Helen Fields, AKA Hotelfoxtrot69, is a former lawyer turned stock videographer and Adobe Stock Contributor based in the UK. She left behind her career in law in pursuit of a more creative path, and she has since successfully transitioned to video production. Helen is spotlighted in our video The Female Creator, alongside photographer Eve Saint Ramon and designers Jing Zhang and Tina Touli.
We spoke with Helen in more depth about her path to the world of stock videos, and in line with our March Visual Trend The Female Creator, her perception of women in stock.
Adobe Stock: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the stock industry?
Helen Fields: I worked in criminal and family law for more than a decade. My husband David is a camera operator and together we’d been running our production company Wailing Banshee Ltd for several years, when after having children I decided on a career change to pursue a more creative path. We had traditionally undertaken a lot of corporate work, often for very high end clients and blue-chip companies. What we wanted was more creative freedom and to dispense with the concept of having “clients” at all, leaving us free to shoot what we wanted when we wanted. Getting involved in stock was a natural progression. It was fun and refreshing after years of standard advertising style work. The real reward is seeing our footage everywhere, from walking into Times Square and seeing it on the big screens, to catching it regularly on television, and even at the cinema.
AS: What was the biggest challenge about transitioning from law to video production?
HF: It wasn’t a huge problem moving to work within Wailing Banshee full time as I’d been involved in the company for years beforehand, liaising with clients, attending shoots and script writing. I missed the cut and thrust of appearing in court, but the company was so busy by then that we were at a natural expanding point anyway. I was ready for something new and being on set is never dull.
AS: And what about from working with clients to shooting stock?
HF: Moving from working with clients to full time stock creation was wonderful. We’ve never looked back. Being free of other people’s concepts, multi-agency input, branding restrictions and so on was utterly liberating. It was a risk, and while we were waiting to grow our portfolio and for sales to take off we had a few days of self-doubt, but not for long. Now we look forward to every day and every shoot.
AS: How has the stock marketplace changed since you first started?
HF: Since we began, the stock image marketplace is more crowded and prices have dropped markedly. This means we have to be more competitive, more cost aware and better than all the competition. Things will continue to change as software and foreign markets develop, and the trick is to try to stay one step ahead in terms of quality and creativity.
AS: What are some of your best selling clips and what do they have in common?
HF: Our most popular clips change over time but we have a mixture of business, lifestyle and sports that sell consistently. The more candid shots and often the ‘lucky’ shots where all the planets align, model, light, location, they are the ones that really sell well. Authenticity is certainly key. Our aerial shots are particularly special – London, New York, California.
AS: What does being a female creator mean to you?
HF: I like to think that I’m doing my bit for my gender. I’m putting myself and my work out there on show as a confident woman. I’m ready for criticism, praise, ready to learn from others, men and women. I’m sure my female brain works differently to the guys so I hope that brings something else to the creative table too.
AS: How would you like to see women represented in stock images?
HF: As a woman I’m always striving for equality and even in 2017 you can see there’s some way to go. I like to see strong women in stock images and especially love it when you see a female represented in an industry where she might previously have seemed out of place, like on an oil rig or as an army officer. Something where it makes you look twice and feel proud for those women filling those roles. The gender roles are shifting slowly but at least there’s movement in the right direction.
AS: Which women in the creative field inspire you?
HF: I love Kathryn Bigelow who directed ‘Hurt Locker’ and won an academy award for Best Director. Being such a ‘male’ film it really helped break down gender stereotypes in the film industry. Also Annie Leibovitz, for her stunning portrait photography.
AS: What advice do you have for photographers and videographers just getting started in the industry?
HF: Invest in good kit. If you can’t buy it, rent it. The key to good sales, is producing good quality footage. And this takes time, it’s not an overnight career. Building up a portfolio needs a long term plan. Watch the market place and stay current. Don’t let anyone tell you you’ve missed the boat on stock footage. This industry is what the contributors make it.
See more of Helen’s videos on Adobe Stock.