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12/13/21 "Do you know who were taking photos?"

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"Do you know who were taking photos?"  One of the most frequent questions I have been asked for the past couple of months.  Usually from NYC riders or someone who raced in NYC races, park races and the last NYC cyclcross race.  I told them I have no ideas.  They told me they asked the promoter and the race director and they didn't have a clue.  The riders were sure that they have been featured, somewhere.


Welcome to my first blog and hoping I would write more when I am inspired to write.  This 2021 season has been very heroic, heroically epic.  I shot near 50 races for 4 promoters, capturing events from local NYC criterium series in Randall's Island, to MTB races in New Jersey, and an USA National Championship Off Road Triathlon.  And close to a dozen local NYC triathlon and duathlon events.  And two gravel races in NJ covering distance over 85 miles.       


The irony is that riders who did NYC park races know where to ask for photos.  They asked me....because, for the past 6 years+, I have been the de facto NYC cycling race photographer despite that I was never hired to shoot for the race director and the promoter.  It would have been a miracle if I had more than 3 minutes of conversation with them for the 10 years I am supposed to know them, a miracle indeed.   It wasn't until a new series was created by my friend Alessandro from H and H Racing, in 2018, that I was contracted and hired to be his official race photographer.   The rest is history.  My 2022 season schedule is almost complete, about 40+ races for 3 promoters and maybe a 4th one soon.  My job duties go beyond just race photography.  I am in the process to recruit more photographer assistants for the 2022 season.


No, I am not foreseeing myself shooting any NYC park races other than for Alex's races, wherever he may host them (maybe a new venue?).  Besides that, I am not sure if I even have the open schedule for them.


What has been happening with the NYC race photography situation is that for over a decade, there never existed a market to encourage aspiring sports photographers to develop their skills and networking needed to serve the local racing scene.  Is either you are shooting for free and shooting for your teams and friends and posting couple of photos on FB.  And the promoters would rely on these photos to promote their races in an aimless way.  How long you can shoot for free with your $7k camera equipment?  Especially during and  in the post pandemic timeline?  What about your other non-friend riders?  Do they get featured?  There you have it.  Your traditional promoters and race directors are trapped in a temporal loop and living in a pre-internet, pre-facebook, pre-instagram timeline.  They don't believe in marketing.  They believe that "if you build it, they will come."  Or is it "until they stop coming?"  Then what?  There are several local photographers who I call good and they stopped shooting a long time ago.


What does this mean?  I know one thing, I am having  a hard time to recruit competent race photographers in NYC who can also capture and feature riders beyond their friends and buddies.  I am not looking for one shot artists either because...some of my larger events have over 400 riders.  For the love of humanity, stop shooting with your dropped, defective, de-centered lenses.  That's why your shots are blurry as hell and with all the double ghosting, even shooting still life.  The complaints I heard from riders!!!  That's another stories.  Besides this...I have no ideas what other implications it may have for the NYC racing scene when everyone is asking "do you know who were taking photos?"


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