As photographers, we all want to share our photos with an audience, be it our friends and family, clients who hired us, or other photographers. Social media has provided a tool to bring everyone together for sharing, commenting, and sending photo and video content instantly. Through the years, these networks have grown, changed, expanded and multiplied, giving each photographer the ability to pick and choose a network that will best fit his or her own connective style. Here’s a look at some of the major players to help you decide which network matches your style. In addition to Facebook, there are other community-based and photography-centric options. Many photographers are active on several networks in order to connect with many people and take advantage of each network’s pluses.
It’s nearly impossible to talk about social media without starting with Facebook. The simple truth is that almost everyone has joined Facebook, making it a very convenient
way to share photos with friends and family. But in terms of the type of images that make it to the social network, Facebook tends to be a reservoir for snapshots as opposed to technical and artistic photographs. There’s not a specific photographer community based on the network, and even among the general public, the enthusiasm for Facebook seems to be dwindling. www.facebook.com.
Flickr gained its community-oriented roots from its development as a feature to the multiplayer online roleplaying game Neverending by Ludicorp. Yahoo acquired the company in 2005, bringing Flickr to the masses and adding additional features, such as more storage and different account options.
Flickr recently came out with a redesign, keeping their community feel but incorporating some new features with their free membership. Flickr now has a different look, including larger photo presentation and a photo activity stream. Instead of spending time clicking, this pulls attention to photo browsing. Another key feature is storage. Flickr now offers one tera-byte of free storage space, allowing high-resolution photo uploads and high-definition video uploads (up to three minutes). If you’re unsure about how actively you want to share, you may still want to join for the backup storage space. Flickr still offers the ability to create multiple levels of security for your images, letting you decide just who you share with.
Staying true to its social community roots through the years, Flickr has become known as a top photography community where connection, comments and critiques from other photographers are the norm. As a leader in this type of social exchange, Flickr also has a large number of active members, making it a key resource for feedback. www.flickr.com
500px started out as a feature within the LiveJournal blogging site in 2003 when 500 pixels was considered a good web display standard size. The site started out as a moderated photo showcase for the blog site, but separated and re-launched in 2009. Currently with over 1.5 million community members, the site is known for a stylish and photocentric display based on a mathematical algorithm that uses votes, likes, dislikes, favorites and freshness to create a photo "Pulse" and get your photos in front of others. 500px provides portfolio sites for members, as well as the ability to monetize and sell your photos as prints and digital downloads. www.500px.com
While Shutterfly has been playing around with some different aspects of photo sharing and community, the main draw so far has been your ability to create tangible prints and products from your photos. Currently, you can upload as many high-resolution images as you want to Shutterfly with a free account. But, even as the owner of the image, once uploaded you can’t re-download the high-resolution image—it must be ordered on a CD. The Shutterfly Share site is a sharing feature that allows you to create a personal network space for an event that may have multiple photographers, such as a family reunion or sports event, making it easy for everyone in attendance to share, order prints and leave comments. www.shutterfly.com
Tumblr is a microblogging and social-networking platform that has grown to host over 100 million blogs since its launch in 2007. A free membership is easy to set up, and the dashboard interface is intuitive for posting photos, short text and video pieces. A highlighted feature of Tumblr is one-click re-blogging. This has been a problem in terms of photographer attribution. If you decide to post a photo, you can use a URL to create a click-through link to your website and watermark your images to help with the attribution issues. Also, be mindful in your decision about which photos to share on this site. In May of 2013, Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo. www.tumblr.com
Pinterest is a virtual pinboard network primarily thought of as a place to bookmark and share inspirational images with your friends, but it’s also a place to share your own images with a portfolio pinboard for others to re-pin. Launched in 2010, it quickly garnered a large community along with scrutiny over copyright and photo attribution. Each pin links to the original source of the image, but the source and attribution weren’t always reliable. In an effort to change this, Pinterest issued a meta tag for companies to opt out of Pinterest, as well as an automatic attribution feature where photographer attributions are automatically entered into the text field from sites like Flickr, Behance, YouTube and Vimeo. www.pinterest.com
Google+ is often still considered the new kid on the block of social media, and you may be the first of your friends or family to join, but the site design has hit it big with photographers. The large photo display is a draw, but the community connection is what keeps photographers active on the network. When you first join Google+, it may take a little activity to first add people to your circles, but by joining communities that are arranged by interest, you’ll quickly find photographers to interact with. Some communities are geographical, others are divided by type of photography, and others are specifically critique communities with moderators to keep the community focused. Since Google+ is integrated with the entire Google network, many photographers find themselves using the chat and hangout functions for additional live collaborations. And the fact that Google recently acquired NikSoftware has many photographers wondering what added integration may be on the horizon. www.plus.google.com.
CONNECT ON THE GO
Now it’s not only possible to connect with friends and photographers from around the world, we can do it from the palm of our hand seconds after shooting the image with our mobile devices. Social networking apps have taken over the
way people interact with each other, and new innovations are on their way every minute.
Instagram came to the scene in 2010, then was scooped up by Facebook in 2012 for an approximately $1 billion cash and stock deal. While it has been born from the insta-upload feature of smartphone images, you can upload images taken with your other cameras to create a portfolio-mirroring photo stream. Photos can be organized by event or subject using hashtags. The app is also well-known for bringing filters to mainstream jargon, although filter additions aren’t required, and Instagram recently added video functionality. www.instagram.com
While not a photo-centric app, Twitter is a way to share photo and blog content, connect with photographers and also keep up with photography news. Twitter shares photos via TwitPic, athough several additional photo services have evolved. Many blogging and portfolio sites have a Twitter button for quickly sharing your photos with a direct link, making Twitter a fantastic megaphone for your work. Beyond that, Twitter’s community makes it possible to take part in conversations, live chats and keep up with industry news. www.twitter.com
A brand-new social-sharing app, Pheed just joined the scene in the fall of 2012. It looks at digital content with a wide view, sharing photos, videos, audio clips and voice notes, video and live broadcast. You can subscribe to a friend’s Pheed channel and "love" or "heartache" a post. As a user, you have the option to monetize your Pheed content and apply a subscription fee to your channel, or create pay-per-view settings for a live broadcast. Stepping out of the box with a diverse background of support, Pheed is hailed by critics as the new Twitter, but looks like a lot more. www.pheed.com