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Where are all the photographers?

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  • Where are all the photographers?

    Where are all the show photographers?

    I went to three schooling shows this winter at nice facilities. No photographer. Okay, I figured that's becase it was winter and the shows were indoors.

    Took him to an A-rated show on Friday. Turnout was HUGE... no show photographer I had emailed show managment to ask ahead of time. Initially they said it would be photographer X, which I then told them was out of business. Never heard back. Shows up... no photog.

    I have my horse pre-entered at two other rated shows. So far, it appears neither has a photographer.

    Where are the photographers?! Sheesh, I wanna' give you my money but you have to BE there for that to happen!

    You would think that big rated shows would be able to get a photographer?! Or that they'd put extra effort into doing so if someone emailed ahead of time to remind them/ask? Do I need to email photographers myself and suggest they approach show managment?
    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"

  • #2
    I have no idea, I just started showing the A/Os over the winter and there haven't been any photographers. AND I sold my old pony hunter so I would like to waste my money on pretty pictures of my tank! I'm still depressed over the lack of pictures from Woodedge's November mini derby.
    Oh Sweetheart
    Make A Splash
    The Adventures of a College Equestrian


    • #3
      There were a couple of lengthy threads about this subject awhile back, but I think the jest of them was:

      1. Larger horseshows contract with a particular photographer and that photographer pays a fee or commission per photo/booth to show management. It's pretty expensive.

      2. The larger shows require more than one photographer to handle several rings and the contracted photographer has to hire additional photographers.

      3. Photos to purchase are getting VERY expensive...(see number 1 and 2 above) and show people are getting reluctant to buy them.

      4. Some photographers' photos suck.

      5. With the advent of easy-to-use cameras that even a dog could shoot a decent photo with have greatly diminished a photographer's ability to sell photos. Everyone's Mom/Dad/friend/groom is now taking photos that are cheap and easy to take and distribute via the web.

      I'm sure I missed a few things, but that was the jest of it. It's getting next to impossible for a photographer to make money any more - expenses just too high for what the public is willing to pay for the photo.


      • #4
        I agree completely with Go Fish. I have shot several shows over the last few years, both contracted by a larger photography business and under my own business. I live in an area of the country that I am within 90 minutes drive of many A shows. But as stated, these larger shows usually like to contract with certain individuals, and it can get very expensive. Photos are increasing in price because everything is going up: gas, materials, etc. I horse show as well, and know that they days are long, but they are also VERY long for the photographers. Standing in 1 spot for 10 hours is tiresome, and having to be on your toes that entire time to get the best shots of every competitor is hard work. Many of the photographers I've worked with over the last few years have told me that they're not making any $.. they're lucky if they cover their expenses nowadays. Plus, people aren't buying.. there might be a few people interested at each show, but the big orders I used to see aren't there anymore. And yes, there are some photographers out there that just aren't great. THey may have nice equipment, (great cameras are everywhere and in so many price ranges, and they quality is really improving for a lower price) so they go and shoot shows.. but some never learned HOW to really shoot at that correct angle.. I would never shoot a horse going over 2' fences the same way I'd shoot a horse going over a 3' 6" fence. There's a lot to know. Right now I'm content to do contract work for larger business on an infrequent basis.

        Another thing I'm noticing is that many photographers don't get their name out enough at shows.. so people have NO idea who the photographer is.. or if there was even one there! And if they actually DO have site to order from (which is so easy to do now) it can get complicated..

        On an odd side note, I'm even hearing now that there have been so many people wanting to shoot the local shows around here that some have asked for exclusive rights to shoot the event. Interesting.


        • #5
          Go left out the most relevant bullet point which carries more weight than all the reasons you've listed:

          6. Copyright theft!

          No one enjoys working hard to earn a dollar only to have thieves rob you blind. Hope y'all enjoy the pictures your dog, dad, mom and groom take.


          • #6
            For those of you in the Central Florida area, I have begun offering my services (as an amateur photographer) as a private horse show photographer or farm shoots.

            The Equine Media Project

            I especially like to get out and meet locals in my area.
            Ryu Equestrian & Facebook Page
            Breeding Horses Today, for the Equestrian Sport of Tomorrow.
            Osteen & Gainesville, Florida.


            • #7
              At some of the horse shows in my area the photographers have to pay the horse each day they are at the horse show. Many riders look at the proofs, but do not purchase. Between the cost of taking a day off at their business, travel and supply costs, and having to pay a vendor fee - taking pictures does not make good business sense.


              • Original Poster

                In the alternative, would it be crazy for me to try to hire a photog just to shoot my horse? Then he/she wouldn't have to stand around all day? But then I worry I'd run afoul of the official photographer, should there for some reason actually be one?! For those of you in the business, what would you charge to come out and shoot one horse in one division?
                "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                • #9
                  Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                  In the alternative, would it be crazy for me to try to hire a photog just to shoot my horse? Then he/she wouldn't have to stand around all day? But then I worry I'd run afoul of the official photographer, should there for some reason actually be one?! For those of you in the business, what would you charge to come out and shoot one horse in one division?
                  I really can't see why it would be a problem for you to hire someone to come out and shoot you. But, if the contracted photographer for a show who has exclusive rights to shoot there makes a stink about it, and the show gets involved, (a HUGE waste of time) I really couldn't say I'd know the outcome. There are so many people out there with lovely large cameras, your photographer could be a relative, friend etc. that just came out to shoot you. Some will charge by the hour, some not at all, but kinda like a makeup session, they'll expect you to buy something from them. Just remember to look at their work FIRST and make sure it's what you like, so no one wastes their time. As long as your photographer is not shooting other competitors and trying to solicit their business, you should be fine. But, what I'd do is just check with the photographer you'd be interested in hiring and see what their take is on it.

                  And freelance is right.. copyright is a HUGE issue. I've seen it over and over where riders will go online to see their proofs, snatch the proof, and stick it on Facebook, print it out, etc. People are getting more software/computer savvy, and learning tricks around the protected images. AHHHH the days of receiving your tiny pictures in the mail stapled to an index card...


                  • #10
                    Since I am just starting out and I'm in it more for the fun of it than as a way to support myself. I generally charge $100/horse (approximately 4 hours of work) for the entire CD.
                    Ryu Equestrian & Facebook Page
                    Breeding Horses Today, for the Equestrian Sport of Tomorrow.
                    Osteen & Gainesville, Florida.


                    • #11
                      not enough people buying

                      I am a driver, not a rider, but I have a business and vendor at driving shows. We have a lot of time to talk VBG. I asked the well known photographer what he was doing at the driving shows where there are only about 60 competitors instead of being at the big A show where there were hundreds. He said that the hunter people rarely bought photo's and that the fees were to high and he was losing money. He was making a worth while profit at the driving show even with a fraction of the competitors because a good percentage bought photo's and the vendor fee was a fraction of what the hunter shows charged him. Said he didn't plan on doing hunter shows anymore even though management had contacted him and tried to get him to come.


                      • #12
                        There are some interesting comments on the thread linked below from James Leslie Parker (ponypix), a very, very experienced show photographer, about the direction he is taking his business. I don't know if this will be an industry-wide trend, but I can imagine it's possible.



                        • #13
                          If the show you're referring to is Four Seasons, when I walked into the jumper ring on Saturday there was someone taking pictures at the far end. I don't know if it was just someone practicing or what, but I didn't know who it was and there were no signs/business cards anywhere. Maybe someone here will know?

                          The now out of business photographer did a lot of shows around here and seemed to have the staff to photograph 3-4 rings. Maybe shows are struggling to find a replacement that can handle a 3 ring show? Or I guess in this instance they didn't even know he was out of business until you told him so they just didn't have time to find someone else.

                          makeasplash- check this site for hunter derby pics from November:


                          • #14
                            going the way of the dodo unfortunately
                            "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


                            • #15
                              A lot of photographers, like myself, are heading more toward being hired by an individual or group of riders to photograph just them. This way the riders are guaranteed lots of photos of them riding, and I charge a fee up front for just being there so I don't have to gamble that they may or may not buy prints.

                              My "horse show kit" cost me close to $4k and it's very disheartening to spend all that money on camera equipment, stand in the sun for 8 hours taking photographs, and make zero money out of the whole deal. Then, top it off, within a week there will be screen shots of my work all over facebook, big fat COPYRIGHT across them and everything.

                              Personally, I'd rather spend all that money on camera equipment, stand and shoot for 8 hours at a wedding, and be guaranteed a big paycheck.

                              Custom Painted Saddle Pads and Ornaments


                              • #16
                                I think it is because everyone steals their photos... why would they sit at a horse show and put up low resolution photos online when people are totally happy to steal it for FB/their website?

                                I think it's tacky to stick up a proof photo online... but how many do you see around?

                                PS - I have hired photographers to photograph just my horses at shows and also at an inspection.
                                Platinum Equestrian - Florida, USA


                                • #17
                                  They're done. And your videographers are next to go.

                                  My opinion? The shows should pay them to be there. There is no question in my mind that a quality A show should make sure media services are in place for their exhibitors. This should be one of the perks for shelling out 2 grand for your weekend; guaranteed access to photos and video of said weekend. It's still up to you to buy them, but at least the service providers get paid if you don't.

                                  So guess what they're thinking of? A media fee tacked onto all your other fees. Enjoy!
                                  EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta


                                  • #18
                                    Why photographers are not at shows

                                    Bottom line for photographers not being seen at some shows...and more shows will be like that in the shows they actually loose money on. I had five shows last year that I lost money on....and you know there were some that I made only enough to pay taxes...

                                    There are shows that I use to do that had 200 horses...last year I drove seven hours to do it and only 37 horses were there..I didn't make enough to pay my employee and fuel. I have a show that now has more horses than ever....and sales are down 40%. I use to have four trailers...doing four shows per weekend....Now I have one employee....three trailers sitting parked...I use to leave my trailers open during the first couple of days so people could come in a view....but so many kids and Parents were taking photos of my screens...and not buying nothing....caught one adult with a video camera...going thru each and every image of his daughter....

                                    Out of 100 competitors we are only getting about 7 reason for this is Dad comes to see his daughter compete..breaks out his pro camera...not only photographing his daughter...but all her friends from the or selling them Cd's the following week.

                                    My prices have not gone up in the past five years....unlike fuel....

                                    I wish I could say my equipment only cost me 4,000.00.....

                                    There are many shows I have elected to not shoot this year due to no profit to be made by being there....I suspect there will be more next year....

                                    So, if you know of a show that will be profitable....let me or another professional photographer know....we don't want to sit at home..


                                    • #19
                                      Where are the Photographers

                                      Without going back 2-3 years when i first wrote that this was going to happen...Let's look at where we are at today.There are a few ( and I men A FEW) companies out still shooting shows , but there time is running out None of them can make a living taking photos at large horse shows and hoping to sell enough to make it worthwhile. It doesn't matter if you are at WEF, where there are no less than 5 photo companies paying a concession fee ( or not) and there are hordes of wanna be ( and has been) photographers, there is no one who can make a "go" of it. Some are hanging on because they remember when a good photographer, who was willing to work as hard as anyone at a show, could make a nice living doing it. Some think that , if they can only hold on a little longer, the good old days will return. We do most of our shows where we are the only photo group allowed to sell photos. THere will always be a few scabs who think they can get by us and management by claiming they are shooting for one magazine or another. Then we see them shooting everybody, including short stirrup, walk around taking emails from exhibitors and trying to peddle their photos.When is the last time you saw a magazine running photos of short stirrup? We've gotten rid of most of them and the few that are left will have to get a job soon. But truth be told, we don't make enough as THE ONLY photographer to make it worth the time, the investment, or the effort. Luckily, we have found a way around offering our services to the few exhibitors who appreciate great work and are willing to pay for what they want. If we did not have relationships of many years with the shows that have been good and loyal to us....well you know where we would be spending our efforts.. But not everyone can afford our books and we still owe our other clients the opportunity to continue having great photos of their horse , kids, etc. So, for the time being, we still " shoot shows" But that time is running out. I know some of the other photo companies are just waiting for the time that we give it up...They won't survive that long. WE have had a great time doing what we do and , somehow, we will keep finding a way to service those who have been loyal, AND STILL WANT GREAT WORK. As for those who prefer to steal photos or post "good enough" photos of their animals, you're on your own. I do see some very good photographers, who are good people, trying to make a living with what is left of good taste, but I fear that there is no way back. All of the above reasons are part of the problem: but the main issue is the deterioration of taste and pride in how people choose to exhibit the horses and people they love so much. The respect for hard work and talent is an historical footnote. I understand people who don't have the resources to pay for images....But that doesn't include anyone reading this post. As I've said way to many times...We are at a point where "good enough" is just that for most people. But not for us or our loyal and great clients who still take pride and pleasure in how they create and keep their memories. For those people, we get up every day and go out and do what we do....For us "good enough"....isn't. But the next time you wonder where all the photographers have gone, log on to your favorite social network... That's the only place many photographers see their work displayed....Just saying...


                                      • #20
                                        Where are all the Photographers

                                        BTW...Any exhibitor can bring their own photographer to ANY horse show. As long as that photographer does not take photos of anyone who has not hired him, or solicit business while at the show, he is as "allowed" to be as your braider, vet, Physical therapist, portrait artist who is going to paint your horse. The show has the right to limit who can sell or solicit business on their grounds but they have no right to exclude anyone from show grounds without cause. As we might represent many clients at a HS that we are not the "official photographer", we make a point of notifying the manager ( and, in some cases the photographer) of who we are there to shoot and have not found that to be an issue.. Sure, ""the photographer" might think it's unfair, but the exhibitor has the right to have proffessionals at his service when and where he chooses.... I don't think that any show would want to question that option with an exhibitor...Especially a good exhibitor And in these times, all exhibitors should be treated like good exhibitors.