Iphoneography: USA iPhone Travel Photography

Radich NY-Times Square iPhone Panorama

Someone much wiser once said something like ‘the best camera you have is the one you have on you’ … and as my iPhone 5 is nearly always always in my pocket, it has become my go-to image creator. The quality of the images you can capture are quite amazing for something that also does a pretty good job of acting like a phone … and a computer. And with the outstanding Photoshop Express app, the level of post-production and editing you can do all in the palm of your hand rivals what many amateur photographers do on their desktops.

On my latest overseas trip to the USA my iPhone well and truly got a workout on the streets of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Reno. Around NYC I often carried my Canon EOS 1D MkIV, but with the ability to edit on the fly, then directly upload to Instagram and Facebook, I found that I have enjoyed the shots I took with my Apple phone much more. And sometimes having the limitations of a non-optical zoom, 8-megapixel mini-lens makes you think just a little bit more creatively to make the most of those limitations. So take a look at some of my shots, and if you like what you see, follow me on Instagram for more of my iPhoneography.

Click on the photos below to see larger versions…


Communication Breakdown…

The snowboard industry has just as many hard-nosed, penny-pinching snakes as any money-hungry industry, but when this is combined with the laid-back nature and characters of the sport, you come across some pretty interesting business dealings. 

I recently came across the difficulties faced by a Canadian snowboard photographer, Chris Messervey. As you will see from his blog entry, he emailed a shot of Dustin Craven to him as a preview for his sponsors, which wound up being used on the Grenade Gloves website without Chris’ authorisation. Chris was annoyed as Grenade are a huge international corporation and should have known better  – basically they should have come to some agreement with him first before using his shot. The emails go back and forth between Chris and Grenade with a heap of angry language and without any resolution. Chris has received a fair bit of internet press about this incident, and there seems to even be a bit of a backlash against Grenade.

All this reminded me of some equally angry correspondence I had with a snowboard retailer (I’ll call them “Boardstore”) at the start of the year. I was annoyed to find two of my photos used on their shop’s Facebook page without my authorisation. Yes, I know it is only Facebook, but in this day and age Facebook has become a legitimate promotional tool to promote an enterprise, just like an advertisement on radio, TV or in print. I don’t mind riders using some of my photos (preferably last season ones, because current ones may jeapardise their “exclusivity”, and hence likelihood to be published by magazine editors) for personal things like in their own Facebook photo galleries, or to show as previews to their sponsors. But as soon as someone uses a photo of mine for a business, even if it is a friend of mine starting up a small company, I want to be paid…and paid preferably in money, not product.

So for all those who misunderstand the law of photography, here is a summary: As soon as I press the shutter on my camera, I create an image, and “own” copyright in that said image (up until 70 years after my death). Copyright reserves all my rights to the usage of this image, and in effect, anyone who uses, reproduces, publishes, or prints any image of mine without my authorisation has broken the law under The Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), as well as the international treaties that back up this law overseas. I may “licence” you use the photo for free (as mentioned above with my snowboarder mates), however I deserve to be justly rewarded for the use of my photo otherwise. It is my business, and how I make money. Using a photo for free without authorisation is pretty similar to stealing a snowboard from a factory (minus the physical trespass): I created the photo, I own it, and using it for free is depriving me of my rightful payment for it. (For a more in-depth investigation of Australian photographer’s rights, click here and here)

And as for the snowboarders I take photos of, they agree, either implicity or expressly, to authorise the use their image in my photos for “commercial” means, ie for magazines, advertisements or websites. They are not paid for this, but they do so to increase their exposure, their personal “brand”, as well as their sponsor’s logos – that is the reward they get, hoping that their sponsors will in turn pay them in cash (and not just product) for helping to create this exposure with the photographer.

Take a look at the correspondence below with “Boardstore”. I could have probably been a little more explanatory and nice in my first email where I requested the photos be taken down…however I didn’t expect the backlash I received. But in the end, we sorted out our differences, and came to what seems to be an amicable end:


Sean ‘Radman’ Radich 03 January at 20:15

Hi “Boardstore”,

I happened to see that you have 2 of my photos on your Facebook team photo page. Can you please take them down?

The shots are:

“XX” Snowpark step up, and
“XY” Tahoe front board.

Cheers, that’d be great thanks.

Sean Radich


“Boardstore” 03 January at 22:08

For starters mate you gave us permission to use the “XX” shot about 4 years ago in a mag ad plus we got the shots from the riders to use so take it up with them. How about you actually talk to us about it first instead of throwing orders about – are you for real mate get your head out of your ass we could have actually worked together where we would of supported your work & actually worked a deal out with you – so unproffesional radman … We will take the shots down gladly – you’ve come across like a dick now … Good way to do business .


Sean ‘Radman’ Radich 04 January at 11:43

Hi Boardstore,

Sorry, i thought it was a reasonable request? I’m a bit surprised by your reply.

You are right – taking it up with riders is where the problem lies, and it is hard to get a proper and professional outcome between photographer and a company when dealing with a middle man (ie the riders).

Re “XX”’s photo- he made representations to me that there would be payment/compensation for the use of that photo, possibly in the form of gear and/or money. That may have not been your understanding of how permission to use the photo was to be, but it was mine. And as much as you talk about ‘supporting my work and working out a deal’, I never heard any more about it those years ago and chalked it up as lost opportunity for reward. So there didn’t seem to be much intention to work out a deal previously, and so when you say you’re not going to support my work or work out a deal now, I don’t really feel like I’m losing much.

And nevertheless, even if permission to use the photo in an ad was given, that doesn’t give further permission to publish or reproduce the photo – this time on Facebook. If a photo is purchased ‘rights free’ for 12 months, then for that 12 months a company can use it as many times as they like. But any such arrangement is naturally more costly than a ‘single-use’ photo purchase.

Re “XY”’s photo – yes, I would have given him a copy of that shot for his personal files and use, to show to sponsors etc. It was a couple of years ago now too, but I’m sure I would have told him to check with me first before anyone is to use it.

It’s a difficult situation we are in, as riders want to show the fruits of their labour to the ones that hook them up, but in the digital age it is all too easy for those shots to then get passed down the line and published, reproduced or used without the photog’s permission. I can imagine lots of companies think they do have permission to use the shot, via the rider, but really, they should know better; professional photographers deserve reward for their work.

How would you feel if I came unannounced into your shop, took a snowboard from the shelf and walked out the door without paying? That’s how I feel about my photos getting used without my permission, and really the dollar value of a snowboard cost for shop vs a photo ‘single-use’ payment is about the same.

Ultimately a couple of photos on a team page on Facebook is not a huge deal, but honestly, I’m sick of seeing photogs get ripped off in the Oz Snowboard industry, so I’m starting to take a harder-line and not letting anyone, even friends, publish my shots without some sort of deal upfront. I hope you can understand my point of view on this?

I’m more than happy to discuss any of these issues with you further if you would like. And thank you for taking the two shots down.




Boardstore 04 January at 12:49

Mate you’ve never been into Boardstore once if you have you’ve never introduced yourself so how are we supposed to work out a deal , you’ve never even written to us or made any effort in contacting us to make a deal . Its a massive difference in just walking into a store and stealing a board that’s called theft eh, we asked the riders for photos we could use they gave them to us therefore we used them its as simple as that – again you need to have a better relationship with who you shoot.
The photos will be down by this afternoon and I will be telling our whole team not to shoot with you again. It works both ways, do you pay the rider you are shooting ? They are the ones putting themselves at risk so you can get the shot which makes you & only you get paid – kinda selfish eh.. You should be paying them not just giving them a copy of the shot, what good is that if they cant use it. We pay our riders to do the job they are doing you don’t pay them anything until you do you cant tell them what & what not to do with their images that copy of the shot is their income .. In the end without them your doing wedding photos.


Sean ‘Radman’ Radich 04 January at 14:59


Yeah, I’ve never actually been to Boardstore, but have always wanted to check out what your shop is like as I’ve heard good things about it. And I’m glad to hear that you also pay your team riders.

Look, the “XX” photo was water under the bridge – I had written off the loss of reward a couple of years ago, but really it probably would have been best if I chased it up in some manner back when it happened.

And as I said- a couple of photos up on FB is not a huge deal in the scheme of things, but I still don’t want them used without my authorisation. Other photographers might be happy to have their photos all over the web, but I don’t. It came to my attention, and we dealt with it. I’m just trying to protect my interests, and the product of my labour.

And I do agree – theft is theft…and there’s a little thing called Copyright Law and the Copyright Act 1968 which gives photographers complete control and ownership of when and how their photos are reproduced, copied or used from as soon as they have pressed the shutter on their camera. I give my photos to riders as a personal favour only for their portfolios.

I’ve worked with many of your team riders over the years, and had a good shooting relationship with them. You can tell them whatever you like, hopefully they can make their own minds up about who they need to be working with in the media in order to help promote your shop and themselves. I guess there are lots of wedding photographers who have had snowboard photos and articles published internationally for them to choose from…




Boardstore 04 January at 15:23

No probs lets just leave it at that then, I wont tell my riders anything, you just need to follow up on the deals you make . We were under the impression that “XX” gave you a board & bindings plus some cash as weve never met you or had any contact details for you ever. Weve done deals with alot of photographers before with never any problems.
Put it down to miscommunication then.


Sean ‘Radman’ Radich 04 January at 15:35

Yep – no worries.




So my advice for all other up-and-coming photographers:

  1. Stick with your friends. When you find some people you like working with, and that you can trust, try and work with them as much as you can. It just makes life easier, and the work more enjoyable.
  2. Don’t ever give a photo away for free to a company or business. Not only do you cheapen your work by giving it away for free, businesses will begin to expect to get things for free and baulk at paying for photos from other experienced and professional photogs.
  3. Stick to your guns on price/payment. Always have a bottom line that will keep you happy – that may be just a pair of gloves, or a snowboard jacket, or it may be $50…or $43,000. Whatever. The times when I have agreed to a sale of a photo for a price below what I really wanted (just to see the photo blown up big, or to help a rider out) I have always regretted it later. Now I prefer a photo not to get used if I am not happy with the price I have in my mind. It sucks for the rider that put so much effort into getting the shot…and it sucks for me too. But sticking to my guns has made me feel better about it in the long run, and has let me get paid what I want most of the time too.
  4. Always get something in writing regarding the use, and hopefully payment, of your photo. In the past I hadn’t done this enough, naively relying on goodwill and trust, and have been burned too many times as a result. So at a minimum, send the company rep an email confirming the agreement to use the photo, include the agreed payment, and explain their “rights” to use the photo under the licence you have given them. If you can, try and get some sort of contract, but this almost never seems to happen in snowboarding.
  5. Inform the riders of your rights. Make sure all the riders (and company reps, team managers and marketing managers) you send previews of your photos are aware they are not to be published commercially, and not to be put up on Facebook etc if you are hoping to get those brand new shots published by a magazine in the future.
  6. Include some sort of watermark and/or copyright into the photo “preview”…and only email low res versions that can’t be blown up big for a poster, until you have come to an agreement.
  7. And finally, beware the perils of iPhones and Blackberries…and trying to combine work with late-night drinking sessions:


From: “Alex”
Sent: Saturday, 28 November 2009 2:34:10 AM
To: Sean Radich

Hey Sean,

Well hello hello hello… how are you? And more to the point where are you in the world?

We are finalising the 2010 brochure with the last round of changes and after only two days off going to print you have seen the Olympic DPS which aims to highlight those athlese that call “YY” home and this will be a great spread.

THE afore mentioned offer os abot athletes and more so, the single image which align to current market trends and stainless good brands.  




If you can’t even see the tiny phone keys enough in the dark to write “Thanks” and your name correctly (which of course, wasn’t “Alex”), you might want to save your work emails for Monday morning…not 2.30am on a Saturday…And what the hell is “stainless good brands”?

Homeward bound…but where is home again?

To paraphrase the Michael Buble hit: Another winters day has come, And gone away, In even Reno and LA, And I wanna go Home, Let me go home. (And no, I’m NOT gay – I bought the CD for my Mum!) I didn’t really want to go home, but as I had finished my last photo shoot at June Mountain and I felt my shooting season was done I started to think about getting home to enjoy my first big family easter in five years in a little place in central Victoria called Tarnagulla. The more I thought about it, the more I began to miss home and started to plan all the final steps: packing the bags, cleaning the apartment, getting the landlord inspection, driving the crew to the airport, finding a place to store the car for several months…and finally running the gauntlet of check-in chicks with my excess baggage. Then of course there is the three actual flights and 17 hours or so of sitting on my arse from Reno, via LAX and Sydney, to Melbourne. Why can’t heading home just be easy? I guess any big move is always a pain.

Things were winding down at our place as we all thought about home, but although I wanted to pack it away, the camera couldn’t quite go in the camera bag yet. A couple of candid “lifestyle” portrait shots needed to be taken, and it was down to the wire to get a shot of Cohen Davies. A huge snow-dumping storm had rolled into Tahoe on the last couple of days making all our outdoor locations a bust, and with his lack of mobile phone credit, he was lucky to catch me still at home before I busted a move back down to Reno (I had aleady made a trip down and back to drop Darragh off at the airport early that morning…only seeing 4 wrecked cars on the side of the road in the blizzard!) Evil Editor has the shot and it will come out in issue 1, but not the frame I preferred as somehow Cohen was reading the newspaper upside down. I swear I thought he was actually reading the paper as I fucked around getting the lighting right – he must have upside-down eyes, or didn’t notice as a result of the previous night’s action?

We filled our last few days in Tahoe on a little bit of a party train – unfortunately everyone else in town was winding down and the party ended up basically being 20 bored guys around a dowstairs pool table. We had to find ways to amuse ourselves. The highlight for Darragh was his packet of peanut M&M’s (he’s mad for the things!) and the 3 buck McLovin fake ID he bought in 7-11!

More fun was to be had on my last night in Reno. I booked into the awesomely rad 30 buck-a-night Terrible’s Sands Regency (Terribles is actually a chain based out of Vegas – not merely capitalised adjective as you might think – but has the added benefit of running petrol stations around Nevada so you can cash your “Terribles Bucks” for gas on the way out of town. Awesome.) I was rooming with Longy, who was down to his last 10 bucks (in fact he had to borrow $5 off me to pay for his $10.99 all-you-can-eat at The Eldorado Casino) and couldn’t eat again till late the next evening when he got aboard the V Australia flight home. In fact, now that I think about it, Longy never paid me back for that 5 bucks!

It was Tim’s birthday, and the last night in the States for 3 of us as Ben was flying out to London on the Wednesday too, so the three of us not-totally-skint-guys (ie, not Longy) hit the town. It was an adventure, to say the least, but a lot of fun. Sort of like a trashy Vegas. But not bad for a Tuesday night. However, now I know why The Man in Black sang ” But I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die”: he was putting the guy out of his misery!

I had a reasonably late arvo flight, and despite the gods of time and scheduled lunchbreaks working against me, I managed to store the car away, check in and get my bags checked through all the way to Sydney (even if I had to secretly stuff some gear back into my board bag behind the pillar before I dropped it off at the Oversize Baggage section). I was confused when I saw the destination for my Horizon flight flash up as Mammoth – apparently, weather depending, that flight makes a short stop on the way to LAX in Mammoth Lakes. The flying scaredy cat, Longy, would have hated the swirling and turbulent landing, but it was worth it for the amazing snow stormy views out the door. Longy had taken an earlier flight to LAX, but would join me on the V Australia flight to Oz (one of the only times I have shared a flight with a mate in a long, long time. It was a welcome change…and I got my revenge for the missing $5 by freaking him out pointing out every mysterious plane noise, bang and bump on the 14 hour flight home!) As I took off from Mammoth, I turned around to see Falls/Hotham rider Lauren Smith a few rows back – while I had spent the day ferrying crew to the airport, running round Reno and waiting for my flight, she had been cuting laps in knee-deep Mammoth pow before she threw everything in a bag and made the 5.30 flight to LA and onto Oz. I wish my last day was so simple.

Girl on girl action

A couple months ago Evil Editor hit me up about shooting a girls trip – I was initially hesitant as I had heard from various photographers about how different, and in someways difficult and frustrating, it is to organise and shoot a banger female snowboard trip for publication. For the last few years I’ve just been shooting a bunch of guys, most of whom were my friends before I was a “Senior Photographer”. But when I heard that I wouldn’t even have to travel outside of home-base Lake Tahoe to shoot Nitro/3CS’s Jess Rich and Roxy’s CP (Courtney Phillipson), I started to warm to the challenge and opportunity to have some pretty faces to look at instead of Ben’s heinous red beard.

And when CP rolled up ready to rock: quickly buying a plane ticket from Colorado, booking a motel, hiring a car, and bringing her own shovel even, it was a welcome change from some of the penny-pinching guys I’ve had to shoot over the last few years. Too bad Jess was holed up at Squaw Valley, with only the hourly TART local bus to get in around vast Lake Tahoe…but we’d find a way to work around that.

Just as CP was flying in, a major storm had just dumped a foot of snow in town, and with blue Saturday morning skies we jumped in the black panther Chevy Tahoe and headed up the road to Donner Pass. It was epic! Perfect sunshine, but crisp, cold conditions (rare for mid-March) keeping the foot and a half of light dry powder in perfect shape. Darragh, Longy and Ben came along for the ride, and helped set up a couple of jumps (which were left over by others from previous storms, just needing a reshaping) so the girls could just save their energy for the numerous hikes back to the drop-in zone. Not only was this Jess’ first proper photo shoot, but her first time in the backcountry, first time hitting a hand-made jump…and first attempts (and stomps) in powder! It was a great first day, getting to know the girls better, being impressed by their strong riding and “can-do, will-stomp-it” attitudes. And to round out the day I managed to snap a couple shots of the boys and even get to hit one of the jumps myself (for a change). (And thanks to Ben for some of the shots I stole from his blog)

The girls were here to shoot for four days only, and so I revisited some rails around the lake (finding one chained up and unhittable…unless we went to buy some bolt cutters), and had a day at Northstar to round out the article with some park shots. And another first for Jess: her first urban rail, first attempt at a backside 50-50…which she nailed first go! I think seasoned vet, CP, was a little stunned.

Before the girls arrived I was trying to come up with some sort of concept, or at least a “visual hook” to try and make the article look different, and to make it relevant to a two-girl photo shoot. I like to have a theme, or concept to all my magazine trips just to give me something beyond the regular to try and focus on. So I started to think about Jess vs CP, and Snow White’s “Mirror, mirror on the wall…who is the fairest of them all?” refrain. Mirrors, two good-looking girls, doing their makeup in front of the mirrow, one regular, one goofy-footer etc etc…with the idea that I would try and shoot all the features from opposite, but equal sort of angles (where possible) so that if the photos were side by side, they would almost look like mirror images. This also gave me a theme for some “lifestyle” photos to accompany the action based on legendary (and slightly creepy) Australian-German Vogue photographer, Helmut Newton, who must have drawn some influence from Velazquez’ Baroque masterpiece (click in the hypertect links to see these visual references). But I can tell you that you won’t see any Newtonesque naked shots of CP and Jess in Australian-NZ Snowboarder…I saved those for my personal collection!

After all said and done, I was really pleased how the four days panned out: the girls threw down, impressed me greatly with their riding skills, weathed the bumps and bruises, and they were always positive and smiling (and only failed on one super-gnarly rock-exposed rail that had me shit-scared just looking at it, and only because they lacked the speed to get onto it properly).  So feeling like we had pretty much got all the shots we wanted (and enought to keep Evil Editor happy), it was nice the next few days to be able to get back to just shredding The Star with the (somewhat-uglier-to-look-at) boys and celebrate Darragh’s 24th Birthday co-inciding with St Patrick’s Day down at Stateline. Tomorrow we’re off to June mountain for a night or two for my last session of photo-taking for the season…it’ll be nice to pack the camera in the bag at the end of it and know that I’m done for 2009-2010 publication shooting season.

Planes, trains and automobiles (almost)

I hate flying! I used to get so much more excited about the prospect of going to the airport, getting on a plane and landing somewhere different and thrilling. But over the last few years it seems to be so much more of a drag: worrying about getting to check-in on time, not being stung for excess baggage, going through the x-ray and having to take all my camera gear and laptop out, cramped seats, and then dealing with foreign immigration at the other end.

Today was a trifecta of flights: Reno to Seattle, then back down to Portland, before landing in Vancouver. What a weird routing, but hey, it worked and it was cheap and pretty easy…even if Horizon Airlines have the smallest planes known to man! Reno airport and its endless slot machines is always great for a laugh, and it was funny to see how Squaw Valley USA is trying to cling to the Olympics it held 50 YEARS AGO! Get over it, Squallywood. It was bright and sunny in reno-Tahoe (of course) and of course, it was raining and miserable in both Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver. Luckily I took my 3CS puffer jacket with me to ward of the drizzle out on the tarmac.

 And it can be interesting who you end up chatting to on the plane. Today I had a woman from Anchorage, Alaska who gets her hair done at the same salon as Sarah Palin (and didn’t vote for her, thankfully) and whose husband once had to shoot a big black bear charging him out in the woods. Yogi now sits above their fireplace with a stunned grin on his face…kinda makes me think of the South Park episode: “That baby deer is attacking me! Quick, shoot it!” On the next flight my neighbour was an ex-colllege footballer who now sold fertilizer – he surprisingly had a lot of interesting things to say.

The strangest neighbour I’ve experienced was on a flight I took into Chicago from Europe. I was on United, but the older gent next to me didn’t quite look like the typical African-American that I assumed at first glance – he was a little more refined, a little darker, and the combination of haircut and clothes hinted at something else. He was full of beans and got chatting to me: he was actually from Eritrea and had been an officer in the army during the long and bloody war against Ethiopia. But at one point he’d had enough, so he used his knowledge of the sentry patrols to slip out through the garrison lines and spent 7 days crossing the Sahara desert on foot to Libya! He stayed there as a refugee, ended up working in the US embassy and was eventually given a Green Card after several years of service. He had been back visiting family. I never would have guessed he had such an interesting story to tell…but I guess it shows you should open yourself up to all sorts of new experiences and people.

I have found that one thing to help make air travel more fun is to try and find a little slice of art in amongst all the waiting lounges, terminals, planes, and out the window with the camera. Funnily enough, I’m not the only one who thinks this way, as Portland Airport had a display of air travel-inspired photography which was quite cool to check out.

And so finally, I am here in Vancouver, already a couple cocktails down, getting into the Olympic spirit. I’ve only been here 6 hours so far, but my first impression is that there is a general sense of Vancouver pride, optimism, friendliness and being eager to please. It’s a nice change from the dour moods and sour faces of when I was here 12 months ago. And Granville St has had a slight makeover…but it’s still full of enough homeless bums and drug-addled angry-looking freaks to stake its claim for the sketchiest main street of any city in the western world. Well, I’d better get back to the $6.50 double Long Island Iced Teas and continue the Olympic spirit…at the very least they will make Granville Street look a lot more attractive later tonight.