We are writing today to ask for your help, in part out of respect for the awesome photographers out there in the ultimate world, and in part to help us do better.
One of our favorite things to do is share photos of the teams that we create uniforms with. We are proud of the designs created by VC in partnership with teams, and of the work involved in producing custom apparel. We want to show them to our fans - and potential fans!
Unfortunately, we can't be at every tournament cheering you and taking photos from the sideline, so we often ask teams to submit photos for us to use.
We always ask that the photos are the team's to authorize use of, and request that any photo credit information we should share be included.
Very often, we receive photos from teams who, with the best of intentions, don't realize that they don't own the rights for us to publish them to our social media, which is itself a form or marketing.
We love UltiPhotos and the work of their great photographers. They’re very good at alerting us when we’ve inadvertently used one of their photos for commercial purposes without a license, which we appreciate and correct right away (including getting in touch with the folks who sent us the picture in question to ensure they understand the situation as well).
This happened with UltiPhotos and another photographer recently so we wanted to take the opportunity to a) publicly commit to doing better! (more on this below), and b) request input from photographers on their perspectives and tips on understanding usage rights.
The world of photo licensing is complicated. Even professional teams can misinterpret their licensing rights to photos and send us images that we aren't able to use.
We do get asked, why not license more photos ourselves? While we value the work of professional photographers immensely, and know that our community is much better off thanks to the work of organizations like UltiPhotos, we struggle with the extremely high risk and cost of events. In other words, only a small number of the events we merchandise are profitable, and we feel that we don't currently have room to include a specific photography budget in most championship tournaments (which have the highest chance of seeing athletes wearing VC uniforms in action).
This is a reason why VC, over the last 5 years, has travelled to events as often as possible with its own photographer. These include the amazing Andraž Kramberger from Slovenia, Daniel Bergson of Hero Culture and, VC's own custom team representative, Jess Richard.
At events, our "official photographer" is also an official VC tournament worker and sales representative on-site, with their first priority being to help players in the merchandise tent and then watching games and taking photos when timing allows.
Committed to Improvement
Moving forward, we will be doing two checks to verify that photos we receive are OK to use. In addition to wording this more explicitly when we request photos, we will ask for the photographer's contact information and get in touch with them.
As a company, we need to verify ourselves that photographers have approved our use of their images on any channels, for any reason.
What the Pros Think
Andraz Kramberger (@krambergera)
"I would emphasize that if you are in the photo you don't necessarily have the rights to use/share it. For example, a paparazzi just recently sued Dua Lipa because she used their photo on her social networks."