Photography and Theft

There are several issues. The biggest—and the one people don’t fully comprehend—is that of copyright theft.

The word “theft” should signify that this is wrong. We have disclaimers on our website that tell in vivid detail which laws are being broken when our photos are taken. Yet, we (photographers) are the bad guys for confronting someone when such offenses occur.

I know that the theft exists. I would be an idiot if I didn’t; all I have to do is look at Facebook and find thousands of my and my fellow photographers’ proofs stolen...The only way that Internet theft will stop is if the equestrian community polices itself. I’ve tried limited posting of proofs, pay for posting, no posting, etc., and everything that I do only punishes the good customers. The photo thieves just work quicker, smarter and faster.
— Shawn McMillen

As a photographer a common issue is the misuse of my images.  My images are copyrighted and like many I watermark not to copyright but to have visual representation on stolen images. I love that people love my work, obviously enough that I am suffering from a pretty large theft average for this seasons rodeo event photography.

Attending these functions is not free for me, I have travel expenses, but not only that like every competitor in their event who invest time in training their animals, in building their skills, I have educated myself, pushed myself to become really good at what I do. I have invested countless hours in time, travel, practice, and endless hours post-processing, streamlining deliver services and providing customer care. So it is discouraging, frustrating, and aggravating to see my images taken, watermarked and all.


Sometimes I even get a tag or photo credit shout out. I am always commended on my shooting skills but I know how I have improved in this medium I mean I have tangible proof of growth from when I started shooting rodeos half a decade ago to now.  Photo credit/shout outs on a watermarked image that was not purchased means nothing to me, you simply do not respect me nor my work enough to make sure I want to keep shooting in this field.

Equine photographers across the board who shoot shows and events are experience the same issues, there are numerous blog post on how we are a dying breed because we are tired of being taken advantage of. I have hit that stride, I have lost my patience, and my passion is dying for this brand of shooting because obviously others do not care so why should I as the artist?

My favorite screen shot with my watermark= stolen.

My favorite screen shot with my watermark= stolen.

We all know about the expenses professional photographers incur—the cameras, the insurance, the employees, the hotels, the gas, the fees, etc. To be a photographer (and do it right) on a grand scale (at multi-ring and multi-week shows) costs a ton.
— Shawn McMillen

Like Shawn mentions maybe they do not know but it is hard to believe in this day in age anyone could think taking an image they never paid for is not theft. It be like walking into a store and grabbing a hat to wear and never paying for it, photo credit doesn't help advance our art, our skill or make continue to shoot those events worth it.

When we take photos, they’re technically “our photos,” but they’re also “their photos” because it’s them or their horses in the images. But the rights to use those photos remain with the photographer. -- Shawn McMillen

In the event of rodeos- photographers are not paid to be there shooting, often they pay a membership, just as competitors do, they invest in equipment, and devote years to growing as a photographer shooting this kind of action in less than ideal conditions. 

As a photographer who has experienced all the above, I have reached a limit and I am tired of dealing with the lack of respect and theft. I mean people take my images, tag me in them, watermark and all! I am frustrated but most of all I am tired, I am tired of devoting hours and hours of time to being great at this and deliver professional quality work only to watch people carelessly take with no regards to my business, or my art.

Effective immediately Exposure One Studios will only photograph paid events or those in which EOS sponsors because I do believe in giving back and supporting others. To my paying clients this isn't about you and I am sorry. I will continue to do equine portrait work and just know I truly love everyone who supports my work, you make it worth it even when I lose faith because of issues like this!