Fotopedia is a new online photo encyclopedia that combines that collaborative knowledge concept of Wikipedia with spectacular photos to illustrate the articles—all submitted by you, the photographer. How does Fotopedia work exactly, and how can it benefit you as a photographer? This review explains
Fotopedia creates an ecosystem with other sites to supply its pictures, one that is organic and linked rather than standing on its own. It is not an individual effort, but rather a collaborative one. In this sense, it is a sort of Wikipedia of photos.
Really, it is a Wikipedia of photos in more than one sense, as Fotopedia also provides contextual information by which you can more fully appreciate the spectacular images you are seeing. This doesn’t just include articles, but also Google Maps and other features, anything that can be used to get a better feel for the photograph and what it means, aggregating in its own words “images for humanity.”It is a truly ambitious effort, and one that cannot help but be admired.
Compatibility with Other Photo Websites
You don’t need to specifically join Fotopedia to participate as a photographer. Rather, you can use existing Flickr, Picasa or other accounts to simply link to relevant pictures from one to the other if you so please. The picture files you submit are not even stored on Fotopedia if you do not desire, rather, stored on the original site of origin.
However, it does not have compatibility with every photo website out there. Really, it’s just Flickr and Picasa. Hopefully compatibility with, say, the photography section of DeviantArt or Photobucket will come eventually, but not at this moment.
Quality of Photos
The photos you see on the articles at Fotopedia are simply superb. On the other hand, that’s what you would expect: the best of the best are voted to the top, eventually to the point of being featured in conspicuous places. It’s a real pleasure to browse through what seems like a finished product on the surface, with large, crystal-clear photographs with feelings of warmth and humanity emanating from them, crafted by truly skilled photographers. However, there’s also the amateur side to the site as well, those individuals who have not quite achieved that level yet. Lower quality photos are stumbled upon when taking part in the voting system, though not nearly to the degree as other sites such as Flickr. Fotopedia has largely attracted quality photographers thus far and has not suffered the same problems as DeviantArt’s low level photography spamming, though whether this remains the case as the site increases in popularity remains to be seen.
The layout of Fotopedia is incredibly easy by any site’s standards. It has a clean, uncluttered layout, easy to navigate even to relative newcomers to the web. It also has simple article editing and photo uploading system; it takes literally seconds to upload a photo and correctly categorize it, a four step process that is very intuitive.
As a Self-Promoter
It must be understood that Fotopedia is not a website that focuses around you, you, you as an artist and individual, as sites like Flickr, Photobucket, DeviantArt or other conventional websites do. The goal of this website is not to make you popular or even to make you a better photographer, but rather an altruistic community goal of a photo encyclopedia where you may participate with your photography.
However, by being a successful submitter at Fotopedia, people will notice you and even begin to follow your photography. Your profile page features stats such as how many photos are tagged within Fotopedia, and how many have been featured. This brings about a slightly competitive edge to a collaborative effort, but one that does not feel too out of place. The ability to showcase mastery of photography over a given subject is also unparalleled amongst any medium to date. Are you really, really good at taking pictures of butterflies? Well, prepare for a little competition, and maybe even some recognition for your specialized skills.
As a Learning Experience
As a way to grow as a photography, Fotopedia is only so-so. The commenting features in which to provide feedback, in my experience, are rarely used for constructive criticism, a problem common across most photo websites. The only other method of feedback is the voting mechanism by which one votes for the best photo in a given category. While one can learn plenty by simply looking through the fantastic photos taken of certain subjects in a variety of ways and really see the myriad of techniques and styles out there, you also receive no true feedback on your photography other than that dry vote.