The internet is a place where I spend a huge amount of time, to learn, to be inspired, to promote, and to get appreciation. Mainly photography related. Of course I have a website (the one you are looking at now) and a Facebook page. I use both to show and promote my work. Next to my Facebook page I also have a personal Facebook account with which I visit photography related groups. In these groups I post photos to get feedback and to discuss about my work and that from others. It is a nice way to spend your spare time if nothing better presents itself.
But next to these I also participate on several other websites. Mainly what they call curator websites. For those not familiar with curator websites, these are sites where you can post your work and other people, sometimes other members, and sometimes professionals, will comment on, and criticize your work. And you as submitter hope to receive good critiques and comments, as in peers who appreciate your work. Every curator website has its own way of handling these comments and critique (CC). Some award you for the number of likes, and others are mainly driven by the judgement of the website administrators.
Next to the curator websites I also try my luck once in a while by joining a competition. There are several examples that you can find on the internet. My impression is that they differ a lot. Not only in the prices they award but also in the way they judge your work. There are photo competitions that are mainly judged by other members and in my opinion that is all about the number of friends or followers you have. The more you promote your work the more votes you get. If someone can explain to me what that has to do with the quality of your work, please feel free to enlighten me. There are a few websites that combine the member votes with a professional team of judges. I do understand that they cannot judge thousands of photos and that they ask the ‘community’ to pre-select, but again you will never end up in the final selection without the help of your followers / friends. My preference goes to sites that have a lower exposure, so the judges can still manage to pick themselves due to the limited amount of entries. Or you can aim even higher and go for competitions where the quality is on a high level and the entries are limited to only quality work. Of course the competition will be way tougher on those sites. For those that are interested two of the sites where I try my luck are, Gurushots.com and DigiPhoto pro. Gurushots ensures that the members vote but based on how they judge your work and not based on a follower principle. DigiPhoto Pro is a small (Dutch) website that is judged by the site owners and not by the members. But I am deviating from the subject.
Okay back to the subject of this article. Which curator websites do I use? There are basically three websites in my favorites, youpic.com, 500px.com and 1x.com. I did put them in this particular order for a reason. The first one has a medium level of professionalism, the second has a higher level, and the last one has the highest level of professionalism. For me the level of professionalism indicates a few things. First of course the quality of work presented on the site, second the amount of ‘new’ work you will be able to find, third, the quality of feedback you will receive on your own work, and last but not least it indicates how difficult it is to get you work published in the right places.
Is easy accessible and uses a system where they automatically handpick (I will explain later) photos to be placed on what they call the Inspiration Flow. Once you upload a photo other users can like them (make it a favorite) and they can repic a photo. Favorite is similar to a Facebook like and a repic places the photo on their flow so it is presented to their fans and this will give you extra exposure (and possibly more favorites). Several times a day the inspiration flow is populated with work that had ‘enough’ favorites and repics. They state that the manually check the photos to ensure that no offensive work is being published but myself and several others have noticed that they also handpick to prevent too much similar work is published. I have examples of a series that looked fairly similar and all photos scored higher than average. They only published one on the inspiration flow. When I confronted them with this they explained that they are trying to keep the inspiration flow as inspirational as possible and that they are working on a better algorithm to be released in the near future. Besides inspiration they also pick daily a cover photo which is seen as the highest achievement you can get. The fun thing is that they work with Honors and Awards which motive you (or at least me) to do better. My current achievement is that I have 7 awards, 1 honor and 36 inspiration photos (out of 100 entries) . I like the site a lot and I spend a fair amount of time there.
This was the first curator website I started to use. They have a totally automated system. Again it is based on the likes and feedback of your peers and the more likes you get the higher your score. People can also mark you photo as favorite which saves it so they can view it later. Based on the score percentage you go through different stages. From ‘Fresh’ (0%-70%) to ‘Upcoming’ (70%-80%), and then to ‘Popular’ (80%-99.9%). Every time you move to the next level you end up at the bottom and you will loose exposure. So all you can do is hope that you transfer to the next level with a big jump so you end up higher. After 24 hours you score drops with 10% to free up space for fresh photos. And over time you score lowers even more. They do keep track of your peak score, so you can always show off to your friends once you have reached the 99% score. The quality of the work shown here is better that what I see at Youpic.com and for me I get more satisfaction from 500px if I score good then when I score on Youpic.
This is my all time favorite to visit. I have to admit that it was pretty frustrating in the beginning when I tried to get my photos published because it is so hard to do so. This is a real curator website. you submit your work and you will get burned. They have (as most sites) a paid version, but I am not using this option so I am limited to one upload per week. This upload is reviewed by the members (you must do so yourself to create slots for uploading) and ( I don’t know the exact numbers) I think you need to get at least 100 votes with an score higher then 70% Once you get passed this stage you photo is presented to the real curators (11 photographers appointed by the site owners) they have the final say in this. So even when you pass the members phase you can still be rejected. But once you pass all you are published. Myself, I managed up till to today to get three photos published (recently). but the quality of the work on this website is sublime. You hell yeah, I am proud to have three publications there. Most of my favorite (modern) photographers have their work published here, and now I am one of them myself. If you are not sure if you should waste an upload slot you can submit your photo for critique. This won’t get you photo published but other members are giving you feedback. And again first you need to participate yourself in the critique section to free up upload slots. Make sure you are clear on what you want to hear on about what you are not sure so they can give you high quality comments. Besides all this is a wonderful website and definitely worth a visit to enjoy the beautiful work that was published over there.