RPS pulls tourism photography project (update)
August 5, 2010
The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) has pulled a controversial amateur photography project after professional photographers protested that it threatened their livelihoods.
The RPS?s ?Season doesn?t end with summer? project asked members to submit images of the South West that it would pass on to South West Tourism, for use in magazines and newspapers, potentially for free.
The RPS said it launched the project to help promote the work of amateur photographers in the area who are keen to get their photos published for the first time, whether they receive a fee or not.
Members of the RPS were asked to upload their pictures to a website, from which images could then be selected for use.
But photographers – members and non-members of the society – expressed concern that this threatened the market for images taken by professional photographers.
Pete Jenkins, a photography rights campaigner, said: ?Someone stop this madness now.?
He said the project would have provided ?maximum exposure at minimum cost?.
Jenkins added: ?A cost that will largely be borne by the professional photographers who would normally be supplying images ? is that fair, is that ethical??
In a blog posted on website, duckrabbit, photographer David White wrote: ‘Let’s all help South West Tourism create a free advertising campaign and picture library as well… with the backing of the Royal Photographic Society – no let’s not.’
In a message since posted on the RPS website, the society?s director general Stuart Blake said: ?Following responses from some members we have withdrawn ?The Season doesn?t end with summer” project and will be working with the Visual Journalism Group and South West Tourism to review the terms and conditions.?
The project was the brainchild of Malcolm Bassett-Smith, an event organiser at the RPS’s Visual Journalism Group who has pledged to meet officials at South West Tourism next week, to discuss a revision to the terms and conditions for the project.
He stressed that South West Tourism was ‘completely blameless’ for the furore that followed the project’s launch earlier this week.
Bassett-Smith said he would have been ‘mortified’ to learn if the free supply of images had put a professional photographer’s income in jeopardy.
He said he has received eight complaints from RPS members.
But he defended the principles of the project which aimed to appeal to ‘annexed’ RPS members in the South West and was part of a plan to get them more involved in the society’s activities.
‘There is a zero budget for images in local newspapers. That is a fact of life,’ he told Amateur Photographer.
‘There are tens of thousands of media studies students graduating every year who approach editors saying they can use their images free of charge. We cannot preclude members of the RPS wanting to play the same game.’
‘There are a lot of people who want to up their game. They want their work to be used.’
Bassett-Smith hopes to alter the terms to ensure that images submitted only appear in ‘non-downloadable’ form on the project website and to allow the photographers greater control over their images, if a potential buyer is found.
However, he insisted that the RPS would have consulted the photographer anyway before a picture was supplied for publication.
Among the aims of the project, he told us, was to help improve a photographer’s experience and working techniques.