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Consider the contract you sign

Members are encouraged to write about issues and topics, using OU Online and its Feedback department posts as virtual letters to the editor. Members must establish a personal user name and password to comment on OU Online posts. Anonymous comments are not allowed. The executive director and editor will decide whether opinions are appropriate for OWAA debate or if the comments promote a personal cause; if the “cause” is unrelated to OWAA’s mission and potentially damaging to the membership, the comment might not be published. Because of OWAA’s tax-exempt status, comments endorsing candidates for public office or otherwise directly addressing political campaigns cannot be published. Headquarters will not publish comments that are libelous in nature. Submit letters to aschroeder@owaa.org.

To Whom It May Concern:
I have been a member of OWAA for thirty years.  In ninety-nine percent of my dealings with book and magazine publishers, I have been treated fairly.  My photographs and writing have been published in Gray’s Sporting Journal, Fly Fisherman magazine, Field & Stream, Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, Bassmaster magazine, Harris Publications, Trailer Life and Motorhome magazines and others. My photography has also appeared in a number of high end books on fishing as well as on packaging, in catalogs, in advertising. Over the years, sometimes publishers’ payments were a bit late, but photo credits were usually noticeable, clearly recognizing the important contribution of the photographer(s) as well as the writer(s).  A picture is worth at least a thousand words.
A year and a half ago, I was asked by Simon Gawesworth to do the photography for his new book on Single-Handed Spey Casting for Stackpole Books. Simon is a friend as well as a former employee of mine. Before the shoot and layout were done, he assured me that I would get a photo credit worthy of the job. My contract was directly with Stackpole Books.
Here is a copy of the original contract. Click to view full-size image.


On the single-handed spey casting photo shoots, I took several thousand digital photographs over a few days and several locations, of which 300 by contract were to be in the book. I supplied the images for review and selection.
Thus, it came as a surprise to me that not only was my photo credit miniscule, but when I counted the images included in the book from the ones I had shot, I realized that Including the book cover there were 403 of my photos in use rather than the 300 in the contract. Actually, I did all the photographs in the book with the exception of fifteen in Chapter 24 and two others Simon provided.
I was able to shoot the images successfully because not only am I a photographer and former documentary film and video maker/producer, but I, too, am a spey caster.  I have had some experience in telling a story through images. Also, in the 1990s, as a co-owner and co-founder of RIO Products, I was committed to introducing spey casting and spey lines into the American  marketplace.  RIO produced three videos on spey casting.
On the single-handed spey casting photo shoots, I used my own equipment, paid for my expenses, including cameras, gas, oil, and used my own truck to get there. Although the pay for use of the eventual images was relatively low for the amount of time, risk, professionalism and effort involved, I was happy to try to help Simon succeed with this book.  I received a check for $1500.00 prior to the book’s publication.
In September of 2009, I saw Simon and asked how the book project was going.  He told me it was scheduled to be in the stores by January 2010.  I asked him about my photo credit, and he told me that yes, he had made sure of full credit on the title page with Stackpole Books and its editor Judith M Schnell.  While I really did this project out of respect for Simon, I did want the photo credit to match the extent of my contribution to the project. Without the images I shot there would not have been as much of a book because the photos are not simply beauty shots; they clearly show the various techniques discussed in the text. So when I received my copy of the book in January 2010 and saw that my photo credit appeared in small type on the copyright page, I was disappointed.  It was sandwiched in with another photographer’s credit for a few other photos as well as a credit for the excellent work by illustrator, Greg Pearson.  Greg may as well be concerned by the lack of visibility in the credit for his work.
Here is an image of the title page and the copyright page on the back of the title page. Click to view full-size image.
I am not a lawyer, and I imagine that legally Stackpole Books fulfilled their part of the contract that concerns the credit, but there is more in the spirit than the letter sometimes.  That being said, the fact that 403 of my images were used, 103 pictures over and beyond the 300 photos paid for, is a different matter.  In the 1980’s, when I was a member of ASMP (American Society of Magazine Photographers) if a publisher lost, damaged slides, or published images without permission, that publisher had to pay the photographer $1500 per image used.
Since I have been working in other areas over the last few years, I am writing this letter partly because I am interested in knowing what people in the OWAA—who are more current and knowledgeable than I—have to say about common practices in the industry.  In any case, it’s clear that as a freelancer, you must know your rights and options, carefully scrutinize any contracts or permissions you sign and be prepared to negotiate the fine points.    Here is an excerpt from ASMP manual on contracts and indemnification. http://asmp.org/tutorials/bad-contract.html.
Very best regards to all my fellow photographers,
Jim Vincent
Blackfoot, Idaho

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