Race photographers: Bike racing’s unsung heroes

by Verita Stewart


We often talk about the awesome jobs that swannies, mechanics, directors, volunteers and race organisers do at bike races, but what about the photographers?

Photographers are some of the unsung heroes of bike races. They stand around in all weather conditions, often start work at the crack of dawn, hussle with spectators, climb atop of things, under things, hang off the back of motorbikes –all in order to get the best photos of the race for us to enjoy and savour after the race.

Sad fact: These photographers often don’t get paid to do it. They do it because they are talented, because they love cycling and most of all, they enjoy capturing the moments of the race. They upload their photos online for you to browse, enjoy, share with your friends and family and for you to look back on some great memories.

It is important that we don’t take these dedicated and passionate photographers for granted. There is nothing more insulting to a photographer than having their time, effort and artwork disrespected. There is a clear etiquette with using photos on social media. Here are some faux pas when it comes to using photos taken by professional photographers.

If the photographer sells their photos, buy them. Some photographers only charge $5 for an image, so pay it. If they have captured a great snap of you that you would like to keep, this is a small amount of money to pay. Remember, this money goes back to them and will help cover their expenses to get them back to future races.

Don’t crop out their watermarks. Photographers use a watermark for a reason, so that their photos are identifiable as their own work. Please don’t just edit their photo and crop them out. If you want a version without a watermark, contact them to ask for one without (be prepared to pay).

Always credit the photographer. If you’re using a photo on social media, always credit the photographer that has taken it. This is a sign of respect, and gives the photographer some online exposure of their handywork.

Keep the photo as it was taken. Don’t screen grab, zoom, filter and crop the photo. This will cause the photo to pixelate and impact the quality of the photograph. The photographer doesn’t want their name attached to a poor quality photo.

Give them a couple of days to process the photos. Most of the time, the photographers have had a long day too. They will be driving home from the race, up to all hours editing the hundreds, or even thousands, of images they captured. Many photographers are trying to juggle all this between their 9-5 day jobs and families. So be patient and don’t start hassling them for photos 5 minutes after a race is over.

Don’t pass the photo around. If you do purchase a photo, this is for your personal use. If you want to use a purchased photograph for a commercial website or promotion etc, speak to the photographer about your intended use and get their permission first. They may charge a different rate for commercial use, or just be happy for you to use the photograph with their permission. Check and seek their guidance first.

Always say hello. It is a hard and thankless job out there, so always take the time to chat to the photographers at a race. Remember there is a person behind the lense, making the effort with them with a smile and a laugh is a nice way to show them they are appreciated. Also, if you build a friendship with them, you may find yourself popping up in their photo gallery more often.

Like most of you, I love trawling Facebook, Twitter and Instagram post race, looking back through all the photos. I love reliving the memories of a hard, fun or successful day in the saddle and want to share them too. Just remember, if you are sharing the photos on you social media, do the right thing by the photographers. It means that they will most likely be there at the next race, standing in the bushes, on fence posts just to get the perfect shot!

About the author

The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Women’s Racing. She has quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.

She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing. Verita is full of stories and smiles and snark – and will bring all three to you on Ella. Follow Verita on twitter and instagram and strava.

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