A few years ago, 2008 to be exact, I was casting about for an interesting photo-op. I had recently purchased my Canon 1DmkIII camera and I was looking for an excuse to use it. We are not far from a place called Trexlertown in Pennsylvania, and Trexlertown is known for having a velodrome – a place where they race bicycles. One weekend, after doing a little research so I knew that there would be some activity, I went up there with my camera gear. I’m not entirely sure what was going on because I am not into bicycle racing, but there were some races, although very few spectators, and they were not charging admission (it may have been “trials” or qualifying runs of some sort). I wandered around the whole day shooting up a storm, although it was high-summer and very hot and very bright.
I have had these pictures posted in my Flickr account since 2008 and although I went back occasionally to admire my handiwork, and they would occasionally get “hits” from others searching for “Trexlertown”, I didn’t think much of it. About a week ago I got an e-mail from a representative of a graphic arts company saying that they were putting together the décor for a new Applebee’s restaurant opening in Trexlertown and they wanted to know if they could use my images, since they like the decorations to reflect the locale. The person said that they were willing to provide attribution and even pay a modest amount. I wrote back and said that they were welcome to use my pictures for this purpose free-of-charge, since I consider myself a strict amateur and I am proud of that status. I did specifically mention that I have no release-forms, but I am sure that the Applebee’s lawyers know how to deal with that (the business holds the legal liability, not the photographer). I have to say that in spite of the payment offer, I have no respect for the faux-tographer “semi-professionals”. You are either good enough to make your living with a camera, or you are an amateur and you shouldn’t take people’s money for something that any-old yutz can do.
It is my habit to shoot RAW and to keep all of my RAW originals. During my processing workflow I often create intermediate TIF files on the way to a JPG final version, but since those TIF are so huge, I often delete them shortly afterward. Because I keep the original unmodified RAW files however, I can (as I did here) go back and reprocess the images using my current software and processing techniques. I find that my photo processing evolves rather rapidly, and I am now capable of producing much better output than I was 5-years ago.
I will have to keep my eye on the Applebee’s web site and when they open that restaurant I’ll have to take a ride up there to see if they really did hang any of my stuff.