Amateur photography at eventing competitions
There seems to be a reluctance to talk about amateur photography at eventing competitions... On one hand, it appears that organisers don't want to upset spectators, who are increasingly likely to have decent cameras (thanks to an affluent fan base combined with cheaper high-capability cameras). But, the absence of clear guidelines can bring amateurs into conflict with the official photographers, particularly when it comes to sharing images on social media (I'm not talking here about unofficial photographers trying to sell images).
British Eventing are conspicuously quiet on this issue, probably mindful of the furore caused by guidelines they issued in 2013. They did not respond to my email requesting their current position...
Based on numerous conversations with officials last year, this seems to be the general position at most competitions, including those, for example, run by Bede Events. However, getting a clear, unambiguous statement can sometimes be difficult...
Blackwater Farm (Great Witchingham) made an announcement on Facebook last year, saying that they need to clamp down on unauthorised commercial photographers. But, the statement makes it clear that it is a commercial restriction only.
Some venues implicitly permit amateur photography, given that they run photography competitions (Bramham and Badminton), or otherwise ask for spectators to submit photos (Blenheim). However, this tells you nothing about what can, or cannot, be shared on social media.
Bicton Arena is more restrictive, specifically referring to the amount of images that can be shared. In a section on photographer accreditation, they state:
Little Downham state that photography is not permitted. However, they conflate amateurs with unauthorised photographers who seek to sell photos online (and are therefore, by definition, not amateurs…). And, while a photographer can be ejected from the venue, officials have no legal right to demand that any photos already taken are deleted. But, errors of law aside, it at least constitutes clear guidance.
Frickley Park take a similar stance to Little Downham. But, I cannot find their policy stated anywhere, either in an event programme or on their website…
It would be helpful to see more organisers issuing clear guidelines as to what is, or is not, permitted so that everyone knows where they stand. I am a genuine fan of the sport, I ride regularly myself, I am a BE member, I bought riding gear and other items from trade stands at competitions last year, and I am volunteering this year. Obviously, as a photographer, I want to be able to share some of the images online that I have taken at competitions, whether attending with a competitor or just as a spectator. But, at the same time, I do not want to adversely impact sales of the official photographer(s)..
A blog post from e-Venting in 2015 proposed the following:
- Photographers without accreditation, professional or otherwise can publicly upload up to ‘X’ photos within a month of the event (Publicly being clarified as on a website including social media which is viewable by anyone and not restricted to a closed pool of individuals. Private uploads would not be restricted). After a month they can upload further photos but at no point in time can images be sold.
- Photos intended to be posted publicly… should not be taken on the cross country course at the same fence as the official photographer.
The blog suggests that ‘X’ could be 10% of the starters that day, approximately 25-30 photos at a national event.
This seems sensible to me, and, given that the main issue is publicly sharing images, it should be straightforward to monitor. But, I would love to hear what other people think about this.