Toronto’s 500px has long cultivated a reputation as a more highbrow competitor to its photo-sharing cousins Flickr and Instagram.
And while the company has successfully maintained a specialist cachet, it is no longer possible to regard 500px as a niche service for fine art photographers, owing to the massive traction it has achieved in recent months.
You could tell that 500px had arrived shortly after the death of Google Reader, when every other RSS feed replacement included it alongside every other content provider available in their feed services, with Youtube, Twitter, and the usual suspects.
On Wednesday, after a month of beta testing by the 500px community, the company unveiled its newly redesigned “Photo Portfolios” service. In doing so, 500px casually let slip the fact that it now serves over 1 billion page views per month, a target which it surpassed two months ago and has maintained since.
With its committed user base of budding serious photographers, 500px has achieved critical mass not through trying to be all things to all people, begging for likes, or pandering to cat- or baby-related subject matter, but instead aiming higher, differentiating itself by asking photographers to showcase their best work. The onus is placed on the photographer to create stunning images, rather than offering filters to disguise otherwise mediocre shots.
The new Portfolio service offers users a personalized url, as well as the option to edit html directly to create a one-of-a-kind site. It’s notable that 500px is secure enough in its user base now to up prices for extra service, as opposed to chasing its user base downward, a dynamic created by its marketing decision to present itself as the quality alternative to other photo sharing sites.
Free memberships are still available for users to upload up to 20 photos per week, while their Plus and Awesome packages ($25 and $75 per year, respectively) will accept files as large as 100mb with unlimited storage.
Over the next months, 500px promises to continue rolling out new features, including custom pages, e-commerce integration, and blogs.