The Gulfport Photographer thread has morphed into the debate of charging a monthly fee to view proofs taken at a horse show. To counter losses from people stealing their work, Flashpoint photography is charging a monthly fee of roughly $12.00 to view the pictures shot at horse shows. (They have a nifty app coming that allows a subscriber to post up to 10 photo's on their Facebook page, if they are so inclined, but it is not up, yet.)
Seems to me to be a whole lot of folks browse those 1000s of proofs with no intention at all to purchase anything. Some aren't even competing at the show, just passing time on the internet or in the photo tent/trailer. And then you got a few entertaining themselves with finding fault in people they never saw in their lives and don't know from a tree stump...because the proofs are currently public.
$12 a month is not bad at all-it's not really a public service everybody is entitled to view for free. For every rider who does buy something, there are 100 who don't.
Oh, ETA back in the day....even with just 2 rings running, photogs were unable to shoot everybody in every ring. Some of them had you sign up in the trailer and they gave you a little sticker to put on your number or on the outside branch of your left stirrup. No sticker, no shoot and it helped them to not waste time and money shooting riders who were not going to purchase anything while not shooting somebody who wanted to buy.
Perhaps Flashpointe, and others, might want to look into that as a constructive alternative suggestion.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
Greg and others, my Greg asked that the following letter be shared in the hope of helping to explain-answer some of the questions and provide more detail:
"I do understand the disappointment you’re feeling, and I want you to know the decision to change the online viewing was not one made lightly or easily. In truth it has been nearly a two year discussion-debate, one that I had not only within the company, but with Flashpoint clients and fellow photographers. Over the course of the past couple of years I’ve attempted several options, offerings, and deterrents to deal with the problems of theft, keeping client satisfaction, and yes, self preservation, unfortunately nothing seems to make everyone happy. Lowering prices, offering digital images, increased security measures or even black listing offenders has not made a difference to those who simply do not care. It’s shocking really, how even when caught stealing or black listed they become more determined so they enlist friends to help them- worst part is these days it’s not so much kids but adults as well. And we’re always made into the bad guys when they’re confronted.
I completely agree with you, none of this is fair to you or to us. We were one of, if not the first photographers to offer online proof viewing as an extra service – convenience to our clients based upon knowing time can often get crunched for folks and they may not be able to come by the trailer to look. The online service wasn’t required; it was something we chose and wanted to offer. Over the years I sought ways to improve that service- to spoil our loyal clients; I created the “search by horse’s name”, I began the nightly upload of proofs instead of people waiting weeks, I created an online ordering system instead of clients mailing or faxing orders and it was appreciated by many clients. Unfortunately times have changed, people have abused this convenience and it’s truly unfair to good clients or to us.
Sadly theft is at an all time high, we’ve been incurring more and more losses of income and if we don't do something about it the reality we and other photographers face will be closing down our businesses altogether. The problem is with displaying our work on the internet, unlike other merchants who can post a photo of their product with no issue- our product is the photo. The internet was originally created to be free and as such is impossible to police. This isn’t a hobby and because of the ones who don’t respect or appreciate our efforts we’re now forced to find ways to protect our livelihood, yet try to give the clients what they desire. This new system was a compromise to continue providing service on the web, it was either this or we simply can no longer afford to post our work online. I'm truly sorry but this has become the new reality. We really are in a no win situation – all of us.
When researching the pros and cons of this new platform, I knew it would upset some of our longtime clients (and perspective clients) and I tried to create the subscription fee with their loyalty in mind. On the one hand, yes it seems the good clients are being punished for the sins of others, but when looking at the statics - of the majority of those good clients, more than 90% of the good make a purchase. Which is why I designed the “Discount Bank” –that is where that $11.95 subscription fee goes and can be applied towards any print or Xpress pic purchases then or “banked” for use on future photo purchases. Example being if you subscribed one month but didn’t decide to purchase then, and subscribe three months later (or whenever) then your “Discount Bank” would have $23.90 to be applied towards a purchase, so whenever you made a purchase all you’ve “banked” will be credited to your order. It can also be gifted to another subscriber if desired. It may not seem like it, but I really am trying to find a fair solution for both the clients and myself. I can only hope you and others will try to understand."
Don't remember who the photographer in Ocala is, but they allow NO online viewing of pictures at all. I understand the reasoning. Impossible to find photos as you jump off your last horse to catch a ride to the airport.... I think Flashpoint does an incrediable job and they are always serving their customers in the most beneficial and objective way possible.I appluad them for making it work both ways!!
Thank you for the explanation of the "discount bank".
I rarely make it to shows and have loved keeping up through your photos, purchasing my favorites through your digital service. Our horses show year round and after reading about the new viewing charge, I was under the impression that I could spend over $100 annually and possibly not have a single photo I loved. Soooo disappointing! I was unable to read the actual agreement due to having trouble with the silverlight download and had simply given up even attempting to purchase from you.
Being able to apply the fee to future purchases sounds like a fair solution. I am looking forward to the new FB app.