Open Source Event Photography

Business by on March 10, 2007 at 2:42 am

There are a zillion race photography companies. They all charge usurious prices for prints. Here are Marathonfoto’s prices for prints from the Napa Marathon:

  • $19 for a standard 5×7 (the cheapest option)
  • $54 for a CD
  • $78 for 2 8×10s and 4 5×7s on metallic paper

On top of that, they go out of the way to disable the experience. You can’t link to pictures, you can’t share them and you can’t even browse them. I understand why they charge so much. They had to pay for access to the runners mailing list. They had to pay for photographers, they probably had to pay the event organizers and lastly, they’ll direct mail everyone the proofs.

A better business model

Create a website where anyone can upload photos of a race. Adopt a freemium model. Allow all photos to be browsed, linked & emailed. Charge $1 per photo for full images and partner to allow printing on everything that photos can be printed on. Run sponsored ads. Share the revenue with the people who took the photo. Allow comments, track downloads, measure popularity, etc.

There are thousands of amateur photographers in any metro area that are trying to find people to pay them for their work. There are thousands of cameras in the hands of spectators. No single photographer needs to capture every runner.

Tools that read the number of a running bib in a photograph must exist. That technology enables an easily indexed photo database that any runner can use to find himself. Combine that with the freely available race results (usually includes bib, name and city) and you can create a virtual profile for every runner. Even better, partner with the existing photography companies and get all of their historic photos.

My gut tells me this isn’t a huge business, probably more of a ‘lifestyle business’. However, given how many companies exist in this space, it seems like there is an opportunity to build a pretty compelling asset here.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. | Dave Naffziger's BlogDave & Iva Naffziger