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BEWARE: Washington Post “Contest”

My mom who lives in Virginia is a devoted Washington Post reader. I guess it comes from the days when her and pop lived in D.C.

Recently, Mom sent me a clipping from The Post that announced their upcoming 14th annual travel photography contest.

As I read through the rules, I noticed this statement: By entering, you grant The Washington Post permission to use your photo in perpetuity in any medium, including to edit, publish, distribute and republish it in any form.

The rules also state that you should submit high-resolution photos (240 dpi JPEG, at five inches wide/high)

The prizes for this competition are gift certificates to a photo retailer. Average retail value: First prize, $200; second prize, $100; third prize, $50.

Take another look at those rules. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you are giving permission to The Washington Post to use your image in any way they want — FOREVER.

It’s another scam to get them plenty of photographs and not have to pay for them. As the ‘contest’ is only open to amateurs, The Post is acknowledging that most/many/some pros are too smart to fall for this.

Amateurs just don’t realize the potential future value of their work and are starry-eyed over the prospect over a paper of the Post’s status “wanting” their images.

Folks, you should NEVER be willing to give away your photos for free. Even if Especially if you’re a beginner. Even though you’re an amateur, you still have costs involved.

And often these costs exceed your earnings. You need gear, workshops maybe, meeting with your clients, gas money…well, the list goes on and the costs to you go up.

If you don’t learn anything else today learn that large companies like the Washington Post take advantage of new/beginner/amateur photographers — it’s insulting to our profession.

If enough people will help get the word out, then this unacceptable behavior will stop and maybe we can stop these companies from taking advantage of rookie photogs — and hurting the rest of us.

If you want to read the rules for yourself, you can view them here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/14th-annual-travel-photo-contest-official-rules/2013/06/05/69d1fc50-ce15-11e2-8f6b-67f40e176f03_story.html

What’s your take on this? Ever felt scammed by a contest that wanted to use your shots for free? Leave a comment.

Bio Box

 Jerry Nelson is a freelance photojournalist from America.  His latest book of photography, Suenitos tells the story of the only daycare inside the dangerous Hidden City.  Now based in Argentina, he continues to turn his lens on social justice issues around the globe.  Connect with Jerry on MosaicHub, Facebook or LinkedIn today.  Have a story that needs to reach national media?  Email him today.

In addition to being photo editor for the Internet’s largest collection of Travel Articles, Outbounding, he is also the lead photographer for BuenosTours, the specialists in private walking tours of Buenos Aires

Find Jerry on Google+


Are you a blogger? Journalist? Photographer?  Get your work featured on JourneyAmerica.  As a Guest, you can link up to three times back to your website, your portfolio or your business.  To see some of the other guests that have been featured, select “Guest Post” category on the right side of the screen in “the cloud”.  Questions?  Email me today.


Every week I get many requests from bloggers, publishers and editors to provide content..  While I’m always glad to help out, sometimes the amount of work requested can get a little overwhelming.  I’ve enlisted “MuckRack” to help me sort out the pitches. If you’ve emailed me an inquiry about providing content and I haven’t answered, I’m not ignoring you.  I just haven’t dug that far down in my emails yet.  To make doubly sure you get your pitch noticed, please click on the “MuckRack” button and enter your request there.  Thanks for understanding!


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