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Michael Karcz is about to be banned from the 500PX community. His account will likely be deleted. All based on what the 500PX moderators deem to be “non-photographic content” on his page.
Michael Karcz is a well-respected photographer on 500PX. He is known for his fantasy-style images, which involved extensive use of Photoshop to create alternate realities. He has garnered thousands of followers and millions of views.
And in an article published four years back, 500PX heaped praise on Karcz, referring to him as a “Photoshop master” with “formidable Photoshop skills.”
On Karcz’s end, nothing. His account has been business-as-usual in recent months. He never attempted to hide the process behind his images. Karcz writes on Facebook: “I marked each work as photo-montage and placed in a category that most closely matches content – fine art.”
Instead, the reversal is due entirely to 500PX’s new orientation, which rejects anything seen as non-photographic content. And this includes Karcz’s work, which relies heavily on Photoshop.
Here’s the initial message that Karcz received from a 500PX representative:
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.
And when Karcz asked for further explanation, this was the reply from 500PX:
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.
Karcz is understandably frustrated by this about-face. For years, 500PX was a platform to share his work. And now, without warning, he’s been turned away, despite investing time and energy into building a 500PX following.
Karcz writes: “I never concealed how my work is created, and evidence of hypocrisy is an interview with me in 500px, which was later also found in the Huffington Post. What I use are photographs, and the photomontage is the starting medium.”
He goes on to argue that his photomontage technique has been “used almost from the beginning of photography, by those who wanted to show something more [than] realism.”
What are your thoughts? Should Karcz’s work be allowed on 500PX?
And if not, how should 500PX deal with once-accepted photographers who have been dedicated members of the community?