Monday, August 17, 2009

I get the picture.....

...and in a moment you will, too.

Costco sends out a magazine with articles and ads on product offerings, including insurance offers and home-related services. In a recent issue was this full-page splash for their International Photo Contest 2009:

(click on all pics to enlarge and hopefull read the type better)

Checking out the lower right of the pic above, some pretty nice prizes jump out at you. Sure, the odds are stacked against you in a monumental way, but whattheheck, you might want to give it a try. (Or not.)

Years ago I had a photography studio and was deep into large format (4x5 and 8x10 view cameras), Bronica ETRS system for weddings and portraiture, etc. Then came the digital age and I could not even begin to think about running with those financial ponies to begin the conversion...for a little while one could hang on, but soon enough film lovers were left in the dust by the cybersnappers, and unless you were committed to the digital race you could no longer effectively compete.

Today, everybody's a photographer...and, yes, I say that tongue in cheek. No doubt technologic advancements have put sophisticated cameras in the hands of just about anybody, requiring but the press of a button to turn the camera on and another push to capture a scene. Still, there is an art, an 'eye', and a deep knowledge of how to override said cameras when the situation warrants it to get the very best picture. Plenty of 'snappers' out there, but many fall a bit short of being really good photographers. Regardless, here's an international contest with very nice prizes, and doesn't everybody have that special photograph that just thrills you and others to look at? Wouldn't you like to spend lots of 'free' cash these days? Heck, any day?

Ah, as the old saying goes, the devil is in the details. Time to get out those reading glasses and read the fine print...

Don't try to read the above (just was showing the whole ad)...I've cropped and zoomed in on the critical area in the graphic below. This issue is kinda sorta like my recent blog entry of my liquor store ad I'm in as a result of a stock photo shoot years ago, where for a day's fee a photographer got to own all the images taken and market them himself whenever, however, no ifs ands or buts. That's what stock photography is all about, marketing your own images to potential clients which takes quite the investment of time and energy to do so. I took the money for a good day's work and went on with life.

I use my digital imagery for many many things, be it flute music videos, prints to sell at art shows, for galleries, businesses, etc. I don't pursue stock photography per se, but it's an option. Copyrighting images is also important as this world is full of 'theft' and people trying to take someone else's work and turn a buck off of it.

And so as I read the fine print rules, I shook my head when I saw the worst of contest conditions written out in the middle of the Lilliputian type:

It's one thing to have a winning entry become the property of the contest sponsor; but to sign over all rights, even 'intellectual property rights' to images simply because they are submitted is insane and a very very very bad deal. You are allowed only one entry per card household, so you want to send the very best to try and win something...the way I look at it, even if you win you still lose.

And yet many will give their work away. They want the prize, the chance for fame and glory, which is fleeting to begin with. If someone wants to enter these types of contests, more power to 'em...but I hope they make sure they are fully aware of the consequences of signing away rights and ownership of their work. In this case, Costco can do ANYthing it wants with that image, including reselling it, using it for advertising, etc., and the entrant has no further say so about it and gets not a penny or even a photo credit for any of it.

Knowledge is empowering. Just make sure you use your noggin' whenever you sign on the dotted line with lots of fine print...and good luck if you do!

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