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(more photography and marketing ideas , including aspects of the law ,logos, brands slogans and graphics)

By John Coxon* © @johncoxonmedia  (photography & design, marketing, PR and media support to sports and sport related business) 


Revised lyric from me of “Land of hope and Glory”


I am a professional photographer but also a time served journalist and writer.  Both professions require key skills and competencies. Most of the work for either a photographer or writer can be just a job where technical excellence, a certain industry standard is expected where the outcome , to be paid  for doing it , has to pass the “ fit for purpose” test.  My business has an extra dimension . A pet portrait or a match report can be done  by anyone  who is camera  or print literate but even hack tasks give the professional some latitude within the client’s brief to use an image or words creatively as long as what is produced is appropriate to the intended audience in the case of writing or within the criteria the client of your photography has set.

Designs must “speak the language” of the customer and that is more than just translating. It has to get the message across effectively.

The artist in the professional is rarely completely free to express themselves without the reasonable constraint of doing what you were paid for, hired to do.  But  my client group  falls into two categories. The first group essentially require me to record what is already there, professionally such as weddings events and sports events . The second group commission me to record images with a marketing or other end product in mind and here my total thinking out of the box side of me, my old fashioned ethic of wanting to do things well , that are original and refreshing rather than reproducing the same old stuff kicks in to over drive.  I work hard with incredible stamina and sustained discipline. I wanted to geet this article out there and worked through the night coming up and producing a dozen new sample designs .hile I  will take calculated risks and am not afraid to stretch the boundaries, so I will, within the law and local rules , challenge and step over the boundary marker , you sometimes have to trespass outside the box to get a fresh angle on  something. I only  work for clients  whose mission or products are genuine and which I believe in.  All the following examples of graphics  and my samples of t-shirt designs here focus on the sport of field hockey , just as examples, of the range of things I can do well beyond merely taking photograahs of say a game ( which has a wonderful global community and upholds the finest traditions of sport. The game in the UK is the second largest in popularity  , after football, in terms of active participation .


(I am a genuine fan of the game at all levels, photograph games regularly, devote a lot of free time and energy promoting the game’s interests on social media  even though I have no official connection with the games  governing body here in England or any other . The game at grass roots level often struggles for funding and can rarely afford the service of a media professional like myself. Where I  can I charge a token amount for large numbers of professional quality images from games for grass roots teams , I will turn out , to enable them to be more proactive in raising their profile, for example on Face Book ,if I have spare time . Nonetheless , some of my best clients are associated  with hockey  in some way.

Although I can set up and pose photographs for clients I am always on the lookout for the unusual in other wise somewhat regular contexts. This scenario , which I use as my email signature, I captured at a hockey festival , a player sheltering from the cold winds in a goal keeper bag!


I offer a bespoke home design and create desk top publishing option and for example can make up customised tee shirts  to order  either one offs to a clients brief  or for group orders or ideas to make items to sell based on my own out of the box preffered way of doing things . I either print them myself using iron tranfer printing or take the design to a specialoist if multiole are needed. I have of course considered making designs for manufacture rather than sticking to original one off designs for clients. nothing better than not being slave to fashion and having a off off garment that nobody else has! Whilst you may be entitled to use pictures say of world stars in a design or rights free/ royalty free graphics and logos there are rules of engagement when going into commercial use of someone’s image/ photo for example.

PHOTOGRAPHY IN DESIGN – Guidelines for keeping within the law

Some legal and ethical considerations are :- ( just my main personal choice of key points,  not an exhaustive lis,t so be cautious and above all respect the rights of others and take your responsibility  to other photographers seriously)

*You must, in law, own the copyright of a photograph you use in any context. ( you automatically own any photograph you take, image you make or anything  you write until you give that right away. Such rights ,for the professional , require some payment always.

*In law the rules governing photography apply equally to professionals and amateurs and apply please take note,  to all imaging devices and that applies to camera phones.

*You may not, in law , invade a person’s rights to privacy .

*You, in law,  do not need consent to photograph a person in a public place where they cannot, in law, have a “reasonable expectation” of privacy. If in doubt or when  challenged , respect the wishes of others , and out of professional courtesy,  ask the subject if it is ok to take their picture. If they object, even though legally you are free to photograph them in a public place, thank them and walk away.

*In laws , the Police have no authority to prevent you from taking photographs in public spaces even if often they have been guilty of abusing that right making bogus misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.

*You should at all times not act in anyway that poses a risk to others, and especially in photographing minors in a public place or anywhere else and that includes innocent use of images of minors for example in website contexts and especially where they can be identified by for example location clues within the image.

*Where you are photographing minors ( with parental consent ) for example at a sport event,  be cautious when, for example, children are wearing a strip with their first name or nick name on the back of their shirt as often occurs with young footballers.

*Remember you may be subject to additional bye laws and rules and responsibilities and guidelines , directives from sport governing body and must respect those additional directives or guidelines. ( All under 18’s for the EHB /england hockey are to be treated as minor’s and never photogrpahed without parental consent ( I make it a habit to always wear a see through holder containing my CRB full disclosure clearance documentation to  .( and often wear a high viz jacket  which has both my name and phone number on the back to identify myself )

CRB enhanced Disclosure -identifies that you do not have a criminal record that makes you a risk to minors.Not normally a legal requirement but a useful item to have with you in my trade.

*You must , in law ,not use any of my images or anyone else’s in a defamatory or insulting way.

*You cannot , in law , copy, adapt, modify, amend an image or part of an image if you do not have the copyright of that image.

*In law you need the permission ( called model release consent *2 see below note  ) of the subject (persom)  if you wish to make commercial use of an image that identifies them and especially where using a person’s image *picture and or reputation” by association, to endorse a product or service



Remember : Anything you produce and then display as samples on the internet become immediately vulnerable to on line theft of your intellectual property whether it is your images or writing of any description and a person who wants to try and make a go of photography in particular must heavily watyermark their work across the image not under it where it is so easy to crop off.

Remember : Any great design ideas,( or a neat slogan or text) and all images  are expensive to protect and  difficult to protect from plagiarism  or intellectual property  (COPYRIGHT THEFT) Certainly if you advertise or trade via the internet expect your images and ideas to be stolen and copied world wide even though to do so is illegal and punishable in law . It is very difficult and time consuming to monitor or challenge such widespread practice (but very rewarding financially if you manage to find evidence of this kind of intellectual property theft and misuse )  I use social media and my website to demonstrate my work and the wide range of associated talents I have to call upon fro my clients. Image theft is the bane of my life and now I publish less and less images on public access platforms and prefer to use password protected areas of my web space solely for the use of genuine clients and customers , almost always now for those who had previously commissioned and later paid me. I offer shared rights to all my images – after payment I am more than happy for my clients to share and make widespread use of my work.

Spoil images put on line with visible watermarks, coyright symbol and name, date. Make sure it is positioned where if cropped the picture becomes useless

Remember : Most people now  have some form of  relatively cheap imaging device , are not remotely concerned about copyright and can take  images with them for virtually nothing, hence the general public no longer so greatly value professional quality work and are more and more reluctant o pay anything for it.  I pride myself in the quality of all my work , have invested many thousands of pounds in the very best professional equipment  People think wrongly ,  that professional  photographers like myself  make good money from sale of prints or image files from events they cover but the income from online sales is always poor and very random , in the main due to  image theft (that is people copying and downloading my photographs, even though these are always poor resolution sample version of the actual image file and heavily spoiled with watermarking ) This is not usually for gain but for personal use.

Killing me softly, the  sports fan “own goal.”

Often these images are from so called “minor” sports like hockey which crave a higher profile and more media attention, By taking images from photography websites , image thieves not only affect the livelihoods of professional photographers like me who do want to help the game and actively promote it through on line, almost always, voluntary sports journalism and image sharing but are also directly responsible  for less and less of freelance photographers coming to games at any level.

Though few want to see it as such, “sharing” photos or copying & downloading any image files that aren’t yours that you find on line is theft and that includes social media site like Facebook. If you didn’t take them  you can be very heavily fined if the owner of the image (copyright) finds you using them for any purpose without permission or payment and decides to prosecute you and fines are normally much, much more than the often modest sums photographers ask in payment for the work. Please  be further aware, the law also applies to any such image that does not have a copyright mark and or the name of the photographer on it.


Based on the last tens years experience of covering a range of social events and sporting events at all levels, what areas would I advise anyone with an ambition to make their income as a professional photographer ? Social events still pay well but the market is highly competitive. Weekend amateurs are more and more posing as professionals so beware of tempting  very low fees that seriously undercut the expect or you can regret  at your leisure afterwards. Don’t touch weddings and other milestone events yourself if you are not competent enough to guarantee a 99.9% success rate in what you produce  and that everything you finally pass on to the client is spot on. Such events are  unrepeatable, it is never a rehearsal and people are shelling out their hard earned for a  quality record of what is a huge event in the families  lives.

Don’t ruin their day fakin it as a photographer. Can you gauranttee a 100% succes ratee?

Make sure you are well ensured if you are not competent because trust me any court will award damages that are way past the modest amount you charged. Sports events are a safer option but unless you get hired and paid an agreed fee beforehand, you are notn going to much much at all of you think you can just set up some cute website  and players and participants are going to be banging at the door to throw money at you for your work.  It isn’t  hard to spot the fake weekend amateur. Websites tend to be a tad twee and the front page will of be a chummy introduction stating a name and the tell tale ” have always had a passion for for photography.” followed by often a random selection of shots  they have taken of the pet dog and so fourth.


Hockey Player CV Tee Shirt

Lately I have spent some time thinking of garment slogans for the sport of field hockey, a particular specialism of mine. I admire the people who play, at all levels  hence the heart felt endorsement above in my hot of the press  CV T-shirt design . Hockey folk are never geeks  though often very bright, and all have learned a range of valuable and marketable social and personal skills beyond just hand -eye and stick skills through active involvement in the game and post game clubroom , either home or away , Après-ski, off site festivals and “tours.”

Just for fun , might appeal to some to wear but may be a tad too risque for some.

(They are far more employable and socially engaging as are others who are committed to regular sport and hence often more employable and  Is it possible to help promote the game, raise awareness of its increasing populalrity or produce a product that those in the game would appreciate, be amused by, identify with and more important actually want to buy? (There are very few examples of this sort of text branding use for garments to aim at theis sports market but then again I wouldn’t want to copy the ideas of others although up for being influenced by them.  The I hope funny example  eleven positions slogan relies on being a tad risqué. Hockey is a seventy minute game with a breather at half time and with eleven players on the field

In the goal keeper example, that is a portait of one of the world’s most outstanding goal keeper’s Joyce, who is dutch.  The slogan is easily understood by those with a command of English. The Dutch for keeper is I believe “Keepster ”  but i doubt if the term in that language has alternative meanings idiomatically  but in UK english , it can mean someone  or something precious and too valuable to discard.  tis example is part of the design process which is to say the process of constantly looking for fresh ideas and exploring them.

*2 Model Release  form sample

Diclaimer All images , designs, graphics and copy ( writings) are my intellectual property and  copyright and cannot be copied in whole or in part nor published in any fom, context or media and cannot be used without payment or my consent ( including for any academic use.) any licensed use may be subject too a token fee and my terms and conditions.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HIRE ME FOR HELP WITH A PROJECT OR WANT FURTHER ADVICE ABOUT ANY ASPECT OF PHOTOGRAPHY WHY NOT TAKE NOTE OF MY CONTACT DETAILS. On line tutoring is also available at £10 per hour via Skype and video web cam conferencing. Contact me for further details.





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Twitter: @johncoxonmedia

Skype name : johnecoxon

Member :EPUK (Editorial Photographers UK)







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