Buffalo Tours wants your photos… without paying for them!

From regional travel agency Buffalo Tours:

“Buffalo Tours are running an Expat Photography Competition, ‘Expats in Indochina’. We are looking for the best image of yourself, friends or family traveling in Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia. The main criteria for the photographs will include both the ‘essence’ of Indochina as a backdrop, with the traveler either posing amongst locals, monuments, scenery, or engaging in an action adventure activity.

The winner will receive an overnight package for four people in the exclusive Mai Chau Lodge, three hours south west of Hanoi.

Competition deadline is Friday 25th April. Please email entries to christine.andrews@buffalotours.com

Condition of entry: All participants must agree to Buffalo Tours using entries in future publications and online advertising.

***If you read between the lines, Buffalo Tours is trying to stockpile a database of advertising-friendly images FOR FREE, unfortunately a common practice by all sorts of companies, big and small, these days. They say they reserve the rights for ALL entries, not just the winning entry. Why do they want so many images? So they can use them in their print and online advertising, free-of-charge. Forever. The contest and prize are secondary. Don’t care? well, this means a few things:

– Buffalo Tours is placing commercial value on your snapshots and will be making money using your images. Shouldn’t you?

– What happens 5 years from now when you’re sick of seeing a picture of you and your ex-girlfriend in Sapa used on the Buffalo Tours website? Nothing you can do, as you signed off the rights to the image.

– Without a proper model release for people photographed and used in an advertising campaign, a company can actually get itself into some serious legal hotwater if someone finds out their image is being used without their consent.

– Finally, from their website: “Today, Buffalo Tours is an internationally-renowned, award-winning travel company spanning Indochina. We are recognized as one of the top inbound tour operators and destination management companies in Vietnam. Last year we provided tours for over 16,000 satisfied clients. As well as our many individual direct clients, we enjoy global and constantly growing partnerships with international tour operators and travel agents. Buffalo Tours is a leading inbound tour operator and provides destination management and inbound ground handling for over 200 companies worldwide.”

Er, if they’re so successful, why can’t they pay for pictures? Sounds like business is booming. I think they can probably afford to pay fair market price for the photographs they use in their advertising campaigns, instead of soliciting for free images from an unsuspecting public.

Bottom line: Buffalo Tours is supposed to be a successful, professional travel service. They should be paying for the materials they use to promote themselves, as any successful, professional business should.


~ by Julian Abram Wainwright on April 10, 2008.

4 Responses to “Buffalo Tours wants your photos… without paying for them!”

  1. Really so bad that an org trys establishing a relationships with local clientele? I get the waivers – sure. Bad legal advice. In a country with over the counter tramadol and $150 gibbons probably not that big a deal. When you land in Hanoi and can’t tell Bob’s Travel Co. from Bob’s Tea House, who do you turn to? And how do you tap into that most anti-marketing, closed circled, marginally jaded group? Flyers maybe? Overnight package for 4 in Mai Chau sounds like a decent trade for some snaps someone’s already taken.

  2. Thanks for the update on Buffalo Tours. With over 15,000 photos from Vietnam, Hanoi, HCMC, Hue, Lao Cali, Bac Ha, Sapa, Mekong Delta, Nha Trang and other fantastic cities, I’m always intriqued about these companies making dollars or Dong from our efforts. I love your site and will add it to my blog.

  3. I actually know the girl who won this competition, she is a student living in Hanoi who was totally stoked at winning the prize. Everyone has a choice to enter these kind of competitions, I have another friend entering one with a big travel company back home (can’t remember the name but it’s a well known, international one), and that’s her choice. I look at competitions such as Buffalo Tours and think cool, maybe I’ll be in with a chance, and I would be quite proud if my photo got featured on a website or in a brochure. My friend’s winning shot has been printed on the cover of their recent expat newsletter and she got a real kick out of walking into a cafe recently and seeing herself on the cover. If you take your photography seriously and look to it to make a living, well don’t enter these competitions! But cut some slack for the everyday novice holiday photo snapper, half the entries this company featured in its expat newsletter were certainly nowhere near commercial standard. I look at it as a fun way of marketing to local expat supporters. And to Chuck above – noone’s forcing you to enter to make money from your efforts. Everyone chill!

  4. ps. Julian – as a local expat here in Vietnam I have to say I really appreciate your photos and think they’re amazing. Why not actually try contacting Buffalo Tours and see if they are interested in paying you for your shots, rather than just assuming that wouldn’t be the case?

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