The Internet allows us to see a huge number of amazing people doing amazing work. That can be a bit intimidating but I also find it inspirational. Part of what that kind of scale helps me see is just how many different ways there are to approach photography. These different approaches can have wildly different technical needs in addition to very different mental approaches and they might mesh better with certain personalities. Just consider the differences between a person who focuses on macro photography compared to someone doing confrontational street photography. I’ve found seeing and trying a variety of styles and techniques to be very helpful as I explore the depth and breadth of the field of photography. Many of these places offer a supportive community, impressive work by other photographers, and even regular photo challenges to keep you on your game.
With that in mind, here are a few of the places I have found that keep challenging me to do better work.
An oldie, but one of the largest photography communities out there. Flickr offers online storage but has changed hands a few times recently which makes me a bit hesitant about recommending it for a main photo storage option. It remains a good backup option and has quite a bit of storage for free.
Flickr, as a larger platform, has a huge number of groups focused on just about anything you could want. While I’m a bit concerned about its long-term health for photo storage, I would not hesitate to use the groups. Look for groups that have recent photos and active moderators.
While I’m not a fan of the moderator of the site, I cannot help but be amazed by the images in Hardcore Street Photography. I come back here frequently and it makes me think a lot about the images I’m creating. I’m a big fan of how strange reality is as captured in these unguarded moments.
Browse by Camera
One nice aspect of Flickr is the ability to browse images by camera. It’s one way to consider hardware but one of the things I’ve found is people creating beautiful work no matter what camera they’re using.
Wikipedia has some pretty amazing images and the featured image categories give you an easy path into a wide variety of subjects. Keep in mind that all of these images are openly licensed. That may not be what you want for your work but it may be worth considering for certain photographs even if it’s not an option you pursue with most of your photos.
I also enjoy the yearly Wikipedia photo contest and the Wikipedia photo challenges provide some interesting assignment options that also help give back to the Wikipedia community. August’s challenge is to photograph street performers.
National Geographic – Your Shot
This is an online photography community associated with National Geographic. It has regular photo challenges and a variety of high quality work. If you’re at all interested in the National Geographic style of photography it’s a great place to see more work and possibly get featured (if you’re ok with the release requirements for your work).