14 May 2009

Sports Photography.

First, the pictures from Kinetic Half (kindly lifted from TriDuo):

I look like I *might* fall over... Clipping in up the first hill. Good thing they got a clear shot of the rest of the sky, and not my tires.

Somewhere on the bike route.

Heading back into the park. Happy to be almost off my bike.
Probably one of the best pictures of myself I've seen in races lately...
Bike's in view, you can almost tell what I'm riding..

WTF am I doing?? I look like an albino Stevie Wonder running.
Race Photogs: WTF. I'm not moving that fast at this point... and this is the best moment you can capture?
Again, no need for the bottom of the SUBJECT here, but the trees in the top are pretty nice.

Finish line. It looks like we are doing some version of a 3-legged race.
I'd like to submit this to Steve in a Speedo - I got you beat with 3 pirates in 1 picture.

Interesting selection of pictures. I don't remember seeing photographers with the exception of the third bike picture... I really do just smile that much while racing.

Race photography has been the subject of many debates: Why do they charge so much? Why are the pictures terrible? Why do they pick the worst locations? Again, WHY are they, on average, $30 a picture?! I'd like to address some things regarding race photography, based on my experience as an actual paid photographer... (I can send you some examples of my work, if you'd like).

Cost: The biggest gripe about race photos is the cost. $30 for a picture. I understand this seems like a lot, however its likely that the photog's only made around $1200 for the day (3 cameras at $400 for the day). In the photography world, this isn't much. So, they rely on sales to increase the profit once labor to upload/sort the photos is factored in. But in reality, how many people buy pictures @$30/shot. At least digital downloads have slowly become more common - though I've seen prices for them hover around $15, and no volume discount for multiple images.

Quality: No matter how cheap though, no one is going to buy a crappy picture. Its just not going to happen. Lets take for example my pictures in the above race. The first shot on the bike is crap. The "subject" of the picture is half cut off. Fail. Don't even upload this to the site. The second and third pictures are of decent quality... I can't complain too much. I'd love to see more photographers get complete side shots of the racers on the bikes, such as the one to the right. It's much more appealing to see the side angle of the rider on the bike than a front shot of us hunched over with a knee in chest. Take a picture with some woods or something nice in the background. If I had a race picture of me from a side view instead of head on.. I'd most likely buy it and send it to my mom. She collects those things, and it would look more "artsy"... On the run, it shouldn't be too hard to do the same thing, as we're moving at a quarter of the speed on the bike. Maybe 1 head on, 1 side view would be ideal.

Location: Directly in line with quality comes location. I'm not sure who told the photogs that setting up on the exit of transition, when your subject is fumbling to get situated on their bike going 8 mph is a GREAT location to get some bad ass race pictures.. but they lied to you. Nor is the corner where we turn to head back in, have slowed down, are sitting up, etc etc. Find a place where the runners aren't totally clogged up together (often at the beginning of the run), and never ever sit at the very beginning or the turn of a bike. We're slowing for the turn.. not too focused on "dropping the hammer" on the bike.

3 things that are easy to fix, and yet time and time again, I see these big race photog companies failing miserably at doing their job. They cannot possibly look at their pictures and say "wow, we captured AMAZING pictures". Looking at the pictures, I would much rather see a race contact a local high school with a photography class, offer 10 students $100 for the day, and set them out along the course. Have all photos uploaded to a single site (Use Snapfish, Google Pictures, whatever), based on location and time stamps... Racers know about what time they passed XX mile marker. All picture free for download, students are allowed to use their shots for portfolios. Sure, the first few pictures might suck, but they'll get used to it with 200+ people to practice on. Alternate options include enlisting the handywork of a family member, friend, or random stranger you pay $30.. I guarantee you will get better results than what is often captured by the race photographer.


Lesser is More said...

Funny you mention this topic - I was just talking about this to a friend who also shoots races. The bottom line is that big races (like half and full marathons or Half IMs) where people train a lot for the actual race typically have a high percentage of sales of photos. These events are the money makers for photog companies that keep them making money. Workers for these companies work a probationary period until the quality of their photos are deemed good enough for the shooter to stay. Being that it is still early in the season, I'm guessing the shooter was either out of practice or new. In any case, there are no "redos" in sports photography and there is nothing worse than ending up with a set of pictures that fail to provide a single purchase worthy shot.

I agree with your assessment of your shots too - they did not do their job. There is too much tree, road, sky, etc and the shooter did not keep you (the subject) as the key element of the picture.

I guess if you do enough races, you'll eventually find one ya like!

Kelly said...

I love how smiley you are! Awesome!

I've had some pretty decent photos taken of me... but I've also had 3 races where they got NO photos of me. I find that truely outrageous.

Rainmaker said...

It's funny, I wrote a draft of a post about the same topic on the flight a few days ago - I say it's funny cause we grouped into similiar categories and everything. Your idea of using the HS'ers to shoot is awesome, in my concept post I was using them for doing photo analysis. I love your idea though instead.

Runner Leana said...

You brought up so many great points about race pictures Lindsay! I've only ever purchased a handful of race shots. I bout the marathon portion of the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge last year, then the Disney marathon this year. The biggest reason was because I could download the images (and not pay an arm and a leg for them to ship to Canada), plus they had a huge amount of photos of me. Probably helped that I ran a marathon so there were so many picture opportunities. That being said, they were $80 a pop. But I probably got 30 pictures for that $80, but I wouldn't do it for say only 5 shots. I just really have an issue with paying so much... I realize that photographers have to make money, but if they didn't charge so much then surely they would sell more.

One of the coolest races offers you free downloads of your shots and you can make a donation for whatever you think is fair. I like that idea, plus they have always captured great shots of me!