I’ve got a paid account to 3 of the bigger photo sharing sites out there. Every year I pay Flickr £16 for a pro account, £25 to Blipfoto and last year for the first time, I forked out approx £24 for an Awesome account on 500px.
Now, I don’t grudge these costs. With Flickr I get unlimited uploads which means I really use Flickr as unlimited storage for all my shots and over the years, Flickr has been pretty good to me in terms of exposure. I’ve had a fair few enquiries about using my pics after being found on Flickr so £16 isn’t a massive expense.
Blipfoto is the most expensive of the 3 and it’s the most restrictive but I don’t grudge it to Blipfoto at all. Paying for an account keeps the site ad free and the few extra features are nice even though I don’t really use them that much, but Blip is a friendly place and it’s nice to in some way support a site like that.
500px was the new kid on the block that exploded last year. Immediately I started using it I was pretty blown away by the whole look of the site, pictures just looked so much better over on 500px. It was a pretty slick website and after a couple of months I went for the “Awesome” account.
All was good until a recent update on 500px. Over the years I’ve seen Flickr change, but it’s been gradual, little bit at a time, nothing too drastic. Blipfoto has largely been kept the same over the years but again has had a programme to simple feature adding while retaining the look and feel of the site.
500px though went for big one, a full change of the site. From one day to the next the website I signed up for changed totally. What’s more, I don’t like it. I really don’t like it.
Facebook changed recently too, people spoke about it as if it was the end of the world and it was pretty subtle changes. Google too change regularly, they’ve overhauled everything recently, the old Gmail I’ve used for years changed overnight. So has Twitter, it’s website constantly making big changes but I’ve never uttered a word about any of these.
Any why? Because I don’t PAY to use any of them. They provide a FREE service that I choose to use. I can walk away at any time and it’s not cost me a penny. If I don’t like it I’m free to take myself elsewhere. It’s their baby and they can do what they like with it. Same goes for everyone who has their own website, you can do what the hell you like with it.
So what’s the issue with 500px? The issue quite simply is I had a paid account, I liked what I saw and on that basis I signed up to use 500px. Now with 3 months of paid for time left on my account they have changed the site, I don’t like it and I’m not going to continue using it. Had it been like this when I first signed up, I wouldn’t have paid for it.
And this brings us to the big question, do these sites have any right to make changes if they have paid subscribers? More so, do they have the right to make whole scale changes to the entire look and feel of a site with paid subscribers on board?
It’s a tricky balance, on one hand yes, of course we want websites to evolve and take account of new styles and technology, it’s one of the underlying building blocks of the internet. On the other hand, do we sign up for a product and have a right to expect it to remain largely unchanged while we pay for it?
It’s a tricky one.
For my part, I would expect a website to evolve but not totally change if I’ve paid for it. The look and feel of a site should remain and changes should be subtle and if they are not, the paying customers should have some say or even the ability to shut their account and be refunded the remaining outstanding credit if they feel strongly enough. The whole game changes as soon as you start asking for payment to use a site or offering a paid alternative.
If B&Q showed you a kitchen and you liked it so much you paid them to put it into your house, would you be happy if you got home to find they installed a different one because they liked that one better?
For over 2 years now I’ve regularly used 2 photo sharing websites. The almighty Yahoo monster that is Flickr and the smaller Edinburgh based Blipfoto. To date I’m approaching 2000 uploads to Flickr and nearly 600 in Blipfoto. Both sites are heavily focused on the social networking theme but the main difference between the 2 is that you can only upload one single image a day to Blipfoto, and only on the day you take it making it more of a photo journal than Flickr.
So, why do I upload to both?
I get different things from both sites. Like I’ve already said, both sites could be termed as social networks. You have the ability to follow certain peoples uploads on both, add comments and favourites. Where the big difference lies though is that Flickr is very much a give to receive mentality. Comment regularly on others work on Flickr and in turn you’ll get a load of comments back yourself. This though, in my opinion, leads to sycophantic commenting by some who are just desperate to collect as many comments as possible on their work, genuine or not.
Blipfoto on the other hand is a very giving community. People comment because they like your photo, not because you drop by every day and leave a one word comment on theirs. Of course the give to receive thing does happen, you see some very average pics with stacks of comments but it’s not the norm, at least in my experience. It’s a more genuine, friendlier atmosphere on Blipfoto.
If your looking however to the more technical side of photography and a strive for the best images you can take then Flickr is the place for you. With so many uploads to Flickr of course it has it’s fair share of dross but cut through it and you will find a whole host of very talented individuals posting regularly and a lot of these are happy to share the settings, filters, techniques etc used to get the shots.
Blipfoto on the other hand suffers badly from the photograph anything brigade. It’s very nature of a photo a day leads people to photograph anything just to keep up their perfect tally of a photo every day. Looking at it’s front page of most recent uploads there’s less beautiful landscapes or creative images than there are quick snaps of peoples kids, cats, toilets or indeed anything that will let them post a pic with the minimum of effort. That’s not to say the photographic content is suffering as there are some incredible photos uploaded to Blip, you just have to look a bit harder to find them.
Another side effect, I’ve found, of this photo a day business is that it really does get you out taking pictures. Of course, some prefer to not leave the confines of their house and photograph the back grass growing in order to fulfil and upload but for me it gets me out and about nearly every night and as a consequence, I will happily credit Blipfoto as part of the overall package that makes we want to be a better photographer. I very rarely compromise by Blipfoto uploads these days, I won’t post and iPhone shot for the sake of it, I’d rather not upload so this actually does make me get up of my arse and get out with the camera. From my own journal on Blipfoto I can see that my own photos have massively improved since I first started to upload. Out practicing every night has to pay dividends in the end. Flickr doesn’t give you this drive and there’s no incentive to upload every day.
I won’t go into the features of both sites, suffice to say that if you subscribe to either you get access to a whole host of exclusive features that will just about satisfy anything you need from a photo site.
So, which do I prefer? Well, ask me this 2 years ago and the answer would have been Flickr without having to think about it. Now, after spending lots of time on both sites, watching them evolve, becoming immersed in their communities if I could have only one, it would be Blipfoto.
I strive to upload every day to Blipfoto and to upload as best an image as I can. Flickr now is largely an online depositary for my images. Comments on Blip tend to mean more to me that those on Flickr, I’ve been called an inspiration lately on Blipfoto; I’ve been told I photograph the same old crap on Flickr. See what I mean about the friendly thing? There’s no doubt that Flickr has opened more photographic opportunities for me and it’s where I go if I’m looking for ideas of locations, how to use particular filters etc but it’s just not got that feel good factor anymore.
If you’ve never tried Blipfoto, sign up a free account and give it a go, but please… try and resist photos of your kids, granny on the bog, your dinner, sunsets on your mobile phone but most of all… please don’t blip your cat!
200,000 and counting on Flickr
200,000 page views and counting
My most popular image according to Flickr is Danbo on a firework, this reached Explore number 2 and the Front Page as well.
My own personal favourite is this image of Calton Hill, its also the view I’ve photographed most in Edinburgh. This reached a high of 15 in Explore and went front page as well. This image was also published by the Edinburgh Evening News:
My First front page image was this abstract number which went as high as number 24 in Explore:
This was my 2nd Front Page image which curiously only went as high as 48 in Explore, usually out the range of a FP image:
My 5th and latest FP was this shot taken in Princes Street, Edinburgh which went as high as number 22:
I’ve now had 90 images in Explore, of which this slightly embarrassing shot was the very first:
The rest of my Explore images can be seen here
Thanks to everyone who’s every commented, fav’d or even viewed my stuff on Flickr!