2/3/22 "Shooting for free???"


I even feel embarrassed to make this blog. Then, again, couple of NYC racing teams took upon themselves to allow national politics to become the talking point in our local racing scene. From the issues of inclusion, diversity, to vaccine mandates…. All of us are confused and even feeling a bit disgusted. What I am about to blog would be considered boring by their standards. I want to talk about the state of race photography coverage in NYC and why you shouldn’t shoot for free.

Are your gear free? Everyone gets paid except you. Many of you know that I am the de facto NYC race photographer and I have provided race photography coverage for our local racing scene for near 8 years. Curious to know if these races would survive if I didn’t shoot them for 8 years. I was never paid or hired by the traditional race directors and promoters. You all know who are they so I won’t mention their names. In fact, I don’t ever recall having more than 3 minutes of conversation with these characters in 10 years. I spent more time talking to my landlord’s cat. Some of you purchased photos from me. Great. These systemic cheapness prevailed until 2018 when I was hired to shoot for my friend’s HH Racing Series. The rest was history.

Since the last 2 years, I was responsible for providing race photography coverage for 4 promoters, over 45 races and adventure sports from NJ to NYC. These events are growing. This 2022 season would be even more epic and my impact to these events would continue to add additional values to their overall production. They would continue to get better and to grow, so as my photography. Yes, I am actively recruiting additional photographer assistants to help me to cover these races and events. Fortunately, I still have some connection and an eye for seeking and rewarding talents, unlike our traditional race directors and promoters who only exploit talents, YOU.

Why? Why in NYC these de facto cycling personality never spend a dime in investing in marketing and race photography for their own races? Do they think the Internet didn’t exist? There’s no Facebook or Instagram? People didn’t care about photos? They think they are gods and their races would market themselves? There are endless supply of free photographers who have unlimited disposable incomes to play photographers during the weekends?  Racers know no better and didn't think their race directors should provide race photography coverage?  Why everyone is asking who's who taking photos at the race? Regardless, these shortsightedness and systemic cheapness for the past 10 years have created a shortage of competent race photographers in NYC.  Yes, their faults if you find no photos of yourself racing in the morning at the parks.  Not just you but all 300 of you.

No, shooting couple of your friends racing does not count. Shooting couple of artistic shots serve no purpose for anyone when you have near 300 people registered to race. Blurry, out of focus, underexposed photos would  serve no purpose for the sponsors when the brand logos aren’t even visible. Uninspiring and boring photos aren’t memorable and no one would remember or care. Shooting less than 100 shots, with 50% of them non-race related, when the combined fields have near 300 racers, would not add additional values for the racers. And they just paid $50 to race too. It took me at least 5 years to master shooting in these pre-dawn lighting condition and I am the more talented photographer. No one can just come in and showing up to shoot and producing OK results, not with your entry level camera equipment. You have to pay your dues, literally. This is the state of race photography coverage in NYC.

Another embarrassing thing is that EVERYONE working in the race gets paid, even your race marshals with questionable background getting wasted the night before. But you, the person shooting with $7k camera equipment and having your photos being used to promote the race….didn’t get paid. If you value your time, your money, and skill of your photography, stop shooting for free in NYC.

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