The Birth of a Photography Marketplace

Helping a photography community become a leader stock photo business

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A Bit of Context

A journey to monetize a photography community

500px has long since established a name for itself in the photography community, and has carved out a space for itself near the high-end of the photography community market. Four years after launch, the company decided to pivot and position itself slightly differently. The goal was to reward the community by empowering photographers to sell their photos through a dedicated marketplace.

Project Golas

A focus on monetization

We wanted to create a platform to leverage the potential of millions of photographers interested in monetizing their work. This platform would have to meet specific revenue targets from unassisted sales and sustain the company by creating a growing month over month recurring revenue.


This is how I proposed to solve the problem

Project “Prime” became the business driver, and I was asked to lead the product design, focusing on translating business decisions into compelling design strategies. The goal was clear – we needed to build an MVP that ingested photos from the 500px Community and made them available for purchase.

The Research Phase

In the early stages of project Prime, we started interviewing actual stock photography buyers and designers. We started asking lots of questions during focus groups and user interviews. While the research was shaping up and the results started coming in, I started by focusing on creating a user flow. The big question was: “What do we need to make the community photos available for sale – and how fast can we built it?”

I played a key part in user research and focus groups whose goal was to identify the touchpoints of the entire buyer experience.

The User Interface

One of the first pages I designed, was the home page. In few block of content I had to teach the user that 500px was not a mere Community anymore and that now everyone could start making money selling photos. A few iterations were necessary and I finally settled on a structure that mainly focused on:

  1. Funneling down new users into search
  2. Showcasing the high quality photography users could license.
  3. Educating the user on 500px Prime, Stock photography and building a trustworthy relationship.
  4. Having a strong SEO friendly structure.

During the 5 months that took us to release the MVP for this project, I designed several static pages to showcase prices and general information along with a strong checkout that aimed to minimize friction and convert all the users interested in purchasing stock photography.

Impact & Final Results

Understanding and measuring success

500px Prime, was successfully shipped in just a bit more than four months from conception to beta launch and became the de facto platform for high-end stock photography. My team and I met 100% of the project’s deadlines and KPIs and exceeded the Executive team’s expectations in delivering an entire platform MVP on time and, most importantly, with an incredibly high User Experience and Code Quality product.

In under a year, the site surfaced over 80 million high-res photos from 8+ million photographers worldwide. It generated stable monthly recurring revenue, become the company’s main revenue stream.

Edit 2016

The site was renamed the 500px Marketplace in 2016 and unified with the main site merging all the functionalities with its community counterpart Now users can use both platforms with slightly different IAs but with an overall seamless UX.