As a photographer, being able to display your work effectively is just as important as being able to shoot your images right. Many of you will spend hours upon hours conceptualizing your shoots, more hours on executing the perfect shot and finally, many more important hours of the day (or night) editing and touching up the photo.
However, if you do not have the right platform to showcase your work, then all this effort would yield far less satisfaction than you’d have hoped. If you’re starting off on your creative venture, you may not have the money to invest in a dedicated website, but fear not! There are several really amazing websites that are designed to cater to your needs.
Target Audience/User Pool
If getting your artwork into the biggest pool of people is your goal, then nothing beats DeviantArt. It has the largest user base, mostly thanks to being the oldest of the sites in this list. However, not all the members of the site are photographers, as dA is largely an “artists” community, and not particularly a “photographer’s” haven. If you want to just go for a photography centric portal with a large user-base all focussed on photography, then Flickr is probably what you are seeking. However, Flickr’s pool of creativity seems to have diluted over the years with every wannabe photographer with a camera signing up for the service.
If you want to build a portfolio on a platform where every single photo is a reality check for your skills, then 500px (pronounced 500 pixels) is where you should be signing up. The website is exclusively dedicated to photographers and you’d have to look really hard to find bad photos (unless you’re the one uploading them… j/k). Lastly, we have Behance, which is an Adobe entity, and is much like DeviantArt. However, in our usage of Behance, we have found that it is far more conducive to digital artists than photographers.
Final Preference: 500px
Some photographers love feedback. Some hate it. Many of us thrive in a community, joining groups, starting discussions, debates, indulging in gear envy and what not. Bottom-line is, if community and feedback are important to you, then some of these options might not work for you. Behance would probably be the lowest on our preference simply due to the fact that it is a relatively nascent service and is more inclined towards digital art than hardcore photography.
Of the remaining three, Flickr definitely has the most thriving community. If you encounter a problem with a particular piece of equipment, or want to know about the most obscure photographer technique or even if it is about shooting locations, chances are Flickr has a discussion thread on it, and not just one, but several. Flickr will also probably bring you the most photo comments as critique, if you’re looking for them.
DeviantArt doesn’t have the discussion threads Flickr does, but it does have more groups that you can count for every single style of photography. 500px allows user comments on photos, but beyond that, there are no communities or discussion groups.
Final Preference: Flickr
Set Yourself Apart
One of the key elements of a portfolio is the ability to set it apart from everyone else’s. By that we don’t mean just the body of work, but also how you display it. While personalized websites are the best way to do it, you’re probably reading this post because for some reason or another, you can’t get a personalized website. You are not completely out of luck though, as you can use the paid services on any of these four services to get a personalized portfolio page.
500px has two paid tiers named “Plus” and “Awesome” which cost $25 and $75 per year respectively. While the $25 subscription will allow you to create “sets,” upload as many photos as you want and even sell your prints, but it does not allow you to create a personalized portfolio. That feature is available only in the $75 tier. Flickr gives you the sets and a whopping 1TB of storage all for free, but doesn’t give you the freedom to apply a professional theme to your page.
Behance has the ProSite option which costs a whopping $100 a year. What you get in return is a choice of 4 themes you can use to give your portfolio a well-polished look. Now DeviantArt on the other hand gives you a ton of options for just $30 a year. It starts with the ability to create a customized portfolio, moving up to 10GB of storage, cheaper prints, and the ability to sell prints and not to mention many more community relevant perks.
Final Preference: DeviantArt / 500px
Assuming you are going to remain on your path of being stingy and stick to the free tiers of all these sites, even then these services have something or the other great to offer. Visually, 500px has by far the most pleasing aesthetic for displaying images. It has a very neat layout that displays all images in an adequately sized box. Their design sense has been so great that the new design of Flickr often comes off as an attempt to ape the competitor.
Comparing the two services, while 500px is devoid of any advertisements, Flickr is not. In fact, ads on Flickr can be rather distracting and what’s worse is that the company wants you to pay $49/year just so you can have an ad-free browsing experience. That $49 will bring you nothing else. While both DeviantArt and Behance also employ the grid pattern of displaying art-work, Behance’s look is far more polished than dA’s and it also happens to be ad-free. However, DeviantArt’s ads are not as visually distracting as the ones you’d see on Flickr.
Final Preference: Behance/500px
choosing the perfect platform to display your work is imperative, at least in the years you are trying to establish yourself as a photographer. It is important to not just have a good looking portfolio, but also get community feedback at the same time as it is an integral part of a photographer’s growth.
Therefore, we recommend that you stick with Flickr for critique, but also maintain a paid 500px account to show something to your potential clients. You can use Flickr as a means of separating out the bad pieces of photos from the good ones and the good ones can finally go on 500px.
You could choose to go with DeviantArt as well, although we wouldn’t recommend it simply because it has a somewhat diluted audience. Unfortunately, Behance is just too new compared to these services to get a favourable recommendation from us, but given that it is an Adobe venture, we expect some major improvements in time.