Taking event photos when there is an 'official' photographer

Discussion in 'Sports' started by deb_carlino, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. My sixteen year old daughter has a small business taking photos of her friends at horse shows. She has not expanded outside her barn mates, charges only enough to cover the price of materials and posts them on Webshots for the girls to download. She was recently approached by the official event photographer and told that she can not take these photos and distribute them to her friends because she is impacting their business. I would appreciate any guidance.
  2. Ask him for a copy of his contract. If he can't produce it then ask to speak to the people who organize the events.
  3. If they are private events,that are on private property,and the official photographer has a contract with the sponsoring organization then the person has a case and is probably correct. If its a public event, on public property then I would say you daughter has every right to shoot photos of people and can sell them, or give them away to whom she wants. I am not a lawyer,and I never played one on TV.
  4. In situations like this, I usually just keep a low profile. BTW, your daughter would be better off shooting at faster shutter speed to reduce the blur in the image.
  5. It would be up to the event organiser; any contract or arrangement between the official photographer and the organiser impacts your daughter only if the organiser chooses to enforce it by asking or telling her not to. It's up to the photographer to take it up with the organiser, not to approach your daughter directly.

    There might be conditions of entry in the small print saying that photography isn't allowed. Absent any such thing, she's done nothing wrong until the organiser makes it clear that she is not permitted to photograph. Regardless, the pictures she takes are hers to sell as she wishes, at whatever price.

    However, as Paul says, do you want a fight?
  6. What bothers me by many official event photographers is that they are generally contracted by big companies and generally don't take good pictures.
  7. I suppose I fit in the category of "event" photographers, sometimes. Sadly, Paul - and I know this from experience - it's often not the "good" photographs that sell.

    The OP's photographer makes a fair point in a way though - when people sell photos to their friends "for the cost of the prints" it does devalue the product, just like royalty-free agencies take value out of the whole stock industry. In some ways it's better for people sell photos to their friends at the same price as the official photographer. Then a photo has a given value and whoever takes the best picture can make the sale. Again, looking at it from the pro's point of view, the fact that she sells only to her barn friends is beside the point since they are exactly the people that he is targeting for his sales.
  8. I assume she's using a digital camera, so what are "the costs of materials?" There shouldn't be any.

    In any case, she is allowed to give the photos away, regardless. If one of her friends wants to give her a gift occasionally, who is to know?
  9. "In any case, she is allowed to give the photos away, regardless."

    Not strictly true as far as I can see. If she took the photo contrary to conditions of entry (because of something printed on the ticket) then she could be stopped even from giving them away.

    However it sounds from the original post ("My sixteen year old daughter has a small business...") that she's engaged in marketing and advertising and this is how it's come to the attention of the official photographer. That being the case it would be polite of her to stop, low prices and limited customer base not withstanding.
  10. Maybe a smart thing to do is to negotiate becoming second shooter if the "official" photographer has a watertight contract and the show can otherwise enforce banning rights on other photographers. Then perhaps in due course she can graduate to becoming the main photographer, and meantime learn some tips on getting shots that sell.
  11. I am an 'official photographer' for my county parks and rec. I personally do not worry when someone is shooting for friends or family-whether they sell the pics or not. To me if you have enough confidence in your work, it shouldn't matter to have a bit of competition. My parks/rec dept. is fine with it as long as I am. I agree with the fact that she should shoot until told otherwise.
  12. Oh how this has been an interesting read! I am on the "official photographer" end of the stick, and I work events without contracts to avoid complications... which my husband/"business manager" :) thinks is the case.

    So my question to those of you who have voiced your opinion in this forum, is should I be bothered by the guy who shows up at my largest event of the year and hollers out "Go to flicker, I'm not paid!" at the race participants? His shots were quite point and shoot, and of course thats not competition, but I'm afraid it takes away from my sales? ;-( Should I stop fretting over freebies?

    Deb - On the note of your daughter, perhaps you can arrange a meeting with her and the official photographer & get her some experience working as an assistant?? I know I would be willing, we all need a break now and then!
  13. The person who approached your daughter may very well be the "official photographer" and then again they may be just some clown trying to pull one over on you. They need to have some type of signed contract with the organization that names them as the official photographer and grants them exclusive rights to taking and selling pictures. If the guy is serious, he will show it to you if you ask.

    Even if they have this contract, your daughter still has every right to take photographs, just not distribute or sell them.
  14. laura, why would you be bothered by someone with a point and shoot? and of course they can post on flickr, as does most of the free world.

    but, i go to my daughter's events all the time and i have pro equipment and feel i have a right to shoot my own kids at events for which i am paying an entry fee, paying an admission, and paying a huge monthly sum for the sport itself (in this case gymnastics). i don't always encounter an official photog, but when i do, i never get any negative response, probably because i keep a low profile... but this is only kid's sports. when i went to an NCAA gymnastics championship this spring, i still was able to get up super close, was right behind the press photographers, and don't have to worry about official photog, because they don't have "official" photographers for these elite events.

    so, this to me is unfair. if you are at a NCAA or even high school event you can shoot all you want because there is never an event photographer, only press.

    but you go to an event that is for kids and there IS an official photographer and you're not allowed to shoot and there is no press. this is crazy. if asked, and i haven't ever been, i would simply say i'm from the press (which i am) and show my press credentials.

    should you feel threatened? only if the "official photog" stuff is not as good as my stuff. i know at the events i've been to, the quality of the prints are horrible, most are done on site. just to check: i've ordered prints from these people before (not just the same company) and they have been incredibly soft and colors are horrid. i seng them back. gymnastics are done without flash of course and in terribly lit gyms where they have to shoot at ISO 3200 and they just print without noise reduction software. and they charge 20 bucks or more for an 8x10 on site.

    i have almost 10000 worth of gear on me and i should be allowed to use it, and even sell the prints to my daughter's teamates parents (which i do as a team fundraiser), which i color correct, and print professionally.
  15. "i have almost 10000 worth of gear on me and i should be allowed to use it, and even sell the prints to my daughter's teamates parents (which i do as a team fundraiser), which i color correct, and print professionally."

    Paul, why is the value of your gear relevant to your rights? And *why* should you be allowed to sell pictures? I'm interested to know where your sense of entitlement comes from. Even if you are press, you still need the permission of the organiser to raise a camera to your eye.

    As for printing on site - well why not? It can be done properly, with noise reduction and with correct colour. 20 bucks for an 8x10? Sure. I'd charge double that. I'd need to pay for that 10,000 dollars of kit, and the extra 5,000 of kit to do the printing, and the two staff that I brought with me.

    The problem with photography is that everyone can do it, and everyone can set their own value on it. Does anyone have a problem with people taking their own food to a baseball match? Of course not. But would you walk into a baseball game with a trolley full of hot dogs, set up your pitch next to the venue's vendor and sell them for less (or give them away for free) telling yourself it was ok because yours were tastier and healthier? Somehow I doubt it. Why would you want to do it with photographs?
  16. you're right. the fact of what my gear costs is not particularly relevant.

    but, it's ironic isn't it: i can take my nikon and 70-200 to a red sox game and take all the pictures i want. but i cannot take to a kids sports event???

    doesn't this seem a little unfair?

    it's not about entitlement, it's about control, capitalism and freedom. we live in a free market. why should you feel threatened by my taking pictures? i am official photographer for many concerts and events... i never give a damn if someone else has a camera and takes pictures and why should you?
  17. "but, it's ironic isn't it: i can take my nikon and 70-200 to a red sox game and take all the pictures i want. but i cannot take to a kids sports event???

    doesn't this seem a little unfair?"

    I think you're right ... it is about control but there's an economic interest at stake, just like the hot-dog vendor, and people get funny when there's money involved. Personally I live in the hope that someone *will* turn up at an event I'm covering and take better pictures than me so I can learn from them. But, on the other hand, I'm laying out a large investment in time, and I do want to maximise my earnings. I don't think it's too awful to look out for one's bottom line. I'm certainly not bothered by other people turning up with cameras to take pictures for themselves, and I'm lucky enough never to have been in the situation - on either side - that the OP writes about.
  18. Maybe Fenway Park will allow a 70-200 lens, but RFK specifically prohibits "large cameras and zoom lenses" and of course tripods. I just shot a soccer game - I was actually more interested in crowd shots - with my D200 and three smallish lenses and could have been stopped if someone had wanted to be difficult. (I didn't see the regs until later)

    Over the years, I've shot my kids' dance competitions, soccer games, track meets, etc. and the primary issues are safety (hence the tripod rule) and who, if anyone, gets to have access to the best vantage points for shooting the event. The official photographer also may get access to the participants for various posed shots at a time and place where no one else has access.
  19. The easiest answer for Deb's daughter is to get press credentials of some sort. She can either get them from a small newspaper, which is handy if the events don't issue media credentials; or if the event does issue media passes, directly from the event organizers.

    By the way, radio stations also issue media passes, both for news gathering and photos for their websites...
  20. Is there really such thing as an Official Photographer without any contract stating such? In today's society with the cameraphones and the digital camera packages and prices available, anyone can shoot whatever they want. If there isn't a ban on equiptment at any event, anyone can shoot. Capitalism allows us to sell whatever we want as long as it's ours to sell. Photos are property of the photographer as the law states. If people are threatened by others whith their own cameras at events, they'll have to step up their game and take better pictures. Let's say perhaps that someone with great selling ability and such is titled " Official Photographer ", hops on E-Bay, gets him or herself a digital rebel package with a lens and takes crappy pictures, should everyone who has their own equiptment and can shoot better suffer? I am the " Official Photographer " for a couple of organizations, I'm not worried about others taking their own, I'm more concerned with how mine look after management. If someone else gets a better pic from a different angle, I'm out 20 bucks , big deal. Let your knowledge speak for itself, I've had parents who are taking their own pics come back to me and say mine are better and make purchases from me.
  21. Deb,
    As an event photographer who has worked with written contracts and with verbal
    contracts can give you and your daughter a little bit of advice that will make it a little
    clearer hopefully.

    It does not matter if the event is open to the public on public property or a private event
    on private property. Lets say there is a youth league soccer game on a field in a public
    park that you photograph in all the time. This does not give anyone the right to just start
    shooting the games. The organization using the field will typically either have the field
    leased or rented for the game and have to provide insurance information to the city.
    Because of this, public park or not, the event falls under the organizations rules. So, if
    this organization has a contract with a photographer, more than likely he bid on the
    contract and more than likely had to pay a vendor fee or a kick back and should have
    produced some sort of proof of liability insurance. Also, some leagues require background
    checks on anyone envolved in the events so they realize that they are not contracting or
    using volunteers that are child molesters, etc. Regardless if you give photos away, post
    them for anyone to download, or take photos for anything other than your own personal
    use, the organization needs to okay you. In my contracts which are between myself and
    the league, include a clause that if anyone distributes photos other than personal use that
    they take either in print or digital form, then the vendor fee that I pay must be returned to
    me immediately. So, if a board member, coach or umpire see's someone on the field
    taking photos other than myself or my employees or find photos being distributed by
    parents other than those purchased from me, or on a web site, in order to keep the league
    from loosing money, they take the steps to stop this.

    But, while this may sound like a "greedy event photographer" tactic, well, it is, and it isn't.
    It is protecting our business. Your daughter is 16. I am 35, I have bills, car payment, food
    to buy and this is my job, so I need to protect my income. But, it is also for the safety of
    the competitors. I mentioned insurance. What happens if a horse gets spooked by a flash
    going off, or in background areas a athlete or coach trips over my bag, and breaks a leg,
    is your daughter covered in case of a lawsuit? Also, I have had 3 or 4 incidents where
    there was a specific athlete that I could not take photos of. 2 were in a nasty child
    custody battle, 1 was the son of a woman running from a husband who abused her and
    her son, and one was in witness protection. By not being in contact with the organizations
    running the leagues, I would never have known that I could not take these kids photos.

    It is real simple to get to an event, find someone in charge, ask if you can take photos and
    if they say yes, go for it, if they say no, we have a contracted photographer, don't. There is
    absolutly no reason why anyone neeeds to see a photographers contract. A league official
    will let you know.

    I recently had a situation where I took media photos and posted them to a website I use to
    sell for media only and a fan contacted me wanting to buy some of the photos. My
    response was to point them to the website of the official team photographer.
  22. I am not a "professional photographer" but I have about $7k in Canon equipment. I love taking photos of all the events surrounding my kids' small catholic high school ? all sports, parades, graduation, masses ? and I and another parent have a web site for sharing the images, where the kids and parents scroll thru and pay cents for prints. We collect nothing. We also have parents volunteering to provide security at games, cook burgers and work concessions, announce from the booth? I consider my hobby as a donation to the school, in the same way some contractor parents might donate a fence or a dugout. We take on average about 12,000 photos a year and this year the school year book is going all-color, dominated by our photos. We are VERY popular with kids, parents and staff. There is no local professional photographer whom we are competing with that I know of.

    Yesterday at a city baseball tournament the contracted professional from another city showed up late and asked me to stop shooting our kids because he has an exclusive contract. He also said he was aware of what I do and says we do good work, but are unfair competition, and he doesn't try to shoot our school. I left the field in honor of his contract, no problem with that. At this event there is no prohibition against parents shooting, and the tournament manager said that the photographer's contract gave him exclusive access to the field. He agreed that I could shoot from outside the fence with the rest of the parents but seemed concerned about my questions and asked that I "work with the photographer" whatever that means.

    There is no notice to parents at this tournament about what limitations apply to their "snapshots." I would like to shoot thru or over the fence my kids, and the out-of-town kids we are hosting at our house. The odd issue is that no one will question any other parent shooting this game thru the fence, and it is highly likely that these parents share photos among themselves, but they are likely to be concerned with my shooting the game thru the fence because they know I normally share photos with my friends. Odd standards being applied here... crappy snapshots are okay, good equipment infringes.
  23. "He also said he was aware of what I do and says we do good work, but are unfair competition"

    Well you are, really. You're the ice-cream vendor who hands out ice-creams for free. I'm not surprised he asked you to stop!
  24. "I assume she's using a digital camera, so what are "the costs of materials?" There shouldn't be any." So I guess anyone who has invested tens of thousands of dollars in digital bodies and related computer equipment in order to shoot weddings, sports, news, etc., doesn't have any costs and should all give their work away for free? :)

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