To be a photographer in the digital age is to have accounts and profiles on ten different sites. Photo sharing is the way that many of us get our photos seen, critiqued, and shared. However, most of the better ones require you to pay a little and most of us only have so much time or money to spare. Which ones are worth your coin? Which ones are worth the time?
It’s hard to start a conversation about photo-sharing websites without first mentioning Flickr. It’s the Microsoft of the photo-sharing world. It has a massive user base, tons of features, and has been around forever. Flickr is undoubtedly a great service with iPhone/Android apps, geo-tagging for photos, and excellent organization options such as sets (Flickr’s version of albums) and collections.
Flickr also has an active community of users that are constantly looking at, tagging, commenting and sharing photos. In addition, there are groups that cater to specific types of photography (such as “Street Photography” or “Animal photography”) where you can talk to fellow photographers, share your images, and have them critiqued.
Flickr has a free version that allows you to upload 200 MB per month and 2 videos, but as you can guess, that will not be enough for most photographers. The paid version ($25) has unlimited storage. In addition, iPhoto, Lightroom, and Aperture all feature plug-ins that will let you export directly to the site. Now that couldn’t be more easy.
Bottom Line: Great all around sharing, even better if you plan to use the built-in community
500PX is the new young gun on the block. In many ways, they are challenging Flickr’s core user base: talented photographers. 500PX is catered to professional or very serious amateur photographers. The quality of work on the site is fantastic and it includes many of the same great features that Flickr has, such as commenting and favorites. However, 500PX is a minimalist design. A profile page will feature a small bio, the “likes” statistics for a user, and their images. That’s it. This puts the emphasis on the photos but it does eliminate many of the useful community features that make Flickr so great.
A great way to think about 500PX is view it as your portfolio. What are the absolute best images you want everyone to see? If you want a place to put all your images Flickr might be the better option. The free version of 500PX encourages this view by allowing you 10 uploads per week to “showcase your best photos” while still giving you a personal store to sell your images. This is one of the great ways that 500PX caters to photographers. Anytime a user clicks on an image, there is a link below (so long as you choose to) to purchase a print of the image. It’s a great way to bring in side income if your photos are strong enough to stand out.
500PX has two paid subscription options Plus ($20/year) and Awesome ($50/year). Both offer unlimited uploads, sets and advanced statistics. However the Awesome option gives you your own subdomain and personalized portfolio.
Bottom Line: Great for showing your portfolio and selling images; not great for uploading large catalogs of images
Picasa Web Albums
Picasa Web Albums is Google’s version of Flickr, a photo storage site integrated with GooglePlus. Google generally makes very good products so its easy to rely on their reputation when picking to use Picasa. However, Picasa is more about personal photo storage than the community-type space that is Flickr or 500PX. Picasa does however often unlimited photo storage for photos at 2,048x2,048 pixels. Anything larger and you are limited to 1GB of storage. Expanded storage is based on Google Drive which means that the pricing is reasonable and you can use it for any type of cloud storage you need.
The problem with Picasa is that it is a very basic site. While it features options for slide shows, collages, geotagging, sharing, and easy integration with Blogger (if you use that platform), it also lacks many of the professional photographer directed features of Flickr or 500PX. Picasa is really a photo-storage solution for your everyman. It isn’t tailored to photographers. Think of it like an online version of iPhoto, not Lightroom.
Bottom Line: Great as general online storage for your images, not so great for sharing or showing your portfolio
Stay tuned for Part Two of our review of Photo Sharing sites, including SmugMug, Zenfolio, and PhanFare.