5 Common Mistakes Beginners Make When They Share Photos Online

Jul 23, 2015

DL Cade

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5 Common Mistakes Beginners Make When They Share Photos Online

Jul 23, 2015

DL Cade

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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I look at more photos online every single day than most people go through in a month. It’s part of the job, scouring 500px and the Internet at large for the best photography out there and then writing about it—and over the course of 5 years doing this or something similar, I’ve learned some things.

I’ve learned what will get you published, what will get you noticed, what ‘exposure’ is really worth, and what topics are so dead-horse beaten that they make me nauseous every time I see an article about them (did you know that you should NEVER EVER EVER give away your photos for free… except, of course, when you should… duh).

I’ve also come to recognize the most common mistakes photographers—both newbies and, surprisingly, advanced shooters—make when they begin sharing their work online. Below are the 5 most common mistakes I see, and if you’d like to have your work noticed and appreciated, NOT doing the 5 things below is a fantastic place to start.

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Come on, I do not bite by Sergey Polyushko on 500px

1. Being Overprotective

The overprotective sharer shouldn’t be sharing their work online in the first place. They’re so abjectly terrified of having it stolen that they ensure anybody who finds it online not only CAN’T steal it… they frankly wouldn’t even want to in the first place. They do this in two main ways: The Massive Watermark You know it when you see it… and by see it I mean can’t help BUT see it. In fact, you probably are having a hard time seeing what the photo itself is through the 50% opacity logo/signature. Tiny Files This is the passive aggressive version of the massive watermark. Few things are more disappointing to me as an editor than seeing a photo I love on 500px, clicking on the thumbnail, and discovering that the thumbnail is almost larger than the full file. If you don’t want to share your images at 2000px across, by all means don’t do it. Many of the most successful photographers on 500px cap theirs at 1250 or sometimes even a bit smaller than that. But if you’re uploading 500px files to 500px, you’re forgetting that the site was named about a decade ago—I don’t want to have to grab my loupe when I start browsing your portfolio.

Jokes aside, many of us will relate a little bit to the overprotective photographer. It’s aggravating when people steal your work. But why share your work online at all if it’s too small or covered up to enjoy? If you want to enjoy the benefits of exposing your work to the massive online community, know that you may have that work stolen… it comes with the territory. Rule of Thumb: When it comes to watermarks, less is usually more unless you get really creative. When it comes to file size, never share something smaller than 700px on its longest side and consider upping that limit to 1000px.

Rainbow Lorikeet, Jacksonville Zoo, Florida 2010.
Rainbow Lorikeet by J.J. Taylor on 500px

2. Using the Wrong Color Profile

A simple mistake that gets us all now and again, but an easy one to rectify. When you are getting ready to share a photo online and you’re exporting from Lightroom or Photoshop, export as sRGB.

Exporting using the AdobeRGB or ProPhotoRGB color profile may look good to you at first but, depending on the browser/device the photo is being seen on, those colors you spent hours getting JUST right will be totally out of whack.

I made this mistake with the first photo I ever uploaded to 500px. It looks fine sometimes, but open it up on the 500px app and I cringe.

Rule of Thumb: Export as AdobeRGB or ProPhotoRGB for printing your images; export as sRGB for sharing online.

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Who am I? by Elke Vogelsang on 500px

3. Being a Jack of All Trades (Master of None)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying different genres of photography, finding your niche, and experimenting. In fact I encourage it! But as you do it, begin honing in on a genre and then a style within that genre that you love. If you’re trying to get your work noticed, your work has to look like YOUR work. Far too often I click on a profile and find a little bit of landscape, a little bit of portraiture, and a little bit of macro (among other things). There’s nothing to latch onto. Better to find a genre or style you love and stick to that, develop it, get GREAT at it, then move on/evolve when you feel like you’ve outgrown it. It takes time to explore and develop your abilities as a particular type of photographer; don’t sell yourself short by jumping around like some crazed grasshopper. Rule of Thumb: Don’t be a jack of all trades when it comes to photography. There are a few photographers I’ve seen who can pull it off, but the vast majority end up a master of none.

Just a paparazzi in action
Just a paparazzo in action by John Wilhelm is a photoholic on 500px

4. Sharing Everything

Did you capture an amazing sunset yesterday? Or maybe you found the perfect spot to shoot the milky way and snagged some truly staggering photos. Great… don’t share them all.

60 photos of the same sunset do not belong online—it’s the modern-day equivalent of forcing your friends to sit through a slideshow of your boring family vacation photos. Worse, it makes your profile forgettable because I have to scroll down for half a minute before I see anything beyond your last photo shoot.

Share your best photo of that sunset, or go crazy and share your best 5 if they’re unique or different enough, but please don’t share all 60!

Rule of Thumb: Share one photo per day, and never more than five at a time unless you’re migrating your whole portfolio to a new service (*cough* 500px *cough*). We all have a limited attention span—one to three great photos per day will captivate us, while 30 photos uploaded once per month will go by totally unnoticed.

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Shy Meerkat by Matcenbox on 500px

5. Sharing Nothing

This mistake happens one of two ways: 1. You join 60 photo sharing sites and social networks and promptly let 59 or all 60 of those slowly wither by sharing a single photo every month or three… if that. 2. You’re too intimidated to share anything, so you talk yourself out of uploading every time that scary “Publish” button comes up. The solution to the first problem is to pick a few communities and networks—500px (duh…), Facebook, maybe Instagram—and consistently upload at least a few photos every single week to ALL THREE. Developing a quality network takes time and dedicated attention. Only join as many sites as you have time to care for. The solution to the second problem is to force yourself to overcome your fear of publishing by putting yourself on a consistent, zero-tolerance schedule. A great (and often transformative) way of doing this is to start a 365 project and tell everyone about it so they can hold you accountable. It will force you to go out and take pictures every day, but more importantly, it will force you to SHARE one of those photos every day as well. Rule of Thumb: Try to upload one photo per day, but at the very minimum upload one or two per week. You will never develop a dedicated follower base in this day and age unless you provide a steady stream of work. Not everyone will like everything you share, but you’ll give them a reason to follow you and check back on your work regularly. Eventually, these are the people who will buy your prints… or the companies who will license your best work.

Wild Bank Vole in my garden.
EVOLUTION by Simon Roy on 500px.com

Sharing your photography online can be incredibly rewarding, educational, and, yes, sometimes frustrating and scary as well. We obviously think that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to sharing your work on the Internet, especially for beginners and passionate amateurs, but you’ll have to make your own judgement call on that.

If you decide online sharing is for you, join the 500px community and begin uploading your best photos—you’ll be amazed at how quickly your photography gets noticed and you begin to improve! Just make sure that, when you do join, you avoid the 5 common mistakes above.

About The Author

DL Cade is the Editor in Chief for the popular photo sharing community 500px, where he runs the rapidly growing 500px ISO blog.

With a constantly evolving collection of over 55 million photos by 6+ million photographers at his disposal, Cade shares tips, tutorials, photo stories, photographer spotlights, and more from one of the most vibrant photo communities on Earth. This article was also published here and shared with permission. Header photo by jun pinzon

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10 responses to “5 Common Mistakes Beginners Make When They Share Photos Online”

  1. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    Why 500px?

    1. DLCade Avatar
      DLCade

      Hey Kay,

      This article was originally published on 500px ISO, where I’m the Editor. That’s why the site is mentioned a few times. Of course, you can upload your photos wherever you’d like and these common mistakes will still apply, but I’m a bit biased towards 500px ; )

  2. Who am I Avatar
    Who am I

    Well…lately I’ve been more than frustrated with 500px, I like the site, I like the quality of images and everything, but lately I’ve noticed that with every single image I post, less people are seeing it. With 6+ million photographers and only 70 people viewed my image? Something’s smells fishy around here…smells like “get a premium account”…you feel me? I, by no means, think that I’m a great photographer and nobody notice me, no, i’m just a normal portrait photographer doing it for fun. I’m starting to hate all those greedy ideas of paid accounts so more people will see you…it sucks…and it’s not what 500px used to be..at least that’s what I think.

    1. Paganator Avatar
      Paganator

      I don’t think a paid account would help you. The problem with 500px is that the number of people who will see your photo is highly dependent on the number of followers you have. If you don’t have many followers, your photo will be uploaded in the “New” pool along with thousands of other pictures every day and it will quickly get lost in the mix. You can gain visibility by getting likes and favorites, but nowadays there are so many new photos constantly uploaded and so few people who browse “New” that it’s unlikely you’ll get a critical mass of liked and favorites before your photo disappears into the depth of the “New” stream.

      If you have followers, they will see your photos in their personal page and you’re much more likely to get likes and favorites. 500px is a giant popularity contest, really: it rewards having lots of friends over competence.

      1. sean lancaster Avatar
        sean lancaster

        One of the things I liked about Flickr is the Explore program. I had only a handful of followers, but the first times I hit Explore my follower pool would double or triple. But Flickr, just like 500px requires due diligence to grow the follower pool. You have continue to Like and follow other people and you have to maintain a healthy level of activity (e.g., uploads). Your comments about the “giant popularity contest” is really spot on. Make yourself popular either through being overly active and pretending to Like other material and comment on everything or upload outstanding work yourself (or both).

    2. David Meyer Avatar
      David Meyer

      The problem I have with services like 500px or Flickr or other image sharing websites is that the audience available there are photographers. So people who are going to see your work are other people doing similar work. Possibility to reach a client through such services is not that big (in my opinion, always happy to change it). It’s nice to interact with other photographers, but unless someone is frequently running photographic workshops (which I’m not) or doing wall prints (which again, I’m not), it’s entertainment and chilling out, not marketing.
      The second problem is that if you are using like 5 similar services, all of them sharing the same audience, it’s difficult to differentiate content uploaded there. Unless you are shooting something crazily varied. And even then, you end up cloning one service into another and joining similar specialty groups everywhere.You just spend 5 times more time and energy doing the same thing in 5 places. Which is fine if you have some nice job and plenty of time over the weekends, but it’s not possible when you need to retouch images for your clients, find new clients, do your accounting, prepare the contracts and licences etc… Well, you simply won’t have much time for this. I found out I actually prefer to try and spend more time on meeting people linked to my industry, be it online or offline.

  3. Red Town Photography Avatar
    Red Town Photography

    Great post. Thanks for the info about Color Profiles. That is really helpful.

  4. David Magee Avatar
    David Magee

    DIY is becoming the buzzfeed of photography.

  5. Rex Avatar
    Rex

    This was a nice plug for 500px.

    Some good points, but I do have one thing to say about #3: Why do you assume that everyone wants to be a commercial photographer…

  6. Mitsuyo Maser Avatar
    Mitsuyo Maser

    I think this is a nice reminder that if you want your pictures to be seen you need to put them out there consistently and not have watermarks that may be not pleasurable to look at. I am guilty of being overprotective of my images – something I’ll need to get over if I want to to market myself better.