In what is not the first instance of its kind, 500px has banned a user whose work the photo-sharing site decided wasn’t “photography” enough. The decision is even more surprising given that the artist in question was once spotlighted by 500px when they featured him, labeling him a “Photoshop master.”
Michal Karcz, of Poland, claims he has been being booted off the 500px community regardless of the fact he has previously been championed by the platform. A user of over 5 years, he had shared 173 images with his 34,000 followers. His “Affections,” the equivalent of “likes” on Instagram, totaled over 168,000. What’s more, 10 of his photos had been selected by 500px as “Editor’s Choice.”
In the past, Karcz has even been interviewed by the site and featured in-depth on the company’s blog for a profile piece called, “25 Parallel Worlds Created by Photoshop Master Michal Karcz.”
However, it seem the company’s new policy very much one that is no holds barred, since he has now been removed from the site. Karcz shared the below communication he received from 500px:
“This email is to notify you that our Moderators have found non-photographic content posted on your account. 500px is a photography community, and we do not currently allow non-photographic content to be uploaded to the site. This includes screenshots, graphic designs, drawings/illustrations, video game screen captures, and other non-photographic content that we deem to be in violation of our Terms of Service. If our Moderators continue to find non-photographic material posted to your account, it may result in your account being banned. Thank you for your cooperation, 500px.”
Karcz’s work contains heavy photomanipulation, and while his skills have made him a popular artist to follow, it essentially means that in order to hold a 500px account again, he’d be required to wipe his account so as to rid it of any “non-photographic material.”
Karcz pressed 500px for an explanation, hearing the following back:
Unfortunately photomanipulations based on photography is not photography and our website in the current iteration is evolving into a purely photography website. Not only that, our terms of service require you to be the copyright owner of the images you upload so if you’re editing bits and pieces of other peoples imagery then you’re in violation of that. I personally am a fan of your artwork but unfortunately it doesn’t fit within the conditions of our site at the moment.
Taking to his Facebook page to voice his frustrations, Karcz says he will no longer be using the platform.
After my e-mail with questions, the answer confirmed that I will not publish any new content on the website. I’m just curious if they will delete my gallery because of [the] new conditions and if this kind of message will be sent to other people [who] use photography for photomanipulation. So goodbye 500px.
Karcz tells Fstoppers he has always been clear in his wording, careful to call his work "photomanipulation" rather than just "photography." "This is my way of showing the world with my own eyes. Standard photography was not enough, and was too plain for me. I decided to use enhanced techniques and it was bullseye," he said.
It’s not the first time 500px has exercised its strict policy. Back in January, photographer Tim Gamble temporarily had his account disabled when his light painting work – which is created in-camera – was considered non-photographic.
All images Michal Karcz, and used with permission.