There are a tremendous amount of photography communities online. It can be overwhelming, especially if your aim is to build a successful portfolio on a social platform. They all promise great feedback, recognition, and a sense of belonging. How do you know which to choose when so many options are available? Since online portfolios can lead to valuable job opportunities, it's important to find a place where you feel comfortable as an artist. Comparison is crucial when it comes to finding that comfort.
I have broken down four website that focus primarily on photography: 500px, Flickr, DeviantArt, and Instagram. I'll highlight their main objectives, why they're valuable, and the disadvantages of joining them. The reason I chose these specific websites is that they're widely known (and loved), they support photographers, and they provide artists with unique ways to showcase their work. I hope this list gives you a better idea of these elements so that you can confidently choose the best website to showcase your work.
If all you need is a website to share with potential clients, 500px is for you. The cheapest premium account (which provides users with advanced statistics and a Google Analytics tracker) costs $1.46 a month. The website has absolutely no ads, so any premium benefits consist of personalized profiles and the aforementioned statistics, allowing individuals with free accounts to enjoy the website just as much as premium users.
500px is also photography oriented, meaning that other kinds of art (such as illustrations) are non-existent there. As a result, most users in the community are photographers themselves, people who are eager to give feedback and meet like-minded artists. This close-knit community prevents spam mail from taking over, which means that you're guaranteed to receive valuable feedback and loyal followers at all times. Because there's no private messaging system, commenting is the most popular form of communication.
Photo contests (also known as Quests) are updated and changed often. These quests are available to all users and are free of charge. The prizes vary - cameras, flight tickets, and photography equipment - depending on the difficulty of the competition and the company that sponsors it. Contests aren't the only way to earn recognition on 500px; editors are regularly on the lookout for striking images to feature in the Editors' Choice section of the website. Features of the sort provide photographers with even more exposure and valuable connections.
500px is ideal for those who want to be a part of a large and growing community of photographers. If you need an organized portfolio which shows others how many followers and photo views you have, then this website is perfect for you.
DeviantArt focuses on many types of art. It supports a rich diversity of artistic categories from around the world. DeviantArt is an open forum and has become a very personal - almost intimate - community where feedback is in charge. Unfortunately, such openness can attract unwanted attention and it is common to come across rude users and offensive content.
Unlike 500px, DeviantArt is filled with ads. These can be removed by upgrading to Core accounts, the most affordable plan costs $15 for three months. A Core membership will also give you extra profile features and discounts. If you ignore the ads, you'll be able to enjoy a neatly designed gallery where you can share your interests, newest photos, and journal entries.
Private communication depends on a "note" system, a user-friendly feature that allows artists to communicate with the people they care about. There are many communities on DeviantArt whose main objective is to feature artists of all types. Sharing your work with these groups with the help of notes will provide you with an opportunity to gain recognition and/or constructive criticism.
If you want to familiarize yourself with new art genres and find a warm community, DeviantArt is for you. If discovering art is your priority, then any offensive content can be blocked and lots of interesting creations can be enjoyed.
Flickr mostly revolves around photography, though it's also open to both digital and traditional drawings. Like 500px and DeviantArt, Flickr has a very neat gallery system that is easy to navigate. It has a messaging system called Flickr mail, which makes communication very easy. Thanks to this mailing system, it's possible to contact many noteworthy photography magazines on the website which could increase your chances of getting job opportunities and recognition. This form of communication also makes it easy to connect with artists you admire.
Flickr possesses the qualities of both DeviantArt (a familial warmth) and 500px (a visually appealing gallery). It can be a personal blog where each image comes with a description, a less personal portfolio, or a mix of both. Because of this, it's safe to say that Flickr is the ideal place for artists who want a mix of blogging and photo sharing in their portfolios.
Flickr is also filled with ads; to remove them, users can upgrade to a Pro account for a monthly charge of $5.99.
Though Instagram is known for phoneography, many professional photographers have begun to use the successful app as a portfolio. Of all the communities mentioned, Instagram is the neatest and most organized. Viewing profiles is easy on the eyes thanks to the square format. Descriptions can be edited easily to share the most important information about you and your photography. Instagram allows users to share live videos using a feature called "Story." These live videos can be saved and seen by anyone for a limited amount of time.
Tagging is often used on Instagram. Photographers often use tags relevant to their work - for example, portrait photographers could use: #portraitmood, #photographysouls, and #tangledinfilm - to gain new followers and a potential feature by popular photography accounts. In addition to tagging, users can send each other direct messages to express their admiration, offer project ideas, or simply ask a question. It's also possible to unsend messages and send pictures using this system.
There are no premium features on Instagram, but there are occasional sponsored ads and user recommendations that will appear on your feed. Other than that, you and your preferences will control your feed. This is a powerful tool worth using.
Being a part of all 4 communities at once would be ideal. However, it would be just as ideal to focus solely on one website and share your very best work there. Consistency is key. If you simply want a minimalistic portfolio that allows you to receive feedback, you'd love 500px. If the social aspect of photography sparks your interest, try out Flickr. Want to familiarize yourself with other types of art? Join DeviantArt. I would recommend using 500px as a portfolio and Instagram as a behind-the-scenes account open to everyone. This would allow you to reveal two sides of yourself: the professional, skilled artist and the real person behind the camera.
Whichever community you choose, I wish you infinite success and inspiration.
About the Author: Taya Iv is an admirer of books, nature, and photography; She spends her life loving (and writing about) all three. She hopes to inspire others to find beauty in everything - including themselves - and to make the most of what they have.