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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Free or Paid Photos?

Got this message from an Australian company Super Sport Images on the Running Shots facebook page after the Commando Challenge on Sunday:

"Hi Guys,
As the contracted photographic partner of the Commando Challenge, your advertisement of images conpletely flies against supporting your field. We invest heavily into supporting events such as this, are the contracted provider with exclusivity and having a photographic entity that seems to want to take care of things in their own manner, does not support the photographic industry at all, it merely cheapens it.
I would ask you kindly, to please respect our business, that has invested money and resources into this event and others iin the hope of being sustainable.
Director of Supersport Images"

The more I read the post, the more pissed off I get. Here is another freaking ang moh who thinks that he is the all and be all and only his professional set up is qualified to take photographs and we, the locals are cheapening the profession!

Here are another 2 posts that the Aussie put up on the Commando Challenge Facebook Page where he repeats the same thing in response to somebody:

  • Supersport Images Anuroop, the costs of your entry has nothing to do with us as we are a 3rd party that is the official photographic partner of the event with our own costs to absorb. We support events of this type and take huge financial risks to do so. We aim to make our products as costs efficiently as possible and we have packs which include ALL of your identified images for just over $30. This allows you to download your full res files forever. Products and prices vary with varying options to choose from. If you guys are happy to support those out there that cheapen the market by turning up in no official capacity and simply show no respect to business like ours that aim to offer a competitiive product then the end result will be no photographic providers providing any coverage at any event. it's disappointing to hear such comments frankly.
  • Supersport Images Hi Guys, I'd like to address a couple of comments to let you you know we have a range of products in our cart which are still being determined so any comments on prices is speculation.Our products range from under $20 also with a good variety of choices. It's important to point out that if competitors are willing to support individuals who cheapen the market by simply turning up, shooting hard and then making images available free or for next to no cost, not only does it cheapen the market, but you guys will all have no businesses who will be ablle to provide their services at any of the events you guys choose to do. Please think about who you'd like to support, those that invest into giving you the best coverage and systems we can that support a huge vareity of events, or individuals who just turn up and offer images for nothing and totally cheapen the market place. We have individual images, full electronic downloadable packs, prints and special event designs for very reasonable prices. We invest a great deal into our partnerships both finanicially and in resources and Ming and others are showing little consideration for those who are full time in the industry partnering all manner of events. I ask you guys to think about this please.

My fellow volunteer photographers asked me not to get worked up. But reading this ang moh chap's arrogance makes me boil. 

1. What does he mean when he said we photographers cheapen the market? Does he meant that because he invested heavily, and we did not, we are cheap? As far as I know the practice, most of these professional photography company engage freelancers who more than often than not, are people like us, to shoot on their behalf and pay them a miserable sum. Are his photographers much better than us or his equipment better than ours? I take real offence when he said we cheapen the industry. All of us at Running Shots, and I am sure my esteemed colleagues at EyeSeeEyeShoot, Running Kaki, Chasing Shots, Run Mo Cap to name just a few are definitely insulted by this cheap shot. We sacrifice our time, our equipment braving the sun and rain to take photographers of competitor so that they can go home with more than just a mental memory and some chap who think only of making money dare to call us cheap!

2. He threatens that if the public support us free photo sites, then there will be no event coverage if we pull out. I will let the record speak for itself. Where was SuperSportImages or Marathon Photos or Finisher Pix at Lion Dash, Let''s Take a Walk, Project Happy Feet, Newton Challenge, Venus Run? Do I need to list more races? If anything, Running Shots was at all these events and we covered almost 99.9% of races (competitive, fun, charity) in Singapore in the year 2013! So who do you think will pull a disappearing act for other events? SuperSportsImages or Running Shots or even other groups like Running Kaki, Chasing Shots etc? If anything, it will be us the volunteers who will shoulder on rather than the profit greedy company who will pull out the minute they find no monies to be made in our Singapore market.

3. I can conclude that he is afraid of competition. If indeed his photographers are so good, then he should not be afraid that people will not buy his photographers and go for our low quality free photos. But the true is he knows that his photos are not much better than ours and at the exorbitant prices that he and like companies charge, nobody will buy from them. If it is not because these companies charges an arm and a leg, there will be no need for us to come into the picture. It is precisely because of companies like Super Sports Image that we get so much responses from race participants. 

4. SuperSportsImage has probably made a very elementary error when he choose to come to Singapore. He failed to do market research and did not realise that there are a whole lot of committed dedicated volunteers who are willing to take photographs for free. And when he found photos of the Commando Challenge sprouting up everywhere and free for download, instead of trying to find a way to beat the competition, he decided to belittle the competition and scare the locals with threats of no race photographs. He asked that we respect their business. Why? Its a free economy! There should not be any restriction of trade.He didn't do his homework too bad. I asked that he respect the competition and try to be better than us. The question is - can he? 

At the end of the day, we  the volunteer photographers do all these not because we want to kill the market for race photographs but because there was a crying need for cheap accessible photos. And we are glad to provide this service as a service to the running public. At Running Shots, we do not sell photographs although we do charge a nominal fee for request for high resolution photos. But frankly that fee is more to deter request rather than to profit from it. If we have to depend on this income, all of us would have quit long ago.

But having said all these, tell me - which do you prefer? To pay money for a "professionally" taken photo with border, event logo and timing or just admire your free photos courtesy of Running Shots and the various other photography group? If the majority said they prefer the paid version, I will gladly keep my free time to do my own running and nature photography. Let me know ya?

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