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Author Topic: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream  (Read 4426 times)

wellfedCanuck

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Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« on: November 30, 2012, 09:08:06 AM »
This is a suggestion for discussion here- I’m not a pro photographer, and really- I don’t have a dog in this fight. But- for you pros out there struggling to make a living- here’s a photo need that isn’t being filled. As a bonus- it’s morning work and shouldn’t conflict with your wedding/event gigs.

In a true jack-of-all-hobbies, master-of-none vein- I’m a runner in addition to playing around with cameras. 5ks and half-marathons mostly, but I’d like to do at least one full marathon in my lifetime.

Anyway- these things, not so much the 5ks but definitely the half-Ms- are significant personal accomplishments after months of serious training. Racers collect teeshirts, buy pins, stay in hotels, travel on airplanes- all for the event. Many buy photos snapped of themselves by the “official” race photographers somewhere along the 21.1 or 42km courses. These courses are public roads or parks- open to all. The photos, as noted here last year in a different thread- are usually dreadful IF they happen to capture your bib number at all. And, worst of all- runners pay almost extortion prices for these terrible snap-shots.

I know that each race has an “official” photographer. But, since the courses are long and on public property- anyone has access to the event. If you’re a pro- why not stand somewhere at a convenient spot on the course with a teeshirt or sign-board on you and your assistant with your short, easily-remembered web address plainly visible to the runner? In addition- a meta-tag on your website should mention the race such that a search engine has no trouble pulling it up. Maybe go a little further and donate a couple thousand paper cups with your name on it for the aid (water) stations or pay the port-a-potty guy to put your poster on the side for the day.

Even if the photo hit rate is low- the Toronto Scotia typically has over 23,000 participants. Boston’s a little higher around 27,000 and there are 45,000 runners at the New York Marathon. There are many, many more races- in all cities and areas of the world.- Not just the major events- there are triathlons, "tough mudders", resolution races and the charity "run for the cure"-type events. Every metropolitan area has a dozen or two races over a year.  And, sure, there are already event photographers out there- but from a participant's perspective- they're not doing an adequate job and it should be a free market.

I’m not sure what dollar figure gets you out of bed in the morning, but maybe selling even only a couple dozen photos at $15 or $20 a pop is worth 2 or 3 hours of your time... Anyway, for your consideration.

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Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« on: November 30, 2012, 09:08:06 AM »

dpollitt

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2012, 09:24:41 AM »
If you’re a pro- why not stand somewhere at a convenient spot on the course with a teeshirt or sign-board on you and your assistant with your short, easily-remembered web address plainly visible to the runner? In addition- a meta-tag on your website should mention the race such that a search engine has no trouble pulling it up. Maybe go a little further and donate a couple thousand paper cups with your name on it for the aid (water) stations or pay the port-a-potty guy to put your poster on the side for the day.

Let me get this straight, when running 26.2 miles, essentially a death march - you are going to pick up on some guy with a 70-200mm pointed at you and read the URL on his poster, then remember that until you get home hours later so you can potentially have a clue what he was doing? I've run marathons and half marathons. Especially at big races, people have signs and marching bands are playing, etc. It's usually a struggle to keep alive for me, let alone worry about URLs and or what the paper cups I throw water at myself from say.
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wellfedCanuck

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2012, 09:28:30 AM »
uh, yes. This is a feat I have been capable of.  :)
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robbymack

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2012, 09:42:07 AM »
Yes the roads are public, in most places, however the event is private and you likely violate their copyright and economic interest if you try to make money off of it. IMHO not a good way to go about this. Plus as others have said, having run a marathon or two myself, I don't pay attention to the people on the side of the road, concentrating instead on my breathing and stride. Your better off getting a gig as the official race photog and then do a better job than most. Honestly most of these folks do a decent job for what it is. It's impossible to capture 20k unique moments for every individual when you can't be everywhere.

dpollitt

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2012, 09:49:06 AM »
One tip - If you are unhappy with the images you have received from prior races, next race try to look out for the photographers and give them a good pose. When you make eye to eye contact, or eye to lens contact, put the afterburners on and give them a good show! If you give them a reason to push the FPS, they usually will! When I race I give my camera to someone who will be watching me anyways, so they usually snap plenty.
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crasher8

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Maybe a bit OT but my experience…..
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2012, 10:34:47 AM »
I worked in the Cycling, Road and Cross race photography world until I realized it just wasn't my niche. Athletes don't really appreciate the art form at least on the amateur level and most events are already using a buddy shooter from the inception. Your best bet is to be the go to guy (read: Buddy) of an event as it's being developed and then if it has sponsorship you might be lucky for it to be an annual event. Shooting an event is no biggee unlike being in the way of a paid wedding photog but what can you do with those shots? A link on the official events website and a full email list of participants is the only way to make money from a running/cycling event.

I'd rather be a participant.

wellfedCanuck

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2012, 10:36:34 AM »
One tip - If you are unhappy with the images you have received from prior races, next race try to look out for the photographers and give them a good pose. When you make eye to eye contact, or eye to lens contact, put the afterburners on and give them a good show! If you give them a reason to push the FPS, they usually will! When I race I give my camera to someone who will be watching me anyways, so they usually snap plenty.
Well, my intent with this thread was a suggestion to help out all the starving pro photographers, but from a subject's view- valid points, but not always successful, unfortunately. IMO, more cameras in the hands of more professionals who cared more about their work would be a big help. For some events I'm solo in distant cities- so no friends to snap a souvenir to prove that I'm still cheating death and denying my rapidly advancing age.

At my last two races the photos were so bad that the event photographer should have been embarassed to offer them for sale (at the bargain-basement price of $60, no less)  On the other end of my personal spectrum, I travelled 2000 miles to run with highschool friends and I guess I should be grateful to have this to show for it:
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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2012, 10:36:34 AM »

preppyak

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2012, 10:37:45 AM »
It's impossible to capture 20k unique moments for every individual when you can't be everywhere.
Yeah, the reason the photos are terrible is because the vast majority of those 23,000 or 27,000 cross the finish line around the same time. The elite runners get out ahead and leave gaps, most of the rest finish in large packs, where even with a 1DX running full burst, you couldn't capture a great picture of every single person.

I also agree that trying to sell the photos would violate the marathon's trademark, as you'll have their bib and logo in every photo. You might win the case ultimately, since its a public location, but you'd have to litigate it out, and there goes that revenue stream...

preppyak

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2012, 10:43:17 AM »
At my last two races the photos were so bad that the event photographer should have been embarassed to offer them for sale (at the bargain-basement price of $60, no less) 
I agree that that is not a very good picture, especially not at that price range, but, I can count about 25+ people around you, and those are people he had to get pictures of too. You'd need at least 3 cameras going at once to capture everyone.

The beauty of the Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, etc is that they capture your photo at a slow point. When you are climbing a wall, crawling through mud, etc. Marathons don't have a natural choke point like that, so its harder. Also, talk to anyone in that style of event photography and they'll tell you its not a money maker. The percentage of people that buy is extremely low (most will just screenshot your preview), the cost to host and keep millions of photos for years (if you want a single good photo of each participant at 10 marathons or so a year), and then you have to probably outsource the actual printing of the photos if you are successful. The margins just aren't there for more than a handful of people to succeed. Unlike wedding photography, where there are a lot more opportunities

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2012, 11:11:20 AM »
"Let me get this straight, when running 26.2 miles, essentially a death march - you are going to pick up on some guy with a 70-200mm pointed at you and read the URL on his poster, then remember that until you get home hours later so you can potentially have a clue what he was doing? I've run marathons and half marathons. Especially at big races, people have signs and marching bands are playing, etc. It's usually a struggle to keep alive for me, let alone worry about URLs and or what the paper cups I throw water at myself from say."

As Oddball would say:

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?"


I think it's a great idea. Not without its challenges, of course, but certainly an untapped market waiting to be plucked by a creative and righteous photographer.

robbymack

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2012, 11:24:15 AM »
wow that is a pretty pathetic photo, almost looks like focus is on the bridge behind you.  In any case remember how you felt running in that awful weather.  Now imagine that poor photog was sitting out in that and trying to get photos of everyone who passed by, and likely doing it for not much more than minimum wage.  None of these guys are using 1dx's, generally I see a lot of rebels/nikon dxxxx and maybe a 7d from time to time.  All they are really trying to do is find a place or two along the race to grab a shot and then the obligatory finish line shot.  Actually the finish line guys are usually very nice.  I usually stand right behind or to the side of them as my wife comes through and grab a shot, I of course ask if it is ok first and generally they have all been more than willing to allow me to do that...just don't linger and fire off 50 shots with a big white lens. 

dstppy

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2012, 11:30:21 AM »
At my last two races the photos were so bad that the event photographer should have been embarassed to offer them for sale (at the bargain-basement price of $60, no less) 
I agree that that is not a very good picture, especially not at that price range, but, I can count about 25+ people around you, and those are people he had to get pictures of too. You'd need at least 3 cameras going at once to capture everyone.
:o

When he gave you the pic, did it say: Sent from my free-with-contract Android phone?

I can't even begin to speculate how this was taken in broad daylight with any SLR made in the last 20 years . . . was there some sort of yogurt smeared about the rear element of the lens?

Or was this a far-away utra-wide shot that they cropped down for the 45 people that were in it?
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wellfedCanuck

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2012, 11:54:04 AM »
Guys, that's the BEST of the 3 or 4 I've purchased over the years taken from a dozen + races. 

And, Robbymack- I hear you-  +7°C in Vancouver drizzle, I remember the day well. Sure, I'd love for those guys crouched on the sidelines to be raking in $hundreds per hour. How do we make it happen? There's a demand but the system as it currently exists is not suiting the needs of the particpants or the photographers.
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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2012, 11:54:04 AM »

Maui5150

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2012, 12:49:13 PM »
A few comments from my peanut gallery. 

10Ks, Halfs and full marathons... YAWN.  Try Ironman competitions.   Yes.  I do all of these.

I have shot both Olympic Distance and Half Ironman distance races and the reason the photos are so much is the pass through of actual purchase is little.  There are several class of people who do these races, the "bucket-listers" who are looking to finish, the "weekend warriors" who are penny pinching to do as many races as possible, and then the pro/semi-pro who likes to have photos for FB, sponsors, etc. 

Shooting these events are not easy, especially crowded running races.

People want INDIVIDUAL shots.  they are not looking for a group pic, unless they are next to someone famous, so if the course is looped and a pro racer or someone notable is passing a bucket-lister, then you might have a shot where they are "Cool.... look at me running with X"

Access to the courses is not always simple.  In most cases you are dealing with blocked roads, crowds and once you get your spot, you are often stuck in your spot for a long time, and to get your best shot, you often have to "encroach" on the course, so not having credentials can create issues, as well as all the iPhoners who jump in your way.  You have credentials you can tell them to back away since you have race permission and are actually part of the course, as well as for me, I can whip around the actual course on my motorcycle and get to different spots.

Shooting is not always easy or fun.  I have been stuck at the side of the road for 4 hours and the race comes at you in feast and famine, and again, when you have 200 runners coming by you over a couple of minutes, trying to get "nice" shots can be a challenge, people are always coming in and out of frame and most of the time people look like they are about to take a dump, have a horrible expression on their face, or are blowing out a snot-rocket that looks like it is two tablespoons worth of tarter sauce (actual experience of a very well known female triathlete and when I saw it unfolding deliberately pointed the camera down to give her peace and space... respect goes a long way) 

While it is true, most athletes are psyched to get a great pic, most are blase and some of the best folks out there that will shoot well could care less about another pic. 

I think three or four of my shots are still currently FB avatars for some of the pros that I shot this last year, but I gave them those shots because I consider them friends, love seeing them out there and they are helping me as much as I am helping them.

Not saying there is not money to be made, but you would probably be more profitable shooting Senior Portraits off a listing on Craigslist

I am working it the opposite... trying to work with the lower level pros to build their image, license the race images to their sponsors, either for cash, or also works for me, gear (as in athletic gear, not camera gear) 

emag

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2012, 01:34:25 PM »
I used to try to run.  Never could get that 'runner's high' or whatever it it.  I'll run when horses do calculus.  Tell you what, though, any of you are welcome to photograph me as I attempt to run a half marathon.  I'll be the guy vomiting in the bushes. ;D

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Re: Alternative (to weddings) revenue stream
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2012, 01:34:25 PM »