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by Bill Lockhart on Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:55 am
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Jamie Strickland wrote:
Wow that guy is a piece of work, glad to see these websites / articles about the issues.

I can't believe he setup a workshop for polar bears at the wrong time of the year, of course there is always a chance on tours to not see the specified animal but not knowing the season is unexcusable.

Sorry that you guys are dealing with this.


Interesting that the same thing happened to another photographer almost exactly one year before. See: http://www.hotfrog.com.au/Companies/Wildlight-Nature-Photography#CustomerReviews

Best regards,

Bill
 

by Jamie Strickland on Sun Sep 02, 2012 8:04 am
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And unfortunely it will probably happen to others:( I hope that people spending that much money will do a search and find the posted info and stay clear.

Nothing irritates me more than dishonest people, as far as photographers this guy takes the cake
 

by Octavio Salles on Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:51 pm
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Wow I just found this thread. Truly unbeliavable.
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ONE last spot for my Complete Pantanal Tour in Sept 2019
 

by RMSteck on Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:01 am
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And unfortunely it will probably happen to others:( I hope that people spending that much money will do a search and find the posted info and stay clear.


I totally agree. When we as a group of eight signed up for Mr. Lissicks tour there was no such information out there and he was happy to send lots of references and answer any questions. Finding his information on the NANPA website as well as him boasting of being a long time current member people can and will be deceived. I find it appalling that Mr. Lissicks who has thousands of "friends" (fans) on Facebook can continue to boast such lies as well as post pictures of a trip that he has not even paid for yet took our money. This guy is good at deception. He has been going to the same lodge for many years and they had no way to know he would stiff them with a HUGE bill (thousands and thousands of dollars) after he clearly had the money from us. His lies he tries to spin are ridiculous and sickening and my hope is that David and Bill get what they deserve.

There has to be something that we as professionals can do to protect and stop people like this.
Ruth
RMSteck Photography
 

by Jamie Strickland on Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:35 am
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maybe a bunch of us should join his facebook page and post links :)
 

by Bill Lockhart on Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:01 am
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Jamie Strickland wrote:
maybe a bunch of us should join his facebook page and post links :)


LOL, what a great idea! :mrgreen:
 

by Andrew Kandel on Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:43 am
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He's quite the accomplished photographer.

http://www.wildlightnaturephotography.com/FALions3914.htm
 

by Bill Lockhart on Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:11 am
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RMSteck wrote:

There has to be something that we as professionals can do to protect and stop people like this.


Hi Ruth,

I have been mulling over an idea about Photographic Tour Providers, perhaps an association with an appropriate webpage.

One thought is that members would insure their offerings using something similar to a "performance bond" as is used in the construction industry. In simple terms, the provider guarantees to provide everything specified in a tour offering and backs it up with a performance bond. This would necessitate the use of a contract when one books a tour. It sounds complex, but it really isn't. How one would collect the performance bond is the rub, perhaps through arbitration.

What this would mean is that a person who books a tour knows that if the provider fails there is a way to recover their costs. I should think that an association of tour providers, all backed by performance bonds, would acquire many more participants than would someone who offers no such assurance.

As we all know, without something like a performance bond, collecting funds from a provider is likely impossible even with a court judgment.

So, the idea is to get a large group of tour providers to form an association. Each member would be required to use performance bonds and provide proof thereof. Standard contracts could be developed by the association for use of providers and clients. Then, a seal of approval of the association would be given to the provider.

At any rate, it is nothing more than an idea and it certainly needs lots of thought.

I don't do tours, so it would not be for me. But, for those who do, it might be an excellent way to boost their participants because clients would have some assurance that what the provider offers is truthful and is backed up with a bond.

Best regards,

Bill
 

by Greg Downing on Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:36 am
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Bill,

While the idea is good in theory performance bonds are more common in an industry where performance is more easily measured such as something more tangible like the building of a house (I carried performance bonds for years for the same) but for something like a photographic workshop or tour how you measure such "performance" might be tricky to say the least.

I think the moral of the story when signing up for a workshop is to do your research - and that goes beyond references and testimonials - it's easy to get a bunch of references together from happy customers but these days you can't trust references - heck I can have 50 friends write me some references but that does not mean much because if I ask someone to write a reference do you think they are going to write something negative? I suggest folks ask around independently and you might find more accurate input - but take everything with a grain of salt and trust your instincts. Also do a google search for the person's name - I suspect Mr. Lissick is listed in Google on a few pages including this one ;)

I do like the idea of some sort of professional workshop instructors association. Experiences at workshops could be mixed depending on the instructor's work ethic and even their mood that day; I know some instructors that, after hearing stories, I swear are bi-polar. Some days they do great, other days they suddenly have a different personality. And a few of these are the most famous well known instructors around and sell out trip after trip. Something I still don't fully grasp :) I also don't grasp the concept of instructors being rude or ignoring clients. I have never seen this happen personally but have heard MANY stories of it. Saddening actually.

As for NSN we are (obviously) in the process of growing our instructor offerings and we are being very careful, slow and methodical about it so as to be sure that we offer a good value and work with good people who have a passion for what they do and are not just in it for the money (many are in it for just that and only that) but because they are knowledgeable and like working with people. One of the biggest things we are doing as a company toward that end is communicating our expectations to our instructors in a very clear and concise fashion and having them sign a written agreement of standards. Does that mean they will always do a good job and up to the high standards I want ? Not necessarily, but at least they know what we expect so that if something does go wrong we can address it head on. We are all humans and being "on" 24/7 as a workshop instructor is not always easy but one must do their best and put their participants first at every turn. Feedback after the fact is also vastly important as we are always striving to improve and do better. And if we discover a problem we fix it, but if we discover a pattern we end the relationship.

As far as locations we obviously must be familiar with each of them intimately and know the patters, seasons and such. To do otherwise is simply irresponsible. That said nature is not easy to predict down to the day or week, so there are always variables beyond our control, so from a subject and weather standpoint it's difficult to make guarantees - but having a few back up plans always helps. :) The best instructors ensure the participants get the most out of their time with you and that they walk away feeling enlightened and satisfied, even under the worst of conditions.

One of the biggest challenges in conducting a workshop is dealing with group dynamics. It can be easy on some workshops and challenging on others but if you are not a good people person and can't read people (I mean without words even being spoken) then you will have an uphill battle. For instance, say you have a group of 4 past participants and 2 new ones you need to be extra careful not to alienate the 2 newbies nor get into a click mentality with the other 4 - that is very important! With 12 years of doing this under my belt I could go on an on about this subject and the many nuances that go along with being an instructor, but you get the idea. It might be a good subject for an article - so sorry for the tangent!
Greg Downing
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by Bill Lockhart on Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:04 am
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Hi Greg,

I appreciate what you are saying. There are many unpredictables in any photographic travel adventure. I recall spending two weeks on the Isle of Mull in Scotland during which it rained day after day after day. Of course, that part of the world is subject to such conditions. I can only imagine what happens if the weather turns bad during a paid photographic tour.

And, yes, stuff happens. A vehicle breaks down. A lodging establishment got the dates wrong. Someone gets sick. Stuff that guys like you have to deal with on every tour. I don't know how you keep doing it. It would drive me mad.

As to my crazy idea about a performance bond, well, I would guess that there are some photographic tour providers who live from hand to mouth and have little in the way of business assets. That concerns me greatly. Especially if I might recommend a tour provider to someone else and then learn that things went haywire. Let's face it, tours are expensive, many costing well above $10,000 or more. When one expends such amounts surely there must be a way to recover funds if the tour provider has misrepresented the tour, or fails to deliver what was promised.

In most instances, those who get into the photographic tour business do well and are able to provide what the client expected. But, that is not always the case, and there is no central source of information that one can go to get honest information about a tour provider. And gosh knows, someone who has been responsible in the past may very well go off the deep end next week!

I applaude what you are doing at NSN with your instructor offerings. Given your reputation, such endorsements are exceedingly helpful to clients who seek that "once in a lifetime" trip.

At Photo Travel Review, we have done several reviews of tour providers. Recently I discovered that one provider we had highly recommended (a former National Geographic Photographer with an incredible portfolio including cover photographs on some of the best known magazines in the world) had done something incredibly wrong while conducting a tour in Africa. I have since taken down our review of the provider. In this instance, I was totally shocked, because the photographer was so very well known and had hundreds of accolades from participants. One never knows.

The bottom line is that this is serious stuff, because the bad apples affect the good ones.

And, BTW, thans again for this forum, through it perhaps we can educate others in a responsible way.

Best regards,

Bill
 

by SantaFeJoe on Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:27 am
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Well said, Greg! Testimonials don't mean a lot in many circumstances. You also mentioned being rude or ignoring clients. I would also add arrogance, not only to clients, but also to fellow photographers who are not a part of their workshop. This applies to in the field or elsewhere. One of the best known workshop leaders was once introduced to me by a refuge manager at the managers retirement party. He turned his back on me and walked away without as much as a "Hello" or a handshake. Even though I was a workshop instructor at the same refuge (he probably didn't even know this), I don't consider myself competition or a threat, but rather a fellow photographer. I certainly can't feel good about endorsing him to anyone. We should not be so competitive, but rather be willing to accept others place in the scheme of things. I know of several workshop instructors who like to attend others' workshops, knowing we can all learn from the experience and knowledge they possess. I feel that bad instructors and image thiefs will always be out there to take advantage of naive or uninformed people. A bad instructor wouldn't likely sign up into a registry where he would be exposed, but many people wanting to sign up for a first time workshop wouldn't even know about such a registry. That being said, a registry would serve to help the ones who know of the existence of such a registry because, as I said, a bad instructor probably wouldn't sign up on it. NatureScapes is a great place to learn and posts like this help to get the word out about unscrupulous people.

SFJ
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by RMSteck on Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:29 am
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Quote:
There are many unpredictables in any photographic travel adventure. I recall spending two weeks on the Isle of Mull in Scotland during which it rained day after day after day. Of course, that part of the world is subject to such conditions. I can only imagine what happens if the weather turns bad during a paid photographic tour.


I totally agree with you. I cannot imagine the pressure and stress.

The situation with Mr. Lissick was not a weather issue and as much as I would love to say it was just that the Polar Bears totally were not there was not the case either. At one point there were Mother and cubs spotted by very reputable members of the tribe as well as the elders within three miles of our camp. Two of the participants and I found fresh tracks by the bone yard while scouting which also supported this. Mr. Lissick in his own words had upset his guides by refusing to pay them the amount they expected and after the issues as Silver Salmon I wonder if he paid them at all. We were told in the paperwork we would have access to two boats however not only were these unsafe (by Maritime law) one of the guides took off to Canada, not wanting to deal with Mr. Lissick. With eight of us in the group and only one boat Mark made the choice not to take 1/2 out at a time so we sat in the lodge with spotted bears less than 3 miles from us but only accessible by boats which he did not provide.

I totally understand about weather and nature being unpredictable but this was not the case in this situation. When you pay someone to take the responsibility of finding safe and reputable guides that is what you expect. Weather and nature I expect, not paying your bills is not what I expect.
Ruth
RMSteck Photography
 

by mhlambert on Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:35 pm
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Ruth,

I saw your previous post here about Mark Lissick being a member of NANPA and I was intending on trying to get him tossed out but it appears someone has beat me to it. Here's the response I received when inquiring about his status:

*****************************

Hello Mike,

Mark Lissick is not a NANPA member. I am so sorry to hear about your experience with him.

Best regards,
Susan

Susan Day
Executive Director

North American Nature Photography Assn.
www.nanpa.org
618-547-7616

*****************************
 

by Chas on Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:11 am
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I know of quite a few photog's leading tours who do some unprofessional things ...

Someone should start a website for workshops like Travel Advisor. I would hope this would serve to educate the would be participant,
as well as make trip leaders realize their are repercussions for their actions.

Leaving a group mid-way through to host another venue without the participants having prior knowledge.
Taking people to locations when no birds/animals have been seen there before.
Using/copying images, text, and/or workshop titles to their own site for promotional use.
Selling the trip as instructional and not making the participant the priority.

The list goes on...

Make people accountable for their actions...FB can be a double edged sword. Speak up!

Chas
Charles Glatzer M.Photog, Canon Explorer of Light, https://about.me/charlesglatzer
Check out www.shootthelight.com for info on workshops, seminars, appearances, etc.
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by Bill Lockhart on Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:13 pm
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Chas wrote:

Someone should start a website for workshops like Travel Advisor. I would hope this would serve to educate the would be participant, as well as make trip leaders realize their are repercussions for their actions.

Chas


I have a website that might be a good place to start such a forum. The problem is the structure and its maintenance.

Let me give you some concerns.

1. So, we have a forum, and someone posts a thread about "Shoot the Light." And, it is very negative. Obviously because a competitor wants you to stop doing fantastic tours. So, what do I do as the administrator of the website? Do I allow the comment, or do I research it? How do we control legitimate comments from manufactured ones?

2. Travel Advisor is suffering greatly because of unscrupulous comments made by the owner of the lodge or the destination. In other words, TA can't be relied upon to provide guidance on a hotel, tour, or anything else because the site is filled with erroneous information.

So, a Forum approach seems to be worthless.

Next approach would be for me to spend the next three months compiling a list of all Photographic Tour Providers in the World. That effort might involve hundreds of hours. Of course, I am retired, it might be something to do.

But once I have the list, how do I go about separating the wheat from the chaff?

I suppose I might develop some rational criteria for judging whether Andy Biggs, Greg Downing, and Chas Glatzer fit in the overall scheme of things. But, it would be my criteria. And how would I apply judgments about Chas versus Greg? I simply dunno. BTW, I think both of you guys would come out on the top.

The next approach would be THE GREAT ANNOUNCEMENT. I write to all 436 Photographic Tour Providers in the world and ask them to complete my very well written form. It would be rigorous, including financial information, insurance information, direct contact with participants, example photographs, costs associated with tours, subject matter, location, etc. etc. etc. I might even require a National Crime Information Center report to determine if the provider was ever convicted of a crime. Seriously, one tour provider I know was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for fraud!

But none would respond. Why? Because they would not take the time to get on Bill's list. Who cares what Bill says.

The next approach would be to form an association.

To become a member would be very rigorous. Start small, and grow.

We might start with three photographers, the fourth would have to be approved by the three. The fifth by the four. Meaning that membership in the association must be approved by the group.

What would be the criteria for membership? How do we eliminate the "competition" issue, where one member does not want another admitted because the new member does tours that compete. A big problem to resolve.

How do we fund it? Share in costs? Who administers the website? Where will it be housed? Who develops the software?

BTW, I tried this once for a photography website, what I found out was that the members stopped participating. I could never get approval for a new member from all the members. It was a nightmare.

So, my friend, tell me how to do this? I have the expertise to bring up a website, but what I don't have is the genius required to make it work.

One other crazy idea is simply to put up a list of all tour providers in the world and rate them on a scale of one to ten. I would do it based on lots of things. At least the list would be there for others to consider. Of course, I would list my criteria. I would apply it without prejudice. It would be my judgment alone.

Who knows this idea might work. But, of course, it would not get attention, it would be a Google last placement thing. Google, as we know, does no evil.

Yes, it needs to be done, simply because the whole photographic community suffers when a bad apple poisons the rest. Thank goodness I don't do tours, it is a lifestyle I simply could not endure.

Best regards,

Bill
 

by Trev on Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:28 pm
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Quote:
It would be my judgment alone.


Bill wasn't this one of the problems in the first place, everyones judgment is different? You've obviously bought up lots of issues so perhaps thats why nobody thinks its worth doing or it would already be out there. :shock:
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by Bill Lockhart on Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:45 pm
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Hi Trev,

Absoutely.

Who is to say that my judgment is better than yours?

But the problem is that we find workshp providers with many civil judgments, some who were indicted by federal grand juries for fraud, testimony that they have written bad checks for tens of thousands of dollars, and testimony that they failed to deliver what they promised during a tour.

Do we as a community igore this?

But, I gotta admit, it is not my issue. I don't book tours without considerable research.

Best regards,

Bill
 

by signgrap on Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:22 pm
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Bill, a well thought out response about the problems setting up Travel Advisor. A couple of thoughts:

1. Take a look at http://www.resellerratings.com They have many of the same problems you mention above and have managed fairly successfully to navigate the mine field of problems and fraud. Doesn't answer all you questions but does provide one starting point. Reseller Ratings have managed to deal with bogus reviews fairly well. Don't know how willing they'd to sharing some of their culling techniques but if you could establish you credibility they might be willing to.

2.See if you can piggy back Travel Advisor with an organization like http://www.nanpa.org/. Yes I know that NANPA has a less than stellar reputation among some pro nature photographers. I also know a number of very good/reputable pros who work very hard in NANPA. I don't have any personal experience with NANPA but this, IMO, should be the type of service that NANPA should offer. Then again NANPA may have the same concerns as Greg or be worried about losing members if they get poor reviews. IMO NANPA would be better off without the poor, unscrupulous and fly-by-night providers as members as I see this as a way to couch a possible approach i.e. by improving the quality of your membership you automatically improve the quality of your organization.

I think if you start wanting to have a full blown website offering valid feedback on the majority of workshop providers it will never get off the ground. Start small and build. Get a number of good providers to sign on as a core group from which to build. The NSN's you mention certainly would provide great credibility to TA. Of course you'd have to satisfy all their concerns about how it would work but once you did you'd be well on your way to starting something successful.
Dick Ludwig
 

by Trev on Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:26 pm
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Perhaps there only needs to be a site that lists a companies civil or criminal judgments, the rest is down to the individual to do their own research, like you or I would do.
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by Bill Lockhart on Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:49 pm
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Hi Dick,

You offer some good ideas.

Perhaps a core group of tour providers and just plain good folks who do not have an ax to grind.

Our community for the most part is made up of good people who love nature and promote photography. Perhaps from them we can find an answer.

As Chas has suggested, something should be done. I welcome good ideas as you have proposed.

I have the time and the resources to make it happen. Others need to guide me on how to make it happen.

Best regards,

Bill
 

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