ImageWhen Image Masters owner Les Jinks and his new wife Pat first moved to the United States from England years ago he couldn't possibly have envisioned that he would be creating steaming media Web sites.  That is certain, because it would be years before personal computers were introduced, and the Internet wasn't yet on line.  But television was quite popular, and the first step toward his journey to Internet work started there.

Jinks came upon a fatal car accident on Aurora Street he happened to have his movie camera with him.  "I called Channel 12 in Binghamton," he recalls.  "They jumped at it.  I spoke to the news director.  The format was eight millimeter, so they wouldn't be able to use it.  But he said, 'Would you be interested in working for us on a part time basis?'  I said "sure,' so he gave me a 16 mm camera, loaded me up with black and white film, told me what to look for and to buy myself a police scanner."

That launched a career in news and multimedia that would eventually take him to the Internet that hadn't envisioned as a tool and die maker at the Ithaca NCR plant.  He called himself 'Area News Service' and started filming Ithaca news part time, eventually building a client list to include Channels 3, 5, 9, and Fox 40 in Syracuse, 12 in Binghamton, and 36 in Elmira.

"Everything was going great," he says.  "I was working for six TV stations.  I was going nuts delivering the video.  I was putting a lot of miles on my vehicle driving from Ithaca to Elmira, from Elmira to Binghamton, from Binghamton up to Syracuse, and back home.  I thought this was crazy."

One day he filmed a fatal bus crash in Caroline, and when he got home he decided to offer it to CNN.  They asked him to do an interview from the scene of the crash, and the next thing he knew he was on national television and radio, and the story led to more assignments for the network.

Les Jinks

"All the major stations picked up the video from CNN," he says.  "They say that everybody has five minutes of fame.  That was my five minutes of fame right there.  One guy was on vacation in Colorado.  When he got back home he called me and said, 'Les, I saw you do a story about Caroline on TV.'  It was great."

Meanwhile he was working for NCR until he was caught up in layoffs.  From there he had various jobs including as a salesman at Therm, and eventually as a car salesman.  All the while he was gathering news, morphing from black and white film to color, and then video tape.  Around 1989 he incorporated Image Masters. 

Now he was doing news video for television, wedding videos, and taking still photographs.  He made documentaries about Ithaca and the Finger Lakes, all the while looking for new opportunities.  About 12 years ago he became seriously ill.  What came from that may have been one of the best things that happened to him.

"My world seemed to fall down," he recalls.  "Then my wife bought me a computer.  I wanted to know what a computer is for.  At that time nobody had a computer.  And I started to find my way around the Internet."

After reading an article about an Ithaca business that had a Web site he learned to build sites himself.  Never afraid to ask for a sale, he approached local businessmen to explain how he could build them a site they could use to increase their business.  Meanwhile he used his media contacts to solicit radio and television personalities to create sites that would stream their audio and video content so people could see or hear them online.

"Streaming media is the edge," he says.  "It is what takes me above what other people offer.  I think I was one of the first in this area that offered audio and video streaming on a regular basis.  That is my expertise right now, and also in the video field."

Today he has about 60 clients.  He offers Web site design, hosting, audio streaming, video streaming, and video production, video documentaries, placing clients' advertising videos on YouTube, and news gathering.  He has converted his local landscapes into refrigerator magnets that have been selling well in stores, and that has led to large private magnate orders. 

He has also continued working in video, and has released a new documentary called 'Discover Ithaca' on DVD.  "I pride myself on being the person that sells the Ithaca area to the whole world," he says.

Jinks marvels at what technology has made possible, noting that being able to send news video over the Internet would have saved him a lot of time and gasoline.  The consummate salesman, he says that his success comes from making friends with his clients and letting the rest flow from there.  'The rest' means integrating his film and video work, which he calls his first love, with the new technology.

"With the technology that we have today it would have been wonderful back then," he says.  "From black and white film to video streaming.  I'm very happy.  My life has changed completely because of the Internet."