Here in the 21st century, it pretty much goes without saying that a healthy dose of 500px and social media savvy can drastically increase your chances of getting your photography seen by the right people – potential customers, new clients, collectors, and lifelong fans. However, it’s important to realize that social media popularity is rarely an accident. Each platform comes attached to its own formula for success – a formula that can be mastered with enough awareness and effort.
The uber-popular 500px is no exception. Here we’ll break down how 500px really works, as well as go over some tried and true tips for becoming popular on the platform. Your best shots will be looking at pulse marks of 80-95 before you know it!
How Does 500px Really Work?
The great thing about 500px is that every photo starts out with a chance to attain the popularity you’re after because every photo spends some time on the “fresh” page right when it’s first uploaded. If it earns enough votes and favorites quickly enough, it will achieve a pulse of 70 or more and make the “upcoming” page.
Achieve a pulse of 80 or above and it will make the “popular” page. Enough votes will even get any picture the coveted “most popular photo” spot — exactly where you want to be. Do this with enough of your photos (or come close) and it won’t be long before you’re 500px-famous. Here’s how you can increase your chances of that happening.
Post Only Your Best Shots
There’s no way around the need for quality on this platform, especially when you consider the fact that each 500px user has to contend with a 20 picture limit per week. Skip the temptation to upload multiple photos of the same thing at one time or to post too many mediocre snapshots of your cat. Post your best work only.
Make sure each of your photos demonstrates exceptional visual quality and thorough post-processing. Remember, your photo will be vying with some of the best photography on the entire platform for attention. Photos that aren’t up to snuff quite simply won’t get it, plain and simple.
Understand What Works
In order to succeed on any given social media site, you need an understanding of what the users there respond to. It’s not enough to post really awesome photography. Your chances of 500px success increase exponentially with photos of subjects that have a history of doing really well on that particular platform. The following are a few examples:
People already respond really well to portraits of good-looking people, but understand that the average 500px user is male. The male eye is more likely to gravitate toward photos of beautiful women. You see the proof of this all over the “popular” page.
Landscapes also have a history of doing really well, but we’re not talking just any old shot here. On 500px, it’s all about luminous landscapes that almost have an otherworldly look to them. Think colorful skies, soft light, snow-capped mountains, and foregrounds filled with flowers.
Motion Shots of Birds:
Nothing screams “this guy has skills” quite like a razor-sharp, beautifully captured photo of a bird in flight and it’s not hard to see why. It doesn’t just take photography chops to successfully capture a shot like that. It takes patience and instinct as well. People can’t help but respond to that. (This works well for capturing insects and other types of wildlife as well.)
Long Exposure Beach Shots:
Long exposures result in otherworldly effects; super silky skies and misty, dreamy waters. Some of the best long exposure shots wind up looking more like fantasy art paintings than they do photographs. Viewers can’t help but look at something like that and ask: “How did he do that?”
Of course, you’re free to experiment here. Try seeing what happens when you shoot other subjects using long exposure or consider what other subjects might yield stunning results when you capture them at just the right moment. Just make sure it’s the type of thing that really makes you sit up and take notice.
Understand What Doesn’t Work
Just as you want to give special consideration to subjects with a great track record for getting popular on 500px, you’ll want to be aware of what tends to get lost in the shuffle as well. Way too many users clutter the site with lackluster street scenes or shots of sporting events, to name just two examples.
This means that even solid shots of the same subjects are likely to go unnoticed as well. Save that sort of thing for Flickr or showcase them on your Tumblr blog instead – places people tend to do more than just glance at an image for a second or two.
If you’re serious about becoming 500px popular, then it’s important to always be thinking from that angle. Lots of people may eventually catch on to the exact brand of “eye-catching” their photo needs to be to get noticed. Then they’ll drop the ball when it’s time to actually upload their shot.
Never just let the 500px interface auto-select the crop area of your photo for you. Take the time to select a custom crop area manually. This way you can make sure nothing important gets cropped out when it comes to the actual thumbnail you count on to grab people’s attention. Remember, the average user will only glance at it for a couple of seconds. It really pays to make that thumbnail as attractive as possible.
Timing is really important on 500px as well. Pay attention to what’s rolling through the “fresh” page when you’re ready to upload. Your shot will only look that much better if it’s positioned next to a long chain of really mediocre photos instead of a stunning masterpiece clearly destined for greatness. In other words, always consider how your photo will look next to its would-be neighbors. It really will pay off!
Follow Destin Sparks on 500px