"WHY SHOULD I PAY A PHOTOGRAPHER TO SHOOT MY TOURNAMENT WHEN SOME MIGHT BE THERE SHOOTING FOR FREE?"
I recently turned to Facebook to send a message to local promoters about why hiring a photographer is so important.
"I'm going to go on a little rant. If you're running a tournament with hopes of reeling in world class competitors, increasing views, profiting, and drawing a bigger audience to the next event, how are you not considering investing sponsor money in at least one photographer for the day?
I watched Zach Maslany, Abraham Awad and JM Holland grow their Show the ART Finishers Sub-Only Tournament from the very beginning. They saw the importance of photography and got coverage that BLEW UP their press for the tournaments that followed while consistently reeling in some of the best guys in the area to fight for them. On their podcast they mentioned how they don't NEED to spend the extra money on photographers, but they love seeing the photos of their event everywhere afterwards because they budgeted for their own paparazzi.
When all your top competitors are making a shot from your tournament their profile picture, that exposure is huge if you consider their following!! These guys know that. When BJJ magazines and blogs write about the results, what photos will they use? Photos from a photography student that release their shots two weeks after the hype's over? It's so important and people constantly cut photography out of their budget thinking it's not a big deal.
I know that there's a lot of up-and-coming tournaments that can't afford that. I get it. But try to find a sponsor that'll cover the cost. Include that sponsor's logo on all the watermarked photos. Look like you ran a ballin' ass tournament and get the sick press that gives you the recognition that makes the hard work of running a smooth event worth it."
It's also good to consider that actually hiring a photographer and being good to them highly increases your chances of getting great marketing material. When people are there shooting for free, they're typically there to make their teammates look decent, not help your tournament's press by shooting photos of the crowd, location, and props like medals and giant checks. When I shoot an event, an album always gets published to an album on Facebook with watermarks on it at web resolution. Sharing is encouraged, so everyone possible will be tagged in those photos so their friends get drawn to the event's album, leading them to the event's page and videos. The return on your investment is absurdly worth it.