Sports Photo Business. How to get started?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by kcusnem, Apr 9, 2007.

  1. kcusnem

    kcusnem TPF Noob!

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    My husband and I are trying to get our own 'on location' event photography business up and running. He's been doing sports photos for about 10 years now for the newspaper and we just got our own equipment. We need help! (And hopefully he doesn't get fired for conflict of interest.....ha!)

    1. Best on location printer/ink/paper for the jobs
    2. Web hosting site to upload pics to and make avail. for parents without getting sued for their kids pics being online (that's the big one)
    3. Forms, taxes and pricing
    4. A way for them to pay (wireless credit card machine $$$?)
    5. How the heck do you make baseball cards for kiddos?

    We've got a D200 and Photoshop and a bunch of Tee-Ball teams that we want to sell too, as well as some ubber-hyper gymanstics and soccer moms that are willing to buy. We want to get started ASAP ;) I can design layouts, but am curious as to if there's a site that sells (or has free) team layouts that we can drop pics into before printing. Any suggestions would be SOOO appreciated :) Thanks!!
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I see two themes here. One is printing and selling photos on site, shortly after taking them. The other is shooting the events and selling them via a web site. I imagine you could do both...but it may be best to concentrate on one...or at least figure them out separately.

    As for the rest of it...I'm not sure, so hopfully some with more experience will step in and have some good advice.
     
  3. kcusnem

    kcusnem TPF Noob!

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    We weren't too sure what direction to go in, so I guess I just burted it out all at one time :) If we can't afford to get 'on location point of sale' up and running then we'll go the internet route first. Whatever makes $$ right? haha.
     
  4. rp1600

    rp1600 TPF Noob!

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    I've just been getting back into sports event photography myself. Well more or less just shooting team/individual photos and not action stuff just yet.

    Years ago I was heavily involved in team photography and found it to be very lucrative, albeit a little trying on the nerves dealing with hundreds of youngsters.

    You asked about point of sale vs. internet sales or a combination of both.

    I've found that for the team / individual photos "point of sale" is by far the best route to go. I have 3-4 packages I offer ranging in price from $16 to $30, all payable at the time of the shoot. This gives you the funds to handle your processing / print fees.

    These packages are the typical "memory mate" deals where each kid gets a 5 x 7 team photo, 3.5 x 5 individual photo and depending on the package additional individual prints, wallets, etc.

    Prior to the shoot date I provide to the team's coach or team mom my price lists that includes the packages and a note that all is payable at the time of the shooting.

    The team coach and/or mom, or my assistant, collects the money as we take the pictures.

    It typically takes 2-4 weeks (at the longest) to get everythign back from the lap, assemble them in the memory mate folders, organize them by team, etc.

    I then deliver each team's "package" to the team mom or coach.

    I'm contemplating incorporating action photos as this was suggested by several coaches and parents. In this event I'd randomly shoot different games and make the photos available for purchase on the internet. This type of shooting is very timeconsuming because you will need to cover almost all games to ensure you get almost all kids, THEN hope that those you shoot actually go to your site and make a purchase.

    Anyway, hope this helps.

    Ron
    P.S. Pro labs like Miller's and H&H offer event services at very reasonable rates. In the past I have also used ProPhoto out of Florida. They tend to specialize in this type of processing/printing. www.prophotoimaging.com
     
  5. rp1600

    rp1600 TPF Noob!

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    Yikes .. disregard the double post .. i thought i had closed out the page prior before the first post made it .. so i retyped and reposted only to see two posts ..

    MODS can you delete one of them? the first one?
     
  6. kcusnem

    kcusnem TPF Noob!

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    Thanks so much! Do you do cash, checks and credit or just cash and checks? There are some freelance guys we've run into that make a pretty piece of change from it and we're like "Why not us?" so we thought we'd give it a whirl, especially with his background in action photos. The info is very helpful. :)
     
  7. dontpanic

    dontpanic TPF Noob!

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    I just wanted to say thanks as well for the great answers. This is something we've considered as well...I'll keep an eye on this great thread and learn some new stuff!
     
  8. rp1600

    rp1600 TPF Noob!

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    At the moment I only accept cash and checks as I have not moved to the point yet of accepting credit cards (in the near future though).

    In the past I have used the team photo market to sorta finance my business. Make a few hundred here and boom, a new flash head. A few hundred there and boom, maybe new backgrounds.

    Although it's not the most artistic form of shooting ... lol .. the profit margins are pretty nice.

    A few years back I contacted a local youth baseball organization and set it upwhere I was the primary photographer for all team pictures. We set aside opening weekend (Saturday and Sunday) to shoot all teams and individuals. It was two long days .. 8 a.m. until nearly 8 p.m. ... but considering I was shot 900 or so kids at an average package price of $20 ... well you can see the potential.

    Here are a few "MUSTS" that I follow:
    1. Provide the team coach with an order form (enough for each player) a week or so in advance of the shoot and clearly state on the form that payment is due at the time photos are taken.

    2. Have a team mom or coach, collect the money & order forms as the kids arrive and have him/her check off who's paid and who hasn't. Also, have the team mom/coach line the kids up and have them ready. THis is basically a snap two shots and "Next" type of shoot. Because I shoot digital I will take shots of all kids, paid or not, BUT only provide packages to those who have paid. Usually those who didn't pay will contact me for a package of their child's photos.

    3. When shooting team/individual photos, set a time for the shoot then have kids arrive 15 minutes early. Start shooting the individual posed pictures first (i.e. child holding bat), and the team picture last. This gives latecomers time to arrive and be included in the team picture.

    4. I tried the baseball trader cards in the past because they were very popular back then. I don't find them, at least in my area, as popular any more. Besides if you're providing cards with filled in data backs (the players' stats on the back) you have to keep very accurate record keeping during the shoot).

    5. I offer four packages, the least expensive being a 3 x 5 individual photo and 5 x 7 team photo and cardboard memory mate frame for 16. And most expensive is $30 for (2) 3 x 5 individual, (2) 5 x 7 team and 4 wallets, plus memory mate.

    6. It's also important that you shoot all kids at roughly the same exposure and in the same lighting. Makes it much easier and less expensive during processing.

    7. I always offer a FREE 5 x 7 team print for the coach, team mom and team sponsor (if they have one).

    8. When your prints are received from the lab, package each child's package in individual plastic bags (i've used ZipLock in the past), then include the entire team's packages in one envelope. You then simply contact the team mom/coach, let them know the pictures are ready and deliver them. It's then up to them to get them to the individual players. I also ALWAYS include two or three business cards in each individual package and a small thank you note.

    9. One thing to keep in mind, many of the youth sports organizations are looking for one-stop-shopping, i.e. one photographer to handle ALL pictures. In one case, I had to actually submit a bid as I was in competition with several other local photographers. Expect that the organization may expect a "donation" of proceeds. I think this is acceptable (I usually give 10% back) and it's also tax deductible.

    10. And one final note. While this isn't the most creative type of photography, remember that these clients are no different from a senior portrait or family portrait. Give them your very best work and you'll be asked back the next year.

    Any other questions, just ask. I'll pass on whatever I know.

    Thanks
    Ron
     
  9. AprilRamone

    AprilRamone TPF Noob!

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    So, I am planning on doing my first sports team photos for a swim team on Friday, April 20th this year. I already have all of my packages and info ready to go for them. I'm curious on whether you've shot a swim team before and what sort of pose I should have them do individually. With lots of other sports there is a ball or bat or something for them to pose with or a certain pose that looks good (i.e. wrestling pictures the kid could be looking like he's going to pounce on you). What should I have the kids do for their individual shots? Any ideas or suggestions? I've never been around swimmers much so I don't know a lot about it.

    Also, my idea to keep the pictures organized is to have a dry erase board and write down the kid's name on it and have them hold it up in front of their chest for the first picture so I know who each one is so I know what kid goes with which package their parent ordered.
    -April
     
  10. rp1600

    rp1600 TPF Noob!

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    The dry erase board is an excellent idea and I use the same thing, i.e., first shot is of kid holding the board (with his/her name), then two more for the actual print.

    As far as poses, i've never shot a swim team before .. i can visualize a few poses i'd try but don't know how to explain them. Maybe sitting on the diving board with the length of the pool in the back ground, shallow depth of field. Maybe standing in the water against the edge with their arms placed on the cement and chin resting on hand, or maybe head resting in one hand. Sheeesh. Hard to explain what I'm visualizing. :)

    I just googled images for "swim portraits" and "swimmer portraits" and picked up a few ideas.

    Hope that helps.

    P.S. how many kids are you shooting? what age group?
     
  11. AprilRamone

    AprilRamone TPF Noob!

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    Sorry to hijack your thread kcusnem, but hopefully some of this will be helpful:)

    Anyway, the thing is, is that we are probably not going to do the shots at their pool. So, I can't really have them near it or in it to do the shots (which would solve the problem.) I'm thinking I may just have them do a regular type of pose but they'll have their swimsuit and goggles and stuff on.
    There will be about 50 kids between the ages of 5-12ish.
     
  12. rp1600

    rp1600 TPF Noob!

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    That does make it tough to get the "swim" environment picture. If you have them do regular poses I can invision a 3/4 shot possibly with the googles up on their foreheads, maybe swim cap on (if they have that) and arms either fold or on hips.
     

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