The perfect request for free pictures

My contact page is a little scary. The message is basically, "Don't email me if you haven't done your own research, and don't ask for free pictures if you don't ask the right way." Many photographers get really angry when they are asked for free pictures, but I do not. Instead, I evaluate each request, and decide based on the information the requestor gives me. I received an email from Todd S. the other day for a request to use a sperm whale picture on a new website for the Cape Lookout Studies Program in North Carolina. It's the PERFECT request—it gave me enough information to be able to quickly decide whether or not I was interested in donating a picture (I was, and I did). Thank you, Todd!

I may use Todd's email as a template for a new "free image license request form" of some kind.

> Thanks for your willingness to offer usage of photography for free to non-profits (under the right circumstances). I'm hoping my request qualifies! I am a designer building a new website for the Cape Lookout Studies Program in North Carolina ( ). I am interested in using one of your images on the website.

> 2. image:

> 3. The image will be used on a page dedicated to a recent project of the program. They have rearticulated a sperm whale skeleton (now hanging in the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC). I want to use the photo in a slideshow/animation to be featured on the page. The animation will fade from your image, to the image of the skeleton shot at the same angle as your whale image.

> 4. Size of the image will be roughly 900x500 pixels.

> 5. The image will not be used in any print materials!

> 6. There's not quite enough funding in the program to cover all the website work that's needed. They haven't updated the site in over 10 years! They do great work to encourage conservation, educate the public, help whales as part of the NC marine mammal stranding network, and they work to prevent injury to marine animals by creating and sustaining North Carolina's Fishing Line Recycling Program. All good stuff!

> I work with photographers on many commercial projects and understand the work, dedication, and artistry that goes in to a great shot. Photography has real value and I appreciate your willingness to entertain my request.

> Todd S., designer

"All for a Bowl of Soup" Dan Rather Reports on shark finning

I'm back from Papua New Guinea, and finally downloaded and watched "[All for a Bowl of Soup](," an episode of [*Dan Rather Reports*]( which aired Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 8pm ET on HDNet (strangely, I had to watch iTunes' SD version of "HD"Net). "All for a Bowl of Soup" is the most no-nonsense piece I've seen about the global shark finning problem. It combines facts with awe-inspiring footage of thousands of shark fins being pulled into a single fisheries facility in a single day.

The show features my friend, [Shawn Heinrichs](, and a significant amount of his investigative footage showing huge numbers of shark fins in processing facilities, as well as footage of a live, finned shark suffocating to death. It also includes about a minute of my shark footage shot in the wild.

"All for a Bowl of Soup" hatched as a plan between me and [Derek Reich](, a freelance cameraman who does a lot of work with HDNet. We had been talking about it for awhile, but finally hashed out a proposal when we happened to both be [stranded in New York]( during Hurricane Irene last year.

If you have half an hour to spare, please [download and watch "All for a Bowl of Soup" from iTunes]( If you are moved by the piece, please [donate to Shark Savers](—my conservation organization of choice—or to your chosen shark conservation organization, and spread the word![^1]

[^1]: Disclaimer: I am on the Board of Directors of Shark Savers

PHOTOS: Alice Newstead hangs from shark hooks in anti-shark finning protest

Alice Newstead hangs from shark hooks at LUSH Cosmetics in protest of shark finning Performance artist Alice Newstead hangs herself from shark hooks at LUSH Cosmetics in San Francisco to draw attention to the plight of sharks and to garner support for AB 376, a proposed bill that will ban shark fins in California. Event organized and sponsored by [LUSH Cosmetics]( and [Shark Savers](

More information from Shark Savers:

- [California AB 376 shark fin ban Mid-August update and action alert]( - [California AB 376 Talking Points](

Photo gallery follows:

[smugmug url="" imagecount="100" start="1" num="100" thumbsize="Th" link="lightbox" captions="true" sort="true" size="L"]

Dead 80-ft blue whale and fetus (possible boat strike), Northern California

A 6-month old blue whale fetus lies in the rocks at Bean Hollow State Beach
Yesterday, I drove down to Bean Hollow State Beach (just south of Pescadero Beach at ([37.227072, -122.410529]( to see the dead 80-foot blue whale that washed ashore last Tuesday. Scientists found at least three fractured vertebrae and hemorrhaging in the whale's belly, concluding that she may have died as a result of a strike from a large boat. A 6-month old fetus was ejected at some point during the last moments of the whale's life and was found not far from its 75-ton mother. The baby was pure white -- beautiful, really, and a stark contrast to the black rocks upon which it rested.

A couple dozen people were there at the beach to see the carcass of the planet's largest animal. The stench of rotting whale was tremendous and soaked into my clothing and equipment. My carbon fiber tripod held onto the smell for the longest, requiring over 12 hours before the smell was gone.

Officials say that they are going to allow the enormous carcass to decompose naturally, so it could be there for a few more months.

**Update:** My friend Dave has [posted scans of a beached blue whale]( in Northern California from around 30 years ago.

[smugmug url="" imagecount="100" start="1" num="100" thumbsize="Th" link="lightbox" captions="true" sort="true" size="L"]

Chip Scarlett loves sharks (and visits me)

Chip Scarlett with my new underwater 3D rig
Today, I had a whirlwind lunch and chat with [Chip Scarlett]( In addition to being an underwater photographer, author and conservationist, Chip is a race car driver and biotech CEO.

Chip set up our appointment both to catch up and to hand-deliver his new book, *Loving Sharks* (which will hopefully be officially released in the U.S. soon). *Loving Sharks* features beautiful imagery of sharks presented alongside quotes solicited from prominent divers, photographers, cinematographers and conservationists -- all of whom are part of Chip's incredible network within the industry. I look forward to taking a closer look at the book. Thanks, Chip!

Help establish a new shark sanctuary in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Indonesia at the same time one of the most biodiverse ocean environments on the planet and the world's largest shark fishery. [Shark Savers]( is working with [Misool Eco Resort](, [Conservation International's Indonesia Marine Program](, [WildAid](, and other NGOs and eco-tourism companies on a new initiative to convince the Raja Ampat government to prohibit all fishing of sharks, mantas, and mobulas. This is not a "feel good" petition. The petition is one piece of a comprehensive initiative to show the Raja Ampat Fisheries and Tourism Depts. that sharks, mantas and mobulas are very valuable to their local economy - ALIVE! [Sign the petition now -- we need your support](

Spread the word!

Note -- I wanted to post an image of a shark photographed in Indonesia, but I realize that I've pretty much NEVER SEEN A SHARK in Indonesia. If this partnership of conservation groups can help to get a new marine park set up, maybe that will change...

How not to ask for a free image for turtle conservation

I consider myself to be an active conservationist. I regularly donate time, photographs, and money to the conservation organizations I have relationships with, and I give images away to other organizations when I feel that the donation will have a positive effect. Of course, there is a limit to the amount of time I can spend giving away my work. If I give away too many, I not only compromise my own ability to continue to photograph wildlife, but I also contribute to making it difficult for hard-earned images of any kind to have value in the marketplace. Over the past two days, I've had a rather unpleasant exchange with a guy I will refer to as Wayne out in Maui. I am not going to post his full name nor his affiliation unless he continues to antagonize me.

I received this message from Wayne through my guestbook about a week ago:

> Name: Wayne Location: Kula Maui Website:

> First you do NOT HAVE A SUBMIT botton on your contact form so I was not able to send my message through that page. Only botton was a "go Back" So this is the only way I can contact you.

> Aloha Eric My name is Wayne. I am requesing permission to use one of your Photographs. This Photo is so perfect to represent our cause and kids love it!! "Screaming Turtle" We would like to use this Photo on our website for fun and we would also love to put this on our Support Honus/HonuHeroes Bumper Sticker.

> Our Organization is nonprofit and new. We would love to put you on our links perhaps even an exchenge and give you credit for the photo and your support of

> Please let us know if that will be ok with you and we hope to be able to put his little face on our bumper sticker:)

> Maholo nui loa!!

> WM

Immediately, one notices the numerous misspellings -- usually a sign that whatever organization Wayne represents is probably not a serious one when it comes to being effective or efficient in conservation efforts. Still, Wayne's heart might be in the right place, despite the fact that he couldn't figure out how to use my contact form.

my contact form with "preview" button clearly visible

Wayne couldn't figure out how to use my contact form, so he contacted my friend, Adam:

> From: "HonuHeores" Date: April 2, 2009 10:37:00 PM PDT To: Adam Tow Subject: USE OF PHOTO REQUEST Eric Chen

> Aloha, I was having trouble finding a submit botton on Eric's Contact Form. When you get a chance please get our request to Eric. We would like to use "Screaming Turtle" Photo on our HonuHeroes bumperSticker. This Bumpersticker says "Save a turtle" And have a photo of "Screaming Turtle" on it.

> Screaming Turtle is so perfect to represent what we are standing for. HonuHeroes is a New Non Profit Organization. We would love to Link up with Eric gladly Give credit for the Photo and supporting of Our Program.

> Please get this request to Eric and let us know if this will be ok:)

> Aloha

> WM

OK, so Wayne doesn't even bother to spell my name right. I am still out of the country at this point, and do not receive the message. Wayne is a bit impatient and writes to Adam again in a few days:

> From: "WM" Date: April 5, 2009 8:44:24 PM PDT To: Adam Tow Subject: Re: USE OF PHOTO REQUEST Eric Chen

> Maholo Adam, Hey what do you think? Do you think he will allow us to use it? This picture is such an eye grabber it would really help our program to be able to use it on the bumper sticker.. I mean it will really do the job of getting there attention and that will help HonuHeroes get members to clean the beaches and save turtles!! I hope Eric knows how something so little could help our program so big!! Look in my news on and see some of our articles about the rubbish andhow it effects turtles in Hawaii. It is so horrible and I believe we can all get together and do something about this. So in one hand I just wanted to ask you what you think, Knowing Eric your self, if you thought he would support us this way. Also I have been doing martial arts my entire life In fact I built my own Wing Chun Dummy, I also love musc and I build custom guitars and Mostly like to design artistic guitars with lots of Inlay work and far our design concepts. And I Scuba, Free Dive and Photography and Graphic art. I also love to shape and airbrush surfboards, I surf. All things I seem to have in common with Eric and I really dig his artwork.

> But for the most part HonuHeroes is new, If you see My Honu News section you will see how bad Hawaii and mostly the turtles need such a program. But with no funding how? My plan is to ask the people who love turtles to help any way they can and HonuHeroes is a membership club for members who will pick up the trash and really take action about this. Right now what is most important is getting these members, Local members. So I am putting together a membership package and we take my HUGE Albino tortoise to the beaches , He tends to draw crouds of hundreds in a few minutes so that helps get members. So as a part of this package we are including a bumpersticker to catch peoples attention toward and that Screaming turtle is such a good little image, that would work wonders to support our program!!

> I have 2 Surfboard blanks right now, 6' 6" Blanks which I plan to shape them and eather I or my friend Artist Dale [removed] will paint baby turtles walking from the nest. I am going to make one board for a boy and one for a girl, So the boy one will be the turtles and the girl board will be perhaps a mermaid helping a baby turtle to the water.

> For a fund raised we will raffle it off so the kids will have a chance to win a nice surfboard. Also I plan to give away a lot of raffle tickets when we do beach cleans so the kids will trade full bags of trash for a ticket, The more trash the more tickets you have. I also Plan to build an Ukulele with Sea turtles Inlayd on the fret board, a custom Koa Ukulele. Which we will also Raffle as a fund raiser. My donation will be my parts and time, Which I will donate so 100% of the funds go toward the program!!

> But what I am really trying to focus on is people who love and support turtles to put forward something they have to offer of value to the program and to Honus/Turtles. Like I can offer a guitar and some surfboards, 55 Pet turtles of all kinds for the kids to get to know and love so they want to protect them.. My artist Friend Dale Z is going to help us with some of his time and that is how we are getting this program off the ground!!!!

> I hope I do not take up to much of your time and perhaps you are also interested in Hawaii sports, turtles and this program.. Thank you very much for passing my request onto Eric and reading it yourself!!!

> Maholo WM

Wayne has energy! He is certainly passionate. So I go check out

Hrm. doesn't even exist.

I get tons of emails asking for free images -- a few a day, in fact. If I don't have a good feeling about the request, I send back a standard reply:

> From: Eric Cheng Date: February 9, 2010 9:35:19 AM PST To: Wayne Subject: Re: USE OF PHOTO REQUEST Eric Chen

> Hello -

> I went to, and the site does not exist. Also, do you have a budget for this bumper sticker?

> As you can imagine, it takes tens of thousands of dollars in equipment and travel to capture images like the one(s) you are interested in publishing. I spend a lot of time doing pro-bono work and giving images away to non-profit organizations, but it is impossible to both give away images all the time and stay in business.

> At this time, I am unable to provide images without payment according to your terms, but if you decide that you have a budget for the use of my images, please let me know.

> Best, Eric Cheng

Wayne writes back:

> From: "WM" Date: February 9, 2010 4:56:46 PM PST To: "Eric Cheng" Subject: Re: USE OF PHOTO REQUEST Eric Chen

> My use was to be non profit not as to generate any funds. To use the image to PROMOTE cleaning our local beaches BECAUSE our human LITTER is the LEADING cause of death in Hawaii. So Money is the least of my concern as well as the least of the sea turtles concern right now. All the money hawaii generates through tourism yet it can not even manage to respect the animals that really have more rights to this place.

> As for my Budget for paying for the cost of the bumper sticker of course I have the funds. I also have other images I can use but your image makes a statement I believe it could really help I really do. You can purchase all the equipment on earth yet still one thing you got was a little luck and lets not forget without the Honu you would not have the image so perhaps we owe something to the honu? Maybe not. But I think we all each and every one of use owe at least as much to do everything in our power to fix this litter problem. When our litter is the leading problem in death of our Honu its time to do something about it. In fact I am ashamed to be human just because of that fact.

> Now I again I agree fully not to use the image for any other reason than to promote beach cleans ONLY!! We would not be selling the Bumper sticker. We do not sell anything as of now we do not even take financial donations. Though I am working on our 501c3..

> I will say Eric my reply was not meant for you. It was meant for the guy who told me he would be sure you got back to me. I kind of figured he never got my letter to you so thats why I sent the thanx a lot letter;) It was not meant to offend you at all.

> One thing you might like to see.. I got my very first hatchling two days ago:) Here is a photo of him:)

> Anyway I do understand the financial business end of using any image to generate funds. But I think your image could really go far beyond what money can do. I think it goes far deeper than that perhaps even the reason this image came to you could very well have to do with the path it has set you on. The path this image is set on and the reaction it had in my self and my lady.

> I think the power that little screaming turtle has to scream "Help Us" So please Eric consider Helping me, My lady, HonuHeroes and the Honu.

> Yes does exist. Though lately I had trouble updating my new credit card as I had to get a new one. So Im not sure if is back up. I believe it is. I know on my computer I can see it but if it has not been paid or updated you may not be able to bring it up.. But If you check again I do believe it is back up..

> Anyway Hope you will consider that. We are more than willing to sign any agreement not to use it to generate funds to only use to promote beach cleans and Honu Cleans.

> Thank you!!

> ALoha

> WM

I read this and appreciate his enthusiasm and drive, but am not sure I want to spend time supporting an organization that doesn't even know whether their website is online or not. Also, for some reason, Wayne is starting to give me a little attitude in run-on form.

Still, I do like to support turtle conservation. Maybe the website is just down for now.

I write back.

> From: Eric Cheng Date: February 9, 2010 5:15:47 PM PST To: "WM" Subject: Re: USE OF PHOTO REQUEST Eric Chen

> WM -

> Thanks for writing.

> > You can purchase all the equipment on earth yet still one thing you got was a little luck and lets not forget without the Honu you would not have the image so perhaps we owe something to the honu?

> My point was that I do A LOT of pro-bono work, but I choose the organizations I work with. I have to cap the number of free images I put out there. Otherwise, there would be no more of these images for anyone.

> You can imagine that I give out images to NGOs all the time; each time, I have to weigh how much of an impact my image will have before I give it away., which this image would be used to promote, is not currently up. Please get back to me when I can see what exactly it is that my free image would be used for.

Wayne replies:

> From: "WM" Date: February 9, 2010 7:42:36 PM PST To: "Eric Cheng" Subject: Re: USE OF PHOTO REQUEST Eric Chen

> You mean you would like me to finish the bumper sticker so you can see the exact light your image would be seen in? As for the website it is up. If you would want to see exactly how it would be used I suppose I could go ahead and make it. I had not made it yet because I wanted to get permission before I used it at all. But that would be no problem I mean pretty much just a sticker with your screaming turtle perhaps a little bubble that says Help me and a quote under promoting our beach cleans.

He totally misses the point. I don't care what my turtle image will look like in his bumper sticker campaign. I just don't like that I can't see anything at the URL the bumper sticker is supposed to promote.

I decide that it's not worth further correspondence and go on with my life (no reply).

But it's not over for Wayne. He writes back the next day.

> From: "WM" Date: February 10, 2010 8:56:24 PM PST To: "Eric Cheng" Subject: Re: USE OF PHOTO REQUEST Eric Chen

> you take it way to seriously man. All we asked was to use the turtle for a bumper sticker. Greed is the reason we have the problem to begin with. people like you believe they own everything. The fact is if I really wanted to be a jerk Ide use the picture and really what could you do about it? I asked out of respect but I see where that got me.

> Thats cool Ill use another picture someone gave us permission to use. Now I see your true colors and how much you really care about the animals you profit from. You can talk about how much you care till your face is blue but action will show what your really about.

> Thanks anyway

Wayne calls me greedy, saying that I believe that I "own everything" (what?), and that he could have just used the photo if he had wanted to. He asks what I could do.

Well, Wayne. I could post our correspondence on my website. Enjoy.

Looking back, I think that if Wayne had just written to ask for permission to use the image for a turtle conservation bumper sticker, saying that the entire effort was self-funded (no donations accepted = no income), I probably would have just told him to go for it. Simple and polished is always more effective than long-winded and rambly. Also, the first step is probably to spell the potential donor's name correctly.

Last moments of the Ady Gil -- leaked footage

Those of you who think that the Ady Gil moved into the path of the Shonan Maru should watch at this video (also embedded here), which was leaked and then pulled from YouTube -- but not before someone grabbed it and uploaded it again. Aside from the fact that it is obvious that the Shonan Maru turns starboard to intercept, the Ady Gil clearly cuts her engines and only motors at the end in an attempt to get out of the way. I'm not sure why so many couch-laden landlubbers analyzed the previous videos available and concluded things like, "The Ady Gil's engines were on. Therefore, she moved into the path of the Shonan Maru."

Note that I didn't post this video. I'm just linking to it on YouTube.

I can't wait to see next season's Whale Wars. It will be a different experience to watch it not having been there in person!

Sea Shepherd's Ady Gil cut into two by Japanese whaling vessel

On January 6, 2010, Sea Shepherd's fast-intercept catamaran the Ady Gil was rammed (formerly, Earthrace) by the Japanese whaling fleet's security vessel, the Shonan Maro No 2. The front 8 feet or so of the Ady Gil was sheared off, and one crew member suffered broken ribs. All crew were rescued by the M/V Bob Barker.

This video shows the collision from two angles and was put together from videos released by both Sea Shepherd and the ICR. (videos synchronized by Eric Cheng)

UPDATE: Those of you who think that the Ady Gil moved into the path of the Shonan Maru should look at this video, which was leaked (without permission). Aside from the fact that it is obvious that the Shonan Maru turns starboard to intercept, the Ady Gil is just idling and only motors at the end in an attempt to get out of the way. Note that I didn't post this video. I'm just linking to it on YouTube.

Shepard Fairey does portrait of Paul Watson

Shepard Fairey recently did a portrait of Paul Watson, which will be available as a fine-art piece and screen-printed photo.[^1] It will be on display at the Sea No Evil Art Show 2009 on Saturday, August 29, 2009 in Riverside, CA. [^1]: Sea Shepherd asked permission to provide Fairey with the photo, and I agreed.

Shepard's portrait of Paul was done using one of my photographic portraits of Paul as a model.

Portrait of Paul Watson, by Eric Cheng

I took the photo on January 6, 2009, while on campaign with Sea Shepherd in the Southern Ocean. The Japanese whaling spotter vessel, the Kyoshin Maru No. 2, is in the background.

Sharks, a slideshow by Eric Cheng

More information...

This is the original cut of a slideshow about sharks I submitted to Slideluck Potshow XII. My work was accepted, but I was told the show needed "serious editing -- like, really serious editing," so I sent in all of the images and had them re-cut the slideshow to a new selection of music. I insisted on having no music used for the second half of the show, which the Slideluck folks agreed to.

I haven't yet seen the cut that was actually shown at the event, but I hear that it was received well.

A visit to Sea Shepherd HQ in Friday Harbor

It looks like Kim is attempting a hi-five instead of a hand strike, doesn't it?
Adam Lau and I spent the last 5 days at Sea Shepherd headquarters in Friday Harbor, Washington, visiting Kim and the rest of the crew. We lucked out and had absolutely beautiful weather for all 5 days -- it only started raining when I stepped foot into the little Cessna Caravan on my way back to Seattle. The San Juan Islands are some of the most beautiful islands I've ever seen, and those of you who are close to Sea Shepherd know how appropriate it is that their headquarters are surrounded by nature (in contrast to what is shown on TV, I mean).

A bonus: Julie Andersen was also in Friday Harbor while we were there! It was great to get to spend some time with Julie, as it had been far too long since our last meeting. Unfortunately, I missed Simeon Houtman by mere hours, and Laurens de Groot by a bit longer.

Adam and I had some official business to deal with while we were at HQ, and as a result, we spent the majority of our time glued to our computers. We did, however, go on a hike in an attempt to see some baby fox cubs that Kim and Julie had been seeing during the days before our arrival. We also stuffed ourselves full of delicious vegan food prepared by Kim and Alex, and were also treated to a night of bowling with Paul Watson, Amy, and Deborah. No evening of bowling is complete without witnessing Paul's 2-ball bowling technique.

Tons o' photos, below:

[smugmug url="" imagecount="100" start="1" num="100" thumbsize="Th" link="lightbox" captions="true" sort="true" size="L"]

And more photos, taken by Adam Lau:

[smugmug url="" imagecount="100" start="1" num="100" thumbsize="Th" link="lightbox" captions="true" sort="true" size="L"]

Eco-Terrorism and Piracy on the High Seas

This is an interesting read, I'm told. I've just emailed it to my Kindle and will try to read it on the plane. > **ECO-TERRORISM AND PIRACY ON THE HIGH SEAS: JAPANESE WHALING AND THE RIGHTS OF PRIVATE GROUPS TO ENFORCE INTERNATIONAL CONSERVATION LAW IN NEUTRAL WATERS** 2009, Joseph Elliott Roeschke, The Villanova Environmental Law Journal, Volume XX, Issue 1, pages 99-136.

> **Abstract:**

> This Comment examines the various sources of international law on whaling, which attempt to wrestle with the convoluted area of international environmental conservation law on the high seas. Specifically, this Comment analyzes whether, and to what extent, private groups like Sea Shepherd have legal authority to protect endangered whales in neutral waters outside the jurisdiction of any nation. Section II explains the history of whaling, including a synopsis of whaling in Japanese culture and a history of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Section III outlines the relevant areas of international law that regulate whaling and environmental activism, which take place in the neutral coastal waters off of Antarctica. Section IV details the Japanese exploitation of the scientific research exception and provides a critical analysis of how the relevant regulations apply to individuals and private groups who enforce international conservation laws. Finally, Section V focuses on the effect Sea Shepherd has had on the Japanese scientific whaling program and suggests that Sea Shepherd should be allowed to continue enforcing international conservation law, but through less controversial means . . . [Download PDF, 184 KB]

Dead dolphin found at Cardiff by the Sea, San Diego

decapitated, decomposing dolphin in cardiff, san diego
I was walking on the beach today in Cardiff by the Sea and discovered a dead dolphin lying in the sand. It looked like it had been there for some time and had several holes in it where innards were spilling out and bubbling from bacteria generating gas. The strange thing was that the poor cetacean's head was missing (!). The cut was clean and was not jagged in the way it might be if a large animal had bitten it off. I wonder who would cut the head off of a dolphin??

I called Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the local Sheriff's station. Hopefully, one of them will haul it away...

There are some photos here in this entry; don't look at them if you can't handle photos of dead things.

[smugmug url="" imagecount="100" start="1" num="100" thumbsize="Th" link="lightbox" captions="true" sort="true" size="L"]