Do You Want To Know Why There Is No Photographer At Your Horse Show?

When people are annoyed about the fact that there wasn’t a photographer at the last show, or there wasn’t enough coverage or photographs taken, this is a perfect explanation of why.

Event photography is fast becoming a lost trade, mainly due to the fact that most people will print screen a proof of a photograph or copy an image on their phone and use it on social media without any thought to the fact that what they are actually doing is illegal.


The copyright of all images taken solely belong to the photographer, and stealing and using proofs and images without permission is a criminal offence.

Now I am quite lenient when it comes to people sharing my images and proofs, so long as they have the courtesy of purchasing, but unfortunately, most people don’t.


So next time your finger is hovering over the print screen button, spare a thought for the photographer that has stood on her feet for the last 12 hours, then sat for another shift, editing, cropping, sorting and uploading, and click on that image.


A lot of photographers will offer you a web sized image for a few pounds for you to share on social media etc, even that small purchase is greatly appreciated.

Don’t forget to head over to to give us a like! It’s always appreciated!

Please, feel free to share this using the buttons below, to raise awareness of this increasing issue and to ensure that in the future there will still be professional photographers covering equestrian events!

42 thoughts on “Do You Want To Know Why There Is No Photographer At Your Horse Show?

  1. Well said , i had some pictures taken at a local show and must admit the quality was outstanding and at a fair price too . Keep up your good work .


  2. I buy the event photos when they are well done and reasonably priced but I find that often they are either no better than the photos my husband or friends took or else they want so much for the photos that it’s not worth it.


    1. John Jones (and others);

      By all means, if exhibitors aren’t happy with the quality of the photography by the event’s photographer, they need to let the event management know. They can’t change what they don’t know about :-)

      Regarding the price, consider this-the event photographer has expenses they must cover in order to be able to afford to provide photography services at an event. That professional photographer is there long before the first horse hits the arena, and works long after the very last horse is in the barn for the night. There is travel, and equipment purchase, maintenence, repair, and replacement. And so much more.

      It is rare that a photographer is paid to provide their services at an event. Therefore, a photographer is dependent solely on sales/licensing of images to cover those expenses, and hopefully put a little food on the table, beyond that.

      The more images stolen from a photographer, the more each image sold or licensed MUST cost, in order to cover the costs to provide those images and stay in business. If fewer were stolen and more purchased instead, it might actually be possible to reduce the cost per image.

      Encourage those who steal proofs to purchase them, instead-and see what happens. 😊


  3. Hi Jenna,
    Well how right you are, I have just put a notice on our web site about this subject. We cover most of the Somerset Carnivals and the amount of images people steal, sometimes saying they are their images, it is amazing where we have found them.
    We spend 10 hours at each event then we find some of the images on Social Network sites. Don`t get me wrong, we enjoy what we do at all the events but when we see them on Social Net sites and other places it makes my blood boil, just last week we have had to put a watermark-visible and embedded which in my opinion ruins the images.
    People never realize the amount of work and time put in by photographers.


  4. Hi just wanted to say I totally agree with you as I am a professional photographer and have been for many years and I find exactly the same problem with equine photography at events it’s so difficult as people just don’t seem to want to purchase any images and we work for free at these events. People would not go into an office and work for nothing yet they expect a photographer to do so …….. Our industry is undervalued by the majority of people who underestimate the work actually involved esp when working with Raw files as I always do. Best of luck in future events Xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Our proofs are plastered all over FB – I’ve given up bothering – just treat it as advertising us – though it would be nice if people actually purchased some!!


      2. I found you because a photographer friend posted this. She is from Italy and a friend of my daughter. Both are equine photographers with the same problem. Thought you might like to know you were seen in New Mexico, USA. The social media does get around. Judy Cumberworth, Four corners area of N.M.


  5. I predominantly take pics for Equestrian and Sport publications, not to sell commercially. Its amazing where I’ve found my pics and artwork in the past few years. Well done for publicising your comments Raven Photography, I hope lots of people read them, especially the bit about who owns the copyright of the pictures!!! Thanks Beth for posting and sharing x


      1. It came onto my facebook wall AND I was so glad it did. The more said about this breach of copyright the better. This is only the tip of the iceberg where event photography is concerned but its a start. Best Regards. Keep up the good work


  6. Great post Jenna. I am a professional photographer. It is an increasing problem in all genres of photography. People are shameless and also ignorant of the law – I don’t think social media and pinterest has helped. Most people do not realise how much money we invest in our equipment, insurance, training etc. Not to mention the time preparing our equipment for a job, doing the job and then editing Gb’s of data! Your post was shared by a friend and came up on my wall and it was great to read. Good luck with your business. :)


  7. Not to mention the fact that every man and his dog with a dslr is now a ‘photographer’
    Some of these are covering shows (without public liability insurance or backup equipment – and probably not declaring any earnings so they can charge less) and some seasoned event photographers are lazy and complacent so the quality of photography is varied to say the least. This does’t help the perception and perceived value of event photography – once the photography is undervalued, it is morally easier to ‘steal’
    As professionals we have an obligation to keep raising the bar with regard to customer service, quality and overall experience. We can always be better than we are. It time, customers come to realise that not all photography is the same and once valued, they are less likely to press screen capture.


  8. Very we’ll said, using copy right photos is unacceptable. Unfortunately emerald photos used and abused taking card details and has ripped hundreds of people supporting them and not using watermarked photos .


  9. I understand where you are coming from, but the only time I had professional photos taken of my daughter and pony at a major show after I bought the pictures when I tried to use them on a for sale ad for the pony (unfortunately daughter’s legs grew and pony legs didn’t :( ) I was charged again for that privilege. I bit the bullet and paid up, thinking it was a “one off” fee but when I tried to advertise in a different site I was told I’d have to pay again! Now I find this totally unreasonable; as far as I am concerned if I buy a photo from a professional then I should be able to use it wherever I wish. I am a browband manufacturer, and once I sell a browband I don’t then charge my customers every time they want to use it, that’s just ridiculous!


    1. Sorry you had a bad experience with your photographer – and all photographers have different policies.
      It’s an area that photographers tend to be bad at – making it clear what the file can be used for.
      When I sell a digital file, typically it will be with a Personal Use Licence. That means FB etc. using the image to help sell the pony would come under personal use as far as I am concerned.
      However, copying, cropping, editing etc. using the file to sell products, submitting for use in a photo competition, getting it published on a calendar or anything else wouldn’t be personal use.
      It’s a common misconception that once a customer buys a photo they then ‘own’ it and can do what they want with it. They actually only own the ‘rights’ to do what is agreed as part of the sale.

      Personally I agree that it was unreasonable to charge you for using the image to sell the pony if you bought a digital image with a Personal Use licence.
      However, if you bought a physical print then you wouldn’t be allowed to scan or copy it for use elsewhere. Kit would be the same as copying a music track for example. If it was me, and you’d have asked, I would probably have sent you the digital images in this case free of charge. Photographers don’t like scans and copies as quite often they don;t look the best and make the photographer look bad.

      Anyway, I hope you aren’t completely put off by the experience.
      Some of us are good and are working to raise standards in general :)


  10. Really interesting post – and I think it has been seen in plenty of other sports as well. I’ve had a photograph I took for my website reused in increasingly commercial situations without any attribution or credit. I’m flattered (as I am not a professional), but also annoyed that I can’t get any credit.

    Personally – I think people are always going to do this, and it’s hard to prevent. My instinct is to try and lock down my images, watermarked and controlled heavily on social networks – and then restricted from download on my websites. There are ways to prohibit downloads with a little technology effort.

    If I was a professional photographer now, I’d be seriously considering taking the right technical steps and then monetising my pictures in a simple/low cost way.


  11. So charge them access to view the proofs. PROBLEM SOLVED. I have never heard photographers outside of the horse industry complain about this … it blows my mind because most photographers know that watermarked photos shared on social media are the best advertising they are going to get. Your website is displayed for thousands upon millions of eyeballs. Businesses pay GOOD MONEY for that kind of advertising. So please, the complaining has got to end. You are the one who uploaded your photo on the internet and now you are complaining that it’s getting exposure! JUST CHARGE A FEE FOR PEOPLE TO ACCESS THE PROOFS. Even if they take a watermarked photo, you still get some money out of it!


  12. Gabby the social media sites are a very good way of advertising but in order to make money from equestrian photography people need to order the prints or web images. It is not acceptable to assume that you have a right to reproduce a copyrighted proof without buying those rights.


      1. That’s exactly my point! You can’t have it both ways. You want tons of exposure, but that costs money! Whether you are paying upfront, or giving some of your photos for free. It’s called advertising and getting your name out there as an artist. In every field, for every artist in business selling their creativity, you have to give some of it away for free to build a following based on your merit as an artist. If you are good, the money will flow. It’s not a technical job where you are selling or fixing widgets, cut and dry.


      2. I don’t want tons of exposure. I don’t need to advertise I do events. I don’t need more clients etc. All I need to do is show the people at the show that day there photos. Then they choose which they want and buy them. Not steal them. That’s all I want. Very simple, not being greedy, just reciprocated respect.


      3. So just tell the people at the show that you have pictures taken of them. If they want to view the pictures, make them pay a non-refundable fee that will go towards the final purchase price of the photos. If they decide to ‘steal’ photos, you still make money. Everyone’s happy. Right? I just solved your whole problem.


      4. Gabby, that doesn’t work. I actually know photographers that have tried it and gone out of business. This is the only tried and tested method. I must say, if I take photos of say 300 competitors. It’s usually only a couple that steal them. I’m not angry about it. Just trying to educate people as most of them don’t realise that what they’re doing is illegal. You tell them once they tend to not do it again.


      5. But your initial claim was that it’s “fast becoming a lost trade” and that eventually there will be “no photographer at your horse show.” Why do you think they went out of business from using that model? Surely it prevents people from stealing. Isn’t your whole argument that stealing the photos is taking away from your business?


  13. My point is that those few people that are ‘stealing’ watermarked photos are actually giving you free advertising. Maybe someone from the event sees a shared watermarked photo, goes to your site and purchases photos. You realize that the money you lost from someone ‘stealing’ lead to a sale? It’s basically paying for advertising. Six of one, half dozen of another. It’s the same thing in the long run!


    1. No they don’t lead to a sale. How? The person stealing the photograph doesn’t pay for it and some random friends on their Facebook aren’t going to pay for a photo from and event they weren’t at.
      I’m going to assume that you know nothing about event photography. That or you are extremely uninformed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Or you could just ask me rather than assuming! I am an amateur competitive runner, (former) equestrian, self-employed web designer, artist and amateur photographer (or so I like to think). so I’ve dealt with my fair share of event photos, I have TONS of professional photographer friends (as well as amateur friends). I know how much work photography is, to shoot, edit, manage tons of files. I have been working in Photoshop for over a decade and built my career on it. So you’re assumption is wrong.

        What I also know is the business end of things. As someone who works in the web industry, it’s my job to know how to market business on the web, in print, in person, etc. My husband is a marketing strategist. Between us we have a serious amount of knowledge and expertise on how to do web marketing. We also know about stuff like ROI (return on investment), conversions, engagements, etc.

        I’ll explain it to you: Your investment is to accept the fact that some people ‘steal’ watermarked photos. Basically it’s the same thing as giving away goods for free, right? Which is the same thing as a business expense. So your little thieves put your pictures into the world wide web and some people see the photos, love them go to your website and hire you to take pics of them with their horses – OR – they are at the same event and decide to purchase a few photos. Now you’ve made money. Say the photos you gave away for free were worth $10, but they led to $75 in sales. You now have an ROI rate of 650%. In other words, for every dollar you invest, you make $6.50. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me!


      2. That is a very impressive resume. But my background is in photography and also many many years of Sales and marketing. I know my own strategy and roi. I have finished my years of giving things away for free and they bought me a great roi in the form of a great business with fantastic repeat custom and its ever expanding.
        However, I know many photographers in this exact industry that now don’t do local shows, and that’s what I’m talking about here, that are now not worth doing because the rise of screen shots on phones has ruined.
        A stolen image will cost a photographer the value of that image. That stolen image has zero return. Zero.
        If you take a photograph at an event, watermark it and someone steals it and puts it on the Internet it does nothing. Just sits there. It doesn’t bring in new customers because if they weren’t at the event there is nothing for them to buy.


      3. That’s where you are dead wrong.

        Let’s make up a probable story. Jane was at a horse show over the weekend and sees some awesome pictures you took of her and her horse. She is really pleased with them and want’s to post them on her Facebook page, so she grabs a shot off your site with a watermark and posts it. Chances are Jane has lots of friends who went to the horse show also, and/or friends who love/own/ride horses. Maybe one of Jane’s friends sees the picture in her newsfeed, loves your photo, reads the website url in the picture, goes to your website and decides she wants to purchase a portrait session from you with her horse. Jane stealing your photograph just lead to a sale. Jane is unknowingly exposing your work to more potential customers. It’s called organic viral marketing.

        I know that you might not realize any of that is happening, but it is, even though you don’t see it in front of your face.

        On a side note, I think they should build the cost of photography into the entrance fee. I think that would solve a lot of problems.


      4. Listen. That does not happen. It may happen with equine portrait photography and people, but with events it doesn’t. I’ve never had a single enquiry ever from a water mark. And I check where every customer comes from. I also do not know a single photographer that has had any work from a watermarked image. They check too.


    1. I will admit I know nothing about event photography, but I assume they continue to use a watermark to almost ‘ruin’ the image to try and prevent people stealing it. Also, if they do, it reminds them that what they have done is wrong and where the photo has come from – people can distinguish between different photographers. Please correct me of I’m wrong because as I said before, I don’t really know !


  14. I did a lot of event photography in the past, but not anymore.
    A few selected shows, where I know that the people know and value my work, but that’s it.
    Event photography is hard work and the amateur class dslr cameras are getting better and faster. So people come to horse shows, take pictures for fun (usually only a few classes each) and give them away for free. That wasn’t a problem in the past, when the difference in the result was bigger (provided there is enough light and a wee bit of talent), space on the camera was limited etc. Today, on a sunny day, they just take 100 pics of one rider and tend to have a lucky shot in between (plus people aren’t very picky as long as it’s free). On a smaller show, where you have only about 50-100 riders, 20 from one barn and most of them knowing each other, that leads to shows without a photographer.
    I honestly don’t care about those who “steal” my watermarked pictures for facebook. That’s free advertising and in the end that’s all that events are for me now anyway. Marketing for equine portrait photography. That work is way easier, you can use your skill and people really see the difference. They might try letting a friend take a few pictures, but once they have seen your results in comparison, they will happily pay for your work.
    Event photography just doesn’t pay the bills anymore – so I don’t do it.
    Lot’s of other photographers have done the same math by know, so it’s hard to find one for local shows around here.


  15. I am a professional photographer and copyright is a major issue. The law has just changed recently and made it more stringent. Stealing an image is still theft. I believe you are able to report it as a criminal offence, however, best practice is to alert the image holder of the offence and give them a little time to remove the image from their posession. If they don’t or block you from proving it has been removed you are entitled to pursue them through criminal channels and have them prosecuted under criminal law, not civil law. This means you may report it to the local police station.

    Copyright theft is criminal. Don’t put up with it.

    Having said that, you also have to consider the negative impact of pursuing the law. Do it often enough and you develop a reputation. The criminals will think badly of you, but then the criminals are not paying you, they are robbing you. Make them pay for what they stole and claim damages that are not unreasonable, like the cost of your work for the day that they made you do for nothing. In the horsey set word will get round that you don’t copy images very fast or you get a criminal record, a massive bill and damages to reputation claims too.

    I’ve read what Gabbygreen has said and a large portion of her arguments are valid except she has stated she actively encourages people to break copyright law. When that happened, I realised that her ideas are not valid, being based upon criminal ideas. Gabby may want to consider retracting her statements.

    My company adopts a sensible approach by limiting the copyright period. By law, copyright subsists for the lifespan of the author and up to 70 years after their passing. If te copyright belongs to a comapny, the rights can be unlimited in length. Often a simple approach to the image theft issue is to display the images on the day…

    Use technology available to show people your work before it’s edited on a live display as each shot streams in from your camera. Believe me, this is easy: An android smartphone broadcast to a TV HDMI adapter (available from a good computer/white goods store) attached to a large screen… the viewers see the original only. If they want the end product with your branding, then they must pay. A simple portable printer can print out a contact sheet for viewing, but any images you post online you must be prepared to give away for free. I don’t think many people will be interested in an image 5 years after an event so using old images for advertising through social media may just be a coup for you. You caould also put the images online and only allow people to share from your profile.

    There will always be thieves, prostitutes and snake-oil merchants. Don’t allow them to get away with anything of yours. If you think events are bad, try wedding photography…

    We never had much trouble with copyright violations before digital media because it was hard to aquire a copy of somebody else’s images without spending some money doing so. Film went out and copyright theft came in.


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