Back in December 2012 I was contacted by the BBC who had seen one of my images in their Winterwatch group on Flickr, it was a close up image of a Grey Seal pup in December 2011 at Horsey, Norfolk. It was my first visit to the seals at Horsey, Norfolk and I spent an enjoyable few hours watching the seals from within the roped off area. I was very happy to get the image as it was a little different to the images I had seen previously taken at Horsey.
Although they couldn't say whether it would be used or not, a quick google image search a month later brought up where it had been used. I was pleased to see it had been used as one of the icon photos on the BBC iplayer for the Winterwatch series.
I was happy to find out it had also been used in an article about Winterwatch in The Sun's online TV magazine. The addition of a new title and creditation to myself for the image was great.
With my first publication this has made me think about the effect amateur photographers like myself are having on professional photographers. With the invention of digital photography, it has brought photography as an affordable hobby to many amateurs who previous wouldn’t have been able to afford the cost of film photography. I would have been one of them, digital photography makes it so much easier for the beginner to learn. Digital photographers don’t think twice about taking hundreds, even thousands of shots in a day, where previously photographers would have probably been limited to just 24 or 36 images. As more images are taken by more people it means photography has become a buyer’s market with supply now outstripping demand, reducing the value of an image unless its something really special.
The internet and digital photography have helped each other, there are now a huge number of photo hosting sites. They are great for amateurs who like to share their images with fellow enthusiasts, but they allow people to easily search millions of images and possibly download images without consent or any form of payment. I do wonder how many media agencies now use websites such as Flickr and 500PX to find images rather than the traditional route stock photo agencies. Image theft is totally wrong but it seems to be rife on the internet now with hardly any protection for the photographer/copyright owner. Part of the problem is many don't even see it as wrong.
The effect of the digital age also seems to be slowly changing how professional photographers work. Many professional photographers now seem to make a larger percentage of their income from running photography tours for amateurs rather than solely from image sales. I suppose they have evolved in a changing environment and welcomed amateur photographers as a source of income rather than a problem.
Writing this entry has made think, would allow one of my images to be published if I was asked again? At present I don’t know what the answer would be, don’t get me wrong having an image published is a great feeling but is it really worth it? I know for sure I wouldn’t give the image away unless it was to a non-profit organisation or charity. There are too many amateurs already willing to give their images away just to get their name in print. This doesn’t help anyone, especially professional photographers as agencies now expect to not pay anything for images. I think I will stick to my current plan of giving away all the proceeds to a worthwhile charity, in this case the fee went to 'Friends Of Horsey Seals' who are a voluntary organisation who protect the seals from distrubance during the winter months. They do great work protecting the seals and the Horsey colony is a great success story, rising from just a few to hundreds in under a decade. Seeing wild seals is great but I hope anyone is inspired to see them will respect the guidelines of the wardens from Friends of Horsey Seals for the sake of the seal pups.