Pedro Quintela‘s story, titled How 500px Changed My Life, was originally shared in Groups as part of the 500px 5th birthday contest, and earned him an honorable mention. It still brings a smile to our faces and tear to our eyes here at 500px HQ, and so we’re sharing it again here for the whole community to enjoy.

For more about or from Pedro, follow him on 500px, check him out on Facebook, or license his images through 500px Prime.

I guess we all reach this point in our life when an urge comes to fill some gaps in it. On my side, it was all about expressing my feelings. Being a historian and teacher is a great thing, but something was missing…

About 11 months ago I discovered photography from scratch and, through a random search, I found 500px. I was struck by lightning! I was amazed by the great images on this one site, but on the other hand I also felt sad because I could not visit those amazing place and did not have the photographic skill to capture them properly if I did.

Somehow, in just a few weeks, the passion grew so much that I began spending every spare minute trying to reach new goals.

At first, I was afraid of sharing my photos with the community because of the lack of quality, especially when compared to the masterpieces we see on here every day. But I started to form friendships with people on 500px that were kind enough to motivate me and helped me grow more self-confidence in my “work.” As a consequence, I tried to improve the quality of my images and even my knowledge of written English, Spanish, and French.

The social experience was another revelation to me. Currently, I speak daily with a group of friends from a lot of different countries and even meet some personally. My goal is to earn enough money to visit many of them someday (because I’ve create very close bonds with some of them) and create sets on 500px based on that experience. I won’t list theme here because I may neglect to mention some of them and that wouldn’t be nice.

Another thing that really motivated me was when my first image was ranked popular — it was a photo named “Earth, Wind and Fire” (below) and it reached a pulse of 99.6. I was lucky to test some cheap NDs on one of the best sunsets I have seen in my entire life. I was there with a friend, but only now do I have an appreciation for what I saw.

Being my first time, I captured the scene in… jpeg!

Some key points in my “evolution” — if I may call it that — were seeing as many images as possible, understanding what a camera is, and learning something new every day. At this point, I think that how you use the gear is far more important than what you use it to capture.

Beside the images I upload, I always feel the need to write a story, share the details behind how a photograph was made, and interact with followers.

I disagree with the people that only post the image and don´t give more information. We must give some details because that way all of us learn a bit more, sometimes from our own mistakes. Positive and constructive criticism/feedback is another thing I try to give. Unfortunately, I don´t have as much time as I wish I did, and can´t visit everyone I would like, but I try my best.

Everyone of us needs feedback and motivation. Many gave and still do give that to me, so the least I can and should do is gave is back as well.

And all this was only possible due to the 500px community. My vision of it is like being a part of this group of people that share a common passion and interact in many ways.

Personally, it gave a new meaning to my life, because I connect with friends that in another way was impossible, and my images also have meaning to some of them. That encourages me to carry on, although sometimes I´m very critical of my work, and experience these moments when I simply don´t like anything I´m doing.

I also think that a project like this, with so many costs, should be supported by those of us that benefit from it — that´s why, ever since my first day on 500px, I´m a Plus user.

I have much more I could say, but I guess that would be too extensive and nobody would have the time to read it. Finally, I just want to thank the 500px team for helping me to find this passion inside me and for all the great experiences I have had until now. I hope this project never slows down, and the community keeps on growing and growing.

Happy anniversary dear 500px!