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'Private' Horse Show Photographer

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  • 'Private' Horse Show Photographer

    I've been kinda confused exactly if this is correct or not, or if illegal or not. And by illegal I mean can I get in serious trouble for it.

    I've just recently tried to start a photography business, doing portraits and horse photographs, sometimes at shows. I've photographed shows both with and WITHOUT a photographer, but i've handled myself differently. At a show without a photographer, I took photos of everyone and advertised my work as much as I can. For shows with a professional, I was ASKED by a person or two to take photos of them so that they could buy them (either because they liked my work or weren't happy with the professionals quality or crazy prices).

    Is that technically illegal and stepping on the foot of the professional if it's technically a private agreement? I do not take photos of anyone else at the shows with other photographers with intention to sell, only the ones that you could argue 'hired' me?

    I'm not trying to break any rules intentionally, but I'd like to know if what i'm doing is actually illegal. I'm just starting out in the business and I'm not quite sure what is and isn't correct. People are already asking me to come to other shows and take photos of them, so I want to know if I can continue safely or if I need to stick to the shows without a photographer present.

    Thanks!

    - G

  • #2
    I just found out by personal experience the real etiquette for this. Luckily for me, the photographer was impressed and offered me a job but he was still a bit upset. If there is a photographer at the show, you are requested to not sell and/or give away your photos. The reasoning is, the show photographer is spending countless money to get to the show, pay for the equipment, and get the photos taken. If you're selling the photos for less, or giving away photos, then it hurts the show photographers business. There are sometimes contracts involved which would make it illegal on your part. You can use the photos in your portfolio, but cannot give them to the rider or horse's owner.

    Now, if you're doing a private conformation/candid photo shoot, I imagine that would be fine since the show photographer would not be able to do that.

    Comment


    • #3
      Not exactly.
      There is nothing to stop anyone from giving away photos.
      Hardly 'illegal' LOL

      If the show has an official photographer they probably paid a fee which allows them to sell pics on the show grounds. It could be unethical in this situation for a non official show photographer to sell pics on the show grounds.
      But nothing to stop them from selling by other means ( FB for example) or giving them away.
      Some large shows issue credentials which ID the photographer(s). Without credentials you'd likely be asked to stop taking pics. However, if you are photographing your own horse it's not a problem.

      And really, how would the show photographer have the time or means to find out who gave away photos.?

      I suspect you were given that info by a show photographer.
      Fan of Sea Accounts

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by BaysofourLives View Post
        There are sometimes contracts involved which would make it illegal on your part.
        Unless you are given notice of such restrictions in a clear manner, I seriously doubt any court could hold a party liable for violating a contract of which they are not a party to.

        Comment


        • #5
          Though I believe it's not illegal, it is in almost all cases considered rude when there is a pro photographer on the premises, unless this photographer is someone like James Parker who only takes pictures of the high levels and book clients.
          Mendokuse

          Comment


          • #6
            I was referring to etiquette more so than actual legal actions. and as a pro photographer (which I am now), I would be quite upset if I took my time and money to come photograph a show and someone took the same photos and gave them away, therefore preventing that person to purchase.

            As far as the legal comment, some prize lists DO say that only the official photographer can market photos (not sure of exact phrasing). By posting photos on your FB, that is marketing them.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by PINE TREE FARM SC View Post
              Not exactly.
              There is nothing to stop anyone from giving away photos.
              Hardly 'illegal' LOL

              If the show has an official photographer they probably paid a fee which allows them to sell pics on the show grounds. It could be unethical in this situation for a non official show photographer to sell pics on the show grounds.
              But nothing to stop them from selling by other means ( FB for example) or giving them away.
              Some large shows issue credentials which ID the photographer(s). Without credentials you'd likely be asked to stop taking pics. However, if you are photographing your own horse it's not a problem.

              And really, how would the show photographer have the time or means to find out who gave away photos.?

              I suspect you were given that info by a show photographer.
              This is what I thought. I didn't want to get into any legal trouble over it. But what you said is true, people are taking pictures all the time. And i've never been specifically approached or told by anyone to stop, someone just warned me about this topic so that's why i wanted to bring it up.

              Unless you are given notice of such restrictions in a clear manner, I seriously doubt any court could hold a party liable for violating a contract of which they are not a party to.
              As far as I know there are no restrictions at the certain shows I photograph, but I'll probably start to look into the ones I go to. Like I mentioned before, no one has specifically to stop, and friends from my barn and others continue to request me to come to shows and photograph them.


              I don't wish to seem unethical and such as you mentioned Baysofourlives, but most of the time people ask me to photo because the photographer at our shows tend to not have the best shots and extremely overpriced photos that they can't afford anyway. I try not to get in the pro's way and don't flagrantly advertise myself to other people at the show (business cards, word of mouth, etc) and stick to the people that specifically asked me to be there.

              Comment


              • #8
                It's not illegal to hire a photographer privately to do a shoot at a horseshow. If a show has an official photographer, the pro generally pays for the privilege and has an exclusive right to market their photos to the exhibitors there. They might also have permission to be IN the ring, rather than shooting from the rail.

                There is a very prominent pro photographer who advertised this year that he would ONLY shoot private clients. And he works at some of the very largest, most prestigious shows around.
                **********
                We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                -PaulaEdwina

                Comment


                • #9
                  If you insist on taking your own photos, I would just strongly suggest you keep on the DL. I did the same thing you're describing until i was called out, and like I said it luckily worked out but I still felt horrible. Had never really considered that I was hurting the photographer's business

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    In my experience, and what I've heard, photographers don't have to pay a fee. It may be different at multi-photog shows like WEF.

                    The photographer you're referring to Lucassb made that decision I believe b/c there are so many other photographers at that show so he felt it would be more profitable to concentrate on the book clients

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by BaysofourLives View Post
                      If you insist on taking your own photos, I would just strongly suggest you keep on the DL. I did the same thing you're describing until i was called out, and like I said it luckily worked out but I still felt horrible. Had never really considered that I was hurting the photographer's business

                      In my experience, and what I've heard, photographers don't have to pay a fee. It may be different at multi-photog shows like WEF.

                      The photographer you're referring to Lucassb made that decision I believe b/c there are so many other photographers at that show so he felt it would be more profitable to concentrate on the book clients
                      Thank you for the advice! I really don't mean to hurt the photographer business, but if I was asked to stop by the said photographer I wouldn't say no.

                      And on the private booking topic, I heard that some photographers are doing that as well because so many people don't buy the pictures they spend hours taking, so by having people come to them and say 'take picture of number ###" and they focus their time on specific people that actually WANT them. I don't remember where I read that, but for the changing world of horse photography with everyone around the corner having a DSLR that sounds like a much better idea.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        From my experience when I was interning with a professional photographer (who was not the photographer hired to take pictures at the show we were attending), the photographer that was actually hired did not want me to sell the photos (even to the people riding from my barn). I was, however, allowed to give the photos away for free. As long as I wasn't making any money off of them, the photographer was fine with me taking pictures and giving them away.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Private Horse Show Photographer

                          Not sure if one of the posters was referring to our shooting policy or not...so here is our present plan.For WEF 2013 we are shooting our long term Book Clients and our portrait clients only ( a portrait client is someone who hires us to do a portrait session for them with their horses).We can limit our shooting to our Book Clients only as there are so many photographers in Wellington that we do not have an obligation to shoot all exhibitors .We pay our vendor fee and we can determine our own shooting ( marketing) agenda. During most of our yearly schedule ( OSF, Devon, Lake Placid, Gold Cup, USET Finals, Cap Challenge) ,where we are the only photographer, we will continue to photograph and offer photos to ALL exhibitors.( Hampton Classic we are 1 of 3 photographers so we can do what works best for us). At the shows where we are the exclusive photographer, it means just that. Those shows have been very proactive in controlling who can shoot and market photos from their shows. This policy is in no way meant to interfere with personal photography or an exhibitors ability to bring their own photographer. It does exclude any photographer who is blatantly invested in random shooting for the purpose of marketing those images...anywhere and at any time. The images at that show are controlled by the management and they have the right to determine who may or may not market photos. None of us want to interfere with the amateur photographer or the family member or friend there to take photos..But in the interest of all professional photographers we try to protect their rights at their shows. I have been very vocal about the questionable future of show photography... there is no future in the business as it now exists. Only those photographers who can create a demand for their work from the ever decreasing buyers of photos will be able to survive...technology and photo theft have made it impossible for the average photographer to find a market that will support the expenses inherent in shooting a show and hoping there are buyers left thereafter. Sad but true..."Good enough photography" has become just that....good enough.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Oh c'mon...

                            Illegal? Don't think so, but check with the show management. I certainly can't think of any "law" you are breaking. I have a friend who takes WAY better pictures with her cell phone than some of the pro pictures I see, just a fact of life now that everyone is hanging their shingle out as a pro, and if someone told me she couldn't come take pictures of me, I'd scoff. I'd be either paying her or providing her lunch or both, which according to the "rules" counts as remuneration.

                            Now advertising yourself? That might be stepping on toes and a no-no, for sure, especially if there was already a show photographer.
                            COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                            "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by BaysofourLives View Post
                              I would be quite upset if I took my time and money to come photograph a show and someone took the same photos and gave them away, therefore preventing that person to purchase.
                              Competition does not "prevent" anyone from purchasing your photos. You only need to be worried if the competition takes better shots than you!

                              I can think of several people who would be considered amateur photographers, but who take better photos than the "professionals" hired by the horse show. I'm glad these people do it.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Atilathia, I notice that you use the word "actually" several times when describing the situations. I would suggest that a good rule of thumb (for life as well as the question you've asked) is: If you were to get something from the fridge that smelled bad, it might not "actually" be spoiled. But would you eat it anyway?
                                “Photography to the amateur is recreation, to the professional it is work, and hard work too, no matter how pleasurable it may be.”-Edward Weston

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Alas, it is the prevalence of the attitude expressed here by several that has led to the diminishing number of professional photographers who are willing to shoot horse shows.

                                  (I just deleted a whole lot more that I wrote - it's all been said before, and it makes me sad that there is so little respect for hardworking, dedicated professionals who take great pleasure and pride in providing riders a lasting memory of 'one moment in time' - but who need to make a reasonable living so they can pay their bills.)

                                  Carol
                                  www.ayliprod.com
                                  Equine Photography in the Northeast

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Illegal? Not unless you cause an accident. To work a show, you really need to be approved by show management. Otherwise, you are operating without approval of your business license and your certificate of insurance. Frankly, you are putting yourself at risk more than you are hurting the official photographer.

                                    As for the OP and those "crazy prices?" Obviously you have a job other than photography. Those "crazy prices" are solidly based on running a full-time photography business.

                                    Illegal? No. Unfair trade practices? Maybe. Unethical? Yes. If you ever aspire to be a full-time photographer you have already shot yourself in the foot by selling cheap or giving away your work.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      A couple of points to consider -

                                      It is always professional and respectful to contact show management and/or a show's Official Photographer (if there is one) ahead of time, explain what your intentions are, and ask for permission to come and shoot. In many cases, the answer will be yes. If it is no, or if there are limitations requested, respect that. YOU will earn the respect of show management, and the OP as well. And who knows? When a situation comes up where management needs an OP, or an OP that you've respected needs a second photographer to work with them, or in place of them - guess who they'll think of

                                      Unlike the judge, show steward, etc, the official photographer is rarely paid by show management to be there, and thus is solely dependent on sales of the images that they create to pay expenses to be there to provide the service - and hopefully, a little more.

                                      No one is trying to stop anyone from taking photos of their own horse competing, or mom and dad from photographing little Susie, or little Susie's friend.

                                      However, another professional shooting over the rail is hurting the OP's ability to pay those expenses. Period.

                                      And in some cases, a photographer who isn't the OP can hurt the OP in other ways than hurting sales by simply selling or giving away photos. Case in point: There was an OP at a show. Another pro photographer showed up and was shooting over the rail. This other person, at one point - in front of a class lineup which included several minors, proceeded to unzip and relieve himself - in view of the kids, in view of the grandstands, opposite. Guess what? Many exhibitors assumed this guy was with the OP. Fortunately this OP had worked with this particular show management often enough that they realized that the offender was not working with the OP. There was, however, no way for that OP to inform all of the exhibitors, parents, etc that the offending person was not part of their own business.

                                      Consider that if you spook a horse during competition, that can be a problem as well, especially if you don't have liability insurance.

                                      And yes - many venues do charge a commercial vendor fee. If you are there to shoot with the intention to make $$, you'd be subject to that fee also, the same as an OP, or the guy selling tack on the grounds, or the feed supplier. Those fees can be substantial.

                                      If an OP is not competent (true, some aren't), then enough exhibitors providing feedback to show management to that extent can change who management contracts with in the future. Or there won't be enough in sales for that person to be able to afford to return in the future.

                                      Just a couple of things to consider. For whatever it's worth - or not.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Very well stated, tma.

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