Sometimes it is all about the race photo.

If you’ve done any racing, you know that the race photo is important.

With the exception of your friends and the results, the race photo is the only other proof that you were there.

It doesn’t matter if you finished first or last, those pictures of you doing the thing at the thing is priceless.

Not only does it allow you to see yourself in action, but it gives you something to share to your social groups.

It is the social proof that you did something that many of your friends and followers can’t or won’t ever do.

It is an important photo to have in your life.

You had to be there to know

Events have to be experienced when they happen.

You can’t go do then again like you can a movie, or enjoy them again like you can a book.

You have to be there when they happen, in the thick of the struggle and the challenge.

If you miss it, it’s gone forever.

Sure, there may be another event just like it next year, but that one will never come again.

It is a one-of-a-kind, and you have to be in it to know how special it is.

Hearing it second hand from your friends will not cut it.

Nope, you have to be there to understand what happened.

And when it is all said and done, the photo is all the reminder you need to take you back to the experience again and again.

Now think about the one race that you thought was amazing.

Take yourself back to that time when you came across the finish line neck-in-neck with another racer.

Or maybe you finally made it to to the top of that hellacious summit and stood at the edge of an amazing view.

What about the time you raced for the first time ever?

What about completing that impossible distance that you didn’t think you could survive?

You were at all those epic accomplishments. and they will always live in your own head.

Now dig up all the photos you have that captured those moments.

Think about what you were feeling at the time those pictures were taken.

Can you feel it?

Can you put yourself — even if it is just for a moment — back into that race just when the shutter snapped?

Do you remember the thrill, the stress, and the focus of that race?

Does that photo help you to relive it?


Now think about what that race would mean to you if that photo had never been taken.

Would you be able to recall it as well as you do now?

If you don’t think you could, you’re not alone.

Second only to smell, images of ourselves help our brains remember the emotions of that moment.

They take us back to that time and allow us to experience some of those memories often replaced with the day-to-day struggle of work, family, and life.

Reminiscing is a very human thing to do, which is way many of us enjoy looking at photos.

Photos help us access parts of our memory that have been set aside, especially when our minds have waned with age.

This is why the photograph is such an important aspect of modern life.

Capture the moment and win them forever

In the pursuit of creating customers for life, the photo is one of the most powerful tools you can employ in your racing business.

Unlike the attitude and smiles that you can leverage in your race-to-race customer service, the photograph is something that will help you customers remember the time they spent with you and your race.

Some might remember that your staff was nice, and others might remember that your t-shirt was cool.

But having a photo of them in the middle of the race will take them back to that moment — the moment they had in YOUR race — like nothing else.

This is why you need to spend some time considering how to make those photos happen.

Here are some options you can be utilized to give you customers that photo that will help them remember you forever:

#1 – Photos in the Wild

Spectators of all shapes and sizes come to your races.

Almost all of them carry smartphones with them that have amazing cameras on them.

Additionally, amateur photographers like to attend races to perfect their action photography skills.

It is much hard to produce a professional photo of something moving then it is when that something is standing still.

Several of these spectators and amateur photographers will have personal websites, Flickr accounts, or other ways to share the photos they take.

You can use this to your advantage by simply asking for the link.

There is so much sharing of our activities on social media these days that photos are now easier to come by than ever before.

Many don’t even care if you download the photo and use it for our own endeavors.

Always make it a point to ask racers and their guests to share any photography links they have with you after the race.

While most amateur photographers camp out at the race feature that is likely to make the best pictures for their portfolio, they too like their photos to be shared.

Watermarked or not, finding a way to give your customers free photos of their events is a good first step in memorializing their day.

#2 – Photographers as a Service

If you need to be sure that everyone has a photo, you can always hire a professional race photographer for your event.

Many race photographers work for an hourly fee that can range from $30-$50 an hour, or a flat rate for your entire race.

However, most of these photographers use the current traditional race photography model where racers pay for photos after the race.

Although they do only pay for what they want, the price for each photo can vary depending on what kind of photo you want.

For a digital download, your racers might pay anywhere from $10-$20 for a hi-resolution *.JPG image.

These images are perfect for use on websites and social media, which most will do.

More involved photos, such as prints, could range from $20-$300 depending on size and production quality.

The idea is to allow your customers an option of having a photo or not, and providing them with a service that can give them the final product in the form they want it.

You still pay for their time at your race, but all the risk in how many photos your customers buy (or don’t buy) is all on the photographer.

This leaves you out of the photography service business and provides an incentive for the photographer to shoot photos that people will actually buy.

#3 – Media as a Service

Because racing includes such a visual medium, why not use your unique event to create as much media as possible.

Instead of just pictures, you could hire a media production crew that would shoot your race like a breaking news story.

Photographs, video, and even interviews could be captured to create a treasure trove of digital images and marketing materials.

While this takes photography and even video production of your race to a more professional level, hiring a media production crew does come with a certain amount of pros and cons.

First, you no longer have to worry about begging for free snaps, or hiring a single photographer to shot everyone’s picture.

A media crew will set up teams of photographers, place video cameras at key locations, and capture as much action as possible.

In addition to all the photos they can provide racers, these images can also become your marketing tools for commercials, online video ads, or website promotions.

It allows your customers to become part of the very race they are in, and may even give them the limelight via interviews and race day footage.

Most race promoters that hire these kinds of production companies give the photos away as part of the race registration fee.

However, the downside to having a media production crew on site for your race is the cost.

You can mitigate some of the expense by building in the price of media production into registration.

But be expected to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 per crew.

If that price seems too steep, some colleges and universities have photography and film majors that are looking for opportunities to master their craft.

The quality of work from college students may not be up to commercial production standards, but having a film crew on location for a fraction of the cost could be worth the risk.

The idea is to shoot enough pictures and video to give all your customers that photo they need to remember your event.

Anything you do in addition to that goal is a benefit to your marketing and advertising efforts.

Always be taking pictures

Whether you depend on the generosity of spectators or hire you own photographer, you yourself should be taking photos from the race promoters point of view.

As a direct representative of your own race, you have a unique perspective that others don’t have.

While photographers are taking pictures of your customers, you should be taking pictures of them too.

Your pictures should include showing them lining up at registration, talking to friends, readying themselves for the start, getting timed, finishing the race, and even on the podium.

Look for all the shots nobody is taking.

See if you can produce your own portfolio of pictures and video — even if it is only with your phone — that includes all the places only the race promoter or director can go.

There is enough action going on throughout the day that your own photos can augment that of all the other photographers at your race.

Never complete a race without at least 50-100 photos of the day.

From the time you arrive at the venue, to the time you put away the last piece of gear, you should be snapping photos.

A customer is worth a thousand photos

They say a photo is worth a thousand words, but I say that a customer — to a race promoter — is worth a thousand photos.

Photos of your racers are a key ingredient in making them customers for life.

You cannot buy that kind of advertising.

Racers tend to forget how hard something was after it’s over.

All they remember is the accomplishment, the community, and the emotions they felt when it was all said and done.

If you can give them just one piece of that experience back, you can help them remember you.

One photo — one simple photo — can be the memory that creates a loyal customer who comes back to you year after year.

Are a thousand photos worth the cost if they create just one more customer?


Photos are cheap.

Capturing the attention of a customer more than once is expensive.

Never let an opportunity to memorialize a customer’s experience go to waste.

Make photography at your race a requirement by investing in images of your racers early and often.

And now you know.

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Posted by Kyle Bondo

Kyle started Reckoneer with the simple mission of helping those who want to become race directors and learn the mechanics of outdoor recreation engineering. Kyle demystifies outdoor racing with over 20 years of endurance and outdoor industry business knowledge. Combined with his top-rated podcast Merchants of Dirt, dozens of articles, lessons, and infographics, Kyle has made Reckoneer the premier educator in outdoor event management. Build better races today!