Reviews: Photo Sharing/Critique Websites
WebAperture is a non-profit, free website that aims to provide a place for people to invite constructive comments on their photographs. This is how WebAperture defines itself (taken from the website's FAQ):
What is WebAperture?
WebAperture is a forum-like website for photographers (amateurs as well as professionals) to showcase their photos on the Internet and gather comments and criticisms on it. It's also a place to show off our photos. What can I say, we're shameless ;-)
The website was established in early 2000 by Jeffrey Chok and Eugene Khoo, "two photographers who thought that they should give something back to the community from which they have and will continue to learn from". The founders are at pains to point out that WebAperture is a completely non-commercial venture. This means, rather refreshingly, that WebAperture is an advert-free zone!
(out of 5 stars)
WebAperture has nearly all of the user features that the other reviewed sites have. Once you've submitted a photo, you can create albums to put them in, recieve email updates if people comment on them, and even allow your photos to be used as e-cards. There are also statistics available for each photo that you upload, such as how many times the photo has been viewed; along with the user comments, this can be a valuable form of feedback. And of course you can look at all the other photos that have been submitted and add your comments about them.
WebAperture have chosen not to implement a Ratings system; here's why:
Why isn't there a rating system for photos?
We felt that a rating system will force people to rate a photo and this might discourage people from posting "learning" shots or several variants of the same photo for others to comment on. Here, it's not about ratings but rather a community helping each other improve their photography skills.
The only potential fly in the ointment are the limits on uploading files. You are only allowed to upload 4 photos per week, up to a maximum of 50, which may put some people off. The flipside is that it does force you to choose your photos more carefully. You can delete old photos when you reach the limit of 50, but all the comments that go with those photos are lost. So you should probably view WebAperture more as a Critique website, rather than using it to share 100's of photos with friends and family.
(out of 5 stars)
WebAperture is extremely straight-forward and easy to use. You can post a photo within a matter of minutes, and have your first round of feedback within a day.
Uploading your photos to the website is simplicity itself. Just click the Browse button, choose a JPEG file that is less than 80Kb, give it a title, select up to 4 keywords from the list and click Submit Photo. Depending on the speed of your connection and the size of your photo, the upload process may take a few minutes.
Viewing your photos and the statistics for each one is also as easy as the upload process. Thumbnails of 10 photos are displayed on each page, with all the stats clearly shown to the right of the thumbnail. You just click on the thumbnail to view the comments for that photo in a new pop-up window.
The only slight annoyance that I have with WebAperture is that you have to log-in every time you visit the website; it doesn't seem to remember your username and password. Just call me lazy...!
(out of 5 stars)
A quick look at the statistics for the photos that I've posted at WebAperture reveals that it is by far the busiest of the 5 sites reviewed. I've uploaded 12 photos in total, which have collectively been viewed 256 times and received 48 comments since February 18th. That puts WebAperture well ahead of the other sites on both counts.
So my photos have had quite a lot of exposure, but what about the quality of the comments? Have they been helpful to me?
All of the comments that I've received have been friendly and welcoming; no-one has flamed or abused me. When people have offered suggestions for improvements, I've tended to agree with them, as in this picture of a Covent Garden entertainer. Someone suggested "If possible, I would have moved to the right some to move the spectators from being in front of the performer."
Overall, I think WebAperture users tend to comment only when they like a photo, which is probably true of all these websites. The less well-executed images receive a smaller number of both views and comments, and this is a valid enough way of evaluating your work. The Covent Garden entertainer photo that I mentioned above, for example, has only received 1 comment and 7 views.
(out of 5 stars)
WebAperture is the first website that I've chosen to review, and it's also proven to be one of my favourite photo critiqueing websites. There's a healthy balance between the number of photos that I've posted, how many times they've been viewed, and the comments that I've received. And perhaps most importantly of all, I've either learnt something from peoples' comments, or they've confirmed what I already knew, but couldn't bring myself to admit! If you're unsure about the merits of a particular photo, it's well worth posting it on WebAperture and asking for some feedback from the many photographers who use the site.