I thought I’d write up a quick post on the alternatives to Flickr. I am by no means an expert in this area but I know that some of you have been looking for a way to learn about photography or a place to present your images off Flickr.
I know a lot of us use Flickr and for good reason. It’s a great place to have an online presence, a place to organize and display your photos. It’s easy to share, give feedback, give feedback, and just feel like part of a community.
JPG is another site where you can upload photos, leave comment, mark contact and favorites. It isn’t as robust as Flickr but it’s a good alternative. The idea behind JPG is that they publish a magazine, selecting themes for each issue, to which you can submit a photo. When the deadline passes, the submissions for each selected theme go up for vote and your image could end up in the next issue. You can also submit stories, which some of you may like.
This is one of my new favorites. This was started by some of the folks that were once over at JPG Magazine. The main focus on Pictory is also theme based. The purpose is to submit a single image and tell a story that goes with the theme. It a great exercise, picking the photo and then writing up a story to go along with it. The staff narrows it down to 25 of the best photo/story combinations. The final choices are published online in a showcase. I really like the concept of the site but the sharing portion is much less evolved than Flickr and JPG, if your work isn’t selected then it’s like the work you put into it is hidden away never to be seen.
Get local! Pop in your zip code in and find some photography related groups in your area. There are photography groups, photo walk groups, Photoshop groups… you get the picture. Here in Houston there are several groups. Just two weeks ago one of the local groups did a great lecture on light at a local library. I think the best way to really learn more is to tap into your local community and talk to people in your area, face to face. Yeah, people still do that… seriously!
Get yourself a Facebook and Twitter account and use it. Yeah, yeah… I know, stupid, drama, jumping on the bandwagon! WRONG! I used to think the same thing, “who cares what I’m having for lunch right?” The thing here is that all the top photographers you know and love use Twitter. They post tons of information and all interact with each other, and with you, right there for everyone to see. Some of these folks give things away, and you hear the latest news there, on Twitter, before it hits any blog. If you want to get in on watching Chase Jarvis do a photo shoot, and explain the entire process to you, live on air, you better be following him on Twitter to get that last minute link.
Same goes for Facebook, it’s a great way to follow other photographers (and your family and friends) and connect with local photographers.
I think the number one thing you can do is to go out and find out what is happening in your own back yard. I know a lot of people are shy, or that you think you’re not good enough to hang with the cool kids, but that’s so far from the truth! If you own a camera and want to learn, you’re good enough. Me… I’m terribly shy, and think I’m a terrible photographer, but whenever I go out an meet photographers nobody forces me to talk and there are far worse photographers out there and just like me, they want to learn.
It took me a while to plug into the local community, but I’ve been working at it for the past few months, slowly getting to know some of the people that make photography happen here in Houston. I’ve started attending local events where I’ve met some great photographers, and in turn have learned about other things going on. In December I spent an extremely rewarding day participating in Help-Portrait. I interacted with other local photographers, and met a lot of interesting people that day.
Find local fairs, and events, see if there are any local photo contests. I’ve submitted photos to contests from local events, in fact the photos you see in this post were all accepted. They will be auctioned off next year to raise money for charity. The biggest thing here, I’ve only just tapped the keg. There’s a lot more going on than one may think. Get out there, dig around a little, you never know what you may find.
So, here are some of the places I visit and some of the things I find helpful. Please, add more below or comment on my list.