500px, the website for photo buffs, hits its stride

Screenshot of 500px for iPad (click to enlarge)

Updated. 500px, the photo-sharing website beloved by photography professionals and highly skilled hobbyists, debuted a new iPad (s AAPL) app over the weekend. And at just three days old, the new app is already experiencing growth that’s downright jaw-dropping.

Here are some of the numbers relayed to me by 500px co-founder Evgeny Tchebotarev:

  • Users flip through an average 80 photos per visit to 500px for iPad, spending 35 minutes in the app
  • The iPad app now serves 50 percent of all traffic seen by 500px’s website
  • The app is on track to serve more than 1 million flips on Monday alone
  • 500px for iPad is currently the top free photo app in the Russian app store, #3 in Canada and #4 in the United States

As we wrote when we first covered the Toronto-based startup back in May, 500px is known for having a slick user interface that complements the kinds of artistic photos hosted on the site. It makes sense that 500px’s experience would work so well on a design-centric device like the iPad. Also, a lot of the folks who love 500px are the same kind of early adopting, gadget loving power users who have fully embraced the iPad — it’s a perfect overlap of user bases.

500px for iPad screenshot (click to enlarge)

500px’s growth spurt

Overall, 500px has hit its stride in recent months. The site has grown by over 20 times in the past year, and continues to grow more than 30 percent each month — right now, 500px fields 3.4 million unique visitors monthly. As of today there are more than 2.5 million artistic photos on the site that have garnered more than 55 million page views. In the beginning of this year 500px’s only employees were its co-founders, Tchebotarev (who is also known by his artistic pseudonym “Ian Sobolev”) and Oleg Gutsol. Now the company has 12 full-time employees and is keen to hire more developers.

But it’s taken a while to build up to 500px’s apparent overnight success. 500px was first established eight years ago as a community for photography buffs within LiveJournal, the pioneering social blogging website. Its current incarnation as a wider scale photo sharing site was launched nearly two years ago, in late October 2009.

A small company — for now

Update: Despite all the growth, 500px has thus far avoided taking any venture capital investment on millions in venture capital. The site’s main revenue source comes from $50 per year premium accounts; 500px also collects a 5 percent commission on prints of photos sold by users. “We are well into generating revenue that helps us support the growth and expansion, and have new interesting products in the pipeline,” Tchebotarev said, explaining why they have yet to take on more outside funding than its $525,000 Series A. But he added: “Obviously, we are open to discussions.” With the kind of growth the company has seen thus far, 500px may start fielding offers that are hard to refuse.

This post has been corrected to include 500px’s Series A venture capital funding information.