Photo Consumption, Conformity, and Copying in Landscape Photography

I will start out this post with an important note.  This is not a rant due to sour grapes or feeling left out of the clique of popular kids.  When I was posting regularly on 500px, my images often made it to the front page and even filled the top slot on the site on a few occasions.  I am also not intending to criticize or offend any individual photographers who are active on 500px but am instead commenting on the negative culture that the site promotes and feeds. I am somewhat hesitant to post something filled with a lot of negativity but decided to go ahead since I think a dialogue on this topic is important. 

Landscape photographers have been engaging in a lot of dialogue about the 500px photo-sharing site lately and for good reason (many of the discussions have been on private Facebook pages about individual photographers and photographs, but here is a link to a recent post on the topic and one from Ron from a few years ago).  500px is having a strong influence on the landscape photography community and in the views of some, including me, this is not a positive development.  I am weighing in and discussing some of the arguments that others have made on this topic because I find 500px's influence to be damaging to the direction of landscape photography overall and harmful for individual photographers who feel the strong pull to conform because of the site’s dominance.  And even though I use 500px as the example, the points also serve to illustrate much larger trends in photography overall. 

As a fellow photographer reminded me in an email dialogue on this topic, the 500px culture isn’t going to change.  So why bother even talking about this?  Because photography and the sharing of photography should be a positive, constructive, and enriching experience.  I have heard from enough new photographers to know that the culture of the 500px website can be highly demoralizing and a single website should not have the power to stop budding photographers before they even get started or discourage talented photographers who cannot get traction on the site. 

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