contemporary flame

Participant in 60x60 at Stratford 2010

I’ve chosen this shot, taken at 60×60, held in Stratford two years ago, because I’m waiting to hear whether I’m able to take photos at the event this year in July. I like the shot because of the movement it shows and because the dancer is mid-jump. It’s also a useful illustration of one of the challenges of modern pro-photography PR.

I’ve lost count of the number of times my images have been stolen. People use them without my permission. Sometimes they’re lifted along with the entire feature, sometimes people mistakenly think that adding the copyright notice make everything OK and sometimes they break the agreement I have with them in terms of how they can use the images (for example not telling me when they use the images or using them for commercial purposes when they’ve agreed that they’re only for personal use).

I don’t have the time to look up the conditions under which I sent my images of 2010’s 60×60 at Stratford Cicus and am happy that they credited me with those of my images they used. Unfortunately, it seems they’ve used someone else’s image too! That I feel that one shot is not up to my standards is to a large extent irrelevant, but how will the other photographer be feeling that he or she isn’t acknowledged at all?

I don’t know the conditions under which this other person gave out his or her work and he or she may be happy with whatever was agreed. But I thought I’d use this to discuss a regular problem; that those we take photographs of often can’t see what’s wrong with breaking agreements or asking for the images for free. Photography is our living, it’s what we do and we can’t continue to do so if we’re not paid. You’d not tell your greengrocer that you’d be happy to tell the world how good their fruit and vegetables were if he gave them to you for free. An image represents far more in terms of time, energy and effort than an apple or a couple of pears – it’s a creative process of which organising the shoot, taking the photos and selecting and processing images after is only a part. Telling people repeatedly that it’s not reasonable to expect us to give away work is more than a time consuming hassle as the lack of appreciation inherent in such demands can kill the creative flame we need to maintain to give of our best in order to get the best shots.