Why I quit 500px!

February 15, 2017  •  11 Comments

Back with a new blog post but first the disclaimer!  These are just my feeling, opinion.  Many of you won't agree with me and that's perfectly fine, I respect your opinion.

OK with that out of the way lets get to the story.  Although I had an SLR when I was a kid I didn't really know how to use it.  I could manually focus and use the built in light meter but as to the rest I had no idea.  Just like today I hear you shout!! :-)  So when I really took up photography was 2005 when I bought a shiny new Canon 350D.  Why Canon?  Just because they were marginally better and cheaper than the main competition.  I got a proper camera for a couple of reasons, one because I went on holiday and took a sunset picture with my first digital point and shout and loved it but also I had a young family.  So for years I taught myself how to take pictures and just shared them with the family.  I got a lot of praise, as we all do from our families and slowly started to improve.  I said slowly as having young kids takes up most of your time :-)

One of my learning sources was Scott Kelby and some of his books, I started watching some of his shows and that's when I became aware of 500px.com.  There were some amazing shots on the site and an offer on so I got a membership.  That was in 2011 but i didn't post anything for a few months so my first post went on line in February 2012!  I waited for my likes and fav's to come in! (tumbleweed)

So my photos were ok but getting no response did bring me back down to earth with a large bump to my ego :-)  Of course we all know that the more you put into social media, the more you get out.  I therefore began to "engage" with the community which basically meant I liked a lot of images and I mean a lot!  This went on for quite a while and I gradually started to get some traction, I was hooked.  Now I know now that I got way out of hand and probably annoyed a lot of users.  My photos were getting far higher than they deserved but I was getting better, trying to compete with the great shots.  I started getting my photos onto page one of the site, which gave you much more exposure and a lot more likes.  Eventually I hit gold and got to number 1!  This is the photo!

I was a god! My shot, called "Speed Bumps" had archived what I'd obsessed about.  I've done it, I don't have to chase this anymore I though! But just like a drug I was hooked!  I wanted that feeling again and again, but when I my other shots didn't do as well it made me feel bad, it was a downward spiral.  Now a lot of you are probably, quite correctly, thinking how ridiculous this all is and you're right.  Looking back now I still don't know how I got sucked in.  

Now on the positive side I definitely improved my photography and I met a lot of great people who are very talented.  We had some good banter and jokes, I'm still digitally in touch with some of them.  I have Kevin Haggith from Canada, Vinni from Norway, Lin and Ash from Australia and John Harper from Wiltshire.  We still joke around but now just on Facebook.  If I've missed anyone apologies, I have a terrible memory.

Fairy GlennFairy Glenn

Going cold turkey!

Now giving up the adrenalin rush wasn't easy.  I wanted to press that delete account button so many times. I started the process of closing my account on other sites that I'd joined first until there was only one left.  I also got some inspiration, John Harper deleted his account.  I contacted him and although his experiences had not been the same as mine I still felt that I could do it.  So late last year I left and the relief was wonderful.  I don't miss chasing the fame and I have a lot more time to do more productive things.

My experience did get me thinking.  Are photography contests of any use?  I still enter them at my photography club but I have to say I don't care if I win.  If the judge has some good advise I take it on board and otherwise ignore it.

In the social media age we live in, I guess I'm not the only one to get addicted but I'm out now and feel all the better for it!

If you'd like to make a comment then please do, it would be good to know what your experiences are.

Take care


Tim McAndrew Photography
Thank you all for your comments, good to see so many friends that I met on the site here. I've had a lot of hits on this blog, most were not on long enough to read it but still nice to have some interest.

Good decision!(non-registered)
I have still an account at 500px, but only for advertising to my own web page. The last picture I have uploaded to 500px was spring last year.
I had the same experience as you with 500px. It's a thrill to be shown on page one or being selected for a blog-article. Some of my pictures where seen more than 60.000 times. But I was really disappointed when they copied my photos without my knowledge to completely different server located in China, mixing up the comments with other comments and finally censored my portfolio for China. It was a hard struggle to get my photos deleted. Wilco is right: if you press the delete-button, the photos are still on their server. I could even reach them (and download them) via their API. Several ping-pongs where needed to get them deleted. They said every time "everything is now deleted" and I proved them that it was not the truth.
Now I am on several other communities: Viewbug, Pixoto, Fotoblur, NationalGeographic. My views are pending between 3 and 1000. I don't care anymore if the "mass of people" likes my pictures. I am happy, when my friends (mostly from 500px) are having a look. We are learning the different styles from each other. In Facebook we are sometimes chatting, but definitely seeing the others work.
Ashley Sowter (Australia)(non-registered)
Hey Tim,
Great post, great shots (both 99.9's in my book) :-)
I voted, liked and faved...will you come and check out my work now?

I think you all probably know where I stand. I'll start with the positives.
I'll say that I started photography when I took my camera off the Auto / Landscape / Portrait presets and understood what aperature and its effects were. That was mid 2012 (I think). I bought my Canon 5d Mk3, upgrading from my Canon 350d (great camera!) and i clicked away. Nothing happened. the shots were very ordinary (shooting in JPG!). What the hell? I'd dropped $5k or so, where were the amazing photos?

I stumbled on 500px and i was instantly amazed. Here were PHOTOGRAPHERS! Talented ones, with real skill (and often worse gear!). I loved it in those early days and I absolutely grew. One of the main reasons for that is due to one of the nicest gentlemen on the planet. Mr Eddie Cheng (whom I hope to meet one day and thank in person).

500px absolutely helped me to grow as a tog.
I took a photo down in Melbourne one day and I thought it was great. I couldn't wait to upload it to 500px and watch the magic happen...yep you know the story. So i started the liking others work, to garner likes back and it worked, the pulse rose.

I got pretty disenchanted with that pretty quickly. I "forced the pulse" for my March of the Norse pelicans shot ('cause i felt it deserved to be on page 1) and one other i think. I guess I never got hooked on the page 1 thing (though I absolutely admit to wanting to be there), because it was false and manufactured. I know I commented to a few friends that they could post an out of focus photo of a t*rd and it would hit 98%+ How does that help anyone.

Honestly, I craved an Editors Award. That would have meant something to me....but I want one from 3 years ago. Now the Ed awards have gone to sh1t. All kinds of ordinary shots are awarded. I liked them when they awarded fewer and they were Unique, amazing, inspiring, different, talented....award worthy!

I am still on there and I keep it alive only since my www.sowter.com.au points there. I post the odd image from time to time, check out some friends stuff from time to time and very occasionally accidentally look at some of the pretty girls :-) I was a man before I was a photographer you know.

Without a doubt, the absolute best thing out of 500px is/was the connections and friends. I've met quite a few in real life and plan to meet more (Lin - I will see you in 11 hours!). The Wosinas, Vinni, Lin, Jodie, Kevin, Eddie (god bless you Eddie), John, Tim, Warren (why have we never met yet?), Jo, Linda, Amy and emmo (and more I know I have missed).

I like viewbug. I dont socialise on there, I don't have any friends on there, I don't connect with people on there and I don't like other peoples work, unless I stumble on it, which occasionally happen as I look through competition winners on comps that interest me. I receive an email every other day telling me I got "1 like" :-)

I like it because it is real feedback and a real rating. the images go to "user votes" and then the final 50? go to an accomplished photographer to judge. Yep its personal and one person and not a panel, but I like the "wow I hit the top 20% out of 15,000 images" or WOW! I made the finals (which I did today). Personally I take something from that.
EQUALLY - I've included shots that I thought (think) were pretty good...and they don't make the 50% popularity cut off point...good to know right?

Perhaps I'll see you guys in a view bug final sometime. How wonderful would that be for us to each get an image in a comp together sharing the finals page.

We should perhaps choose a competition or two and go and shoot for it, if nothing else it could inspire some shots

Great post Tim. You and that Harper fella better be around when I come to town!

Lin Zee(non-registered)
Hey Tim,

I got a mention woohoo!

Now that is out of my system I have to say all of your points are valid.

My experience is very similar if not identical to yours from the early days with a film camera, raising a family, work, Instagram, 500px, adrenaline rush, addiction etc.

I'm still on these sites simply because I love photography in all its forms. I must view hundreds images per week if not hitting the thousands. It's where I get my inspiration from to make myself a better photographer, a better human maybe. To train my eye, to appreciate, to learn. It doesn't stop and will never stop for me and the main reason I'm still on them.

You, John, Ash, Kev, Emmo, Vinnie, Andrea, and heaps of others that were around on 500px at the same time have quieted down quite considerably in terms of posting regularly. I have too. I miss you guys haha but have you all on FB so all is not lost. I post for the pure pleasure of it now and only post my best unlike some that spam like there is no tomorrow. I post for feedback but the quality of it is definitely very poor. I post for the connection to others like yourself and hope to make friendships.

At the end of the day it is each to his own. No one owes anyone anything. No one is more entitled than anyone else. As long as there is mutual respect and understanding and fooling around and laughter that is all we can expect at a minimum.

Philosophy rant over. Will add this to blog sites I regularly visit shortly once I get off this phone!

Cheers Lin
Tim McAndrew Photography

I've not looked back since deleting my account :-) It did take 2 support requests for them to delete it fully though, the button just makes it invisible and if you log in again the account is back.

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