I try to look at all new photographs - well, at least the thumbnails, and then view the larger versions of those pictures I'm particularly interested in for whatever reason. Even when I was away for a week, I still plowed through the thumbnails for every new photo when I got back - sad or what?
I do not find the "most popular" views particularly useful and I rarely use them, because the photos that interest me are typically not the photographs that are most popular - I am usually interested in unusual or "different" aircraft and colour schemes, and I am also interested in looking at the sort of pictures that can be obtained at airports I might visit in the future. The most popular tends towards (a) action shots, (b) wide body jets, particularly 747s and (c) artistic shots. Nothing wrong with the most popular lists, its just not what I'm usually looking for on airliners.net, and for folks who are interested in airplanes in general who just look at the most popular lists, I think they are missing something.
What I do agree on is this - it seems to me that if new photos end up at the back end of a large upload, they tend to get far fewer hits, even if they are great shots, which implies that a lot of people start to plow through all new uploads and perhaps loose interest after a while for some reason.