Photo contest could benefit Victoria Clipper more than contestants

Clipper Vacations, an affiliate of the Seattle-based Victoria Clipper, has kicked off a photo contest offering five round trips for two on the Victoria Clipper as the prizes, but the company itself could prove to be the biggest winner.

The organization is looking specifically for "high-resolution" images of what it calls “striking digital images highlighting the beautiful environment, architecture and activities of Victoria, Seattle, Portland and Vancouver.” The images can be outdoor scenes including landscapes, aerials, sea life, and waterscapes; cityscapes, landmarks, special events or “people having fun,” it said in an April 17 e-mail announcing the contest.

Provincial Parliament buildings in Victoria
There are four categories, with one for each city. Photographs will be entered in a category based on the city it depicts. The best photo in each category will win a trip for two on the Victoria Clipper, and the winners will be able to choose round trip passage between Seattle and Victoria or whale watching in the San Juan Islands.

The submission judged “Best Overall Photo” will win two round-trip tickets on the Victoria Clipper between Seattle and Victoria, one night at the Embassy Inn in Victoria and one night at the Roosevelt Hotel in Seattle.

An internal editorial team at Clipper Navigation will select the winning photos from those that are submitted in compliance with the contest rules.The contest will run through May 15 and the winners will be announced by May 30.

While the company will be giving away five round-trips for two and two one-night hotel stays, the company itself may be the biggest winner in this contest, as the photos submitted could provide Clipper Navigation with a fairly extensive library of high-res photos for it and its partners to use in their advertising materials -- at virtually no cost!

Marketing departments use a large number of photographs in their materials,whether print or electronic. Images are used for the focal point of the piece, for the backgrounds, and other applications. In fact, a book that is sitting on my desk at this very moment uses five different photos on the cover alone. Those images usually come at a cost whether a company keeps a photographer on staff, enlists professional photographers for specific assignments, or buys photos from "stock photo" sites.

However, even stock photo sites often require purchasers to publish a photo credit along with the image they've purchased, as at the bottom of this post. Not so with photos entered in this contest.

According to contest rules, which apply not just to the winning photographs but to all photographs entered, any photographer who submits a photo grants Clipper Navigation and its affiliates “an unlimited, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, nonexclusive right and license to use, reproduce, publish, modify, perform and display the image on the website and in any marketing or advertising of any kind related thereto, in any medium now known or later developed, and with or without attribution.” (emphasis added)

Regarding the notion that the photographs will be virtually free to Clipper Navigation, bear in mind that an empty seat on a boat, train, or airplane or unsold hotel room night is an extremely perishable commodity. Once a purveyor starts a journey from Point A to Point B or the clock passes midnight, there is no way to recover the revenue lost by leaving a seat empty or a room unsold.

Therefore, if the tickets on the Clipper and hotel room nights are given on a "space available" basis, they will cost the company almost nothing because it will be giving away passage or room nights that would not have been sold otherwise and which would not have generated revenue.

Even if the prizes are awarded without such restrictions, round trip passage on the Clipper at high season with 7-day advance purchase is $128 per adult, or $1,280 in fares at retail, and the hotel rooms retail for about $200 per night, meaning a total retail cost of less than $1,700 to acquire who knows how many high-res photographs.

Contest rules also state that the photos submitted may be shared with Clipper Vacations marketing partners. Finally, because the rules state the photos can be used without identifying the photographer, photographers might not even get a photo credit.

I don’t mind the idea of my photos showing up in marketing collateral without receiving compensation but, as one who considers himself a pretty decent photographer, I would like to be sure I receive credit for taking the shot. If you’re less egotistical than I, more power to you!

I also wouldn't mind a company saying something like, "Even if your photograph isn't selected as a winning entry, you could see it published in future promotions or marketing materials." However, it said nothing like that in its pitch, and because the rules make it clear that the company can use the submitted photos for virtually any purpose, it seems disingenuous to promote this as simply a straightforward "contest."

If none of that bothers you, get to uploading! The contest closes in less than a month.

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Photo by Carl Dombek
Click on photo to view larger image