What I learned from posting pictures on 500px

This year’s summer and autumn really had a great impact on my photography journey, in terms of things I had the chance to photograph, as well as people I got to meet along the way. I got to shoot a lot of street, portrait, underwater, and even night photography – and combined those categories in what I consider to be my luckiest shot catalog so far.

I decided to post pictures on Instagram, as it was the ‘main’ social media platform for pictures, and had the largest audience to begin with. But soon enough, I found out that my conviction was far from the truth. Instagram simply didn’t reach my expectations of what it means to ‘share’ a photograph.

Using Instagram made me rethink my strategy.

What bothered me the most was that even though I had a public creator profile, my content only reached my followers or friends – which is right the opposite of what Instagram is trying to market with their business tools. That made me rethink my strategy, and finally, switch to 500px. With that, I mean to continue posting photos that I want my friends to see on Instagram (I switched back to private account), and post other photographs on 500px.

I used 500px before in 2016 for a short amount of time, just before I started using Instagram – and to be honest, I thought that 500px would be dead by now. But interestingly, there’s more going on nowadays than I remember happening three years ago. In just six weeks, my photos gained almost fifteen-thousand views and gathered above a thousand likes, which is more exposure than Instagram got me in half a year.

500px, despite similarities with Instagram (likes, comments and followers), takes a whole different approach to ranking photographs. There are three categories of photos – fresh, upcoming, and popular. When you upload a photo, it automatically gets put into the ‘fresh’ category, as the name suggests. That is the category in which the least amount of people will see your photo but is also the most important.

Each photo has it’s own ‘pulse’ number.

If your photo does great in the ‘fresh’ category by getting enough views and likes, it gets transferred into the ‘upcoming’ category, and similarly, it can get featured in the top category, named ‘popular’. In this category, your photograph can get the most exposure but also competes against the current best photographs, which depending on the situation can be both positive or negative. 

Besides the different categories, each photo has each own ‘pulse’, a number reaching up to one-hundred, which basically tells how popular your photo is. I’m not completely sure how their algorithms function, but from my experience, the pulse depends on the photo’s likes and views. The most popular photographs will reach from a pulse of ninety up to a pulse of one-hundred.

500px audience view photographs differently.

The outcome of posting a photo on 500px is completely different from posting the same photo on Instagram. The photo that is considered ‘instagramable’ isn’t surely going to do well on 500px and vice versa for 500px beloved photos on Instagram. The audience on 500px is mostly composed of photographers, which from my experience view photos a bit differently. 

Sometimes a photo I think is great will not do so well, and other times a photo I consider to be average will do a lot better – which is good because it gives you a different perspective on your work. Similarly, 500px gave me a new perspective on social media, and how it could be different just if we switched the algorithms up a bit. I hope this article makes you wonder about social media, and perhaps gives you a new perspective.


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