500px is aimed directly at photographers who want a professional portfolio that’ll stand out in a crowd, without the headache of trying to organise a dedicated site. It’s certainly got the “professional” edge over Flickr, and provides some neat options for sharing, promoting and exhibiting your work on the web.
If you really love the service then you can upgrade your account for a yearly sum, though it’s the free option we’ll be exploring here.
First of all you’ll need to register, either by connecting your Facebook account or entering an email and username. Don’t worry too much about the username you choose, your real name is displayed in big, bold letters on 500px.
From this rather short initiation you’ll be taken to the dashboard where you’re given the option of uploading photos, exploring user content or finding photographers to follow. If you chose email registration then you’ll need to activate your account by clicking a link in the 500px welcome email. Once you’ve done this you can upload to the site, with the inviting Upload button.
With a free account you can upload a maximum of 20 photos per week, with a maximum filesize of 30MB. Unfortunately only JPEG images are accepted, so no PNGs, TIFFs or various RAW formats though you can upload 10 at a time using Flash.
Personally I found the fancy Flash uploader problematic as it wouldn’t recognise any JPEG files on my machine (and crashed the uploader whenever I cancelled the upload window). I’m guessing this was to do with Chrome on Linux and had no issues using the simple uploader.
After choosing and uploading suitable material, 500px will take you back to your dashboard and hopefully your new photos will appear in front of you. Clicking on the image will take you to a large image view which contains some EXIF data (camera manufacturer and model, focal length, shutter speed, aperture and ISO) and a lot of share buttons.
There is also a comments box afoot the image which allows others to praise and critique your work. The image view is particularly awesome in my opinion as it does away with distracting sidebar elements seen in other photo sharing services and gives full prominence to the image.
Creating Your Portfolio
Before we proceed it might be worth filling in your basic information and uploading an image as this is automatically used on your portfolio. To do this simply click Settings next to your username in the top right and add as much detail as you like. As well as your social media accounts and personal websites, there’s an option to add your camera, lenses and other equipment.
In order to get your portfolio off the ground, click on the Portfolio link in the main menu bar. Creating your exhibition is a four stage process that involves choosing photos, a design, a biography and a few last tweaks. Before you can do anything, you must create a collection or two – essentially categories or albums.
Once you’ve named and created a collection, click on its name to add or edit photos. Adding a photo is as simple as clicking it, and when you’re done hit Save changes. Next you’ll need to specify a design, of which there are 7 free and 4 premium choices. Add a biography on the About page, tweak options on the Settings page and if you’ve got your own URL you can set it up on the Domain page.
After all that you’ll probably want to take a look at your portfolio. The quickest way to get there is username.500px.com, which is your public link. You’re inevitably going to need more content in order to make it the perfect place to exhibit your photography, but it’s not bad for 5 minutes work.
One of the great advantages to using 500px is the instant community that comes with it. Since you’ve got hordes of fellow photographers using the service, each as obsessed as you, you’re also party to the perfect platform for some great critique and commentary. You can blog (via the You link then Blog), add fellow 500px members as friends, send messages and comments, build up a decent collection of favourites and of course simply browse some of the awesome photos on offer.
A free account with 500px gives you plenty to work with. If you were to upload 2 images a day then you’d still have 6 spare slots at the end of the week. As a rule you should only ever choose your absolute best shots for any portfolio so 20 a week is (in theory) more than enough to keep your followers hungry for more.
Of course if you love the service, take lots of keepers and would like to show your support it’s only $50 a year to remove the restrictions.
Have you signed up for 500px? What do you think? Do you prefer your own website or an all-in-one solution? Develop your comments in the dark room below.