Service or paid photography model at your next marathon?

There's no doubt that photos are a necessary service at any event, be it a marathon, triathlon or anything in between. Photos are a great way for participants to market your race for free when they start sharing their photos around the internet. With the rise of social media, the demand for high-quality photographs has increased, and subsequently put a lot of pressure on races to offer high-quality photos at multiple points on the course. Offering free photos can many times be cost prohibitive, and when its not, quality sometimes takes a dip; alternatively participants can pay for the photos, but this can sometimes lead to customer complaints. Whatever you choose, both options have their pros and cons and we'll explore the benefits of both.

Selling Photography

The most obvious reason for selling the photos to participants is the opportunity to make a profit without any cost to the race. If you know a talented sports photographer in your area, speak with them about potentially coming out and selling their work, or donating their time and selling the photos as an additional way for your event to add an additional revenue stream. Flashframe enables either the photographer or race to sell photos and split the revenue, taking the headache out of having to deal with payments. The amount of revenue generated from selling photos usually far exceeds the amount that photography companies charge in a service model, to be discussed, and because of that, they can typically afford to bring out more of their best photographers to feature your event. Participants often complain about having to purchase photos, particularly when other races offer them for free, but rarely complain if they don't have a photo.

Free Photography

Free! Your participants can download all their photos for free and distribute them across the internet at their will. This obviously comes as a cost to the race, and with it a more regimented and disciplined approach to how the photography will be handled. Companies will often negotiate where photographers will be, and ensure they can make a profit. Over the years, we saw this approach become increasingly popular up until the pandemic, at which point many races have reevaluated their approach to photography. From a customer service perspective, participants will typically be very upset if they don't have a photograph because they feel this is a part of the race service offering, which is a large contrast from the photography sales model. If you're lucky, sometimes a local photographer will be willing to donate their time to help enhance your race, that's a win for everyone. Flashframe also enables photography companies and races to effectively offer free photography to participants by tagging all photos uploaded as well as tracking which photos have been downloaded.

Hybrid Approach

As we've seen both of the above photography models play out at Flashframe, we've started to recommend a hybrid approach for many races. In this method, races give logo'ed or lower-quality photos away for free, and have participants pay for a higher resolution or version without any race or sponsored logos attached. We've seen this become highly successful, generating revenue, and keeping participants happy. Additionally, Flashframe offers photographers the ability to sell physical prints, we strongly encourage races to do this as well. It's a great opportunity for racers to conveniently buy a high-quality print without having to hassle about printing it themselves, and the opportunity for the photographer or race to earn a little extra if desired.

Obviously, there are pros and cons to both selling photography or providing free photos at a race. Ultimately, the decision depends on your goals as a race or photographer and the specific circumstances of the event. However, whatever path you end up choosing, Flashframe can be there to help, be it paid, free or hybrid!