Running Events Photos
rblaust Registered Users Posts: 6 Beginner grinner
edited January 22, 2014 in Mind Your Own Business
I have been taking photos of running events (5ks, 10k, half and full marathons) for a while now and making the photos available for free download. Now I'm thinking about starting up a for fee service and partnering with a local timing company. What is the best way to set up an online store front ( I currently have a SmugMug account) which will allow people to search for their photos based on event + last name, or event + bib number? Any suggestions/advice?
I don't think your going to like my response, but please note it is not done out of any malice.
I looked at some of your running images and found most to be out of focus, have motion blur and have poor composition. Basically unacceptable throw aways.
I couldn't get information on the aperture, but the shutter speeds of 1/80 or 1/125 are too slow for running events. Generally you would want your shutter speed to be 1/320 to 1/600, or even higher. with an aperture of about f5.6 to f8. ISO as needed.
Try going to some sport shooters and event photography websites to get an idea of what they produce.
You will find that most (in my opinion) produce a pretty generic image. It will be in focus, no motion blur and have the runner full length filling the frame with the bib number clearly displayed.
Once you have mastered the technical side of photographing running events you will need to be aware of a (insert negative description of choice here) named Peter Wolf. He has obtained a patent that relates to online selling of images from running / sporting events. This patent has to do with using bib numbers and or time to identify a participant. You need to look it up.
Sure the patent is bogus, but it would take more money than it's worth to fight it. The largest companies in the industry have chosen to pay a fee to Wolf rather than try and fight this in court.
You may want to contact SmugMug as well to see if there are any limits to selling running images and or the number being sold.
No malice taken. Thanks for the feedback. Even though I received a lot of local positive feedback I am always looking for ways to improve. I will certainly followup with SmugMug re: Peter Wolf. My initial research just made me shake my head...
Now, as Sam indicated, you probably need to improve the quality of your photos. But, the honest truth is - even if you do so, you then are competing with people like you are now. Especially with something like racing you have to ask some questions
1) how do you know which racers are potential customers?
Answer: you probably don't.
2) Given #1 - how are you planning on capturing quality photos of a variety of runners?
3) how many photos do you think participants buy? Is the casual 5k runner going to pay for a photo? Is a regular marathoner going to buy photos from every event they run? Let's face it - we're not talking about a sport where a spectacular play can result in a great image. we're talking about running. What is going to make YOUR shot of someone running different than the other shots. In other words, once they have one good shot, what is going to make another shot of them running worth paying for? The immediate answer of course is the event. Someone running the Boston Marathon for the first time will appreciate a photo of them running it. Unfortunately, you're probably out of luck selling images for such major events.
4) Is a person interested in a photo being provided free photos by family/friends watching? If so, they're free. And, depending on intended use (today most people simply use social media) the quality of those photos is very often "good enough" for the free price.
So, given all the above - and given the notion of spending all that time at a race, then processing the images and tagging them then uploading them to a site - it becomes rather challenging to make enough PROFIT to make the venture very worth-while.
The reality is - this isn't 10 years ago when people were still printing photos and getting quality sports photos was challenging. In today's world of social media - smartphone images are often "good enough" considering the images are going to end up on facebook or twitter anyway. For those that want better - a friend or relative with a camera - like you are now - provides images for free. The pool of people that actually want something BETTER and are willing to pay for it is smaller.
If there is someone on DGRIN who shoots the types of events you want to shoot I suggest you trade PMs with them and get some actual financial information from them. I just don't see it being profitable for the small time events that don't have a contracted provider of photos. Right now, you get payment in the form of compliments for your free product/services. When you start charging you might find that payment-by-compliment dries up. I wish you luck, but you also need to be realistic - I just don't think there's a lot of opportunity for profit in what you want to shoot. Not when you factor in the time spent doing it.
The OP came and after receiving comments he didn't like has left the building. You are talking to your selves.
Go ahead and continue, I guess I have just heard it all before. :cry I also tend to get annoyed with people who stop in ask complex questions and when folks take the time to provide detailed answers don't even have the curtsy to say thank you.
I have also on occasion shot for commercial sports companies. The color run was advertizing last year for photographers and while it looked cool, after doing some research I determined the risk to my camera gear wasn't even close to worth it.
The color powder they use is very fine and can get inside the camera and lenses. I read about some cases where the camera couldn't be cleaned even by the mfg.
I would love to shoot one of these, but NOT with my gear.
totally thought the same thing but I went ahead and did it anyway. I put a cheap filter on the lens and they supplied a plastic rain cover. brought some duct tape to seal it up good and all was good at the end of the day. they had a vacuum thing too. Not sure I will do it again but it was pretty fun in general...
That is a very good way to handle a job like this. A full-spec job basically turns into part assignment work (where you get paid to do the job) and part spec work (some might buy prints too). I did a car racing event in this manner in 2010 and it was my most profitable event of the year. I would have continued on with that idea if a nasty little thing called severe spinal stenosis didn't get in my way. And if I ever get back into it that would be the only way I would do it.
Add extra value to this idea by offering modified prints in some manner. (if they get the file for free, they have little reason to buy a print from you, rather than just make their own print). Little things like adding their name, event information and date to the bottom of the picture for a little extra cash. Or doing a collage of some sort. Etc.
A former sports shooter
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