I'm an underwater photographer, publisher of DivePhotoGuide.com, photographer for Sport Diver magazine, co-host of UnderwaterCompetition.com along with Eric Cheng, and president of NYUPS.
I still dabble in my "old profession", which is digital marketing. I founded and sold one of the first digital media agencies in the US and still provide consulting services. I've been phasing that out for the last 2 years to focus on commercial photography, but somehow can't seem to shake the marketing industry. So basically I live two lives, but somehow find balance, but only because of photography.
I have to agree with a few of Drew's assessments, all spot on...
- It seems like there were many "training baitballs". Tons of juvi dolphins, and a lot of not well formed and/or mobile baitballs this year - not sure if that is a causal relationship or not.
- Too many operators with snorkelers and too many bright colored items in the water. I agree that it is only a matter of time before another bad accident. How hard is it to recommend to all of your guests to wear black?
BTW - a great surprise - had sailfish and a marlin on two different baitballs. You can see the "atmospheric" vis though (about 3-5 meters)!
I also contacted the right people at Scuba Diving and asked them to consider changing the terms and conditions of this competition, but before reading Eric's post. So we've most likely bugged the same people.
Often the intention and terms and conditions are not the same. Sometimes the rules are just boiler plates from other contests and the individuals writing and approving the rules do not understand the sensitivity of the usage rights issue. The bigger the company the more this is true. I always give every company this benefit of the doubt and have had many competitions change their rules once pointing out the inconsistency between their intentions and the terms and conditions of the competition. Most contests like this are for the average consumer, not a bunch of photographers who take this stuff seriously. It's not as much of an issue when people are submitting vacation photos - they just don't care about these issues and therefore it never presents and issue. The issue appears when the terms and conditions are carried over to a contest where people (like all of us) do actually care.
As it has been pointed out - we as photographers endorse or detract from the competition via our participation or lack thereof. This is why in the DPG event calendars, for all competitions we request the organizers to provide the usage rights so we can post them claerly and straightforwardly for everyone
Any worthy competition should follow a simple guideline for usage rights:
a) Winners only; and
b) Only to promote future contests and to announce winners of the contest
c) Attribution to the photographers when images are used
I can predict that their intention is not a rights grab. Whether they have the time to change the terms and conditions amid other busy schedules of a big slower moving company I can't predict. Will keep everyone posted on what I hear.
*** UPDATE ***
All of the above is confirmed with SD now. Unfortunately Bonnier is a big company with a boiler plate for these contests that would take time to change. The editors and publisher of SD are aware of the situation and not thrilled, but can reassure us all that there is not intention to use images beyond winning images for the announcement of winners and promotion of the next contest.