the ones you're attempting to take.
- Flickr is almost entirely made up of photographers and photography enthusiasts, and there are multiple groups and threads dedicated to different aspects of photography from macro to medium format film.
- Yahoo gives you an enormous amount of storage space. Unless you're uploading hundreds of photos a day it's unlikely you'll hit capacity. The photos are also stored at a higher resolution than traditional social media sites allowing you to use flickr as a back-up, in case you lose your hard drive.
- Flickr can be a bit of an echo chamber for self-promoting accounts. You'll find a lot of posts along the lines of 'Hey love your picture - check out my page www.********.com'. Whilst this is true of most social photography sites it is particularly prevalent here. You can even be tagged with 'awards', essentially clickbait for these praise accounts and their followers.
- Your photos can be stolen. Flick has little to get in the way of anyone who wants to right click your image and download it. Depends how much you care about copyright violation, some people are very nervous about this.
- The user interface is not quite as polished as other sharing sites.
Similar to Flickr in most respects 500px presents a slightly more modern interface. Its standout feature is the 'pulse' score it gives each image: a measure of the images reception by the community. Get enough likes and your photo can move up from 'Fresh' to 'Upcoming', 'Popular' and with luck 'Editor's choice'.
- Exif data displays both camera information and settings used.
- Photos can be licensed through the 500px marketplace feature.
- Pulse score gives you a sense of how well each photo is received. Getting into popular or Editors pick feels pretty good and can reinvigorate your desire to get out and take photos.
- Integrated portfolios can be set up via your 500px profile.
- Similar 'Check out my site!' commenters to Flickr, but to a lesser extent.
- A lot of the photos with high pulse scores are very oversaturated HDR like photoshop concoctions. This doesn't apply to all of them but it's a large part of the community, if this is your thing I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, it's just something you have to accept when using the site.
- Paid features requiring subscriptions for portfolios and to remove the upload/day cap.
Everyone knows Instagram. Retro filters and coffee selfies aside it can offer you the largest audience of any photo-sharing platform around, and you probably already have it on your phone. Your friends already have it and probably already follow you, why would you go anywhere else? Maybe I'm just being biased.
- Huge user base giving you the widest possible audience. You, your friends (and probably your mum) already has it installed on their phones.
- Free to use, no upload limit.
- Hashtag tagging system allows you to put your images where people will see them.
- Integrated geotagging.
- You can only upload images through your phone, so dropbox and a wifi signal are pretty much mandatory.
- The aspect ratios can be tricky, apps such as Instasize allow you to sidestep this by filling in your image with white borders. (The days of the 1x1 square are over, but portraits have to conform to 5x7)
- Spam accounts, bot followers, marketing tags. You'll have to sort the wheat from the chaff.
- You'll have to sort your private account from your 'serious' photography account if you want to build up followers. If you post some stunning images from your DSLR one weekend then a picture of your name on a Starbucks cup the next you're likely to lose some fans. Likewise you have to spend a lot of time interacting with other people's feeds to find the best hashtags to use.