Tip of the Week: Our Top 5 Sites for Photographic Inspiration

Tip of the Week: Our Top 5 Sites for Photographic Inspiration

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com.

This week’s tip is about inspiration. One of the keys to becoming a better photographer is to look at the work of other photographers. Before the internet (and there are some of us who remember those dark and ancient times), this meant buying or borrowing heavy and expensive printed books.

No more. Now, inspiration is at your fingertips. Here are the top 5 sites we go to (in no particular order) for inspiration when we’re in need of it.

  1. 500px.com


    500px.com: One thing to know about 500px is that if you sign up, put only your best work on it. Unlike other photo sharing websites, 500px is a haven for excellent photography. No one’s going to come and knock on your door with an angry scowl if you post pictures of your breakfast, but this site isn’t the place for that kind of thing. The team that runs 500px is made up of folks who live and breathe photography, and the community that posts there is just as passionate. Posted images are big by default and clicking on them brings them up even larger in a “lightbox” that sits atop the current page. Tablet and smartphone users will like the fact that the site is very mobile-friendly and there’s even a dedicated app for browsing images on the iPad. The Editor’s Choice, Upcoming, Favorites, and Fresh categories are excellent sources of inspiration.

  2. PhotoExtract: We first came across this site when they started curating the top images from Google+ on a periodical basis. It does a great job at it, too, and it’s become something of a scoop to be featured on the site. In addition to the Google+ images, however, the site is also home to an online magazine called the 1150 Pixel Photography Magazine. As the name suggests, it features images that are 1150 pixels wide, which means a simple scroll down the front page brings up these massive photographs that are a pleasure to look at.  The site accepts images by invitation only, so this isn’t exactly an open sharing site, but post something on Google+ and you stand a pretty good chance of getting in.
  3. 1x.com: 1x is pretty close to an online museum or gallery for photography. The site does a good job of driving traffic to the best images, which it curates carefully. Additionally, members can also sell their images as canvas or framed prints, and the site has also managed to get gallery managers, editors, authors and art directors buying from them. We’ve often gone to 1x.com to pick the POTD (Photo Of The Day) that we often tweet, with good reason. The site has attracted some first-rate photographers and the clean, minimalist layout makes browsing a pleasure. If you’re looking for a site that leans more towards promoting photography in the same manner as traditional art is promoted, then 1x.com is a good choice.
  4. The Big Picture: Our last two sites are more for the photojournalists and editorial photographers amongst you. First up, The Big Pictureblog from The Boston Globe. This is arguably the best-known photography blog focusing on photojournalism, and with darn good reason. The images are striking and shown large from the start (no tiny thumbnails to click on).Photojournalist Steve Simon recently said, “We think in still images, and the still image isn’t dead.” The Big Picture blog reminds us that despite living in an age of YouTube and Vimeo, despite being able to capture 1080p video on a cell phone, the still image still holds a tremendous amount of power. Scroll through the pictures of the demonstrations in Tahrir Square and you’ll realize, very quickly, that these frozen moments can be tremendously powerful.
  5. In Focus: What do you get when you take the guy who helped set up The Big Picture blog above and have him create a whole new photo-related blog for another publication? You get the In Focus with Alan Taylor blog, hosted by The Atlanticmagazine. In Focus is a bit more expansive in terms of material than The Big Picture, in that it covers more than just the news. From travel to sports to culture, the photo essays you’ll find on the In Focus blog would, I think, gain the approval of the photo editors of magazines like Life, which was famous for its sizable and remarkable photo essays back in the day. The photo essay has been suffering of late, and online efforts to reinterpret it for a new medium haven’t always met with success. In Focus pulls it off without a doubt, by returning to the basics. The images are posted large, with accompanying captions that explain each image’s backstory. Check out the “America at Work” essay – it’s one of my favorites.


That’s it for this week’s tip. As always, we welcome your feedback, and hope you have an awesome time going through these sites.

Questions? Comments? Use the comments section below or email us at blog@borrowlenses.com.

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Sohail Mamdani is a writer, filmmaker, and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter or find him at anymedium.com.


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