If you’re like me and you have a spare weekend once in a blue moon how better than to spend it at an event, presuming the sun is shining, or at the very least it’s not raining, or well not raining heavily…! Whilst there, why not take a few photos as a friend is competing, or you want to try a new skill, or just because why not! For the vast majority of events there is absolutely no issue with that but some points to keep in mind especially with what you do with the photos after.
DO check that you can take your camera before you leave, most events don’t have restrictions about spectators taking photos but some do, most of these will publicise as such on their websites so you can check in advance.
DO, if you’re intending to sell any of your images in anyway, be it to a media outlet, sponsor, owner or rider seek permission from the event organiser in advance. You will most likely not be granted permission to sell to riders but media accreditation is rarely refused for legitimate commissions. If you are there for purely personal reasons as long as there is no overall camera ban then you do not need to seek permission to take photos. Note though to be at an event in a professional capacity you must have public liability insurance.
DO if you are using professional DSLR kit take the time to introduce yourself to the official event photographer. Say hello, be polite, let them know you’re just there for fun etc and it will prevent any awkward questions whilst on course.
DO remain in spectator areas and on course behind the string. If there isn’t always string be aware of your position staying well back from fences to keep safe and also not to be a distraction to horse or rider.
DON’T interfere with/get in the way of any officials or the professional photographer whilst on course. Most will actually more than welcome a chat (see note above re introducing yourself although this is probably best done at the sales trailer) but not whilst a horse is approaching or jumping the fence as they have a job to do at that point in time.
DO feel free to share your photos with friends/family in a private album (not viewable to all).
DON’T upload public albums with photos of every competitor to social media or a public website even if not for sale. If you did whether you intend to or not you will impact on the official event photographer’s sales, the more it happens, the sooner the day will arrive when it is not viable for there to be official event photographers, a day no competitor wants.
DO though, if you have a public photography page feel free to share 5-10 of your best photos but be sure to state they are not for sale and as a matter of courtesy link to the official photographer. This way you can show off the best of your work whilst limiting any impact on the official photographer’s sales/livelihood.
DO in the event of an incident if you caught it on camera, AFTER everything has been sorted, offer the footage to the organisers/fence judge/technical advisor. It could be used for a multitude of helpful purposes (see my recent article on the matter).
DON’T get upset/argumentative if you are questioned whilst photographing on course. Unfortunately at some events a small number of photographers attempt to take and sell photos without permission (or paying a trade stand fee!) and therefore some times the official event photographer and/or the organisers may question photographers with professional kit. If you’re there legitimately you have no worries, be polite, honest and co-operative and you will quickly be allowed to continue as you were. As previously mentioned if you introduce yourself in advance these situations can be avoided.
DO most importantly have fun, enjoy the event and hopefully capture some great photos. 🙂