Instagram? Flickr? 500px? Where to Share Your Photos Online?

Remember how great Flickr was at its peak? It was an active photography community to share and discuss images with other photographers all over the world. While the site still functions, it's nowhere near as popular and active as it once was, and it hasn't had a decent refresh in years. Oh, how the mighty fall. Where else can we share images with other photographers? 

Who else remembers posting photo sets to Flickr, joining groups, entering weekly image challenges? It was great for me at the time to have a direct line of contact with other photographers. I enjoyed a particular weekly challenge that involved submitting one image of a specific subject each week, as this forced me to go out and be creative with a subject that I might not have chosen myself. Then, there was the enjoyment looking at other submissions from all over the world and their interpretations, giving and receiving constructive feedback on the images before the next subject was announced and we did it all over again. Sadly, Flickr hasn't been getting the attention it needed to stay popular, daily users are down, and the community just isn't as active as it once was.

This video from Micael Widell discusses a few major photography community sites and how they just aren't effective as a photography community in the way that many photographers would like.

Instagram was built on the sharing of images, nothing else. Instagram also introduced the masses to photo filters; these filters just served the purpose of making up for the low quality of cellphone cameras back then. Instagram has changed focus since it started. Now, you certainly don't need to take beautiful or highly technical images to be popular on Instagram. The Facebook-owned Instagram figured out much more effective algorithmic ways to keep users engaged than simply sharing beautiful images. We've witnessed the rise of the Instagram influencer, monetization, and much more powerful image filters as cellphone cameras and processing power have improved year on year. I wouldn't say that Instagram isn't a still very popular network in 2022; it just isn't the photography-focused image-sharing service it once was.

An obvious option would be Facebook groups for photography, but my experience with those has often revealed several trolls that can dishearten newbie photographers; perhaps, this is more a reflection of the online community, as the same can be found on most social platforms. Facebook also isn't exclusively about image sharing, and their community standards can be restrictive for some types of photography.

Many creatives have been turning to Patreon or other premium subscription services for image sharing and community development. Many premium subscriptions include access to a Discord server or other online community features. The cost of entry may put some people off in 2022, as we've all become too used to getting these types of services for free, despite Flickr having a premium tier of membership in its heyday. I like the Fstoppers community features and regularly have some great interactions with other photographers on this site. 

Now, in 2022, where can photographers share images with like-minded people? Where can we learn from others, help others, and see great images? Maybe the best places for this type of community are real-life camera clubs and local photography communities?

What do you think about online photography communities? Do you have any recommendations? Any to avoid? Let me know in the comments.

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40 Comments
Stuart C's picture

Gonna watch this, I really like Flickr right now, good community and the photos are much more honest in general than the other sites (less over processing etc).

Instagram just pisses me off these days, I get more likes from posting a picture of my DJ decks in a bar than I do a photograph I took time to shoot and edit... its shallow.

Brad Wendes's picture

Glad to hear that you’re still enjoying Flickr, maybe I should give it another try after a few years away

Stuart C's picture

It’s well worth it in my opinion.. 500px was just a photoshop contest by the time I left it… I don’t mind the fact you can see peoples snaps on Flickr as much as world class shots, makes it feel much more genuine.

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

For what it's worth, I'm also still enjoying Flickr.

It's the primary platform where I post my images, where I go to see images from others, and also where I have most interaction with other photographers (besides Discord servers, but they're not really suitable for image sharing, only for the interaction).

Randy Pollock's picture

I have been back on Flickr for the past two years and ...well... me think the writer needs to give it another try as I am active in groups, enjoy the behind the shot podcast from Flickr has interactions with many active users...so to me Flickr is going strong and I wish people wouldn't write about a community based on old information...true it might not be as strong as it was at one time but it is still a good community for photographers.

Melvin OKINSON's picture

Thanks guys for your input, I also left Flickr a few years ago but now I may give it another try.

Nick Viton's picture

R.I.P. Flickr

Steve Wood's picture

I agree that the functionality of Flickr is limited, but it really is not true that no-one uses it or that it is no longer relevant.. Some groups are run by admins who insist on quality and create communities of like minded photographers.

Stig Nygaard's picture

Despite many years of frustration under Yahoo, Flickr is still the place for my needs. And while everything definitely isn't perfect now, it is much better than a few years ago. "It hasn't had a decent refresh in years" was true a few years ago, but not any more. Flickr is moving and mostly improving again.
But I'm probably not the average guy I guess. Instagram have never caught me with its "only latest uploads counts" mentality and lack of ways to organize and present your photos in other ways than just latest upload.

Biggest drawback with Flickr today is in my opinion, that there's no way to feature albums directly on your profile's "landingpage"/photostream.

Thomas Hawk's picture

you should try this add on called "Flickr Fixr" it puts your albums on your landing page. ;)

Stig Nygaard's picture

Thanks :-) I don't mention it every time I talk about Flickr. It makes it looks like I'm just spamming.

Thomas Hawk's picture

I like to bring it up because it's great. Thanks for making it. :)

Marco Diaz's picture

I first joined Flickr in 2005. Deleted my account and restarted a new one in 2007. I have been on ever since. Certainly agree that the site weathered an awful period in the pre and during Yahoo period. But despite imminent threats from 500px, Google+ (yes once upon a time), Facebook and Instagram it has held out as the one non-monetizing forum for photographers to post and appreciate each other's work. Could it be better? Definitely. But all that would take largely is for everyone that would love to be a part of that community to come back and start posting and join the dialogue. Also fwiw - it's still the number one place to check out camera's you are interested in buying before you pull the trigger.

00rob00 Rob00Rob's picture

Gotta go where the people are. Videos are the thing now and one has to adjust if it's your business to be considered by others, otherwise steady as she goes in whatever platform you use and the art you are making

Sam Sims's picture

You could give up spending your time photographing and just start a YouTube channel dedicated to gear reviews or acting like some sort of camera disciple for newbies à la Jared Polin and the Northrups. Photography is a passion for many people and not even a main job. People should never create an online presence for the sole purpose of chasing likes. Besides the sorts of videos getting the most likes are pretty low brow stuff.

Don Althaus's picture

Just throwing this out there... have you thought about developing your own website - there are plenty of web hosts out there and plenty of different ways to use WordPress or Coppermine or even Joomla to display photographs, to allow comments, etc. Like I said, just a thought.

Resat Kuleli's picture

I started photography with Flickr. I admit that in some period the site strugelled, but for me in Flickr I feel like being at home. Flickr is still the best platform for all kind of photographers, with various types. There is a community where you feel like you are between your friends. Yes, it has not changed much, it has not improved much, but change is not always good and sometimes you need to feel the warmness of the same format you used to know.

Wolfgang Hackl's picture

I still enjoy flickr as it is really meant to be a photo sharing site for photographers (and of course FStoppers, too). So much genuine content to get inspiration from. I only use Facebook and Instagram to stay in contact to non-photographers i.e. clients and friends. Instagram in particular is a mess from an artist's point of view as it doesn't really provide proper features to present pictures (zoom, full screen, EXIF etc.). Not to mention their obscure algorithm how they push or downvote the visibility of your profile.

Reinier Snijders's picture

If you're serious on photography, you'll have your own website. Besides this, Flickr is still a very nice platform which is serious about photography and the last couple of years they are improving their business. Instagram isn't.. I get so tired of this platform. The algorithm, advertising, video's getting worse day by day..Their isn't a day I'm not thinking about leaving this platform!

Rhonald Rose's picture

Working on something (photography platform), coming soon (march '22)

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

Well, keep us posted!

Rhonald Rose's picture

Thanks, I will.

peter rath's picture

One more pro Flickr vote ! I also have, now inactive, profiles on 500px, Instagram and I post on some Facebook groups. I have three websites, but the one which I am most excited to post a new image to is Flickr. Yeah it's basic and it hasn't changed much but maybe that's why it still works, the community of photographers hasn't changed much either.

Johnny Kiev's picture

Flickr was life-changing for me.
It first came to my attention when I read an article in Wired about a small start-up in SF, Ludicorp, that had produced this photo-sharing website and it was the place to be.
I wasn't a photographer but the geek in me found my interest piqued and I signed up.
I posted crap but people liked it and my crap became acceptable, I was in a terrible place in my life at the time and a bunch of Parisian Flickrites bought me a flight ticket and found me a place to live and completely unplanned Paris became my new home.
Whilst in Paris one of my followers on the site contacted me, she was visiting Paris from Moscow and asked if we could meet up.
A month later I was living with her in Moscow, 2 years later we were back in Paris, now married, and have been together now for 15 wonderful years, we both went from knowing zero about cameras to shooting Runway in Paris.
What killed Flickr in my opinion was the explore whoring, the endless comment groups trying to manipulate this, and the inability of the management to adapt.
My original Flickr account is long since dead, I'm Bipolar and destroy a lot I create, other accounts have also come and gone.
Maybe it is time I kickstarted my existing dormant account, see if I can reignite that spark again...

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

"Explore Whoring" on Flickr is certainly an issue, yeah. I have come to block the worst of these users.

Groups that ask people to leave comment-codes all over the place is another nuisance, not much one can do about it if one wants to stay on the platform... At least you can just avoid these groups if you don't want this comment-spam on your own pictures!

John Murphy's picture

Has anyone tried Ello? I’ve been there for a year or so. Seems cool but needs more legit photographers. There’s a lot of weird shit there but it might have potential.

Tim van der Leeuw's picture

"Ello"?

I've never 'eard of this service before.

How does it work? What are its unique features that make it worth exploring, when compared to existing platforms like 100ASA, 500px, Flickr, Insta, etc. etc.?

Thomas Hawk's picture

Flickr Forever! :)

Ken Welch's picture

Most of the comments here seem to be about Flickr, so I thought I might throw my 500px hat in the ring.
After comparing what was available, I joined 500px in 2016, mostly wanting to have a place to show my growing portrait portfolio. I thought I might also receive helpful critique on my work, but I discovered that there is no real community-like interaction going on there. But I was satisfied with having a place to display my work, even if the free membership doesn’t allow you to arrange your shots: uploads are arranged chronologically.

Where I have to differ is where Brad spoke about 500px’s weakness being bot activity. I have invested thousands of hours on the platform, also observing member activity. There are simply numerous members (real people) who are on the site all day leaving comments on photos of other people they know or perhaps don’t know. There is one upvote pod in particular that is especially active and it’s not uncommon for them to give each other 100+ lavish, reciprocal comments for every new mediocre upload.

500px has maybe 20 million members, though 99% remain in total obscurity. In a feed called “Fresh” you can, in real-time, see all the hundreds of pictures, good and bad, being uploaded every minute by these members new and old. And while there’s not necessarily a correlation between the former and the latter, most of the incoming shots are just bad: washed-out mobile phone snaps of various ordinary things people happen to run across. These snaps might gather two or three random likes, because few people are looking in Fresh for gems, and then disappear.

On the other hand of the scale there’s the “Most Popular” feed. A newly-uploaded photo has one day to gain a score (“Pulse”) from likes, and at the top of this feed are the pics that have gathered the most love before 24 hours go by. Most shots are excellent, though a few mediocre ones make it near the top simply because the member has a large following. Still, it is simply a popularity contest, and it’s generally the same people that show up at the top, with few newcomers making it there. There is neither curation nor scoring based on quality.

Most people aren’t aware that in the upper 20 of the Most Popular pictures there are one or two, at any given time, that shot to the top with the help of automatically generated likes scripted from a set of approx. 20,000 fake accounts that the VCG office (the owner of 500px) has set up to promote pictures of their choosing. They can also give a user, even a brand new one, anywhere from 500 to 2,000 followers at the press of a button.

A month ago I got a bit too aggressive at pointing out which uploads got to the top via said fake likes, and as a result poof! my account was banned (forewarned: it’s not difficult to get deactivated at 500px), and my plea to be reinstated if I made no more such comments was ignored. Over the years I had gained 12,000 followers – and without my account I also lost my records (in “Galleries”) of all the excellent member pictures I had discovered over the years.

Aside from my business cards which I had to trash I also miss having those followers because it gave me a modern-world legitimacy: when I approach people on the street as to whether I might take their picture, they often don't understand my broken Russian or Italian. But showing them my follower numbers (even if not a single person had ever heard of 500px) is always more than enough to sway them.

Maybe I’ll have a look at Flickr. Or maybe just show my pics in Google Photos and convince my impromptu models based solely on the quality of my photography.

Brett Probert's picture

I use primarily Flickr. It is where I find the most authentic photography and I am growing a community of like-minded folks there.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I use Flickr to index my Instagram along with having the larger and uncensored version of the images. With Flickr, I can search for the model or place within my own uploads, which in turn, the description has the link to my IG.

M Hector's picture

I use Flickr and all of my favorite people are still active there, even though I let it go for a few years, turning my attention to Facebook and learning from others there. Originally I got more social satisfaction from Yahoo groups, but host people transitioned to FB but I stayed stubbornly away. Then I got more social interaction from Flickr. It was quite active there for a time, focused on photography instead of all the caustic annoying things one encounters on FB, as FB is not a place exclusively for photographers. Anyway, I am active on Flickr again.
I love IG, but it is not the same animal as a Flickr. It is not a photographer nerd's dream. I tried 500px, but it was very slow there. I have not found any other platforms made for us yet.

Anushka Eranga's picture

I think Fstopper should come up with an app, so people can show their pictures in the fstopper community. since you have a great bunch of people around can assign photographers to choose the photo of the day easily. I would really love to volunteer for this.

Andrew Hayter's picture

Has anyone tried YouPic? It's a fairly new site with some very good photography. I have used 500px but switched to the free membership since they are aligned with Getty I think and a Chinese photo site. I have been on Flickr for years but don't take advantage of all it offers. As a Pro member you get unlimited storage. I just find it hard to upload images to Flickr and get them in the correct Album.

Reinier Snijders's picture

Yeah I did.. The first impression was okay but after a while I noticed it's mainly driven by computers (bots)

Reinier Snijders's picture

Yeah I did.. The first impression was okay but after a while I noticed it's mainly driven by computers (bots)

Michelle Maani's picture

The only reason I have an instagram account is to follow my friends. I don't post my photos there. The little hearts are meaningless.

Sean Molin's picture

Make Flickr great again. Seriously, it's the same as it always was. Screw all the Tic Tok video-centric algorithms platforms. Just start posting on Flickr. It's a great place.

Joe Hogan's picture

Flickr has reacted to changes in other platforms... the recent announcement is change of focus from Flickr looks to be the most interesting news for photographers in quite a while.

Brad Wendes's picture

Great news for photographers! With more photographers moving away from Instagram, Flickr could really do well from their new change of focus