From the iSyndica Blog, April 30th, 2010.
Terry Barksdale has recorded & produced numerous entertainment programs, commercials and educational videos, but his current life in is giving him some truly off-the-beaten-path material. When one of your users tells you "I may just come to you and hand you my hard drive. Safer - as in the last 3 weeks I have been shot at and barely missed a grenade attack," you sorta perk your head up! Not everyone has the dedication to run around for *that* kind of content!
iSyndica: Quite an adrenaline rush. Did you ever expect to find yourself in such a situation?
It began last year when I was filming the "civil disorder" outside on the street outside my apartment. Protestors were rolling burning buses at lines of troops. You can see the raw footage of this on April 2009 YouTube.
A lot of these shots sold well on iStockvideo (and continue to do so). I had to concentrate on shooting genaric stuff. If you look at shots on iStockvideo, you'll notice all corporate logos, bus numbers, license numbers have been removed to meet the stock copyright infringement criteria. At that point, I was only offering this type of footage on iStock, so I had to meet their non-editorial standards. Other sites, such as Revostock, Shutterstock and Pond5 accept unaltered editorial footage. To get a look at the raw footage from last month, go to YouTube again. In the first segment you can see me get tear gassed, in the second segment you will see wounded protesters.
iSyndica: What inspired you to get into filming? How did you decide to jump into stock?
I decided to become involved in stock because I like the freedom and the entrepreneurial nature of it. It's an income you can have anywhere on the planet. I live in Asia. A portfolio and a Paypal address will get you going. There is longterm feedback loop in stock which I can see is making me a better photographer and a smarter vendor of images. And I am also 56 years old - who wants to deal with clients after 30 years! No more clients, just cash flow. Concentrating on making one good image at a time seemed ideal for me at this point in life. I have discovered good shots (or unique) shots sell. Well conceived shots also do well. After two years, the majority of the shots in my portfolio I would never do again. Why? Because they don't sell. It's been a learning curve and not one for those adverse to risk. I have purchased a camera slider, which is a poor man's dolly to give shots a cinematic feel - as shots with more production value give you the competitive edge. I recently took it to , which was a great use of the device as buildings don't move; so the camera must. Also, this week I purchased a Canon 550D, which allows for prime lenses and greater control of depth of field - which concentrated the viewers attention.
iSyndica: You shoot a lot of different topics, other than... wartime material. What inspires you the most?
Honestly, whatever I am shooting at the moment takes my full concentration. You need to take a lot of shots to make one good one. And you need to try to sell a lot of footage to understand the stock photo/video market. I find the natural world in macro particularly interesting (although I can't say it sells a lot yet!), insects get my attention. Ironically, cheaper single chip prosumer cameras do better on the focal plane than the bigger ones for marco, this shot taken with a and a $30 dollar screw on macro lens.
iSyndica: If I was inspired by your example... Do burning buses do well for stock?
Yes, they do! War footage is risky, obviously and not for the family minded. It takes it's toll on you emotionally. It's easy to get killed or wounded - as your there literally between the sides in conflict. One photographer near me was killed last month, another wounded. I have seen more dead people in a short time than a person should. But, from a stock footage vantage, unique subjects which occur in time and space sell well - if there is a generic or editorial demand. It's hard to do a staged shot of an urban riot, so your competitors will be few. No second takes on historical events. One idea at a time is a good rule for shooting stock. Look around you and find what is unique and hard to reproduce in your life and locale and reduce it to its raw visual idea. Research, shoot, upload and repeat. Eventually, you'll get it right.
For further reading on Editorial Stock Footage follow this link: