Don’t Be An Outlaw

by Michelle on January 11, 2016

Professional rodeo and barrel racing photographers are a rare breed.  With the advent of social media and sharing tools, their business has become more of an “at risk” species.    Both lack of knowledge and respect from contestants are further jeopardising the future of this profession.

There’s a real problem with people using pictures without permission.  To be blunt; if you didn’t take the picture, you don’t own it and have no rights to use it without permission. In most cases, this also includes payment.   In fact, it doesn’t matter if the photographer is a professional or not.   Even if it’s you in the picture, you have no rights to be using it without payment and/or agreement.

When you pay for the picture, it is your responsibility to ask what the parameters are attached to its use.  You may only be able to make have one print, you may not be able to use it online and for advertising or business purposes.   Photographers have different boundaries for use, and it’s your responsibility to find out what they are.

The most obvious, but most bluntly misunderstood or perhaps ignored, is the use of pictures that have a copyright notice plastered all over the picture.  Some photographers go so far as to say on their proof images “don’t be an outlaw” or “this picture was stolen” or “do not use without permission”.  Sadly, we still see those images used on Facebook and even on ads.    Talking to two different photographers, they both feel if the photo has been uploaded to their own website that includes sharing tools, or on Facebook itself, sharing is okay.  This provides advertising for their business and pictures through your links.  Where the line is drawn is when you save that picture, or take a picture of the picture and upload it yourself to your page or profile.

Used with permission by Roughstock Studio to make a point :)

Used with permission by Roughstock Studio to make a point 🙂

Billie-Jean Duff of Roughstock Studio makes it clear that “Unlike an announcer, or entertainment act, we rarely are paid by a committee or producer to shoot an event we don’t make any income until we sell a print. It’s not a money making venture, that’s for sure. I can’t speak for other photographers, but I’m confident they would agree they do it because we love it. I love getting that perfect moment, and seeing and hearing the excitement from the person who is in the photo and how much joy it brings them. But not at the expense of my wallet. And to continue to remain competitive and have gear that can meet my needs, I need to make money to reinvest.”

We all want a great action shot and the only way we are going to get one is if there is a photographer there taking them.   The least we can do to keep these people taking the pictures is to pay for the pictures we love enough to share.

I did a stint taking pictures when I was pregnant one year.  I’ll tell ya, it sure isn’t a money making gig. If you count the time it takes to edit, watermark, upload, print, email back and forth etc.   These photographers are doing it because they love it so don’t insult them by stealing their work.

Using a picture you haven’t paid for is tacky, cheap and against copyright law.

Taking pictures of your picture at the picture booth at the event is also stealing and it’s not cool.  If you want to save face you had better put used with permission and I am anxiously awaiting the prints as a disclaimer or we’ll just peg you as a thief.   Even at that, who are you posting for and why can’t they wait a week?   You can wait.

If the photographer specifically puts “free to share, enjoy” then, that’s an invitation to grab your pictures and do with them what you’d like.   Recently I saw a photographer do this with the events award pictures.

Talking with Jonathan Bosko, the owner of Country Monkey Photography I could feel the passion he has for his work.  It is evident the frustration he feels when people think they can use his watermarked pictures for free.  “When someone uses a photo without consent by me, which is taking away from what little profit I could possibly make from an event. It’s not different if it was anybody else’s profession. For example, does anyone just walk in to Tim Horton’s and pick up a donut or coffee and walk out without paying? No they don’t. So why do that to someone that takes photos for a small income. This is a very part time job for me. The income that I get from it, helps my family out on a daily basis. I greatly enjoy coming to events, keeps ME in the rodeo Family that I’ve known for over 20 years.”

Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow:  don’t use a picture unless you’ve paid for it.

Here’s where it gets tricky (in the stealers defense); if the photographer has posted the picture online without a watermark all over it and said feel free to tag that’s a different story.  To me they’ve allowed Facebook sharing. However, you would sure want to check and see what they would like to purchase the image so you could print it (or use it as part of your own collage).   It’s still there’s even if it’s you in the picture.  They own it, don’t use it, even if you aren’t making money of it.   These types of photographers (hobbyists’) make it a bit confusing for the constants and frustrating for the professional.

Give credit where credit is due and don’t share or use water marked images in your for sale ads.   It doesn’t look good and it’s against the law!

Just because “everyone is doing it” doesn’t mean you should too.   Don’t be an outlaw, please support photographers and pay them the money they deserve.   They stood out there all day and captured an image you thought was good enough to share.  Send them the money and hope they stay passionate about photography so you can buy another one at the next race.

For more details on copyrights and how it applies to photography you can read here.

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