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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WOO HOO! I got a Star on YouPIC!

Some time ago, I posted an article about a great new social sharing site for photographers called YouPIC. I responded to their Facebook ad in January and visited their site. They had a spectacular photo featured on their front page and also made some pretty startling claims on that page, to wit:
  • "Find high quality inspiration for your photography from millions of photographers"
  • "Showcase your best shots and be rewarded with tremendous exposure, awards, and love"
  • "Improve your photography dramatically ..."
Just by joining a site and uploading your photos? Even though I was a bit skeptical, I joined this online community, which is free and allows unlimited uploads.
To date I have uploaded 139 photos. As of last count these have been viewed 55,063 times (in a four-month period). I have received 4,483 favorites from my fellow photographers, and have been repic'd 2,413 times. Really great photographers from all over the world take the time and trouble to look at my photographs and even comment on them. It's very gratifying and very humbling that some of these folks would even take the time to notice. The site is so busy that I usually have over nine notifications every time I go there (9+ is the maximum count that YouPIC shows you when you log in - once your involvement reaches a critical mass, there are many more notifications than that). And I go there several times a day because it's so much fun! When you are there, you can just appreciate the beautiful photos that appear on your feed, explore the inspiration feed and other features on the site, or check out your own statistics.

YouPIC has an awards system and so far I have received four awards. Because everyone is so friendly, the beginner awards which initially sounded so formidable in fact turn out to be very achievable - get 500 repics, get 100 followers, get 500 favorites, upload photos from 2 countries and you'll be a People's Choice photographer, a Viral photographer, Famous, and a World Traveler. However, each time you reach one of those goals, YouPIC ups the ante. So four months in, I'm 89% toward achieving 5000 favorites, and around 50% toward achieving 5000 repics. The awards are okay, but I can tell you it's not about the awards. The real reward and gratification comes from interacting with the other photographers and their work. YouPIC actually requires you to do a lot of work. Only, they don't tell you this. But I'm telling you that for every photo you upload, you are going to need to go look at the work of, comment on, and return the love of every single photographer who favorites, comments on, and/or repics your photo. SERIOUSLY. This is how you learn and this is how your photography improves. I don't know how many photos I have looked at from all different genres and from all over the world in these last four months ... 15,000? 20,000? When you're playing catch-up it can get almost overwhelming, but usually it's sheer joy.

So, obviously YouPIC's promise of inspiration is true, and its promise of exposure and love is true - at least in my book. I've never gotten anywhere near this response on some of the legacy photo sites and once I hit their free upload limit, I left them behind many years ago. Truly, with the exception of community sites like Facebook and to a more limited extent, this blog site, I am used to mostly disappearing into a black hole somewhere in cyberspace.

So that leaves YouPIC's final promise: are my photography skills improving? Well, you can compare my older photos to my newer ones at my YouPIC profile page and decide for yourself, but I think they are. Here's why I think so. I have learned more about my camera settings because I have been motivated and inspired and educated by the work of other photographers and their cameras. It is so gratifying to be rewarded with dramatically better photos from my Panasonic Lumix FZ35 camera with just a few relatively minor adjustments that I had never properly and previously understood. My more recent photos have required far less post-processing because they stand on their own. Honestly, I am so surprised, because I didn't know my camera even had the capability of taking some of the pictures I've gotten from it recently. I thought those results only came from higher-end cameras

Here's an example of a more recent shot from my Lumix FZ-35; 
I was sitting in the grass fairly close by, sun in the west. ISO was set
to 100 (one of the more recent camera settings I've learned
 to fiddle with), giving me such beautiful detail.

I also think my photography skills are improving because photography concepts that I had been introduced to in my class at the community college years ago are starting to fall into place and become more lucid. That can't hurt, can it? At least I am starting to think more about my shots before I press the shutter release. And while it helps to be able to see what settings someone used to take a particular photo, even more to the point is that my "vision" is starting to improve by virtue of how other people see the world and show it in their work. I have really wonderful photographers to emulate and new ideas to try from their work. It's pretty darn exciting! And addictive!

One of the most coveted recognitions on YouPIC is to have your uploaded photo be tagged as an "inspiration." A little star appears in the corner of your photo and it enters a special stream of photos known as the inspiration stream which dramatically increases your exposure (the other coveted recognitions are being named a contest winner or having your photo used as a cover for YouPIC's main webpage). I had not received an inspiration on any of the photos I uploaded and had pretty well resigned myself to the fact that my photography just wasn't at that level. Not that my photography is all that bad, but the difference is pretty obvious even to me just from looking at some of the spectacular photographs uploaded by other photographers. Even so, people seemed to enjoy the photos I uploaded. (As YouPIC says, I did try to upload my best shots, particularly those that I thought people from other places might enjoy seeing.) Once I became more familiar with the site, I kind of let the work of other photographers inform me as to what to upload. So a week or so ago, I uploaded this photo of a dear little family member who had lived with us for twenty-one years. I had taken the photo years ago with my manual Pentax K1000 film camera ( the one that had been required in my community-college photography class), and lo and behold, that photo received the little star. I was so happy. The beauty of photography lies in its egalitarianism. Everybody gets a great photo once in a while - so I hoped I'd get lucky, lol, and I did. With a great old film camera.

"Kitty Porn"

Of course my photographic endeavors continue to be a work in progress. I still have lots to learn and I'm really enjoying the journey. It remains to be seen whether I will achieve more "inspirations" down the road. But in the meantime, for photography enthusiasts - both amateur and professional, YouPIC, in my humble opinion, just has to be one of the best sites out there for promoting the gospel of photography! So why don't you come join us?


1 comment:

Jon said...

I was a member for close to a year. For most of that time I enjoyed being a member of YouPic. A couple of weeks ago, I got banned. They offer unlimited uploads, which I used. One or two members objected to the sports photos I was posting, accusing me of spamming the site. Meanwhile, a lot of other members liked what I was posting. That was never taken into consideration. They never issued me an warnings, never gave me an opportunity to speak up in my own defense; they never looked to see if any of their members liked what I was posting. To sum it up, YouPic.com polices their site with a "lynch mob mentality."

In order to communicate with YouPic about my ban, and to let other YouPic members know what happened to me, I set up a new account from a secondary e-mail address. I called my new account, jwbannedback. That account was also banned, but not before my photos were seen over 2,000 times with the announcement that my original account was banned in the photo descriptions. After both bans, they still sent me e-mails trying to sell YouPic Premium to me. Please help me spread the word.