If you are one of the friends, acquaintances, or even random people I met during Fashion Week or whatever, that I recently told to check out Lookbook.nu, the "street style" photo submission website, I apologize. I was absolutely wrong and I hope your valuable time was not severely inconvenienced.
In short, it has become evident that Lookbook.nu is not as it appears at all, essentially they are merely luring you in with the ostensible service of offering a platform for you and your style works to be viewed and recognized by masses of your peers who share an enthusiasm for fashion. In reality it’s merely a scheme to draw in a greater number of official registrants, if you upload your photographs to their website, in fact they WILL NOT BE SEEN.
Not mentioned in their FAQ, but buried deep within "logs" dated back to August, 2010 (I discovered this after waiting over a week for a reply to my inquiry, by the way) uploading your photos merely starts a long chain of necessary activity that requires extensive time, effort, and "networking" for your submissions to be visible on the massive level they prominently, intentionally, and disingenuously suggest. Their "sign-up" page entices you to "Post a look! Don’t Be Shy!" and invite all your friends, and post it on your Facebook and link it to your Twitter and put widgets on your blogspots and websites and Tumblrs and give them access to your entire e-mail list, but they completely neglect to inform you that this is pretty much the only way your photographs will be visible to anyone but a "small segment of the [Lookbook] community" if, with any luck, at least one of those people is already a Lookbook.nu member.
In fact your first photograph will not be seen AT ALL unless at least one "trusted" member (they give no definition of a "trusted" member) endorses you by "hype"-ing you by adding one point to a grading score that determines your overall level of visibility.
i.e. The higher the score you get, the more people will see you as you ‘rise’ to the top. Yes sorry, it is exactly as annoying as it sounds.
To be fair, their justification is that this system was meant to protect their older members, who have earned the "privilege" of being seen on their website, that’s a direct quote from their (un-hyperlinkable) "log." But they don’t tell you this while they’re urging you to invite all your friends and colleagues and mentors and whatnot, I figured this all out by reading the registrants’ message forums for over a week, no joke. [So on top of all that nonsense, you kinda have to contend with some random creepfaces who are all territorial and get all up in your case because they got there "first"— you know the type. It isn’t exactly pleasant. It’s all the cattiness of the fashion industry and high school all rolled into one.]
The problem is Lookbook doesn’t tell you how many points you need to score or how long you need to devote to the "networking" process at all; for all intents and purposes, it’s purely random. So you could keep at it for quite some time, but never break through their "filter" that determines whether your pictures are visible. For example, I have invested one month’s time and approximately a dozen photos and have contributed several "posts" to the discussion forum, but I have not yet "broken through the filter." One photo averages about 40 views (including my own if I check the number of views).
Due to this filter, you’re also competing with far more people than the website displays. When you initially visit the site, your browser is set by default to the "strict" filter, meaning you are seeing ONLY the photos that have scored quite high. In fact, there are hundreds of hidden photos being uploaded, all vying for a "slot" on a much shorter list. Most people that visit the site are ONLY VIEWING THE SHORTEST LIST. In fact, many members bypass all the lists entirely (due to their magnitude, redundancy, and bandwidth lag), and do all their scrutinizing of photos strictly from personal lists they’ve collated of members they "follow" by "fanning." These are "feeds" that are sent daily straight to members’ e-mail boxes, so many members need not even visit the main page of the site at all.
I am not saying there is not some value in this type of "networking" for certain types of people. However, I would like to stress that if you are a professional within the fashion/photo industry, it is my opinion Lookbook is likely NOT the e-venue for you; it is purely a HOBBYIST endeavor. If however, if you’re willing to invest the ample time and funds necessary, there are aspects of Lookbook that could be advantageous— several models and stylists advertise their work on Lookbook, e.g., although I don’t know their rate of success. And obviously, several other street-style fashion startups already endeavor to pick up the enormous slack in professionalism, character, and technology Lookbook sustains.
Hope that answers your questions. Again, so sorry for the confusion and inconvenience; I’m deeply flattered you would consider my suggestions at all.
[ UPDATE – MARCH 9, 2011: Lest for some reason you still doubt Lookbook’s duplicity, please note that a link to this page IN ANSWER TO A NEWLY REGISTERED LOOKBOOK MEMBER– who inquired of experienced members in the discussion forum as to how photographs she was "anxious" to upload to Lookbook would fare within the site– was SUMMARILY REMOVED despite the veracity and accuracy of the information above. Both the new member’s question and my response (with a link to this commentary) were deleted from Page 2 of Lookbook’s forum topic titled "Basics of Lookbook." ]