How coffee boosted my microstock efforts - Dreamstime

If you're Canadian, you know Tim Hortons.

Unless of course, you've been living in a cave or trapping beavers in the deepest, darkest recesses of the Canadian forest for the last several decades.

Tim Hortons.

Canadas best loved, most popular purveyor of coffee and donuts.

They're here. They're there. They're everywhere.

On this street corner, on that one. In malls. In gas stations. In hospitals and universities...all over Canada.

From what I've read, responsible for dispensing eight out of every ten coffees sold in our country, awakening millions of us daily, bringing us into the light, popping open our eyes and starting our days.

Ahhh...Timmies...I love it.

Hot water poured over beautiful, ground beans extruding an aromatic, light syrup to which we add our favorite mix of cream and sweetener.


Now, unlike what I might be leading you to believe, this has nothing to do with drinking caffeinated coffee and getting jacked up.

Actually, this is about a photo contest.

The Tim Hortons contest called "Every Cup" which they held in 2012.

A simple premise. Enter a photo of yourself enjoying a cup of their product in your favorite location. I stumbled upon it completely by accident via the internet and thought "Hey, I like to take pictures...I'm gonna give it a try".

So, being a really super-smart guy and having learned so much from microstock, I came up with a plan.

(Did you just read that! I used the word PLAN. Learned from microstock)

You see, Tim Hortons is iconically Canadian. It's an image they've pushed hard into the minds of Canadians.

I was going to nail that concept with their product!

(Did you read that! I used the word CONCEPT. Also learned from microstock)

So, one weekend, my wife and I packed up our bicycles and did some pedalling in downtown Ottawa, Ontario, Canada,

eventually ending up at the parliament buildings.

It was there I then began to put my plan into action.

(Did you read that! I used the word P....ahhh...nevermind)

Here's how I did it.

I cleverly stood my bicycle on it's kickstand far enough way from the front of the Peace tower to allow my bike and the tower to fit in the same view. Then set my tripod at a very low, ground level, slight upward-angled attitude. Fixed the camera to the focus and exposure required and then set myself in front of the bike, with Timmies coffee in hand and the Peace tower just above my left shoulder.....brilliant! Fantastic! Outstanding! Genius.

I love it when a PLAN comes together (How A-Team :)

But wait, that's not all.

My super-duper, extra-special secret-sauce was the fact that I didn't use just any bicycle.

Oh no, not just any bike would do.

I used my one of a kind, super-patriotic "Canada" bike.

The custom Raleigh Twenty folder I built that summer, with bright red paint, white trim and white maple leaves on the front and rear carry boxes.

Very cool. Very Canadian. Very geeky. Very me.

Man I'm good. And humble too...I sometimes just amaze myself.

(Did you read that! I learned to amaze myself through microstock)

With my wife controlling the shutter it was only a few takes and we had the shot with the right pose and expression. It turns out I'm quite the model and take direction from my wife very well. She proved equally exceptional at directing me...but then she always has been.

Anyway, a few additional shots minus bike and model for background exposure and all was done. Some minor post-processing at home and off the photo went for Tim Hortons review immediately followed by pleasant dreams and visions of splendor.

Then began the wait.

Like many-a-newbie checking for acceptance or sales on Dreamstime, I visited the Tim Hortons website constantly to check my views.

I also checked my email frequently to see if I had won.

Hour upon hour, minute upon minute. Waiting, checking...checking again. Checking that I checked right. Checking that I checked left.

Checking on my tablet just in case there was a problem with my desktop-checking. Checking while at work and checking on my phone.

A lot of checking. Get it.

And then, finally, the moment I had been waiting for...the arrival of an email from Tim Hortons...

Incredibly, I was a winner!

One of twenty-one regional winners in all of Canada!

I won a ton of dollars in Tim coffee cards!


My PLAN had worked. All that savy microstock stuff I learned payed off.

I was a playa baby! I'm da man. I'm da man. I'm da man.

But what happened afterwards was most curious.

Like a child who's just eaten twelve pounds of sugar,

I found myself bouncing off the walls, running around taking photos endlessly.

It was as though the win had energized me, invigorated me and put me to work.

In the few months following that win, my Dreamstime portfolio had doubled in size!

The Tim Hortons win had boosted my microstock efforts!

Now, I don't have any scientific proof to support my claim of microstock boost due to Tim Hortons.

No emperical evidence of the connection between the Timmies photo contest and the increase in my microstock efforts.

I just believe it.

But, if it wasn't that. Then, maybe it actually was all the caffeine I drank after the win. You see, when one wins a pile of free coffee cards, one tends to drink a lot, lot, lot, LOT more coffee.

Which would then just take us back to the beginning of this story where I "misled" you into believing caffeine pumped me.

Either way, I guess it worked.

So I encourage you to explore photography in other ways as well. Take classes, enter contests, join clubs.

Who knows? Maybe you'll find something to drive you forward just when you need it!

Oh, By the way...if you're curious, my Dreamstime avatar was the winning photo.

PS. Dear Tim Hortons

If by some chance you read this. I'm out of Tim-cards.

My caffeine injection rate has seriously decreased since I depleted my card collection.

My energy level has dwindled. My cup no longer runneth over.

If you can find it in your heart, send me more cards.

All my hopes of success in microstock hang in the balance.

Have a silly, fun and ridiculous day.

Photo credits: George Kroll.

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September 26, 2013


Love Tim Horton's and their real china cups. Inspiration can come from anywhere, just needs a willing body to put it into action.

September 26, 2013


Fun story! But stay away from those double doubles, that is some high test creamer they put on there ;)

September 25, 2013


your blog is amazing, th anks for sharing.

September 25, 2013


thx for your lovely comments folks.
the funnier part of this is that i submitted photos for me and my wife and accidentally put my photo under her name so technically, she won.
When 'she' won, I stole the cards from her. lol.
Kidding, I shared, I bought her one coffee and a donut.
Have a good one!

September 25, 2013


ah...Timssss....I think I already spend a fortune on Tims...since I arrived in canada back on 2005......nice article

September 25, 2013


Love your blogs, I will have to go now for my Timmies run. Congratulations on the win.

September 25, 2013


Wonderful story! This reminds me of myself at the beginning of this year... I participated in a 29 day photo challenge with a group of microstockers on facebook in January. Simple... produce one photo to post on the organizer's page, EVERY SINGLE DAY, no matter what. I did it, and it was hard... Many days I had to get creative indoors without the benefit of natural sunlight, because it was cold and gray outside. Meanwhile, I constantly CHECKED IN!, just like you were doing, lol! on my photos on the organizer's Facebook page, to see how many people had clicked "like" on my photos. I couldn't help myself! That validation from others is a drug for me, lol! Anyway, I uploaded more photos to microstock sites in that one month than I ever had in a single month before. Many were approved, and many have had sales since then. So I agree with your blog!

September 25, 2013


Great blog George, thank you, very enjoyable, brought a big smile to my face this dull morning. Congratulations on you win also.

September 25, 2013


Hi, George! I have some fresh green coffee beans for you and Tim Hortons:) Maybe I double my sales soon!:) Here is: [imgl] 33625492[/imgl] and [imgr]33625427[/imgr] . I invite you all to fry them, get them dried off and then enjoy together at a cup of coffee! [imgr]33625401[/imgr] I like very much coffee!:)
Nice story! Thank you for sharing! Best regards!

September 24, 2013


Ah Tim Canadian.I never go there when I'm at home, but the lineups are around the block and there's 6 locations right by my place! Great article, very cute.

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