Pictured: Mark Adams and the Rocketclips team.
Mark Adams has been a contributor to Shutterstock since 2010. Since launching his own company, Rocketclips, in 1999, Mark has created a niche shooting high-quality, royalty-free stock footage featuring model-released talent. Recently he took the time to answer questions as Shutterstock Footage’s Featured Contributor.
Shutterstock: How did you get your start in the world of stock photography?
Mark Adams: I graduated from Art Center College of Design in 1978 and began a 20-year career as a commercial photographer. In 1984, I partnered with another photographer and we began shooting lifestyle stock stills. Things took off, and by 1996 I was a full-time stock shooter.
Shutterstock: Being a traditional photographer, why did you make the transition to stock footage? When was the “aha” moment?
Mark Adams: Remember that scene in “The Graduate” where an old guy leans over to Dustin Hoffman and says “plastics?” Well, I was at a party in 1999 talking to an art director friend about the increased competition in stock photography. He leaned over to me and said “motion!” Two weeks later, I started Rocketclips and started to produce footage.
Shutterstock: Tell us about your company, Rocketclips Inc.
Mark Adams: Rocketclips is currently a four-person operation and has always been a collaborative, family run business. I shoot most of the footage and manage the day-to-day affairs. My wife, Pam, does everything from casting and propping pre-shoot to makeup and styling on shoot days. Our son, Austin, shoots, edits, handles IT, and manages our marketing. Clay, who is a student and part-time employee, works on post-production, editing, metadata and uploading.
Shutterstock: How would you describe your own videography, and what are some of the defining characteristics of a successful footage clip?
Mark Adams: A good clip tells a story. It has a beginning, middle and an ending. I imagine that an editor is only going to use 1 or 2 seconds. In a 15 to 20 second clip, I will try to give an editor 2, 3, or even 4 moments to use. I try to give him editing room before and after the moment. More than that, a good clip has to make a connection with the viewer; it should look you in the eye and grab you by the heart.
Shutterstock: What type of equipment have you used throughout your career when it comes to shooting stock footage? What are some of your favorite subjects to shoot?
Mark Adams: I first started shooting with a Canon XL1. I then started to shoot on a Ikegami DV7W and a Sony PD-150 and a PD-170. Currently I shoot 90% with a Sony EX1 and the rest of the time with a Canon 5D Mark II. I’m lusting after a Canon C300 so I can use all of my Canon lenses.
As to my favorite subjects, that would be people, people, and people. I love nothing more that to get someone in front of my camera and get them laughing, giggling, crying, running, jumping, and dancing. After all of these years it’s still a blast.
Shutterstock: How has your experience been so far with Shutterstock? What do you like about it? What are your thoughts on the future of footage and microstock?
Mark Adams: I like that Shutterstock cares about their contributors; someone always answers the phone. I’ve been with the agency for about a year and a half and my sales continue to grow. I’d say, I’m very happy with Shutterstock.
As for the future… Well, things are going to keep changing, I’m sure of that. Advertising on the Internet isn’t going away anytime soon so stock footage is here for a while. I’m going to keep my eyes wide open, try to keep current, and above all keep shooting.
Shutterstock: Do you have any tips on producing stock footage for potential stock shooters?
Mark Adams: Anyone who’s been doing this for a while doesn’t need my advice, but for those thinking about footage I’d say don’t wait too long. Every still camera now shoots video and the competition is heating up. There are tons of still shooters out there that are making the transition to motion and many of them are very good. Having said that, the customer base is also expanding right along with Internet advertising and there is plenty of room right now for more stock producers. Shoot what you love and keep shooting.