Monday, November 16, 2009

Giving Permission For Use Forever, Even Without Winning!

I'm seeing it all the time, from equine magazines to commercial horse product manufacturers: prizes offered for entering their photo contest. The latest is from Troxel, the helmet people. Offering about $250 in prizes of a helmet/vest/carry bag for the first place, helmets for 2-5th. Everyone who enters has given the rights to have their photo used in perpetuity for any use Troxel deems useful, without any further compensation, credit, etc. Troxel thought it worthwhile enough to fill out a contact form on my website, inviting me to submit, just so you don't think I'm particularly picking on them. Dover Saddlery is another who recently did one of these contest aka image grabs.

Companies use these user-provided photos for their image libraries. They don't want to pay professional photographers for their stock images, why should they when they can get "just as good" images for free? Whether web-res or print-resolution, this is just wrong. Sometimes it's just the legal department going "over the top", and when questioned, sometimes companies will revise their Terms and Conditions. Don't enter without reading the T&Cs, or you'll deserve what you get.

Troxel puts the burden of proof on the entrant for clearing copyright. If anyone enters that contest with an image they've purchased from me in print OR digital form of them wearing a helmet, they're in violation--images provided for personal use are not released for 3rd party use!

The recent Easy Care contest winner asked for me for permission in advance. Upon winning, she got 4 EBs as a prize. Go ahead, say it--I got "exposure" because I had a visible watermark. LOL. That was useful when I was starting out. I was happy to provide that one as I loved the shot, but Easy Care had to agree first about no collateral use. Pros need to keep the lights on, buy fuel, eat, so we're careful about how often we'll permit this. But I digress.

There's a site which tracks good vs evil rights-grabbing photo contests, and offers the Bill of Rights. An easy read at Pro Imaging.

Expert in licensing and copyright and a very successful commercial/editorial photographer, Jeff Sedlik also teaches at Art Center College of Design. I got his permission to repost from the Advertising Photographers of America e-list his checklist for photo contests:
David, here is a list that I created for the evaluation of contests received at the Art Center College of Design. Students are prime targets for contest operators seeking libraries of free images for use in marketing and promotion of products and services. It is more common that overzealous legal advisors draft terms that are far more expansive than needed.

Contests are to be rejected if one or more of the following is required under the contest terms:

1. Transfer or assignment of copyright ownership to contest operator or sponsors.
2. Exclusivity of any nature, including any limitation on the continued use of the photography by the entrant. (In the event that a photograph wins a grand prize or other substantial award, some degree of very limited exclusivity is acceptable).
3. The right to use any photograph that does not win an award.
4. The right to use any winning photograph to promote any brand, product or service, other than indirect promotional value received as the result of displays expressly purposed to announce the winning photographs
5. The right to reproduce the photograph in or on publications or products offered for sale, other than publications expressly purposed to announce the winning photographs.
6. The right to use of the photograph without a photo credit
7. The right to sublicense or assign any rights to third parties, except as necessary to facilitate permitted uses.
8. That the entrant hold the contest operator or sponsors “harmless” from liability associated with the use of the photographs, except as related to falsified or incorrect claims or information provided by the entrant.
9. That the entrant grant any perpetual or unlimited rights
10. That the entrant allow the contest owner to store or duplicate the photograph, other than as necessary to facilitate permitted uses.
11. Alteration of the contest rules by the contest operator after the first submission is received.
12. The granting of additional rights to sponsors in exchange for awards to winning entrants.
13. That entrants agree in advance to approve additional unspecified terms if their image is selected.

The Contest May Require of the Entrant:
1. Use of any winning photograph by the contest owner or sponsor, only for the direct promotion of the contest, with photo credit, up to 5 years
2. Use of any winning photograph in a display of winning photographs, with photo credit, up to 5 years
3. Transfer of ownership in the digital file or print submitted, only for the purposes of permanent destruction. Does not include copyright.
4. Entrant must submit model releases if photograph is selected as winner.
5. Submission of reproduction quality files by winning entrants.

The Contest Rules Must Require of Contest Operator:
1. Photo credit on all reproductions.
2. Return OR destruction of all entries
3. Advance express permission and license from entrant for any uses other than permitted uses.
4. Notification of all entrants who request notification of winning entries.
5. Compliance with federal, state and local laws.
6. Preservation of embedded metadata in all electronic reproductions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pilots 'n Paws 'n Vets, Hurrah!

Many of my readers know Susan Garlinghouse, DVM. She owns All Creatures Animal Hospital in Montclair, which is up against the San Gabriel mountains below Mt. Baldy. Before that she was in private equine practice, and she continues to be heavily involved in endurance riding, serves on AERC's veterinary committee, as a ride vet and as a competitor.

But Dr. Susan has also racked up massive karma points rescuing animals and placing them with caring owners. My beloved Taran and Tino kitties were feral rescues from the scuba shop she frequents, along with their mothers and suspected fathers.

Her latest rescues were of a mom and litter of 5, the mother was found tied to an orange grove's tree, skin and bones surrounded by her bouncing and apparently healthy puppies. I'm a little hazy on the details of how Dr. Susan heard about them clear up in Oregon, but they were transported by Pilots 'n Paws, an organization of private pilots that helps match rescuers with rescuees.

The pups look to be border collie/retriever crosses though I'm not sure what mom is. All 5 puppies were quickly placed, and Mom was treated for heartworms, which would have killed her. It's obvious how totally adorable the puppies were, fluff balls of total love. And here's a photo of sweetie pie Mom who also got a great home. 3 cheers to all involved! And hopefully, there will be a kick in the butt from karma to the unfeeling excuse of a human being who dumped her with her litter.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

August was a bit of a whirlwind, traveling up north to shoot the Tevis, mother of all endurance rides both in toughness for horse and rider as well as a challenge to cover journalistically in photos. I suggested my friend and first-time Tevis competitor Julie Herrera write her story for Endurance News to accompany my photos, here she is with her war mare Shereen (CV Sweet Dal.) Look for the cover story in the October issue.

After Tevis my friend/equine bodyworker extraordinaire Gesa Brinks and I went to Katee Owens' lovely forested home in Mariposa for some R&R and to work on her horses. One had a ten year undiagnosed problem which had Katee spending thousands on vets and practitioners all to no avail. One session fixed her horse.

I spent much of the rest of the month prepping photo orders from Tevis; sales were wonderful, and anticipating the selections from Arabian Horse World magazine. There were two Oldenburg inspections, here's a headshot from one of them, full galleries here and here.

It was a race to get everything done before the long-planned trip to New England, first for a couple of days with Phase II Sporthorses/Patti Bailey, then across the street to Yarrow and Shawn Farnsworth's. Here's the yearling colt Jammer (Just A Memory II) out of Yarrow's mare II Rem-minisse from the stallion she showed to CTR wins all over the northeast and some endurance too, Just II Cool. Yarrow has his full brother, Nitro Cooled Steele, now a 2 year old, who is ponied everywhere and came us on the camping trip.

I borrowed the famed gelding Steele The Show for a few days of horse camping that Yarrow had arranged for a small group of riders --with family members hauling in the heavier gear like tents and food. The campsite was on a 20,000 acre tree farm and wildlife preserve. We rode in on snowmobile trails, and 22 year old Show couldn't wait to show what he could do. I've had Remington Steele*++ get for 18 years now, and he was superbly trained, has done it all from winning the Cal-breds (halter) at 3, successful show horse and two-time Tevis finisher along with one of the other toughest 100s, Swanton Pacific. When he'd get irked at a slow in the pace he'd set his own head and collected his own trot, I could throw away the reins to show it wasn't me! So funny.

We had a fine time, great grub and folks. Among other excursions, the land's owner led a hike to a floating bog which was amazing--imagine walking on a waterbed filled with plants including carnivores like pitcher plants and sundews. The main component was all sphagnum mosses, an unbelievable feeling to tread across--with special properties that scientists come to study.

Here's Yarrow cooking a sausage and fresh veggie scramble with Stephanie of Horse Tenders Inc standing by with the cheese. The leaves were just starting to turn, but an expiring frequent flyer ticket and the campout are why I chose not to wait. Next year, fall color shots, we're scheming early. Next blog entry will be the fun we had with Yarrow and the Horse Tenders crew on the beach at Cape Cod today!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I get mail from people who like my work, urging me to enter a contest they've come across. Entering contests is something I do if the prizes or prestige seem worth it, many of them have fees, but more and more what we are seeing these days are contests that are "rights grabs". Entrants won't know this unless they read the fine print in the rules.

One that seemed harmless is Costco's current contest. The prize money is significant, at $1K for first place. I had a very commercial/wide appeal image in mind, never entered in a contest but it's been around long enough to get stolen as per the image. Anyway, then I read the contest rules:

"10. Entrant confirms and promises that entry is original and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any third party. By participating, entrant agrees that ownership of the entry and all intellectual property rights in the entry is assigned to Costco, and will do all things necessary to give effect to that assignment.. Entrant agrees to sign any further documentation required by Costco to give effect to this clause."

The first sentence, you betcha. The second--hand over my intellectual property rights to that image (forever) whether or not it wins anything? Or even if it wins the prize, give up all rights to further market that image? In stock photography, the key is to sell and resell an image, almost like renting a car although there is no maintenance--buyers pay for the use they need: local, national, print, web, big, small, commercial, personal and priced on the spectrum of rarity through commonplace. It's more akin to songwriting royalties than rental cars, though that's a discussion for another time, or maybe never.

The Bill of Rights for Photography Contests was developed to help contest organizers offer photographer-friendly terms and conditions. Ones who have complied are promoted and ones who still have rights-grabbing terms are outed to a broad audience. The Costco contest is already listed on their "Rights Off" web page.

Another frequent tactic these days is for web or print media to offer contests where "all entries become property of XYZ corporation and may be used in any or all ways without further compensation to the photographer", thereby developing a library of stock images at no expense. The shooter will never be notified how and when their images is used, so they won't even get the jollies of being published unless they won a prize or honorable mention in the original contest. This rights-grab is particularly rampant in the horse and pet industry.

There are many internet horse mags with top clinician contributors, full paid advertising that want the clinician to supply photos. Clinicians don't have much money to buy photography either. But I digress. Before you enter any contests, hop over to and see if they're on the Rights Off list, or read the contest rules carefully yourself.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Taran, We Hardly Knew Ye

My vet and friend Susan Garlinghouse had "hooked us up", after she'd rescued his momma and her litter. Not all of them made it. I picked him up on New Year's Day, a tiny 9 week old black ball of fluff, sick with something respiratory that took 2 months and multiple drugs to kick. Doing the math backwards reveals he was born around Halloween, how fitting for a black kitten. During his illness, he spent a lot of time inside a polarfleece vest with elastic waistband that I wore against the winter chill, up to 3 hours at a time! He would sleep and I could work, certainly the first "marsupial" kitty I'd ever encountered.

No name at first--I called him "Monkey Boy" for his jumping preference and propensity for the top of objects. Despite his illness, he was full of piss and vinegar. Things got more exciting when we visited for more drugs and I met his probable half brother, also rescued by Susan from the same scuba shop on a major street. I'm a sucker for brown tabbies, and Tino had tried living in another home whose existing cat did not want to share. Tino named himself shortly after coming home with us and he and the monkey boy were instant pals. After a couple of weeks, once Taran had some substance, they began having outdoor privileges. The horses didn't mind them and they adored the Great Outdoors.

Taran named himself after 5 weeks of driving me nuts. It means "gift from above" in at least one Native American tongue. And "earth angel" he was, coming at a run when called, delighting in chasing anything that moved, especially butterflies and grasshoppers., making us all laugh. Leaping from boulder to boulder that line our interior road's frontage. Mighty hunter Tino spent a lot of effort teaching him to hunt and be wary of risks Out There, but Taran was a blithe spirit who humored me when I'd be fearful about coyotes or the loose dog packs that would come through the acreage.

My little boy was unbelievably bold, he liked to go for walks, and cautious Tino would accompany us. Here he is visiting the longhorns that live on the southwest 40.

Here he's playing "Halloween Cat" for all he's worth, about to leap on Tino.

And recently he was following the driving lines as Kat drives mustang trainee Raven through the seasonal creek. I wish I had a decent photo of him with Twix, he was her cat, and she was his horse, a twist to interspecies relationships I'd never seen despite many years with horses.

A completely staged shot with a trick-opening cardboard box made by my friend Barrie Goshko.

Friends and clients can tell of my angst as concerned the care of these cats--all about the hours of daylight and how imperative it was that they would be indoors by dark. It's so ironic that my angel was snatched in broad daylight. He'd grown to about 8 pounds, and knew how to use his claws, he had to have been taken by surprise. It's a hard thing to let a cat be a cat, rather than a hothouse flower. Tino is bereft, clingy and cautious. Taran had many human as well as animal friends. I'll meet him with much joy at the Rainbow Bridge. I know there are folks who live in rural areas like this that just won't have cats because of the coyote risk, and probably horse people in areas of the country without them can't even conceive of not having barn cats. For me, my cats and horses are family and I give my heart unreservedly--and would I get another cat to keep Tino company? Probably not one who has not also been feral and has "mad skillz".

In his memory, I signed up as a volunteer for the "Littlest Hero" program, to take photos of seriously ill children for their loved ones.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Roundup

Man, I'm scattered these days. June was full of activity,
including going to New Mexico to help shoot the Santa Fe Grand Prix. I'm just gonna try and get back into the blogging-groove; this past weekend's shoots were sale horses and an adorable bull mastiff puppy. I'd be happy to refer you to the seller, Dabney Finch. Amazing Star, "Xena", is an endurance mare "anyone can ride", uncomplicated, and conditioned by the winningest rider in the history of the sport, Suzy Kelley. Instead of a traditional shot, I'm including one which shows Xena's incredible strength and balance. The second is her husband, Gary Glazer, and his veteran endurance horse, Tiki Coat of Arms, "Teak" to his friends. He's no relation but we've joked that we could be cousins since our ancestors came from the same region.

On Sunday my friend Laurie and I spent the late afternoon at our local wilderness park shooting 4 1/2 month old brindle bull mastiff puppy "Bubbalicious". A complete cutie and I hope he graces the catalog cover of a canine products company in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Riverside Rancheros

Last Tuesday I had two shoots that couldn't be more different--the morning was for a Norco gal with four first rate mules. The evening engagement was for the Riverside Rancheros drill team, in their home arena, for a short performance presenting the national and state colors to the iconic "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood and then setup shots with the guest of honor sans horses. The dirt had been scraped from the arena, normally used for team penning, roping, gymkhana and drill team practice, and replaced by a podium, dinner table rounds and caterer's setup. It was a $1,500 plate fund-raising buffet dinner for the local Republican Party.

The performance itself was technically difficult to shoot, a cavernous covered arena, horses spread out at times over 40 yards, impractical for ordinary flash without ceiling mounted strobes for even lighting which weren't an option. I'd attended a practice session to get a feel for the place ahead of time, and was nervous all week about whether I could do a decent job. Fortunately, the natural light was better than it had been at the practice--we all have our specialties, and mine is natural light. I shot lots of candids of the riders preparing, rehearsing and waiting for the guest of honor to arrive, none other than Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sorry I can't share the gallery, it's of course the customer's choice when it's a private shoot.