Celebrating Five Years of TAZM Pictures

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On the occasion of TAZM Pictures celebrating five years on the web, I thought you might be a bit more forgiving as I write a more self-indulgent post (wait, aren’t they all self-indulgent?).

tazmpictures dot com….but why make a website?  No, it’s not because “everyone has a website.”  Actually, the initial idea for TAZM Pictures had to do with making videos.  I had been editing videos in some form since 2004 or so – if you don’t count in-camera editing or the camera-to-vcr editing I did from the early 90s.  In 2006, a tour in Afghanistan with an 8mm (digital) tape camera and many spare late night hours practicing with our digital editing suite really got me hooked on the art of recording and editing video.  In February, 2007, I uploaded my first video to YouTube.  It was pretty lame, but I wanted to test out this “new” website for video – “you-tube” – that everyone was talking about.

Back then, it was already technically possible for anyone to do nonlinear video editing on a home computer, but not many people were doing it yet.  The software was still clunky and expensive, and it hadn’t really caught on with the masses.  But I thought it would be fun to “brand” my videos and started tagging them with “a TAZM Pictures Production.”  I thought it might even be possible to make money editing short videos, maybe to help illustrate products on websites.  So I started asking around how people were making websites these days, and my friend Jamie told me how I could buy a domain name, and suggested WordPress as a way to create a site.  After a whole lot of trial and error in March and April of 2009, I finally got TAZMPictures dot com as a way to offer video editing and other services, and in parallel, I blogged about home video editing.

The name TAZM Pictures is nothing more than an acronym of my family’s first names.  Many of my first videos were collaborations with “M”, especially.  Now that one (Z) has moved out and the other (M) is soon to follow, I thought about a rebranding – but “T and A Films” just doesn’t have that same ring to it!

Unfortunately the business end of things never really took off, as more and more people were starting to do the low-end video editing thing themselves; and people were willing to spend thousands to get a high-end video for other purposes.

So then we turned to video contests.  Most of the early ones (and many still today) were basically just companies trying to “crowdsource” cheap video ads for them, and then publicizing them by having contestants competing for public votes.  In the beginning, it was still pretty easy, as there weren’t that many entries in each contest.  Our first video contest, a collaboration with my youngest, ended up netting us both prizes – a new laptop for her, and a copy of Adobe Premiere Elements (4) for me!  We’re still pretty proud of that video:

In the beginning, the contests were lots of fun.  We ended up winning a few laptops, software, and well over $1,000.  But they quickly became frustrating – you’d put hours and hours of work into them, and then, inexplicably, the judges would choose one that didn’t follow the contest rules.  Or (what we considered) an inferior video would run away with the popular vote prize.  As the prizes stopped rolling in, the biggest honor was that the Armed Forces Network would shamelessly copy one of the ideas I had submitted to an Army Safety Contest:

All of the contest entries we created during that time can be seen here and here.

My youngest and I also collaborated on the first “how-to” videos I did – which I quickly learned were very popular on YouTube.  In fact, with almost 220,000 views, this simple video on how to make a fishpond is the most popular video of the 219 videos I have posted on both the TBrouns and TAZMPictures channels. And it’s followed closely by a video on how to make a henhouse.

Then came retirement from the military.  I think I had pretty much accepted I wasn’t going to make any money at this, around the time I made this silly video, which started out as an attempt to mash up two songs, “da da da” and “La Bamba”, and then I had to figure out what kind of video footage might go with it.  This was the result:

Not everything during this period was silly – as YouTube clamped down on copyrighted music, I was forced to make my own, like in this little documentary (my first, I think), about a baby blackbird in our yard; or this mood piece about windmills.  [Some of the music I did is available above, under the “free music” tab]

But eventually it became time to go back to work, and we moved to Namibia – a photographer’s and videographer’s paradise!  We did so many videos in and around Namibia – I can’t even begin to choose a favorite.  If you’d like to browse them on your own, a playlist of some of the better ones is embedded below.  If you click on the title at the top, I think you can select the individual videos.

But it was in Namibia that really steered TAZM Pictures toward photography.  In Namibia, you pretty much just point a camera in any direction and press the button – it’s hard to fail.  Fortunately, I uploaded the best photos and videos, because Namibia is also where I had a camera and 2 laptops stolen from my home.  The best photos from Namibia are in this collection.  And of course, there was also Madagascar.  And Victoria Falls.

It was also in Namibia that our involvement with vintage cameras began.  Again, my youngest, who has been most involved in the videos, was the catalyst.  She asked about an old vintage camera we had sitting on a shelf for years, wondering if it would still work.  And we ordered film for it from Amazon within the hour.

Within a year, the vintage camera collection would balloon to over 75!  You can see the whole collection, and what I’ve done with them, at the tab on the top of this page.  Nearly all of them work.

And finally, there has been this obsession with Found Film.  And our move to India, which has resulted in a shift from wildlife photography to street photography.

But all of that has been recent.  This was meant to be a retrospective post.  I’ll talk more about the things we did in India, and places around, when TAZM Pictures turns ten.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in referring back to any of the posts of the last five years, I found something that makes it a bit easier to search the archives – click “Archives” in the top menu.  And added a “related posts” widget.

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