Thursday, November 10, 2016

"Uber" for Race Photos?

Phone photos are free (thanks Lynn!)
Race photos can be expensive. Really expensive. And unless it was a once-in-a-lifetime bucket race, it can be hard to justify spending so much money on the pictures.

I fully understand the economics and issues behind this situation, and you will never see me post a watermarked race photo that I haven't purchased. Runner's World has a nice summary of the photo-sharing debate here. And an explanation of why it's illegal here.

While I would like to own some of the pictures from the 2016 MCM 10K for sentimental reasons (see them here), I don't value them enough to pay $75 for the pictures. For the 2015 MCM Marathon, I didn't think twice about paying that much - those pictures were precious to me.

So I was particularly intrigued by new start-up Flashframe, which aims to connect runners with photos by creating a marketplace where third-party photographers can sell race pictures. In a Runner's World story, one of the cofounders describes the startup as Uber or Lyft for race photos (see story here).

One picture from the Flashframe website from "Marine's Marathon" (copyright issues prevent the site from using the race's real name) costs $6.99. One picture from MarathonFoto for the same race costs $24.95.

I've kept an eye on the Flashframe website throughout the week after the race. More photos were uploaded daily. Although the website currently says about 30% of the expected photos have been uploaded, it's ten days post-race and beginning to look like that's all there will be.

You can search for pictures by bib number or by letters that appear on your shirt. I've tried both my bib number and "PR". My bib number brings up nothing; PR does bring several photos with "PR" on shirts, but none are of me.

I had seven friends who ran the NYC Marathon the weekend after MCM, and two of them have pictures from NYC on Flashframe. I like this one of my friend Stan (Go Stan! First marathon!). NYC seems to have been far more heavily photographed than MCM was.

It will be interesting to see whether Flashframe takes off. The economist in me embraces the free market effort to chip away at some of the monopoly power of MarathonFoto. And it reminds me to be especially appreciative of races like the =PR= Race Series, who provide professional race photos to their runners for free.


  1. Hmm, interesting business model.

    1. It'll be interesting to see if it is successful. It seems like there are a lot of barriers to overcome.