Of Horse Shows, Photographers and Poachers
Being a horse show photographer has its wonderful moments. Then there are the moments where I am embarrassed and mad to be one. The Scottsdale All Arabian Horse Show is going on right now, and while the horses are beautiful and stunning to see, should other pros be there shooting it? Rick Osteen and Howard Schatzberg of Schatzberg Photography are the “official” photographers of the horse show. Their work is amazing, they have done Arabians shows for years and have honed their craft with the utmost perfection. I know they are required to carry a hefty insurance policy naming no less than 3 organizations including city and counties as additional insureds, have overhead of employees, etc. and are there trying to make a living. I know these things because I have shot at this facility and have been required to provide the same things. On any day of the show you can stand beside any of the arenas and see countless “pro” photographers ringside happily shooting away. Now don’t get me wrong shooting for your own personal enjoyment is one thing (people should be allowed to shoot their family – an entire barn? I don’t think so). However many of these self- proclaimed professionals are shooting and sharing on Facebook, as well as tagging anyone in the picture. Which in essence means that they are selling their photos for $0. Many are even handing out business cards to the people they are shooting to get them to buy the pictures (I found one who has this blurb on his website: “Due to the sheer size of the event, I am afraid that I was not able to cover every arena and every horse at the event.” followed by a list of all the classes and photos from those classes for sale). Here are these self-proclaimed “pros” who are coming into Rick and Howard’s work place to steal work and customers from them. Now I know many of you are going to say that the show producers should take care of these “poachers”, others are going to say that is the way it is now in the horse show world, my comment to those is “if they are professional, shouldn’t they behave that way?”
The poachers are not having to fork out money for insurance, employees at the show and cover who knows what other expenses that the official has to. I have even found them trying to be sneaky at horse shows I have been the official at. Want to know something else??? Let me walk you through a scenario that could happen…. Perhaps Mr. Poacher scares a horse, causing the rider or the horse to get seriously hurt. Someone happens to see Mr. Poacher with his pro equipment and says “That guy with the pro equipment caused this accident.” While Mr. Poacher may or may not get sued, I can just about guarantee that the facility and the “official” photographer will. It is surely going to be assumed that the pro was working for the “official” since he was supposed to be the only pro there. Still not getting it? How about this one? Let’s say you are the “official” food vendor for a sporting event, now I pay my entry fee into the park and proceed to sell hotdogs and hamburgers (heck I may even give them away). Are you going to be ticked???? You bet, you have been required to have insurance, permits, employees etc., and here I come and cut in on your profits without having to provide any of the things you have. The horse show photographer is no different!
The Scottsdale show is not the only horse show with this problem, just about all horse shows have this problem.The International Andalusian & Lustiano National Championship show was no different. Unfortunately there the “official” photographer Kristie Nichols Puckett of Moonfyre Photography, had to deal with a photographer who came in on a “media” pass. While media passes are not bad, they are supposed to be for magazines, etc. Not for that person to shoot hundreds of photos and then turn around and offer them for sale on their website or post them all over Facebook with people tagged…..so rather than buying from the official, they got free photos. This happened at the Scottsdale All Arabian Show in 2012 as well. The person that was shooting for Arabian Horse World has all of the photos they took on their website for sale. So they got to go to the show – no insurance, no employees, etc. and shoot whatever they wanted for the magazine and then turn around and sell the photos. Were they the official? No Osteen-Schatzberg were. Not only is that unethical it is pretty immoral in my book as well. I wonder if these photographers realize that they could be sued over this infringement?
Unfortunately I have found that this happens in other sports as well. It just makes me mad and disgusted. Why do we as professionals insist on screwing each other? Perhaps you may not be aware that at some point one of those people you have poached may need a second shooter. Guess who they will not be calling???? And can you guess who’s names will be drug through the mud? You “poachers” would not like someone coming to your horse show and behaving the way you are at the shows you are poaching….so how about we all grow up and behave professionally?