Every day when I go to 500px, I see some of the most amazing pictures. And they're from all over the world, taken by more photographers than you can count.
When I decided to join 500px, I was sticking my neck out because I realize I don't have that many award-winning images. Not that 500px is about award-winning images, but, hey, the majority of the pictures I see on 500px could win awards.
It took me a few days to figure out that you can get your work in front of many people just by looking at their work, voting on it, favoriting it, and/or commenting on it. This is the first sharing site I have seen where you must put out some effort to get recognized. I don't see a thing wrong with that. I know people who want to put their pictures out there and walk away from them and get them recognized. That's not how 500px works. It's really a very democratic website.
I will continue working on my affection rating because it's a challenge for me to get it up to 100. Maybe even higher later. But what I will also do is continue taking pictures because I know that I improve with every picture I take.