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Show Proofs: Are they OK to use?
by Carien Schippers 
Reprinted with permission


It is getting harder and harder for show photographers to stay in business. Every day there seem to be more photos that have been posted on facebook and other websites that are clearly marked "PROOF". Proof means they are for preview purposes only, and are not meant to be copied, downloaded or used in any way. Period.
When I send out show proof galleries my email states:

>>You are welcome to forward the link to anyone that may be interested in seeing the photos, however please respect my copyright and do not copy or download these images for any reason. Thank you!<<

 However photos from my proof galleries still wind up being lifted and used without payment or permission, and this seems to be happening with many other of my fellow photographers as well.

What does this all mean?
• First of all, it is theft, plain and simple. As a creative I own the copyright to any images that I create and anyone wishing to use my images must purchase or request the right to do so. It doesn't matter if it is you or your horse in the image, it's still my photo.
• Secondly, when someone chooses to take (because I really hate the word "steal" even though that is what it is) it is telling me my work is not worth paying for. That is a real slap in the face.
• Third: If I am not paid for my work then I will not do those jobs anymore. Show photos are all taken on spec. What does this mean? It means I show up, pay my own expenses, shoot for days, process for days and than hope people buy the photos. If people don't buy my photos I will need to look for other work that does pay and value me. That may be shooting assignments, shooting stock, shooting weddings or quitting photography altogether. Because bottom line is I need to be paid for my work, and if the show work isn't paying anymore you won't see me there shooting anymore.

 What can you do?
• If you like the photos you have taken of you at shows and appreciate that there was someone there to catch your ride then simply buy the photos. This is what keeps us in business!
• If you have a PROOF photo on your site take it down. NOW.
• If you really want to do the right thing and help keep us in business contact the photographer and let them know you would like to purchase the photo. Obviously you liked it enough to take it, so you should be willing to pay for it. If you think the price is too high then go take your own photos or use the photos from the cheaper photographer whose photos may not be as good if you are willing to lose the quality of your image, because goodness knows, we all need to make a living.

 The money you spend on truly good photos will be the best investment you ever made. And the crappy photos you use beacuse they were cheap will ruin your reputation. Is it worth it to you? Think about it, because image is everything

 Thank you for reading this far. I truly appreciate all the great clients and friends I have made over the last 30 years but things are really changing now and many shows will be losing the really good photographers that know how to shoot the images you want and need. We love our jobs, and this is a hard reality that many of us are facing now. I wanted to share my side of it and hopefully raise some awareness. If you have anything to add, please reply to this note, I welcome the debate.

© Carien Schippers