Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to Help your Horse Show Photographer

Horse Show Photography can be hard work and with more equine photographers no longer providing services to equine events it may be hard to find a true equine photographer to come to your event.  Why? Most can be explained in this excellent article by Shawn McMillen - Horse Show Photographers Are Facing a Crisis. It explains the reasons for the lack of photographers at events, mainly due to the cost of doing business and the abundant copyright theft.  He was also cheered and jeered in the comments. Most jeers were for the cost of images and prints, so I wonder if they really read the article. Many of the cheers were from fellow photographers or honest customers. As a show manager copyright infringement is out of your control.  You can help deter or report it, educate others, but you can't prevent it.  So what other ways can you keep your photographer to come back?

When I  photograph an event as the official photographer, I make every attempt to photograph every horse. If I did not get a horse, it is usually because the class was large and too short. Of course there other reasons, as needing to do some camera maintenance and an occasional short break.  We work tirelessly, the days can be long and the elements can be unforgiving. In most cases we do not get paid for our time, only for the images we sell.  So when I see numerous others with cameras at events, it can get a little discouraging.  I have no problem with those photographing family members and friends, but those that take photos of almost everyone is different story. What is even more annoying is when they find a place close to you and using the high speed shutter of their camera click, click, click away.  I find it extremely distracting when I am trying to time my shots to get the best image and most appealing placement of the horse's stride.  I was recently photographing a show and because of the nature of the show was ask not to be in the arena and photograph from the stands. No problem, it makes it a little more difficult during rail classes, but doable. Since I am in the stands, I try not to block the spectators view.  At this show, another photographer would stand right above me and click click click. Not only was it distracting for me, but they blocked every one's view behind me which in my opinion was rude.  I stay quiet and out of the way, so many may not even know I was there. As I have always said, the main purpose of a show is to compete and for others to watch. Photographs are just something extra.

I have photographed many equestrian events of several different disciplines. Some of them I was asked to be the photographer, others I asked if one was needed. Some of the show manager are great and almost treated me like royalty, but others I can't even the time of day.  Giving me the royal treatment really isn't necessary, but not I really don't like to be cast aside. Either way, we both have the same end  goal which is a successful day.  Letting the exhibitors know where their photos can be seen and purchased is part of the success for both of us. Having professional photographs done at your event gives it an extra special touch and your exhibitors really appreciate it, but if they can't find them it doesn't help anyone.  So if I can't get the info I need or my info isn't made available to the exhibitors, it isn't worth the time to photograph the event.

Trying not to turn this into one big complaint, so will get back to the main purpose of this post.
How can you help your show photographer?  Here are my top ten suggestions.
Before the show
1. List the photographer on your show bill and other marketing pieces. Helps the show and the photographer-see above.
2. Add the photographer to the show website, facebook page and other web-base listings with their link.
3. Give a list of exhibitors name and numbers, ride times and so forth so they can easily identify exhibitors . Some photographers will separate classes or exhibitors into galleries for easy viewing.
4. Provide them with show schedule, classes and if applicable patterns. This will help them plan their day and having patterns will help them find the best spot for the best image.
5. Let them know were they can and cannot go or if you prefer them only use available light and not use flash or strobes.
During the show
6. Announce that there is an official photographer taking photos, Many times when this is announced several will come up to me and make sure I take photos of them or someone else. They also tell me they didn't know I was there until it was announced
7. Offer a place for the photographer to set up a table if needed or get business cards ahead of time and include in registration packets. They may also want a safe place to keep equipment.
8. Inform them of any unlisted breaks or changes in the schedule. That way they know when it is a good time for them to grab some candids, get a requested portrait shot or even take a break.
9. If you see someone else soliciting photos, kindly ask them not to. If they not stop, ask them for a copy of their business liability insurance and tell them it is require to take photos. That should do the trick.
After the show
10. Provide the photographer with email addresses so they can notify them where to find images. Show management can send also this out.  Be sure to copy the photographer when you sent it out, so they know it has been done.