On my humble opinions, these companies have the vision and the means to execute it. It does not mean it is worthless to use other photo sharing websites, but to make a long story short, if you want to start some photo sharing, they are definitively the sites I am usually recommending. No surprise, you will find there the most famous guys…
Facebook: Whereas FB does not care about pictures but about what people will say about them, it does not mean they are not very likely to become the photo sharing website. They finally understood – late 2011 – that they could and should implement the features and services other photo sharing websites are proposing. Frankly, a photographer cannot really not expose its works there…
Google+: FB best ennemy. So far – beginning of 2012, G+ is proposing better photo sharing services than FB. It also gains more and more traction and looks very trendy to many young photographers. No doubt Google will improve them as they do invest so much in social web. So to make a long story short: a must.
They may not be for everyone, but they have a somewhat unique and specific offer. It is worth having a look at their services.
1X: the photo sharing website for the best of the best. Well, that’s their marketing! But no kidding, you will find there wonderful shots and great photographers. Its commercial policy looks to me a little bit doubtful, to say the less, I mean they try to monetize as much as they can everything but somewhere it looks consistent with their elite policy – they can’t rely on mass traffic by definition, nor on a sustainable growth for the same reason. So in conclusion, that’s a classic photo sharing website to really take care of to post your best pictures.
500px: many other photo sharing websites are mainly about “sharing life moments”. 500px is the place to look at, and post, your best shots. Not as elitist than 1X, it is a great place to interact with enthusiast and skills photographers, and show your work. According to Alexa, 2009 and 2010 have been two great years, but the site seems to have achieved his best. However, due to the quality of the services and of the photographers, it still seems to be in 2012 a good website to share your work.
Twitter: I can’t say which way they will evolve… One has to admit it is a photo sharing website, but somewhere it is very specific, as information there does not last but a few hours – if not less. But it is so useful when it comes to promote your work or connect with others. Like FB, it has become a must, whether you like it or not.
Devian Art: I like the community, its spirit, motivations. It is more about the “art” than just “another social community”. Whereas I still find the look and feel not very artistic to say the less, if not depressing, the user experience is interesting and pleasant. It is definitively worth a try and make your own mind!
Smugmug; it is more about showing your work than just sharing it. But the services provided are really extensive and the company’s offer looks to me quite unique and very well done compare with similar companies. If you want to sell your images, or if you want to show them in a professional way, you should have a look at their offers.
Zenfolio: quite similar to Smugmug, with an excellent reputation too from its users. More a showcase service than a real photosharing service tough, like Smugmug again.
Tumblr: incredibly popular, a kind of mixture between wordpress and twitter! The microblogging site is great for engaging and sharing your work. It looks to me much more pleasant than twitter, which is more useful as a complementary tool too, but does not propose the same great user experience when it comes to photosharing. But twitter is twitter, at least so far! If your are “results oriented”, you cannot ignore it. If you just want to share and join a vibrant community, Tumblr looks to me to be a great match.
Pixable: Facebook best friends… It really provides a great experience coupled with Facebook likes and comments on your pictures and those of your friends. It also connect you with other public pictures. But the lattest is more a gadget, at least so far. A summary: take a look if you want to improve your experience with FB and photos!
Pinterest: First you need to understand it, there is an excellent article, kind of “Pinterest for dummies”. It looks to me very similar to Twitter but in a much more organized way – not so transient. it looks challenging guessing whether the hype for Pinterest will last, but for now, that’s a good way to expose some pictures and share photos.
Imgur: the site is growing more and more popular, and indeed, the user experience is funny and pleasant. Like twitter or Tumblr, everything is there very transient. The community is vibrant, and the comments are much more elaborated and vibrant compare with others (Flickr for instance!). Of course I can’t say whether it will stay so popular for long, or not. As matter of fact, there is a risk, there are more surfing on the wave of social photo sharing than providing real innovation. For the time being, why not publish there and join the community if you like it. It may not last, but you will have fun. Not that bad…
The mobile team
Mobile photo sharing can work differently. And several services have been designed exclusively for mobile photo sharing. Whereas extremely popular if not hype, it looks hard to say which ones are going to stay for a while, and which ones will not last so long.
Instagram: now belongs to Facebook but this should not, at least for the short term, influence the famous mobile photo sharing website. Square pictures, retro digital filters, strong viral marketing and you got the hype, let’s say for some months. Whether this fame will last, should people get tired of the specific look of the picture, time will say.
The endangered species
Sorry to be a little bit sarcastic! I don’t mean they are doomed to disappear soon, but I don’t recommend newbies to join their communities. Either because I don’t find there something specific, or because their vision/strategy are looking fuzzy if not weak, when not inconsistent and outmoded.
Flickr: The old lady of photo sharing… The community’s size and activity are impressive. The site is fast, responsive and you will find there more or less most of the features and the services you are looking for. But everything looks so old fashioned… Basically, Flickr is losing traction and is now overcome by its competitors more or more in every direction. Yahoo!’s intentions are far from being clear, and every user can feel the pain of such a lack of investments. As a newbie: use with caution until Yahoo!’s commitments would make it again a long term option for sharing your work.
Photobucket: Whereas much more well connected to other social websites, it looks to me quite similar to Flickr, but without a company like Yahoo! behind (OK, I admit it does not look to help Flickr so much so far, but, hopefully, it might change in a way or another). Like Flickr, their main vision is obviously to compete against the two fighting titans: Google+ and Facebook, which have more and more interest in photo sharing. In 2012, for a newbie, I don’t really see the point investing in such a photo sharing website which is well done, but without some specific and unique real value. According to Alexa, I am not the only one to believe so.
Fotki: Another photo sharing website, quite popular in Estonia and Lithuania but widespread in many countries too. The bottom line: does not really propose something really new or specific. Its community size looks limited compare with the biggest players, and its user experience did not look to me so great, not bad either but rather average, with some strengths (search categories make sense) but also weaknesses (no “popular”, no “explore”, …). On a side note, the site is just ugly and very old fashioned. Alexa is showing a weakening popularity too, which is no surprise to me.
Fotolog: whereas popular in some countries (mainly in South America), I am concerned by two weaknesses: first its popularity is declining at a concerning pace (according to Alexa), and the website does not really propose something specific. The second is certainly the cause of the first…
Kodak Gallery (Kodak’s future does not exactly look shiny), Panoramio (which may become somewhere just a feature of Google+ in a way or another in the future), Shutterfly or Send Photos (for both: just two other photo sharing websites like many, mainly driven by a photo print business), Snapfish (like Shutterfly), Snapjoy (too much confidential and whereas well implemented, no real innovation), Webshot (American centric, outdated and declining popularity), Dropshot and Slickpic (for both: no specific value, and confidential compare with other), My picture town (Nikon-centric and without many innovations), and much more (Darqroom, Dotphoto…) can be from time to time, or for some people, quite useful. But I don’t recommend any of them for the hereabove reasons.
But you don’t need to be an old photo sharing to be outmoded! E.g., SnapMyLife, whereas its launch date is August 2011, looks to me to be a patchwork of known features, and I don’t really see the point to join this new community like so many.
And it is far from being over. 7moments is in beta (May 2012) but will be added to the long list of photosharing website. 7moments looks – at a first glance – similar to Zangzing. Hopefully they will last longer…
Kodak Gallery: another victim in 2012, when Kodak Gallery was a photosharing zombie. Its ends was inevitable. The users photos were supposed to be migrated to Shutterfly, with some limitations tough.
Lightbox: a mobile app, somewhat similar to other Instagram. The team has been hired by Facebook in 2012, and shut down the services a few weeks later. Too bad for the users, their career was more important than your pictures.
Picplz: another victim of Facebook. 2012 photosharing massive investments of the giant have not motivated entrepreneurs to continue spending money on such services. Picplz was fine, but not really different from other mobile photosharing.
ZangZing, which tried to masquerade Google+ Photos, was actually quite good as they were focusing at privately sharing photos. I have written I was concerned by the long term viability of the service, they eventually had to close their doors a few months later, in 2012 too. This year has not only been the one of Facebook’s infamous IPO, it has also been a tough one for photosharing services!
Color, not really dead as I am writing this paragraph, but seems to have only two deadly choices: going bankrupt or being acquired and digested by Apple before end of 2012. A good idea (curation by geolocalization), generous funds (over $ 40 millions), but no success for different reasons. My two cents: just another photo sharing website and a good idea is not enough.
You have the choice, and every photo sharing website can be time – and money – consuming. So you should really focus at those really able to provide what you are looking for, and if possible for long. Some websites can be very popular, it does not mean they will last forever. Nobody has a crystal ball, but obviously some look to be more trendy than really innovators, and other’s future look very concerning.