How Much are Marathon Pictures Worth to You?

Wineglass Start

I like the picture above – it was the starting area of the Wineglass marathon and I was wearing my PA Grand Canyon Marathon shirt rather than my Wineglass shirt because it was so warm. I had just been chatting with a couple of ladies about the horrors of the PA Grand Canyon Marathon due mostly to weather.

But the question is – do I $25 like it? That is the question at the core of the business model for places like MarathonFoto and US Candids, two of the sites that cover loads of road races and other sporting events and then look to sell you pictures or even high resolution digital downloads of in-event photos.

And based on how many ‘proof’ images I see around on numerous blogs and other non-professional websites, I am guessing that for most people the answer is ‘no’.

Yesterday I got two emails – one from US Candids about a ‘special price’ for digital downloads from the PA Grand Canyon Marathon, and the other notifying me that my ‘ordering deadline’ for Wineglass pictures had been extended. But the price remained $25 for a single digital image. US Candids images such as the one below sell for $18 each.

PA Grand Canyon

The allure of the US Candids one is stronger – there were only two spectator spots, both tough to get to, so there was very little in-race photography. As a result the pictures my wife and kids grabbed were all finish line stuff. The same is true for Wineglass – Lisa was only a few days after hurting her ankle, so was in the boot and sitting in a chair by the side of the road cheering me to the finish, and having the boys chase down the side to grab finish-line pics.

I tried to think about my threshold for buying these pictures – and honestly for Wineglass I would consider spending the $25 for ALL of the shots they grabbed in digital form – even at a lower resolution. Same for PA Grand Canyon Marathon – all of these events are important milestones in my life and development as a runner, so getting some cool shots from the middle of the race would be great.

Looking back through the years – especially as someone who grew up with only film cameras with espensive processing – I think we all have moments where we wish there were cell phone cameras or other ways to have photographed or videotaped the event (and at least that many where we are thankful that there weren’t!).

It seems like a lost opportunity to have all of these pictures out there that people would likely want to buy, but priced at a premium level so that most people will pass them by. They must get enough buys to make it worth their while – at least I assume so – but I wonder how many of these places have done the cost-benefit ratio analysis to see if lowering their price would help or hurt them?

Do you buy race photos?


5 thoughts on “How Much are Marathon Pictures Worth to You?

  1. Those are probably two of the best race photos I’ve ever seen!
    Mostly my answer is also “no” until I saw my finish line photo from my recent half. Totally worth the $25. (Or $26-something if you count in the processing fee…nice.) There have been other ones that I would have liked to have, but I didn’t quite $25 like them.

  2. My wife gives me a rough time about how I tend to ‘auto-pose’ for pictures so snapping ‘candids’ is very tough (you should see me in roller-coaster pictures!)

    Love that picture on your site – as you said, that one was TOTALLY worth it.

  3. I was just wondering this myself! The pics from the Runners World races were like $40…so no way! I think if I really want a pic next time, i will make sure someone shows up on time and takes one of me (my friends missed me cross the finish line by like 2 minutes in my last run, ha)!

  4. I’ve been in 2 races so far, one big enough to have photo’sand I couldn’t justify the $$$. The photo’s were nice and the race was awesome but the fee’s were too much. Maybe for my first half marathon in May I’ll be tempted because it is my first … we’ll see.

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