Tyler Olson: The Man Behind the Biggest Forum

February 18, 2011, Author: Vitezslav Valka, Categories: Interview, Photographer, Showcase

We’re pleased to have the opportunity to talk with Tyler Olson. A self employed photographer shooting stock photography for the microstock agencies with a few images selected out to special collections. You may know his biggest achievement in microstock business which is MicrostockGroup discussion forum used by many agencies as their primary forum. Be sure those discussions are open without any kind of censorship.

Do you still like to run a discussion forum?
Yes, I enjoy running MicrostockGroup. I find the community very helpful with many members who are very giving with their knowledge. I appreciate that a lot.  It is also great having some ‘company’ while working alone editing and submitting pictures. Unless you run a business with office staff (which very few microstockers do) it is a lonely business; so MicrostockGroup is a great for a little communication during the day. I also really enjoy creating and building, so building new tools for the community is also very fun… especially when they work.

What takes the majority of your daily time?
It depends a lot on the day and the month. Lately I have been working a lot on the forum, blog and a photoshop tutorial website I run at www.tutorvid.com. I have also been busy planning some shoots for the coming months. I didn’t shoot as much as I wanted in 2010 so i am putting forward a few plans to (hopefully) increase production.

Do you have people to take care of the forum maintenance?
No, I do all the backend work on the forum myself. I’m not a programmer or designer but I like the challenge of learning new things and fixing problems – as long as they keep to a minimum :) Spam on the forum has been relatively minimal and the MSG members are very helpful in letting me know if I miss something.

You’re a photographer too. What themes are you shooting?
I don’t shoot enough to warrant running a full-time studio, so all my shooting is done on location. Recently I have been focusing on environmental portrait style shooting, and outdoor lifestyle. I love being outdoors so I like to incorporate that into shooting whenever possible. The last couple years I have also gotten the chance to travel a number of times each year. When traveling I have tried to organize a few shoots each trip. This has worked as a way to squeeze more shooting into my schedule and increase the diversity of my portfolio.

Where do you look for ideas?
Did you see my latest blog post? That should give you a few hints :)

Vita: Oh, I missed that one! It’s an amazing sum-up :)

How’s the atmosphere while working with Tyler?
I would ask my co-worker if I had one… but… since I don’t have one, I’ll have to guess. I think I am pretty relaxed and laid back. I like to soak in life as it comes and have a pretty positive outlook on life. I like to look for solutions and potential in a situation as apposed to problems and barriers. I get frustrated when people just look for problems with an idea. I am pretty quiet and listen more than I talk. I like to be with people although I generally avoid being the centre of the conversation :) I would rather visit with a group of 4 people than be at a party with 50.

Vita: That is interesting! I like that too, but you described it in detail. The only difference is that instead of 4 people I prefer a pair.

What equipment do you use?
Canon 5D Mark II camera, the f/2.8 series zooms (16-35, 24-70, 70-200) and a few other lenses and Hensel strobes. I purchased the Hensel Porty 1200 just over a year ago and have been impressed with it. It is great for totting around, the light lasts a long time and it is reasonably light in weight for the power you are getting.

Do you prefer exclusivity or not?
I’m non exclusive, but it all comes down to earnings. If I would earn more as exclusive at some agency and it didn’t take a mountain of work to become exclusive I wouldn’t hesitate. Eggs are not really all in one basket with exclusivity as you still own your images no matter what happens to an agency. If things go sour you can sell your images elsewhere. Adapt and survive.

Were do you imagine yourself in 2 years?
I would like to think I am doing more of the same. I love my job and have no need or desire to change (except to be better at what I do). So, in two years I would hope for more stock photos, more MicrostockGroup, more blogging and more traveling. It will be interesting to see where the microstock industry ends up in two years. I don’t think we will see any big changes by that time, but perhaps a few indications on the direction bigger changes are headed.

Vita: Thank you Tyler for all the thoughts. I’m really happy that you take care of MicrostockGroup forum as that means we don’t have to. It makes so much sense to have an independent forum rather than censored company meeting places. Good luck to your stock photography too!

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