Flickr vs. 500px and more: Why I Use 5 Photo Sharing Sites

photo sharing servicesI’m an amateur hack when it comes to photography. I bought my first DSLR last year, and have been shooting away ever since. Thanks to having an amazing toddler at home to whom I gladly dedicate most of my free time, I haven’t had time to really get much better. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy it.

One of the first things I did after accumulating some photos was look into options for storing them online. If you’re like me, you quickly discovered that it really fuels your enthusiasm when you get input or even just acknowledgment concerning your photographs. As a result, the five online services in my current arsenal run the gamut from serving as mostly storage, to being replete with sharing and community options. Here’s my take on these services, along with links to my photographs. In the comments below, let me know your favorite services, and feel free to share links to your photographs.


1. The old standby: Flickr


For many people, Flickr is the default photo sharing and photo community site. Flickr lets you store and share your own photos, and also to view and comment on the photographs of other users. You can organize your photographs into sets and galleries, and change privacy and other settings on a very granular level.

I use Flickr for non-private photographs, such as landscape photos. I also weed out most of my photographs before uploading them to Flickr, unlike Picasa Web Albums, which I discuss below. I do have a Pro account, which gives me unlimited photo and video uploads, along with some other extra features. The Pro account cost me $24.95 for one year.

Flickr’s focus is on community. It’s easy to follow other users, comment on their photos, and “favorite” them. Flickr’s iOS app is quite beautiful, too.

You can find my photos on Flickr here.


2. The new kid on the block: 500px


If I’m somewhat selective about what I post on Flickr, I’m reeeeaallllly selective about what I upload to 500px. There are many great photographers there. In fact, I was a bit hesitant to upload anything there, since my stuff isn’t very good, and even a quick visit to the site will leave you dazzled with all sorts of great shots. I just recently bit the bullet, though, and was amazed by the feedback I received. I wasn’t deluged with comments, but I received more feedback than I receive on Flickr, on a much smaller number of photographs.

I think of 500px as a Flickr for the really passionate photographers. While it replicates some of what Flickr does, such as giving users the ability to comment on photos and mark them as favorites, it does so in a much more modern and elegant interface. I have a free account there, but I’m tempted to upgrade to the Awesome account to get unlimited uploads along with custom domain mapping (which would let me use my personal domain name with the site). There’s also a cheaper Plus account that gives you unlimited uploads, without the domain options.

You can find me here on 500px.


3. The obvious fad: Instagram


It’s probably a misnomer to call Instagram a photo storing service, but it certainly counts as a photo sharing service. You do need to upload photos from a device such as your smartphone, but it’s pretty easy to cheat these days. I often transfer a photo to my phone automatically using the Photo Stream built into OS X and iOS. I do this for a reason, though -after listening to an old photography podcast by Lisa Bettany on the TWiT network, I’m trying to upload one photo per day for a year to Instragram (and probably annoying my friends in the process), using the tag #mostly365. Some of those photos end up being very mundane, but the point is to get me at least thinking about photography every day.

I’ve also started following some very talented people, who are indirectly helping me to “see” when I get out my own camera. I look at Instagram as a “quick and dirty” service to get in and get out. There are many great photos to be found, but the focus is more on the social end of things.

You can find me on Instagram here.


4. The bulk locker: Picasa Web Albums / Google+

Picasa Web Albums

Google’s Picasa Web Albums, which has been pretty much assimilated into Google+, was the first service that I used. For many years prior to that, I hosted all my photos myself on my web host’s server. That got to be too cumbersome, and I knew that I would start to quickly fill up my space allotment.

I wanted to find a free or cheap service that could work fairly seamlessly with my family WordPress site. I found a great WordPress plugin, PWA+PHP, that displays Picasa albums right on my site, even if those albums are private (i.e. only accessible if you know the link). When my extended family visits the site, it looks to them like the photos are hosted right on my site, when in fact they are being pulled from Picasa. It requires no action on my part, aside from the initial setup of the plugin.

There are a few drawbacks to this approach for me. If I share a photo on Google+, it shows up on my private website. As a result, if you have a thing for sharing funny cat photos on Google+, then beware that those photos will end up on your site. The other drawback is that Picasa limits the size of the photographs you can upload, if you don’t want to pay extra. Those limitations are generous, though, as any photograph that doesn’t exceed 2048 pixels in width or height doesn’t count against your free 5 GB of storage. I simply resize my photos before uploading them. Apple’s Aperture makes it easy to resize an entire set of photos.

Whereas I use the other services discussed below to display all of my photos publicly, I primarily use Picasa / Google+ as a private repository. I do have a few public albums, which you can find here.


5. The king of the hill – Facebook

One service of which most people are already aware is Facebook, which is the king of photo sharing thanks to its massive user base. I figure that most of you are already familiar with Facebook, so I’m only going to mention it in passing. I primarily use Facebook to share photographs of family and friends. While I occasionally post landscape and other photographs there, I figure that my Facebook friends probably aren’t interested in that. I only use Facebook for private photos, so I don’t have a link to share (yes, I know that many of you are laughing that I use “Facebook” and “private” in the same sentence).


There are many other sites out there that I didn’t mention, such as Tumblr. What sites do you use?



Evan on Instagram

Evan on Flickr

Evan on 500px

Evan on Google+

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. Perusing your uploaded photos on 500px…holy moly! How did you capture that shot of lightning?

    • That was lucky, and being in the right place at the right time. I was trying to get a shot of the clouds, when the lightning strike happened. I had been shooting the clouds for about 30 seconds when it took place, and it was one of those “please tell me you got that” moments where I quickly reviewed the shot.

  2. Derek Winterburn

    Thanks for this I generally agree with your divisions. The main issue I have with these sites is that they don’t support RAW files, so don’t really worked as long term cloud storage.

    I have recently joined which has a daily journal angle – rather like your instagram project. And like 500px there’s lots of feedback on contributions.

    • That looks like a cool service. My only worry would be that I’ve spread myself out over several sites. I worry that I probably not use one of them once I join. It does look cool, though.

  3. Flickr is a cool site to update your gallery with Instagram already in same race. Flickr deserves credit for people like me. It is my opinion. What are yours?

    • I do think Flickr has more of a community of non-pros, which can be more comfortable. 500px can be a bit intimidating, although you can really get sucked in viewing all the beautiful photographs. I have noticed that many of the comments on 500px are of the “check out my gallery” variety.

  4. I use Flikr,Facebook, and I am giving this new site a try….their spin is photo sharing things and places in your city/state.

    • I hadn’t heard of that one, Earl. It sounds like it would be cool for people looking to meet people.

      • Well it’s pretty new and has very few members….I hope to see it get more. I came across the website while sitting in a coffee shop and a guy was sitting there with the skin on his laptop showing the website name. I see him there all the time, I did not have the nerves to ask him if he was the owner of the website…he looked pretty busy…lol.

  5. Thanks for the website 500px, pretty awesome website. Seriously, I love to participate on photo sharing activity, but I like to participate on because of it’s password protected albums option.

  6. Hi
    Thanks for the information !
    500 px can definitely give a good competition to Flickr, if used properly.


  7. Nice write-up. I also use 5 different photo-sharing/storage sites; the only difference being that instead of 500px I use SmugMug, which BTW does allow RAW files. Recently I’ve felt tempted to give 500px a try but as you’ve said, I’d probably have to drop one of the other services (Instagram maybe?) since 6 photo-sharing sites might be too much. Then again, my photos are definitely not the quality that you’d normally see at 500px, so I may have to stick to gool ol’ Flickr and the like. .

  8. quick comment because I just found this page flipping through – I have each of the sites that you have mentioned…. and also smug mug (which I use as a portfolio of my “art”) I got that before I ran across 500px and my 500 px is empty, because like you, I am intimidated by the level of talent running there and know I’m not as skilled as most of the folks there. One site you did not mention that I use extensively is photo bucket. Flickr spanked my hand early ON (2004) for posting photos that were not my own – they were photos that i had collected from magazines over the years that i wanted to share, mostly of celebrities. Flickr frowned upon that then, although, these days I see some users that almost solely post work that is not their own – one in particular I warned years ago and they are still there posting thousands of old magazine model photos (and protecting them from pinning etc, i might add, ironically). Photobucket doesn’t not police in that way, although, they do NOT like nudity ( a barebottomed photo i posted was flagged and deleted). there are editing tools there and decent organization and privacy settings.

  9. Flickr is a confusing mess. Picasa was excellent three years ago, but now has feature fever. The good free sites have been ruined by their overlords, and no reliable replacements have appeared.

  10. I am using Instagram and Pinterest only, 500px is good but I found that is only for professional photographers and looks good only for them, I have an account on 500px but not using it.

    • I forgot about Pinterest, so thank you. There are so many people there that use it for crafts and things like that, I didn’t consider that it might be a good place for photography as well.

  11. I want to investigate 500px a bit more, but I have been using Redbubble for around 4 years now, I notice no one else does, has anyone else hear of them at least.

  12. I think Instagram is by far the most convenient photo sharing tool.

  13. It’s hard to compare photo sharing and photo archiving at the same time. 500px is beautiful, but limited to 20 uploads. They just want your best work. SmugMug is GREAT for storage, albums, etc., but not so great for point and click sharing like InstaGram and FB.

  14. Picasa rules! It has so many options. I prefer this tool.

  15. nice overview, i have a flickr account but barely use it.
    i use these: for uploading some destinctive special photos & wich is a photo cms made for comfortable hosting your photos on your webspace – you should definitely try it, btw this is my private kokek site:


    • Thanks for the heads up on Koken, Christian. I just spent some time checking it out, and it looks impressive (by the way, the proper link is I’d try that if I ever self-hosted my images. I used to host my own photos, but I just had too many. I host them with Google, but they’re embedded on my own site.

  16. Hey there , Can you explain how you upload your DSLR photos to instagram from your computer?

  17. I’m an avid photographer and wanted a place to post my photos that’s clean, simple, fast, and not part of some social networking site. All the popular photo-hosting sites (Flickr, 500px, SmugMug, Zenfolio, etc.) tend to be slow and bloated, with lots of features that I don’t want or need. Eventually I gave up trying to find an existing service, and built my own: Lightbox (

    I’ve been using it for a few months now, and it’s been working great for me, so I figured I’d start sharing it with others in case anyone else finds it useful. If you try it, let me know what you think!

  18. for me YouPic its a great photography website..

  19. Good article. I found it whilst googling to find out the benefits of other photo-sharing sites besides Flickr – an account for which, I’ve had since 2012. However I am now finding it a bit limiting in its features for my needs (for example no password protected galleries). I’ve used a Pro Smugmug with a custom domain as a ‘website’ for 2 years now, but find it limiting as a ‘community’- plus am looking to cut out the cost. People and magazine reviews, tell me 500px is the best, but like you, am intimidated by the top-end images on there. Out of my league’ as you describe it. Describes my reaction as well! However, spurred on by your post – I think I’ll give 500px a go. Instagram (as a non iPhone user doesn’t [imagine that!] interest me), pInterest isn’t for ‘photographers’ etc. Thanks

    • Do yourself a favor and don’t waste your time on 500px. There is a lot of user manipulation happening on there, and it is very hard to get anywhere. But maybe you already figured that out by now.

  20. Hi, I found this interesting article by searching for comparisons between 500px and Flickr. I’m very much an “amateur hack” as the author puts its. I joined 500px and so far have uploaded four images. Three of them made it to popular status, albeit briefly. Now, either I’m an unheralded genius, or the majority of pics will reach popular when they’re first uploaded. Sadly, I think it’s the latter. None of the pics attracted any written comments whatsoever.

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