Interview with Oleg Gutsol (500px)
500px is a photographic community powered by creative people from all over the world that lets you share and discover inspiring photographs.
I interviewed Oleg Gutsol, 500px co-founder to find out more. This interview is the thirty sixth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Oleg for the interview!
How would you describe 500px in under 50 words?
500px is a photo discovery and photo sharing community with the focus on the highest quality photography in the world.
What made you decide to start working on 500px?
In the early days of digital photography (circa 2003) Evgeny and I were looking for a platform to share our photos and discover great photographers, see their work and learn and get better at taking photos, but we could not find anything. So we decided to build it.
How did you come up with the name?
It all started with the Livejournal community, which had two rules for photo submissions: your works had to be of the highest quality (the best photos you ever produced) and the photos had to be 500 pixels wide. At that time (2003-2005) the monitors were smaller resolution, so this width was adequate. Since then the monitors got better, but we kept the name, because we liked it and it stuck with our users too.
What was technically the most challenging part of developing 500px?
I think the algorithm to determine the best photos from all the photos uploaded was the most challenging task. Also, as the site grew, we had some scalability issues.
How long did it take to put together 500px?
We had several iterations of the site. In the current form — it took about 6-8 months of active development to complete.
Do you have plans to develop a mobile app considering the popularity of phone photography?
We developed an iPad app in 2011 and saw a few apps created by third party developers using our API. We are considering developing an iPhone app ourselves. This is probably all the details I can share at the moment.
Do you have any new features in the pipeline?
Yes! However, I would like to keep quiet about them for now.
What I can say is that I have been waiting for these things to come to existence for a number of years and they are mostly done, so I am super excited.
Has 500px got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
Yes, but I think we are still largely unknown to North American users.
How many users do you currently have?
This is the information we are not sharing at the moment as well, but I can tell you that the number of users is growing fast.
How many photographs are uploaded on an average day?
Last time I checked we had 20-30K photos uploaded a day.
Do photographers keep the copyright to their work?
Who do you see as your target audience?
Anybody interested in photography.
Who is your biggest competitor?
People say it is Flickr, but I don’t think Flickr is a direct competitor to 500px.
I think there is no real competitor in our space (yet), since I have not seen any company doing exactly what we are doing.
What advantages does 500px have over its competitors?
Quality of photos.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
Growing the company from 2 people a year ago to 16 people at the moment (and it will probably need another 10 soon).
What are you most excited about at the moment?
Our current product development — there are so many things we wanted to do over the past several years, but did not have the resources to do. Now we are much stronger and have the resources to finally implement all the ideas we had.
Can you convince the reader to start using 500px in under 50 words?
I think pictures speak much stronger than words, so just go to 500px.com/popular and see for yourself.
Finished reading? Check out 500px!