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Archive 2012 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice
  
 
bipock
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p.1 #1 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


I have been asked to become the official, and only, photographer for a local high school (came abut through a LL basebal tourney I shot a couple weeks ago). 12 games starting in 2 weeks plus team and individuals. The team is pretty loaded this year and expectations are very high.

All sounds good, but I am questioning a couples things:

1) Gear is 7d x 2, Sigma 17-50, Sigma 50-150 and Sigma 120-300 (all OS and 2.8). I also have a 1.4x and 580exII. While I think I am up-to-par for the gear, would be nice if someone could verify it for me or make suggestions.

2) The football team has a dedicated website - it's where all the parents go for info on practice schedules, game schedules, fund raisers and so on. The organizer wants me to present him with a weekly disc of images (all watermarked) and they would be uploaded to the website. To purchase, parents would be directed to my website and all monies would go to me. Entrance to the games would be covered as would drinks, but no upfront pay. I am a little worried about this as it means for several weeks I am away from the family on Friday night (although, I guess they could go to the games since my daughter will eventually be going there).

For you guys that do this, am I up to par gear-wise and have you found that your efforts pay off at the end of the year? Would you give me some tips on pricing or PM me how you handle pricing (personal website through SmugMug so printing wouldn't be through me)?



Aug 03, 2012 at 08:03 PM
VarsityMonthly
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p.1 #2 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


Would you be the exclusive provider of ALL team and individual photos? If so it may be worthwhile, but just maybe! If I am reading your post right they want you to shoot every football game plus other sports? I can not for the life of me image you would sell much, if anything, until the end of the season. You will be shooting and providing the school a lot of coverage for nothing.


Aug 03, 2012 at 08:29 PM
PShizzy
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p.1 #3 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


I think you're ok wit the gear you have. You can cover short and long distances. You have a flash for those quick run and gun situations. And while your cameras aren't the best, they're good.

To be honest, with no money up front, I wouldn't suggest many hardware upgrades anyhow. You'd be spending a known amount of money in order to provide a service and product that will net you an unknown amount of profit.

Also, while newer, better gear can improve the technical quality of an image, it's your skill and talent that will be the driving force. And remember that features do not equal benefits. A new camera that has better features will not automatically equate to a better image in the customers opinion. You would best be served by looking at your past experience with the tournament, and see what information you can gather that will guide your next endeavor.

Finally, I would say that you should take full advantage of your position as the schools photographer. You'll see plenty of parents on the sidelines, running the gamut of skill and equipment. You may be top dog, you may be outgunned. But the advantage you have as the team photographer is access to the team as no parent has. Make images that will separate you from your competition.

Just my take on it.



Aug 03, 2012 at 08:40 PM
bipock
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p.1 #4 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


VM - only the football team and, yes, team and individual pics, as well as game.




Aug 03, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Ralph Thompson
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p.1 #5 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


I do a fair amount of football T&I and am a MaxPreps action shooter, so I do quite a bit of football action. Action requires a ton of time and equipment for not much return. I do it for two reasons: 1) I enjoy it, I like being on the sideline and people love my work, and I'm good at it. 2) I use it as a way to book T&I work & senior portraits.

80%+ of my sports income comes from T&I. Action is a lost leader. A way to sell more action is to do posters; you could generate more $ with posters than images alone. Figure you sell each player a couple prints (that's a generous estimate) for X amount.... Develope a couple nice poster type products (Look at what Paul A. does) and triple your gross. Make sure you go to the end of year banquet with a nice display....

I think you could shoot a couple key games like Homecoming and senior night and be solid... At least in my Market. I always tell my schools that they aren't the only fish in the pond so I can't spend every Friday night with them. They understand.

Hope this helps!

Ralph

PS: I'm the "team" photographer for three schools. I'm spread REAL thin in the fall...



Aug 03, 2012 at 09:03 PM
robby521
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p.1 #6 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


i do all our sports for the high school and love it.family is going to be there with me so no big deal,they help with band.get in to all of the events free and if they go to playoffs have a pass for that and parking.i do shots of each child every game that i can.just on football last year i sold 45 disk.just about all my shots are used in the yearbooks.they give me free 8x10 color add for all programs.


Aug 04, 2012 at 03:21 AM
bipock
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p.1 #7 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


Thanks Robby. Here's the catch on that - the publicity has been offered. However, I have never wanted photography to turn into a PT job for me - just a hobby. While the publicity offer is there, it's just something I would not want to go for.

I'm thinking about countering with a set fee per game and a return of principal based on sales. Wish I had asked, but didn't cross my mind at the time, what organization he represented in the school body. I'm thinking the booster club so I'm not sure what kind of funding they have around for something like that. However, the way I look at the counter is I get something for my time and he has an incentive to get the parents to buy pictures.



Aug 04, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Fish On
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p.1 #8 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


Do you have any order forms yet for your T&I? If not, you're going to need some.

Gear wise, it looks like you might do with what you have.

+1 on what Ralph suggested about offering other items like individual posters.



Aug 04, 2012 at 06:40 AM
VarsityMonthly
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p.1 #9 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


Another option is to talk to the Athletic Director and become the T&I photographer for all the whole sports department, in exchange for covering each team (not every GAME). If you had the entire school that could be a great return. Also, Fresh & JV sports, I hear their T&I sells better than Varsity. Also, don't forget the BAND. Example, our local HS has 30 guys and the varsity football team, but 190 in the band!


Aug 04, 2012 at 04:34 PM
bipock
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p.1 #10 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


To be honest VM, right now I'm trying to make sure that the AD is involved and aware of what is going on.


Aug 04, 2012 at 09:30 PM
 

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douggoss
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p.1 #11 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


Just an observation: a few months ago I went to one of those JB Sallee seminars you see advertised in the magazines for $49 or so. JB was there but he split time with a guy named Richard Sturdevant. He got his start shooting high school sporting events in the Dallas area and has grown a tremendous business from that. He said the same thing some on this post have - after shooting the teams, when they needed another photo like a senior portrait or a family picture they would call him. He is apparently in high demand now and can pick and choose what he wants to do.

A few things struck me about him (and the seminar). Both he and JB were great at Photoshop, I would say Richard was outstanding. The other thing had to do with the high school teams he was shooting. I had no idea that level of work was being done for a high school. Maybe I remember my yearbook shots in the late 70's but this was unreal. Magazine type work of high school sports teams. There is obviously money in something like this but I would guess it would have to be at a large high school in an influential area (in other words the Mayberry I grew up in in Western MD would not count).

Anyhow, I know you said you did not want to make a job of this but thought I would toss out a few observations for the thread.



Aug 05, 2012 at 01:17 AM
bipock
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p.1 #12 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


I see the where it "could" become a true side business with player families needing stuff. However, there are already several studios in the area that really have a strangle-hold on their clientale - which is the parents of the kids playing. With that in mind, I'm guessing it would unlikely to really get anything in that form for several years. That puts me shooting football every Friday night for FREE.


Aug 05, 2012 at 01:33 AM
robby521
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p.1 #13 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


i have volleyball,band,flag and dance to do this coming week.the one guy under contract can only be there one day and wont come back so the school board called me on this one.it seems this man wants to just stay around his county now.lol


Aug 05, 2012 at 02:07 AM
andyz
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p.1 #14 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


I shoot because I enjoy it. It was really special when my son was playing but he has since graduated. Friday night is shooting and a good part of Saturday is ranking shots and doing post during the season. I have LR4 now so I hope that will speed my processing. I had several parents ask if I'd sell them images. Mine go to the booster club and Yearbook. I'd give the parents the images and let them print them because I am not a pro. I haven't had so many requests that I have refused hundreds of dollars, but I also don't have a dba, a pros liability insurance, sales tax permit or the like. The pros only shoot the homecoming so I'm not shorting any of them either. Your market may vary and in recent years my team hasn't been in the playoffs so the level on enthusiasm isn't at a high.

My point is that if you sell, you should consider doing it right and that is time consuming and may be costly. Do it if you enjoy it. Explain to the school the gear you have and what you get is what they get.



Aug 05, 2012 at 03:11 AM
VarsityMonthly
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p.1 #15 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


Brother I'll tell you I love shooting Friday Night High School Football... can't wait for the season to come. BUT, shooting the same team the whole season really for free is tough. In our rural area even the little local weekly newspaper used to pay $40 a game for 3-4 pics. If you love it and want to use a year of it as a learning experience go for it, cheapest education you will ever get. But financially it does not make sense.


Aug 05, 2012 at 03:12 AM
bipock
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p.1 #16 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


Thanks guys.

For those that do it, have you seen an increase in your senior work beyond what you already have? What, if anything, did you require from the booster club or school as marketing (ad in program, mention ay home games, so on)?

My wife really thinks I should do it for the exposure, which blew me away. I still am not sold.



Aug 05, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Marty Bingham
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p.1 #17 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


A couple of things that haven't been fully addressed here are actually the most important.

First, before you get on the sidelines you owe it to yourself the players, team, school etc. to have liability insurance in case something goes wrong. That's whether you are there in a professional capacity or not.

Secondly, you can call it what you want to but when you start accepting money for photographs you are in business.

Some things to be aware of are;
1. Your home owner's insurance may no longer cover your gear under certain circumstances.
2. Your current health insurance may have an issue covering injuries you receive while working on your own.
3. You need to get enrolled in the sales tax system in your area.
4. You need to separate your business and personal finances or protect your personal finances in some way to keep from losing your savings in a lawsuit.

bipock, you may have everything in place, and good for you if you do, but others thinking of doing the same thing might not, so I wanted to bring it up.

I wish you luck and much success in your new endeavor. I started out the same way a few years ago and while I have no intention of quitting my day job I have found it very rewarding and haven't regretted it for a minute.

Marty





Aug 06, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Skwirnmn
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p.1 #18 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


marty brought up some awesome points..

also, if you can negotiate a price per game, do that! I'm on a contract with a local paintball tournament league, and rather than dealing with an unknown amount of sales, the league pays me up front and I hand over my images after each event.. they have me use ftp and send over the files. this has net me a 4 figure sum this summer (at 19 years old, that's not bad for 4 days of work) and I don't have to worry about hosting the images on my own website or dealing with online orders. this is something i do for fun and i get paid for doing what i would have normally done for free.

paintball might be a bit different than football, but ultimately, you have to decide whether you want to commit to every single friday night. if i was in your situation, i wouldn't do it. committing to something and doing it for free up front isn't something I'm down for.

edit: your gear is more than enough to shoot football, or most other sports with. imho



Aug 07, 2012 at 12:19 AM
bipock
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p.1 #19 · Asked to be official HS Photog - Need advice


Thanks for all the insights and information guys.

After some careful consideration, I have decided to offer to do the T&I work as well as cover the homes games only - kinda easy since it is only 3 miles from my house. I will give them a link to my sight rather than the pictures themselves. In return the booster club has agreed toreally push parents to give it look as well as provide me with a free full page ad in the weekly program and mentioning the photography work at all home games.

Guess it's a start we'll see how it goes. Should be a good education for me.



Aug 07, 2012 at 01:41 AM





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