These days, using a photo sharing site to get your images out to the world is something that just about every photographer does. There are many photo sharing site options but which ones are worth your time and effort? And, once you decide to use a photo sharing site, what issues do you need to be aware of? I hope to help you answer these questions and give you some resources you can use to get the most out of your photo sharing sites. First, let's discuss the "top 5" photo sharing sites that I use to get my photography out to the world. After that I want to introduce a new feature that will allow podcast listeners (and anyone else who reads this) to participate in a photo sharing opportunity.
Google Plus has quickly become a favorite photo sharing site for photographers interested in connecting with other like-minded individuals. Since its start in 2011 it has quickly grown to become one of the major places where creative types gather to share their work. If you are interested in seeing other photographers work and connecting with like-minded individuals, Google + is a must!
Flickr is one of the big dogs in the photo sharing site world. It has gone through some rough periods over the last year or so due to some less than well received interface updates. Despite that, I (and millions of other photographers) use Flickr as one of my top two photo sharing sites. You can use Flickr with a free account or get a paid account (for around $40) that gives you add-free browsing and some other benefits like statistics, etc. If you want, you can join the Mark's Photography Spot group and submit your images. I hold a "Photo Share & Discussion on Saturdays at 6PM Eastern where we review images posted to the group. You can get notified of upcoming shows by following Mark's Photography Spot page on Google +.
If you are really into photography 500px is a photo sharing site you need to visit. The site is really focused on displaying quality photographs. I have been posting images there for a couple of years and only post my better images. You can join/post for free but for a small membership you can become a "plus" member and get some additional benefits. Even if you don't join the site or post images you owe it to yourself to check out 500px because the quality of the images is very good.
Ipernity is a newer photo-sharing site and I became aware of it during one of the somewhat bungled Flickr interface updates. Here is my page on Ipernity. I really like the site but haven't posted as many images there as I would like. I plan on correcting that here in 2014. Ipernity has a nice feel to it and they have done some nice upgrades in the short time I have been posting images. They offer a free membership that gives you 200mb of uploads/month and access to 200 images at a time. Their "Club" membership is $30/year and gives you the ability to upload more images as well as allow you to acces all your content. I'm currently using the free mode but will probably upgrade later this year.
Your Own Site
Last, but certainly not least, you can host/share images on your own site. It's easy to setup your own blog/portolio site. All you need is a domain and a web host and you're good to go. Many people go this route (including me) and use Wordpress as the foundation for their site. Or, if you don't want to build and maintain your own site you can use one of the many portfolio hosting sites, of which Zenfolio and Smugmug are two of the biggest. You can even combine the two, which is what I have done, by hosting your site/blog and adding something like Zenfolio for the portfolio aspect. There are so many options.
Photo Sharing Site Cautions
Sharing your images is a great way to see some benefits from your photography. But, whenever you share your images you need to be aware of a key point:
There's always a way to "steal" your images:
No matter what any particular site says there is always the risk that your images can/will be "stolen", usually by unauthorized downloads. That's just a fact. So, if you are paranoid about someone improperly downloading or using your images, online photo sharing sites probably aren't for you. If, however, you want to make some of your photographs available online you can reduce the impact of someone stealing your images
1. Only upload at the size you feel comfortable with. For me, I have decided to upload images that aren't full-sized, high resolution images. Instead, I upload images that are usually no bigger than 1200 pixels on the longest side. This means that when someone downloads an image they may get something that looks ok as computer wallpaper but won't look so good as a print. I also attach an "All Rights Reserved" copyright to my images just so people know that I'm not a fan of unauthorized use of my images.
New Photo Sharing Opportunity
Now that I've encouraged you to share some of your images o the web I want to introduce a new opportunity for you to share your images. Beginning with this podcast (Episode 7) I will give you a special tag that you can add to images that you post to the Mark's Photography Spot group. I can then use that tag to identify images you have uploaded and discuss them in an upcoming episode. For this 1st go-around I'm asking you to upload one of your better images to the group and attach the Flickr tag of "MPS007". I will accept images with this tag that are uploaded until February 23rd (two weeks from the date of this post). I will then discus the images in the March 2nd episode (episode 10). Please feel free to share any family-friendly images with all of us.
I'm looking forward to seeing your images. Happy Shooting! [post_bottom]