This month marks the 20th year as a professional photographer. In 1991, at the age of 23, I graduated Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, receiving my Bachelor of Arts in Commercial Photography, eager to set the world on fire…at least I hoped to. A month later, after sending out 150 resumés around California with no job offers in return, I figured I might as well start my own business. I pounded the payment, I did self-assignments and got them published, and through it all my business slowly grew. There were many months where I wondered how I’d cover my expenses, pay my bills, yet somehow I was able to.
Had something happen to me recently that reminding of a story I’ve told a few times in some lectures. It is about walking Don Moseman.
I photographed walking Don Moseman in the mid 90s while on assignment for City Sports magazine-
The past few months I’ve been working on my second book – due out in the summer/fall of 2011, it will be based on nature photography- one of my first photographic loves. I thoroughly enjoy the process of writing a book because it brings out so much of what you do subconsciously, and reminds you of the many steps you take to capture a great photo.
Just a quick video message from about me and my exposure book – if you’re looking for a book to improve your photography, check it out!
I had a professional issue a few months back that took me back some. Sure it was upsetting but didn’t shake me – I know who I am and what my intentions are as a person and as a pro photographer. I don’t live in the past, as although you remind yourself not to take things personally, how can you not- especially when you have a passion in what you do, and work tirelessly to make it happen.
I recently received an email from someone claiming to be a writer for a how-to website. This person stated they wrote articles for the search site and wanted to use one of my images for their article (originally used from one of my Via magazine assignments).
Getting back to the request, after doing a little research on my own, I come to find out this person was not a writer for the website, nor employee as a writer anywhere else. Instead the site relies on people for their content – it’s like saying you’re a writer for Wikipedia. And not to bash this person since most people aren’t aware of copyright laws, or the licensing fees for a photograph, or the proper way to go about obtaining images – shoot, I’ve had some editors and clients in the past who didn’t necessarily follow the proper way being in the business of licensing images – but pleading ignorance doesn’t necessarily get you off scot-free either.
Moral of the story- your photos are exactly that- yours. If you are a professional photographer with your own business, they are not just sitting in your files or computer, they are part of your inventory. I can’t just go and take something off of the shelf at Target, walk out with it, and claim “it was just sitting on your shelf”. A lot of money, time, effort, experience, knowledge, and equipment goes into all of the images I produce- as with any business that has a product to sell. Control your photos – do your homework – purchase pricing guides and/or software like Fotoquote or Jim Pickerell’s stock guide, and prepare yourself for the day when a client wants to buy one of your images- or one uses an image without asking for permission. And if someone tried to abuse your copyright, find a lawyer.