Equine Event Etiquette

There is a type of Etiquette that professional photographers follow,and we are under the false belief that all photographers who attend equine events (ALL equine based events) practice.  What we don’t realize is that most hobbyists/amateurs/potential-pros do not know this etiquette.  So, perhaps I will discuss it and hopefully educate others.  Please keep in mind that I am NOT talking down to anyone.  I am discussing an actual profession.  A career.  Something that is not a hobby.  Something that is not done for fun.  But rather something that pays the bills for a person and his or her family.   Something that keeps the electricity one, gas in the vehicle, and the mortgage or rent paid.  Not to mention, chances are they also have an assistant to pay at the end of the day. It’s extremely serious to someone who does it for a living.

If you are a hobbyist or someone just wanting to take some pictures for yourself or to practice, introduce yourself to the contracted/official photographer of the event.  Tell them that you are there to practice, to take some pictures for yourself or your FB page or blog.  The Pro will appreciate you being up front about it.  They might even give you some pointers.  LOL That will depend upon the model camera you use…face it, each brand is pretty different and can be like a whole foreign language to someone who does not work with your particular model.

If you are practicing or taking images for yourself, make it clear you are not there to sell images.  If someone approaches you about seeing you with a camera and they want your contact information, tell them you are not the event photographer and point that Professional out to them so that they can get the proper information for contacting the Pro.

Keep in mind that the Professional Photographer dedicated that time of traveling to and from the event, the time of shooting the event, the equipment, the website, the advertising, the gallery space, and so on…and that’s BEFORE the real work begins….the editing process…which is an entirely different post all together.  Every Professional photographer who is shooting an event is actually starting that event out in the negative for that day.  They are hoping that enough people will participate in what they offering for specials/sales/sign ups during the actual day to actually break even for their gas, vehicle wear, and hours spent actually photographing to justify them taking on that event and not blocking off that time to photograph something with a guaranteed return like portraits or commercial work.

Don’t follow the professional around copying their positions or angles.  It can be distracting, and is considered quite rude.  This the same at rodeos, shows, or even weddings.  You don’t mean to come across as rude, but remember, what you mean verses how it comes across can be two very different things.  I have literally ran over someone doing this and was once tripped by a guy  who thought it was just fine to follow me around during a bull riding event.  He just about got me gored.  Needless to say, at that moment, I was not polite and that individual did not “get” that he could have gotten both of us badly hurt or even killed.  Shooting in an event arena is not to be thought of as easy.  Even the best trained horse can have moments where they can be spooked by the photographer or something else in the arena and the results can be devastating.  The photographer has to be aware of their location in as well as their proximity to the animals at all times.

After the event is done, yes, we all know you’re gonna put the pics you took on fb and other social media outlets.  It’s the way of this  modern world.  That’s great….BUT…there is photography etiquette concerning this too.  Always indicate that you although you were there practicing/shooting for yourself, you were not the official photographer and that your resulting images are not for sale.  Indicate that anyone wishing to have or purchase images form the the event, they should contact “XXXXX at http://www.  XXXXX..com or .net or .org or whatever the website or FB page is of the official photographer.  Not only are you showing respect for the event who took the time to have an official photographer, but you are also having respect for the actual profession of photography that hopefully you do have as you enjoy taking images yourself.  I have a hobbyist friend who literally puts “NOT FOR SALE” under her name on her social media shares and a link back to the OP of whatever event it was that she attended.  Not only is it respectful, it harbors good will between her and any OP of any event she attends.  I have done the same when attending events when I was not the OP.  I take those images to practice or for my own personal enjoyment, and direct any inquiries to the OP’s contact information.  If I choose to post them my personal fb page, I indicate that I was not the OP and that any anyone interested in obtaining images to contact he OP along with the proper contact info.  It also covers your butt in case some does think you are selling images from the other side of the fence.

No one wants to take the joy you feel when you are taking pictures away from you.  They just want you to understand that there are ways to do it that covers all bases and respect for yourself as well as the OP of the event.  If someone says something to you or questions you about your pictures, don’t get mad.  Take a step back and ask yourself if you may have … either inadvertently or even on purpose … been rude or disrespectful to the OP and the profession.  Chances are the  OP is not insecure about their images, however, no one likes to be disrespected.

Those who are selling images they shot at an event that has an OP are doing something unethical.  They are degrading the profession and the respect that photographers both professional and non-professional deserve.  If an OP thinks that someone is doing this, it’s because it’s happened to them before and they have learned a hard lesson that probably affected their monthly income.  Many shows and events have lost the opportunity to have a professional photograph them because of the  number of people who have no problem doing the under hand selling of images when they are not the OP.

Image, if you are a horse trainer, and you are taking delivery of a horse to train and you have set aside stall space and time to specifically work with that animal, but right outside your barn is a person saying “I’ll train it for you for $100 less a week…”  They might not provide the level of training you provide, but many people will jump at the chance of the lower price despite the fact that the resulting training is not as high a quality as what you provide.  There is a reason you charge what you charge to train horses.  You’re good at what you do and have earned the right to have the rates you do.  Or if you are a secretary at an office  and outside your office door, there is someone telling your boss to pay her or her to do your job instead of you at a lower price.    You would feel disrespected, wouldn’t you?

I know that I am at times tactless, and occasionally the word “blunt” has been used in context with my name.  And that there are those who just plain well don’t like me, and that’s fine.  However, “like” and “respect” are two different things, and you can respect a person and what they do without liking them.  And that is ultimately what it comes down to, is respect.  And many hobbyists don’t feel that this subject applies to them until they find themselves facing these issues from this side of the arena fence.  It’s the same with copyright.  I have seen people start out not caring about it.  Until they realize exactly what Federal Copyright is or how it affects their business when someone is taking their hard work and duplicating it without permission.     The best thing anyone can do is to start out right from the very beginning.  Never be angry at someone for looking out for their livelihood.  Look at it from the point of view as if you were the OP.





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