Borrowing Without Permission

Borrowing Without Permission



            Seems innocent enough, no harm, no foul, you didn’t mean to and you had no idea that image you snapped a copy of with your cell phone or that you were able to copy and paste off the image hosting site or a website that is legally owned by the person who took that image you have just stolen.  However, if you didn’t actually purchase that image, regardless of how you acquired it, you have now just borrowed without the photographer’s permission, a gentler way to explain “stealing.”

Maybe you don’t know me, I see a lot of people at horse shows and some of you I have had a chance to meet, others of you I haven’t had that chance yet.  Some of you I’ve become good friends with, others of you we’ve barely exchanged smiles.  Regardless if I have met you or not, how well I know you, or if you have ever purchased an image from me before – every day I show up to a show I am there to give 200% and I give it all I’ve got to capture those special memories or moments that mean the most to you and that bring a smile to your face.  I show up regardless of the weather, I start when the first horse walks in the gate and I don’t leave until the last competitor walks out the gate for the day (or late at night and even right before the sun comes up the next day).

What many may not know is that for many of the associations I shoot for, I am not paid.  My parents taught me that if I work hard and put my all into something that eventually it will pay off so I continue working at being the best I can be.  So they make sure I’m fed and watered right?  No, not even that and often times at these shows we are on a tight schedule and breaks aren’t even an option.

Why can’t you see the images while we are at the show?  I pride myself in my work and I made a promise years ago not to post images that are embarrassing to you or to me.  I like going through the images to make sure that I like them, there is nothing harmful, to organize them, to look for things that I can do differently.  I want to edit each of your images when purchased; when I took that image I know what I was hoping for, if I were to hire somebody to do all this for me they wouldn’t know what I had in mind or why I did the things I did.  I also want to keep my prices affordable.  If I were to hire people to help me at the shows that do not pay me, I’d have to pay these people with the money made from the sales of images.  They could quite possibly starve to death.

I haven’t yet gotten to the cost of the equipment; the camera, the lens, the strobe lights, the remotes to control the strobe lights, the high speed memory cards, the backup memory hard drives, the computer and the printer.  I haven’t gotten to just paying for my time either; I use my vacation time from my company to shoot shows on weekdays, I put in 10+ hour days not just at the show but days after the show organizing, uploading and editing.  If I say I will be there, I’m there regardless if I feel good or not.  I shot one show 4 days after fracturing my skull in two places with bleeding on the brain in a horse related accident.  I can’t begin to describe the pain I was in those three days but I told them I’d be there and I keep my word.

I’m not telling you this to scare you or to make you feel sorry for me; I love horses and all animals and I love photography.  I wouldn’t be working this hard, giving up my time off, working for 35 days straight, if I didn’t love doing what I’m doing.  Not only am I there for you but I’m also there shooting for ME!  I’m trying to come up with different angles and images that really stand out and speak for themselves.  I think back to how all of this came about 8 years ago and that’s another story that is really for only my closest friends, but this “hobby” has actually saved my life.  I also own 3.25 horses of my own, I’ve shown everything from halter to pleasure to cutting to working cowhorses, I’ve even roped a bit – and it’s safe to say my heart is with the working horses!

So that image you like enough to borrow without permission, you can purchase for about $20 which is less than your entry fees for the day and maybe even the fuel you used to get to the show.  If you like the image that much that you want to use it for bragging rights, please have the respect to treat me like you want to be treated, with respect and courtesy, by actually purchasing that image.  I would never walk into your barn or your tack room and borrow a headstall or saddle blanket without your permission.  Your purchase lets me know I’m doing a great job and that you want me to come to the next show.  You’d be surprised how something that simple can be so uplifting, inspiring and encouraging.  And if you feel that my prices aren’t fair then I encourage you to visit other photographer’s websites to check out their prices, their copyright statements and please send them an email and ask them what they charge to even shoot your event and what that charge includes.  I think you’ll find that I’m actually pretty reasonable.

Thank you for taking a moment to read this, your purchase and for having me.  I really do enjoy what I’m doing and hope that it continues to grow.


Laura Tatum-Cowen

Performance Horse Photography



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