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It’s a rainy day here in good ‘ol AZ and since it doesn’t happen very often I thought, what better time than now to sit down and write. Now I don’t normally like to complain, well, not freely in public at least. I try my best to keep things light and just keep my head down and do my job. But things have changed. They’ve changed in my life and they’ve changed in the world. Maybe later I’ll explain all of the changes in my life but basically what I’ve learned is that I can express feelings in a constructive way, good feelings or bad feelings. From there people can either take it or leave it and that either one is OK. Better to express yourself than keep everything bottled up. I wasn’t brought up that way but like I said, things have changed.
I’ve also been reading the blog of long time pro racer Steve Tilford. The guy is inspiring in many ways. When it comes to bike racing, and probably life as well, he’s been there and done that. What I really like is that he doesn’t pull any punches. He speaks his mind and the big lesson for me is that he’s well respected because of it. Maybe not everyone likes him, I really couldn’t say, but he is respected.
So with my new voice and expression of opinions I have to discuss the disappointing and frustrating trend of so-called “pro” photographers posting galleries of images on Facebook and other avenues of social media. Not an image or two, but full galleries. Let me back up a bit for those who may not know me. I am a photographer. It’s taken years for me to feel comfortable calling myself that but there it is. My specialty is professional cycling. I’ve been shooting full time since 2001. I’ve been to 5 Tours de France, shot the spring classics, World Championships, been to every major US pro race and National Championship since I started, have had too many magazine covers to count and still get goose bumps when I come ripping into a finish on the back of a motorcycle. Cycling has created a “family” for me for which I will ever be grateful.
I give this resume’ with the utmost of humility because I am still learning. I learn from fellow photographers. I learn from my mistakes and I learn from those I take photos of. It’s a never ending process that I thoroughly enjoy. However, at the end of the day, it is what puts food on my table…….or doesn’t.
This brings me back to the idea of posting galleries for free on social media sites. As a photographer it is no doubt important to show off your work…agreed. That is why I have a portfolio. I even agree that it is a good idea to post a couple shots from an event that I may be at that show something really cool or maybe an exciting moment. But if I post more than that I feel it is disrespectful to my fellow photographers who are also trying to make a living and clients that are paying me to be at that event. I’m not a business major but if I am going to post a bunch of shots for free then why should anyone pay me? Brilliant!
I do feel that I have a “cycling family” and it is important to me. I enjoy the happiness that riders, families and fans get out of my photos. If I had a trust fund or was wealthy I would be happy to shoot and offer it all up for free. But simple math, hunger and bills tell me that I can’t do that. Travel is expensive. When I am walking around with my cameras or on a moto I’m carrying roughly $25K worth of equipment, travel to get there, business insurance, computers, software etc. Maybe I am being cynical but so far I have not found how free images pay for these things.
Never the less I will press on. I’ll press on because I love to shoot. I’ll continue to work on getting better at what I do and learning from my mistakes. My clients are important to me and I will do everything I can to do my best for them; I’ll respect them by not giving up for free what they have paid me for. And I’ll continue to be respectful to fellow photographers who are respectful to me.
They say, “change is good.” With my new voice it feels good already. I look forward to the season ahead and lots of greats photos. I look forward to more change.