No I don’t…

No I don’t…

It seems like every day I get a question about whether or not people pay me to post about things. People think I do this because my Klout (meaningless) is 83 and I have over 750,000 followers on Google+ and another 100K or so on Twitter + Facebook, but no, I do not:

  • …do paid posts from Nikon for money
  • …do paid posts from Sony for money
  • …do paid posts from Apple for money
  • …do paid posts from Google for money
  • …do paid posts from Facebook for money
  • …do paid posts from … you name it… SmugMug, American Airlines, Four Seasons, Banyan Tree, Fuji, American Express, etc etc… for money

The thing is… I can’t be bought. The blog is already profitable and we have a healthy and happy team of employees here at StuckInCustoms that I appreciate very much. This means I don’t have to accept money to post on the blog or various social networks to artificially “plug” something. If you ever see me mention a product or service, it’s simply because I wanted to… because it fits in with the story or it is a product or service I recommend.

When people see me write an article that is critical of future Nikon DSLRs and says that I am Sony-curious, some assume that Sony is paying me to say this. That is absurd. I am totally independent.

So, with me, you can be assured you’ll always get my pure opinion.

There are always behind-the-scenes stuff happening that we reject all the time. I’ll listen to any proposal, as long as it does not include me being disingenuous to you, my gentle reader.  If you’d like to read more about this policy and all the ins and outs on the website, visit my Ethics Statement.

There are continually confusing situations that I try to avoid. For example, Lytro offered to send me a free camera in exchange for me sending them my Lytro photos to be featured on their website. That would be seen as an official “endorsement” of sorts by me. Anyway, I told those jokers no way. Even though I would not be actively posting about it, the association could be seen as disruptive and not respectful of you.

Daily Photo – The Lonely Woods, Forever

Here is another photo from our recent Yosemite PhotoWalk last week. The valley floor is full of dense forests that can go on for an eternity. I had a wonderful time exploring these with all my fellow PhotoWalkers. I can’t wait to do it all again soon.

The Lonely Woods, ForeverHere is another photo from our recent Yosemite PhotoWalk last week. The valley floor is full of dense forests that can go on for an eternity. I had a wonderful time exploring these with all my fellow PhotoWalkers. I can't wait to do it all again soon.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest, including some info on why you won't find paid blog posts on, here at Stuck in Customs.

  • Thank you for not being for sale.  Too many other photographers this way and it makes believing everything they write difficult because it’s clear some of it is more promoting products than their actual opinion.

    Good decision to go black and white with that photo but there’s something a little unsettling about it.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t believe there is no snow in Yosemite at this time of the year. At least it’s not evident in the photo. It can be hard to fine a center of interest for a photo in a forest.  But in your shot the interest is not the trees – it’s the light filtering through.  The monotone picture made that clear taking away any distracting color that may have been there. Great job.

  • Mara Acoma

    I hate to say it but I think you’re going to have to keep saying this.  People will forget and need reminding.  Loving that black and white shot by the way, great atmosphere.

  • One of the many good things I like about you, Trey 😉 I’m in a similar frame of mind in terms of “commercializing” myself, or rather avoiding doing so. I’m not in a position where I’m being offered anything, but I do try and avoid bastardizing (excuse the terminology) myself by going commercial. I’d rather my photography be a passion first and a source of income second – and if it does make money, thats great… but its certainly not the primary goal!

    My latest photo; “The Sedimentary Sunset”

  • I’m not using +1’s on a lot of sites, but here I did. Thank’s (again) for pointing this out. Like Mara Acoma says, you probably will have to keep repeating. There’s always the haters that think you get paid lots of money for showing us all these great pictures. While I would love to get paid to post pictures I’ve done away with seeing that as a goal. The photography is coming first. 

    Great moody picture!

  • Alexandre Matos

    Much appreciated your statement.Great photo criation.Thanks for being there setting the quality mark. Wondering how to achieve that streched-blured effect so nicely.Take care Trey.Love from Portugal.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been following stuckincustoms for less than a year and to be honest I’m getting a bit sick of hearing you proclaim how independent you are. Please get back to simply posting a photo and maybe some more how you took the shot videos. I miss those oh so much. 

  • Trey, I’m as big a fan of your work as always and today’s picture is another great one, but I can’t help but agree with Phogropathy’s comment (though perhaps less subtlely). It seems that this website has become more about side issues and addressing other people’s negative opinions, than focusing on the reason all your loyal followers visit the website, to see fantastic and inspiring pictures. I’m annoyed for you that you seem to be willing to address people’s concerns or perceptions of you and your work, when I’m sure to people who are genuinely interested in photography and improving their work, we really want to focus on the positive side of photography, not be distracted by addressing people who’d never wish you any success anyway. Hope to see much more discussion of creating stunning pictures in future, and as always I’ll be back every day.

  • Anonymous

    Great amount of information about your willingness to share things with us for free.  Wonderful photo of Yosemite Park.  That had to be a great walk to go on.  We haven’t been there yet 🙁  Have a great day!!

  • WOW creepy cool woods photo. I love it.

  • Bill Dodd

    Cool photo today, man.    

    I’ll just say that anyone who asks you this doesn’t pay enough attention to your blog, posts, hangouts.  I think your integrity comes through pretty clear in what you write and in the respect your peers/friends show you.   Keep up the awesomeness!

    Speaking of Sony.  That whole bit started with the guy showing off his A77 in that clip.   I decided to write a mini-review over on The Verge’s forums of the A77 last night..  

    Linkage below, if anyone is Sony-Curious.

  • Don Denesiuk

    I accept that you’re the kind of guy who would not tell their friends ( or strangers for that matter ) that something was a good product when it wasn’t just because someone gave you money to say it. I was curious about your contacts with companies purely from a product improvement point of view. I greatly admire your ability to ignore this potentially large revenue stream simply because it wouldn’t be right or real.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks Don.  Yes I do talk to companies quite a bit about how to improve their products.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Hehe Pete – well…  I will still continue to post a new photo every day and talk about it… this year I may be doing a bit more extra “opinion” stuff if I feel strongly about something, as well as do a lot more video hangouts and whatnot…. but the daily photo will remain.

  • susan ratcliff

    Cool shot – love the b & w!!

  • all that said, i’ll be interested to hear what you think of the lytro, if/when you end up with one.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    hehe ok

  • Yeah, I’m interested too! 😉

  • You’ve definitly hit an impressionist feel with this one.

  • It’s unfortunate that many are cynical, but I think it’s due to a lack of understanding that you have a business model that works for you and you value your independent nature. In turn, that feeds your business model by generating trust.  Quite diabolical, but that’s why I like it.

  • Don Schulte

    A new favorite image!  This is wonderful!

    Actually I would be interested in some explanation on this image’s production; multiple exposures? I ask because I see both blur and detail. I have done similar (not fo Yosemite) and actually have done some heavy edits (read surreal) of B&W of Yosemite too.

  • Stephen Clarke

    Hi Eden, nice photo and great accompanying blog post also.

  • Thanks for the response Trey, I really appreciate that and didn’t expect it. I completely understand and agree that it is your website and you have the right to share your opinion about what you feel strongly about. As I said, I’m coming at it from the point of view of a photography fan but you have reminded of that last point and will bear that in mind in future.

  • Bill Dodd

    – When you get approved or picked or whatever you get a loaner camera, a contact at Lytro and you sign the typical NDA/Information Embargo stuff.   That’s probably why you haven’t seen the editorial-sort-of-discussion you’d like to see. 

    I’ve been wanting to blog a little more openly about my experiences but I’m not supposed to, I don’t think.   I’ll say this.  I think the little camera is neat and fun to use. 🙂 If I get in trouble from a lawyer for saying that, then oh well!

  • Stephen Clarke

    Interesting photo Trey.  I think I like it… no, I DO like it… uhm. 
    I like it despite the part of me that for some reason does not want to like it.Upon further reflection, I guess my limbic system likes it but my prefrontal cortex is struggling with the parts of the photo that look rather like infrared  post processing (white grass and white midway up the tree’s).  I’m curious about what you did in post…. guess I’ll have to do some fiddling around in PS and figure it out!

    As for some of the other reader’s comments  about the evolution of Stuck In Customs… I’m a pretty loyal reader.  I’ve attended your HDR Webinar, purchased all your flatbooks and your hardcover too.  I check out the S.I.C. pretty much every day and as such I’ve been noticing a different feel to the site over the last 6 months or so also.  About the same time that Google + arrived in all it’s glory.
    This is not to say that I dislike the all the changes.  Hey! you convinced me to sign up to G+!
    Maybe old habits die hard or I just liked the ‘comfortable, cozy feel’ of the ‘Stuck In Customs’ I have grown used to over the years, kinda like a favourite sweater… but there seems to be a focus away from the blog and a shift towards the slick and shiny Google + as being the primary focus of information sharing.  I sometimes get the feeling like the blog has taken a back seat to G+.
    Thinking a little more about it as I write this, perhaps I can sum it up best as saying that I always liked the way the site exuded that “Old school gentleman explorer” charm.
    Obviously, having said that, I also fully understand that being front and center in terms of social media is a vital marketing tool.  I’m sure that it is a tough juggling act and of course there are “planes to catch and bills to pay…”


  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks thanks 🙂

    Well, no worries, I still will continue to post faithfully here every day… just like I have for the last 5 years… and share new photos here first, like the one today and yesterday…  I consider this blog (and you guys!) the mothership of my digital life ! 😉

  • Christy Martin

    Love this picture, I’ve taken a similar one but left mine in color. Your B&W definately gives it an air of mystery.

  • Curious as how you make a blog profitable, if you are willing to share your success story

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Oh sure – I’ve talked about it a few places… but, we sill licensing rights to photos.  We also sell apps and have things like subscription services to Roku and soon to Android / Google TV.  We also sell prints and a few other things like ebooks and tutorials.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the support Pete – I’m sure we’re not alone in this, but as Trey said in his reply it is his site and he’s free to do what he wants and express opinions whenever and however he chooses. I’ll try my best to focus on his photography and less on the opinions he has. 

    Of course, these opinion posts are great ways to increase the comment count. Maybe that’s his motive 🙂

  • R R

    I quite like this photo! It’s dark and mysterious.
    Trey, you mentioned you have been on this blog for 5 years and have posted photos. I have been a loyal follower for about 1.5 years. I don’t recall how I came across the site, but I’m glad I did.
    Anyways, I’m not sure if you have done this before, but is there a chance you could post up your first few efforts, leading up to a new one. Like a 4 shot post, separated by a year or so each. That would be cool to see.

  • Bill Dodd

    Just to be a little meta for a sec.  I have a theory on this.  If I were a successful photoblogger (I’m not) and lived within the confines of my own blog platform, sphere of friends and partners in crime, I would postulate that my discussions would be more centered around technique, story-telling, likeminded sharing of photos amongst likeminded individuals.
    If I were to then jump on Google Plus, because it is a fantastic outreach for connecting to a wider audience it would seem that the interactions would begin to be less, like-minded and utopian.  You get the opposing ideas or pushback on certain principles and feel the need to defend them.   My opinion is that Google Plus makes a pure blogger, appear more opinionated because you’re now exposed to these new digital crowds.   Some love you.  Some hate you.  

    If I pass you on the street and say “Nice haircut.”  You may not even respond.   If I pass you on the street and thump you on the nose, we’ll probably have a discussion.   We feel the need to respond to the negativity..

    All too many words to say I think what you are witnessing is G+ Negativity from the masses, spilling over to this platform. 

    As a couple year follower of this site and SIC fanboy, I totally see where you are coming from.    Doesn’t really bother me, though. I come for the pretty pictures, to get inspiration or learn from the masterful techniques that Trey shares.   The opinion stuff, I skim the text and say to my monitors “YEAH, Trey!” or.. “Hmm.. not really dude.” then move on.. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    This photo is a little bizarre. I wasn’t sure I liked it at first, but it keeps growing on me. I can’t figure out quite what I am looking at, so I keep looking. It has an aire of mystery that I really like. I love the texture. I too am curious how you did this.

  • Andrea Boyle

    Wow, cool photo. Really different… I lived there for 2 years and never ran into an inspiration like that! I love it! I liked your tunnel view from yesterday as well, but this one, I think, was an “outside the box” capture that certainly is in the same company as Mr. Adams.  Wonderful work, Trey!

  • Honesty is all we ask for Trey. Your comments, opinions, reviews, videos  and educational materials have given us all much more than money can deliver.

    But I do have one question: I remember a photo you did of some Warhammer 40k Ultramarines, I think it was a demo of poor color selection in a photo (I could be wrong), so my question is: Did you play 40k and did you paint the figures yourself and if so, was it difficult in 2D?

  • Kelley Bard

    Love the photo, it looks very spooky and intense. I’d love to know how the processing decisions went on that one! The top section especially is a gorgeous, artsy image.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting contrast between this photo and your “bamboo forest”  photo. Curious if you did any wide angle forest shots in Yosemite.
    Like this very much!

  • Iza

    I am very curious how you made this image. It looks to me like you combined the vertical lens movement exposure with a stationary, with masking? Awesome effect, in any case.

  • First time here. Today heard about HDR photos and your site was first in google search 🙂 Now I’m trying to understand how to learn to do this 🙂 

  • Great post, and so glad to hear you’re sticking to your strong values. Keep up the awesome posts, incredible photos and successful business model. 🙂

  • Daniel Peckham

    I know this is kind of an old photo by now, but any chance you could explain the post-processing you did on this one, Trey? I really like the photo, but can’t quite figure out how you achieved this magical look.

  • Trey, awesome shot! My new background @ Work actually :). This one inspired me to go back and re-process a forrest shot at my Fiance’s grandparents house with the same effect – it turned out awesome and I would have never thought to do it w/o this post! Of course, then she made me super-impose the cast of vampire diaries on it to make it more her style…

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