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The startup changing how race photographers are paid is coming to the New York City Marathon



For some runners, your results in a race might be just as important as the cool Facebook profile picture or Instagram you get of yourself running it. But that can come at a high price, as official race pictures can often range from around $20 to $100 per image.

So three Chicago-based runners decided there needed to be a better way. Griffin Kelly, Nate Robinson, and Declan Murray started FlashFrame, a crowdsource market place for race photography.

"You go to any race, you'll see thousands of people with DSLRs. You ask, 'What are you doing with that?' and they say 'Oh I am taking like three or four photos of my wife'," said Kelly, the CEO of the company. "You're standing in this spot for an hour. It's a sunk cost at this point, so try and make some money."

FlashFrame's pitch is simple: People can sign up to be photographers at a race. After the race, the photographers upload their pictures to FlashFrame. Runners can check out the site or IOS app and look for pictures of themselves, which they can identify using their bib number. If they find one they like, they can purchase it for $6.99, a fraction of what official photos tend to cost.

Traditionally, a major race will use a company with contracted photographers. The photographers will get paid hourly and don't get to keep the rights to their images. With FlashFrame, the photographers own the images and keep a $5 cut of each of their pictures that get sold through the platform.

"We've had people who actually work for the marathon, who contact us and say, 'Hey I would much rather work for you guys because I get paid on commission rather than an hourly rate'," Kelly said. "If you're a good photographer you can make more."

The company, which first formed in 2014, is backed by Y-Combinator. The team recently pivoted from a hardware startup focused on tracking race times into the race photo platform that launched in July. 

FlashFrameFlashFrame started out locally, focusing efforts on the Chicago Marathon, where they signed up over 800 photographers ahead of the race. After the success at the Chicago Marathon, the team started to get attention.

"People were like 'Oh you've got to go to the Marine Corps, you've got to go to New York'," said Murray. 

The team made a last minute decision to do the Marine Corp marathon last week. And this Sunday, they're taking on the New York City Marathon. 

But with only about 50 major races in the United States, ultimately the goal isn't to just make it at bigger events: "There are 50 big races across the US  the size of Chicago, Detroit, New York Marathon, but there are 36,000 smaller races. That's where we want to start spreading out to," Robinson told Business Insider. 

The team is hoping that by attending these bigger races they can attract the attention of regional race directors, who can help spread the platform out to smaller-scale races. They saw this trickle-down model work in Iowa after they attended the Bix7 Road Race. They now have dedicated, regional photographers out in Iowa making money on FlashFrame.

So with the New York City Marathon coming up, runners don't have to worry. Thanks to FlashFrame you can have a brand new profile picture without breaking the bank.

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