On Path Events' coordination is available for any race, of any size - I'm happy to lend a hand to anyone (at least when I have the free time!) That said, best partners are those who want to build a relationship over 2-3 years and/or several events, strategizing, executing, revising, and repeating. I'd like us to talk for an hour a week or more - with a more focused relationship than someone who may be serving several clients a weekend.
Race Operations + Area Management
In 14 years, I've worked on around 1,000 events - including a few hundred races from 4 participants to 40,000+ . Besides that - I've worked on hundreds of festivals, weddings, concerts, conferences, and trade shows, so there is hardly an area of your operation I am not comfortable with. I specialize in managing small, nimble teams moving fast and juggling priorities.
Media Activations (Photography, Video, + Tech)
One of the major areas of specialty of myself in partnerships with a few mid-size photo providers I am happy to call friends. I built the photography programs at Pic2Go USA (now defunct) and EnMotive, and then and since I have worked on photography activations at several of the largest races in the country, including the marathons in San Francisco, Memphis, Twin Cities, Baltimore, & Milwaukee, and the Hot Chocolate Series.
My passion is to push the industry forward by evolving the role of media activations. The changing landscape requires an increased focus on marketing, sponsorship, and operations, and so necessarily requires a plan more integrated with the needs of the race. The OPE philosophy on media activations includes understanding:
Paid media sales (photos + video) are decreasingly profitable due to trends in technology and social media.
The rise of the quality cell phone camera has drastically shifted the demand curve for photos - This is undeniable and all but the largest destination races have seen dramatic decline in photo sales.
This presents a unique challenge and shift in the economics of race photos.. (continued)
Media is still an essential part of your participant experience, but now needs to be tailored for ‘free/sponsored’ photos, where photography is more about capturing the experience of the event for all parties than selling an individual portrait to a runner.
Of course, this is hard for the race's bottom line; the shift must be done carefully and with consideration for the economics and creative philosophy that goes into producing a marketing product as opposed to a portrait product.
A Paid photo activation is different than a free photo activation; if you hire people who only know how to shoot for paid photos, you may likely get a product that isn’t the best possible for you, your sponsors, and participants.
To be successful your media strategy needs to integrate participant experience planning, sponsorship activations, analytics, and operations integration. Many photographers struggle because while they may be amazing behind a camera, they lack the experience to integrate their knowledge of photo science. OPE providers this understanding while working with some of the top forward-thinking and nimble photo contractors in the country; many with their own sizable books of business.
Photographers/Videographers are paid professionals and the cost of media should be transparent.
A standard average rate for a standard, no editing, ‘show up and shoot’ professional photographer based on region has been $50/hour with a 3 hour minimum and this is already being pushed by several providers (including OPE) to the $55-60 range on the regular.
These photographers are amortizing travel costs, opportunity costs, and costs on an expensive ($2-3K+) pro level camera; a little known fact is that mechanical repairs after 1-200,000 photos (a few months of good size races!!) can cost several hundred as well.
Modern (instant) photo tagging results in a much higher excitement level and thus ROI for you and your sponsors - but this requires powerful servers, which in turn require a technology cost. The wholesale industry rate for this as of 2019 is approximately $.25-$.50, while retail costs to an individual race may be higher.
OPE has preferred arrangements and works closely with several leading modern providers, including Miro/Runnertag (the platform that powers EnMotive in the US), Sweatworks, + Pic2Go. All three have proven success worldwide and are outpacing many of the current platforms in wide use.
The speed and 'bells and whistles' offered by these platforms may cost a little money, but they drastically improve the participant experience and therefore the engagement for you and your sponsors.
By now you may have done some math, and obviously it may not be feasible for a race director to simply race their registration fee to accommodate the $1-$3+/person that photos may cost.
Sponsorship activation itself is a far more powerful tool than the traditional ‘photo overlay’, and integrating successful sponsor banners, activations, data mining, and other factors such as upload bandwidth and in-kind services can be crucial to your media strategy.
OPE services bring together a mix of ideas and experience beyond photos and into media, tech activations, and high-level sponsor activations, with a focus drilling down to the core elements like placement of activations within the festival footprint.
You should have no obligation to any particular photo provider or software platform, and especially not to use both; I have seen many events that abandon their photo services provider simply because the platform doesn’t work for them, and visa versa - not realizing that the two are not married. Every company I have seen that handles both exceeds far more in one area, at the cost of the other.
For photo providers, I have a close network to work with because we share philosophies and work ethics. Many of the most successful ‘photo companies’ are actually the bodies behind the races that the ‘big companies’ shoot as they have a regional focus – I like to make this transparent. Similarly, most photographers shoot for several different of the big companies so you do NOT necessarily need to lose the people you love to move up or sideways. Most major companies don’t follow this and prefer to ‘white label’ services which may surprise some race directors. I work closely with several niche established photography companies that are not married to a particularly platform like the ‘big guys’. Regular partners include John Kelly Photos, MyEPEvents, and several individuals who are the regular promo/team leads in their respective fields of Marathons, Obstacle Racing, etc.
For Photo Platforms, Our goal is to provide you with the best fit for your race. At this point there is no provider who is perfectly prepared to manage the transition from paid to free photos and it is even possible that you may want to change over time. I have top-level partnerships with a few of the top providers in the world, but others may be the right fit for you or your photography company.
Bottom Line: You can choose any service (me, others from my recommended list of partners, or whomever you want). If you have an existing partner you love, there is no reason you should have to change one piece because you dislike the other.
A rising tide lifts all boats in the transition from paid to free ; as many photography companies try and fail with isolated business models, it sabotages the success of the rest of us as race directors cling to ‘paid’photos even as they watch their checks shrink. I work with photography companies who believe that - like with races and race directors themselves - collaboration, not competition, is the way to go.
My preferred partners in photos, each of whom carries their own book of at least dozens of races:
- John Kelly Photos - Nationwide, High-Quality Promotional Photos
- MyEPEvents - Nationwide, veteran in his own right of large scale events especially on the west and east coast
- JKP Sports - Denver + Beyond, current US licensee of Pic2Go software
- Many others, including MetroPhoto / David Merrill, Fixed Focus / Cory Knowlton, Capstone / Michael Skelps.
Timing + On-Course Planning + Support
I've timed and managed course aspects from start to finish line a couple hundred times. While I don't currently operate a timing business, I work with several and am happy to coordinate finding you the best one or auditing your current company.
Registration, Web Design, Print Design, Data Management
I've spent hundreds if not thousands of hours on each of these for my own events in the past. While it's not my focus, I can both handle quick edits and speak the language of your designer or developer.
Strategy And Tying It All Together
I've laid eyes on 1000's of races for several companies and 100's of clients. I speak the language of almost every one of your vendors and I can help you vet and find the best ones for you. So while you may not need my help in the long-term - I do want to help you get to where you don't need it. Then maybe I can stop by and get a chance to race your event myself 😉 Let me and my nationwide network of partners help you get On Path.
Things I don't do
- Race Timing (While I support multiple timing companies regularly, I do not own timing equipment myself - I can almost certainly refer you to a regional partner)
- Sponsorship Sales (you know your race better than I do - I can help with strategy + execution though!)
- Heavy web design and coding (I spent a lot of time on this and stopped in 2014 to focus on ops).
- Crisis and Disaster management planning, Medical, and associated staffing on super-large events (there are better pros for this and again I can help you find these).