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by Trev on Mon Jul 02, 2012 4:36 pm
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Hi Bill I agree with a lot of what you said in replying to Greg but I personally do not think certification is the way to go. As photographers I do not feel we need to add more bureaucracy into our industry, you can see how restrictive things can become when you go this route. It just becomes an avenue for someone else to earn money at our expense. Yes there are people who behave unethically out their unfortunately there always will be, no matter whether their is certification or not. I believe if somebody wants to go on a workshop they should go with someone whos work they have been following and admire. Not someone who has a nice attractive web site they have come across.
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by Bill Lockhart on Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:12 pm
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Hi Trev,

I don't know what the answer is. It is not our responsibility to protect unsuspecting photographers from booking a tour to gosh knows where with a photographer who has never been there and hasn't a clue about how to do a tour or how to provide the photographer with the best experience possible.

In the perfect world, all tour providers would be competent. We both know this is impossible.

Yet, at the same time, there are very good tour providers whom we know and respect. I can make a list, so can you.

It's too bad that the community can't find a way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Best regards,

Bill
 

by Trev on Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:43 pm
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Apart from the problem of steeling photographs which you are dealing with at the moment. I think if people are prepared to spend a lot of money going with an operator they have not thoroughly checked out then they have far more money than I do.
Quote:
It's too bad that the community can't find a way to separate the wheat from the chaff.


I think with a bit of effort they can. All we can do is to make sure we offer the best and most professional service we can. Many (but not all) of the people who attend my workshops attend as they have been following my work, have my book, (second one on the way) or it has been recommended to them. All I can do is work hard and build a good reputation.
All that said I would still be furious if someone was using my images to promote their photography.

Once again all the best for a good outcome.
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by BobD on Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:20 pm
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Quote:
I wish there were a way that photographic workshop providers could be certified through some process and have that list posted on the Internet.


I was a scuba diving instructor for 16 years. Participants, with the exception of those first learning, are required to have certifications. In order to teach you have to go through several levels of certification plus instructor specific training. Guess what? There was still a healthy does of frauds, rip-off artists, and crooks in the business. Now in that case you're talking about an activity that can fairly easily end in death if done incorrectly. Somehow I doubt a certification process for photography workshop leaders would be nearly as intense and the incidence of frauds, rip-offs and crooks would remain similar to what they are today.

Talent is not a good indicator of one's ability to impart knowledge to others. I've attended workshops led by absolutely amazing photographers that didn't have a clue how to share the knowledge they had with others. Over time, as they taught more and more workshops, they learned to teach more effectively. Feed back from participants can go a long way for someone to learn how to teach.

Similarly I've taken workshops from folks who were not world-class photographers. They had solid talent for sure, but nothing amazing. However, they knew how to share knowledge with other folks. It was very easy to learn from these folks. Each had something... a specialty... worth learning.

As in all things it's a buyer beware world out there.
 

by walkinman on Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:12 pm
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Bill

Trust me, you're not the first guy to have your images appear on this fellow's website touting his tours.

And, uhhmmm, how many of his Alaska polar bear images (for the Barter Island tour) do you think actually came from Alaska? :)

Cheers

Carl
 

by walkinman on Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:17 pm
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BobD

Do you think the certification rigmarole for diving instructors should be abandoned, then?

I routinely see photo tour leaders operating without the necessary permits, licenses, insurance, etc. "Certification", of any kind, isn't perfect, but I think it offers at least a cursory step towards a better system.

Cheers

Carl
 

by Ron Niebrugge on Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:10 am
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Sadly, this isn't the first time he has stolen photos to promote a photo tour.
 

by Bill Lockhart on Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:49 am
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walkinman wrote:
Bill

Trust me, you're not the first guy to have your images appear on this fellow's website touting his tours.

And, uhhmmm, how many of his Alaska polar bear images (for the Barter Island tour) do you think actually came from Alaska? :)

Cheers

Carl


Ron Niebrugge wrote:
Sadly, this isn't the first time he has stolen photos to promote a photo tour.


Hi Carl and Ron,

Thanks.

Best regards,

Bill


Last edited by Bill Lockhart on Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
 

by Bill Lockhart on Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:57 am
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As to "certification," or some other way to help others choose a tour, I can see the pitfalls.

I am wondering about the idea of creating a page on one of my websites to allow tour participants to provide feedback about their experiences.

Our legitimate community, all of you out there who are doing your best to provide decent photo tours, suffer when another photographer offers tours that are fake, poorly planned, and are basic rip offs.

I hope to write about all this at my personal blog and at my photo travel review website, and list favorably those among you whom I consider to be professional in every respect.

Maybe "Bill's List" will do some good.
 

by Bill Lockhart on Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:08 am
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One other useful tool we have.

I learned this morning that one can file a DMCA with Google. Google will remove the offending page on which an infringement has occurred from its searches. I like this tool very much. Basically, a webpage just disappears from a Google search. This has some solid, real, and very effect results.

While I lack talent as a photographer, I do possess one very good talent. I am thoroughly tenacious.

:evil:
 

by BobD on Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:29 am
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walkinman wrote:
BobD

Do you think the certification rigmarole for diving instructors should be abandoned, then?


No. In one respect, the risk factor if you will, it's an apples to oranges comparison. As nice a job as the diving industry does painting it as a beautiful, fun environment to explore one fact remains: humans can't breathe water." However, the fact that there are still unethical and incompetent instructors does apply to this discussion.

Quote:
I routinely see photo tour leaders operating without the necessary permits, licenses, insurance, etc. "Certification", of any kind, isn't perfect, but I think it offers at least a cursory step towards a better system.

Cheers

Carl


There are a lot of reasons leaders operate without permits. In some cases the leader just didn't realize it was needed. In others they are purposely trying to skirt the law. Once one is aware of the permit process then insurance tends to be requirement for meeting the permit prerequisites. Personally ignoring the need for a permit is a recipe for disaster for the leader if they're caught. As memory serves it's something like a $10,000 fine and up to 2 years in prison for operating on national park land without a permit.
 

by BobD on Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:42 am
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Bill Lockhart wrote:
As to "certification," or some other way to help others choose a tour, I can see the pitfalls.

I am wondering about the idea of creating a page on one of my websites to allow tour participants to provide feedback about their experiences.

Our legitimate community, all of you out there who are doing your best to provide decent photo tours, suffer when another photographer offers tours that are fake, poorly planned, and are basic rip offs.

I hope to write about all this at my personal blog and at my photo travel review website, and list favorably those among you whom I consider to be professional in every respect.

Maybe "Bill's List" will do some good.


I seem to recall that there is, or at least was a website out there dedicated to workshop reviews. I have no idea if it still exists of not. It didn't seem to receive a lot of reviews. Many times folks that have been duped by one of these operators is not overly willing to admit to having been taken. At one time I was "staff" on a couple wedding and portrait photography forums. We tried to encourage folks to write reviews about their workshop experiences with little luck. If ever there was an industry full of rip-off workshop opportunities it's the wedding and portrait photography industry!

I don't know what the answer is, or even if there is one, but giving reviews, both positive and negative online can't be a bad step.
 

by Greg Downing on Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:18 pm
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FYI Bill - this thread will be featured in tomorrow's newsletter which will be sent out to tens of thousands ;)
Greg Downing
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Visit my website for images, workshops and newsletters!
 

by Bill Lockhart on Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:10 pm
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Greg Downing wrote:
FYI Bill - this thread will be featured in tomorrow's newsletter which will be sent out to tens of thousands ;)


Hi Greg,

Thank you!

This whole discussion, I think, is significant to the photographic community. Both from the standpoint of those photographers who wish to improve their photographic skills, but also for photographers who wish to conduct photographic tours.

There are a great many very talented photographers in the world today. However, just because one is a talented photographer, it does not follow that one is a talented teacher, or for that matter a good organizer and business profession. Photographic tours should involve all of these elements.

And, I think a minimum check list.

1. Is the photographer who offers the tour an accomplished photographer? This may be judged by the works of the photographer and their examples of published works. Make certain that the examples are real. Statements like, "Published in National Geographic" are worthless unless the provider lists the issue, date, and page number.

2. What business credentials does the photographer have? Is there an organization behind the photographer who can coordinate travel, accommodations, logical necessities, permits, medical evacuation, and communications? In other words, is one dealing with an organization, or with a single photographer who is working out of his house?

3. Are itineraries detailed an explicit? Are accommodations named? What meals are included? Is ground transportation provided or is one expected to provide one's own transportation? Where will the tour go, day by day? What is the tour schedule, what time will one be where? What physical condition must one have to participate? Does the provider discuss weather? What equipment is recommended? What is the emphasis of the tour? Wildlife, landscapes, or a combination of both?

4. How large is the tour group? Is it small or large? What personal attention to my photographic learning will I obtain from the tour? Does the provider list specific goals for the tour?

5. Does the tour provider list past participants who may be contacted directly? Not testimonials from Aunt Harriet, but real world people who are willing to be contacted by one to ask about their experiences.

6. Safety. Does the tour provider discuss safety? No photograph is worth your life.

7. Does the tour provider list specific outcomes that one can expect from attending their tour? What will I experience and what will I learn? What credentials does the provider specify that he/she offers? Will there be critiques of your daily shoots? What will the provider supply in the way of individual instruction as the tour progresses?

8. Does the tour provider have a great sense of humor? And more, is the provider a decent and good person who, while earning money from me, respects me as a person?

I could on from here. Bottom line is that there are excellent providers with a wealth of experience and knowhow and there are young professionals who are just starting out. Both may have their merits. But, there are also a growing list of predators who have no interest whatsoever in what you wish to achieve -- they are after your money.

BTW, Number 8 is my highest priority. If the provider lacks a sense of humor, I ain't going.

Best regards,

Bill
 

by jimborden on Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:44 pm
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This is turning out to be one of the best threads I have read on naturescapes. It is informative for sure.
 

by neverspook on Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:41 pm
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Great list, Bill! I also laud your idea for a place on your website for people to critique tours/tour providers they have gone with.

I give Greg Downing A+ on all 8 points above, especially #8.

Having had a less than entirely satisfastory experience on a couple of tours now (though not even close to as disastrous as that review you gave a link to about the polar bear trip the guy who stole you image 'led'), I now do ask for references to previous participants who I can speak to directly if I have any doubts or just don't know enough about the tour provider.

I will ask all of the questions you have listed above next time I sign up for something.

Roberta Olenick
www.neverspook.com
 

by Bill Lockhart on Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:54 am
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Hi Roberta,

Thanks.

Keep in mind that there are a great many excellent workshop tour providers. Several of them are members of NSN.

And, I might add, that there is a new generation of photographers who are offering photographic tours. Perhaps they don't have all the depth of those who have been at this for a good while, but they do offer a new and sometimes refreshing approach to photography, travel, and adventure. I would never want to discourage new talent from emerging.

As a retired US Army National Guard officer, I spent many years in logistics. What I learned during those years was to plan for the plan that does not work. One must anticipate things like weather, a medical emergency, the break down of a vehicle, a hotel that failed to reserve enough rooms. Add to this the uncooperative participant, who is always late when the group is about to depart, or is simply not someone the group particularly likes. Stuff happens. The experienced tour provider knows all about this sort of thing. It is one reason that I have never thought seriously about doing photographic tours, I simply lack the patience.

So, it takes a special personality to conduct a successful photographic tour. This is why I always prefer to book travel with photographers who have years of experience, talent, and patience.

Best regards,

Bill
 

by Glenn Bartley on Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:51 am
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That is brutal!
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by Wil Hershberger on Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:11 am
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That is a great check list Bill. So sorry to hear that this has happened. I can't imagine that these people feel that they won't get caught. How stupid do they think people are?
I am certainly hoping that you get all and more of what you deserve from this and that he gets all and more of what he deserves.
 

by Russ on Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:42 am
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Bill, I applaud your assertive action to take legal action in a thorough and comprehensive manner. I hope that the end is not only a removal of the stolen images but that it concludes additionally with a net cost to him, ie Mark Lissick. There needs to be a severe (okay, reasonable!) downside to such actions as a dissuader and disincentive to others for partaking in the same amoral behavior. I noted that his homepage Mark Lissick/Wildlight Photography/"Capturing the Spirit of the Natural World" (rife with irony) allegedly is sponsored by Canon, Lowepro, Gitzo, and NANPA. That's his achilles heel.....report his behavior to sponsors and ask if they're comfortable being "known by the company you keep"? I would expect NANPA to take decisive action....otherwise they're a paper tiger.
 

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