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500px Threatens to Ban Popular User it Once Hailed as a ‘Photoshop Master’

500px is now strictly a service for sharing and selling “photography,” and it has been banning accounts that post images that aren’t “photographic” enough. The change in policy is so sharp that 500px is now driving away a user that it once featured as a “Photoshop master.”

Polish photo artist Michal Karcz says he’s being kicked out of the 500px community despite the fact that 500px once celebrated his popular work.

In his 5+ years on 500px, Karcz uploaded 173 images, attracted 34,000+ followers, earned 168,000+ “Affections,” and received over 7.3 million views on his work. More than 10 of his photos have been selected by 500px as “Editor’s Choice,” and Karcz was even interviewed by 500px and featured on the company’s blog a few years ago in an article titled, “25 Parallel Worlds Created by Photoshop Master Michal Karcz.”

But all that means nothing in 500px’s ongoing crackdown on “non-photographic content.” Here’s a message Karcz just 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.

As essentially all of Karcz’s work is based on photomanipulation, he would need to wipe his account for 500px moderators to no longer find “non-photographic material.” Here are some examples of Karcz work he has shared on 500px:

After asking 500px for more explanation, here’s what Karcz heard back from a rep:

Hi there, 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.

“After my e-mail with questions, the answer confirmed that I will not publish any new content on the website,” Karcz writes in a Facebook post. “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.”

You can still find Karcz’s ongoing work on his website and Facebook.

We first reported on 500px’s new policy back in January after UK-based photographer Tim Gamble had his account deleted without warning because his photos weren’t “photographic” enough. What was strange about Gamble’s case was the fact that virtually all of his work was long-exposure photos created with single exposures in-camera, something many people would consider to be “photography.”


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