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Archive 2013 · Pro Sports Photography Question.
  
 
robbthurmond
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


Hey guys, I' am completely new here but I have a question that I haven't been able to fin in all of the reading I've done.

Here's some background. I have a friend that is helping start a small SF Bay Area sports news service and they asked me to shoot for them. They have credentials for, and cover, every bay area pro sports team. They are small and everyone involved, including the founder, are not being paid - everyone is working as volunteers. I was offered access to their credential and the ability to retain the rights to my images if I would send them the shots of the game first, but I was not offered monetary compensation. I asked my friend about getting any kind of compensation and that's when I learned that it's completely volunteer run for now. The service has been picked up by Fox Sports, but there has not been any revenue come in through that channel yet. It was suggested that I might try getting represented by Getty to try to monetize the access I was given (right).

I've only been shooting for a little over 2 years, and for the most part I shoot landscapes. I've never shot sports, and had no intention of ever shooting sports. I explained that and I was told that they just needed someone with a camera to be there. I decided to give it a shot, did LOTS of home work, rented some gear just to see if I could get anything worthwhile, and basically just went for the experience of going (and the free tickets with the best seats in the stadium). I didn't expect to enjoy it, but I really did and I would love to do more.

I am also a designer, and I understand that giving work away free devalues the industry as a whole, but I believe in the site, and want to help it grow, and it's not going to grow much without good photography (not that mine is good yet). If it were a small newspaper, it would be a completely different story, but this thing is no ones full time, or even part time job. It's a bunch of people throwing in whatever free time they have trying to get the site off the ground at their own expense.

They really liked my work, even though it's not up to industry standards, and I have been given access to their credential for any home game in the BA. I think my chances of getting accepted by Getty are slim to none, but are their other services I could sell to? Can I monetize this, even a little? Do wire services accept images from unaffiliated photographers? I understand that the only usage I get is editorial, and I have no intent to sell the images for any other purpose.

I've already heard "you don't have the experience or gear to be there, give your cred. to me", and honestly, I agree, but this is an incredible opportunity to learn and I'm taking it. My hat is off to sports photogs, this stuff is HARD, but that is part of why I like it so much.

My questions again:

Are their services I could sell to other than Getty?
Can I monetize this, even a little?
Do wire services accept images from unaffiliated photographers?

Some shots from the game (D90/70-200 2.8/1.7TC):




























Edited on Jun 29, 2013 at 02:04 AM · View previous versions



Jun 29, 2013 at 12:56 AM
ian408
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


You'll get a lot more feedback if you post some images rather than just links.


Jun 29, 2013 at 01:11 AM
gschlact
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


I understand what you to,d us so far, But you have not explained what Use Rights You Are providing them with the photos?? What other agreement is in place in lieu of compensation to post on the site? What happens if the site finds a way to monetize one of your shots, does that go to you?

Most people will tell you not to devalue sports photography any more and not shoot for credentials. You certainly can practice and get the skills elsewhere. What do you get out of their gains as the website gains value thru advertising and other related services they add? What would happen if you used the cred to watch a game and didn't provide any photos? To me it seems like they are asking you to take one for the team and you are not even on the team?

Seems like they are



Jun 29, 2013 at 01:18 AM
robbthurmond
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


ian408, I didn't see the image button the first time I posted and I SWEAR I looked for 5 min. Somehow, it's here now. When I registered I thought the agreement made it pretty clear that if I didn't upgrade I would not be allowed to post images and only links. I guess I mis-read that.

gschlact, those are good points. Part of the purpose to my post was knowing that you guys would see things that I did not. I was planing on shooting for them one more time to make sure I wanted "in" and get things in writing. Right now usage means that they are allowed to post the images on their website, and thats it, but that's not in writing and I knew it needed to be.

Two more images:












Jun 29, 2013 at 01:31 AM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


So I guess you're asking the professional sports photographers to chime in here. Riddle me this: How would you handle this if your friend came to you and asked you to volunteer your time to design the website, create a logo for use on the website, business cards, stationery, etc., etc? I figure your answer to that is pretty much the same as at least some of the answers you would get to what you are asking.


Jun 29, 2013 at 03:35 AM
jspytek
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


+1 Russ


Jun 29, 2013 at 03:50 AM
robbthurmond
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


Russ, Thats a good question. I live in the Silicon Valley and have already worked for a startup for far less than I was worth for the sake of being part of something and the hope of a reward. That startup didn't pan out, most of them don't, but I learned a LOT in the process. I took the risk in working for little pay, they took a risk in hiring someone at the beginning of their career. I believed in the concept. I look at this as a similar investment, the key difference being that there may be an opportunity for me to gain more than experience from the opportunity, which in turn decreases the amount of risk involved in supporting these guys.

" I figure your answer to that is pretty much the same as at least some of the answers you would get to what you are asking. "

I didn't ask about whether or not I should be doing this, I asked about the ability to submit my work.

One thing that is clear is that I need to sit down with the founder figure out where my involvement is, where I want it to be, and how I will be compensated when the wheel start rolling. Then I need to get that in writing.




Jun 29, 2013 at 04:32 AM
Russ Isabella
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


Rob: My bad. I mistook all the background information you provided as central to the question you were asking, and missed the specific question.

I'd think it likely that most of the events you would cover would also be covered by shooters from each of the agencies you are wondering about, so on those grounds alone, it would be very difficult to move your images.



Jun 29, 2013 at 04:41 AM
 

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gschlact
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


Robb, getting Agreement in writing is important. But lucky for you the responsibility is on the media company to show they had rights and didn't infringe on copyright should contest arise.

Get set some full agreements in place relative to the relationship and exchange of service and good and then you can pour your efforts into helping them. Monetizing the photos outside have potential complex issues.
A- your credentials likely have limitations stipulated as to what you can do with any photos obtained while they are in use
b- you have potential Trademark issues depending how you up try to sell them (many threads on the, especially on dpreview pro forum
With these, it is likely you are fully limited to editorial licensing and any licensing whe it is easy to prove that the Trademarks good will did not improve the commercial value or harm owner (non legal description of how you can replicate Trademarks / sell prints including them).



Jun 29, 2013 at 04:48 AM
Carl Auer
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


Let me put it this way. The credential is in their name, so, most likely, sending photos to another wire would not be kosher. If the credential was in your name, not affiliated with anyone else or any organization, yes, you could, potentially.

I am amazed that a small organization was able to get access to MLB and all the pro sports. I work with numerous wires, one is the second largest agency in the world, and even they do not have access to MLB.

My questions again:

Are their services I could sell to other than Getty?
Unfortunately, I have a feeling Getty would pass. There are other wires you could check, but some of them are hard if not impossible to get into, and some, not naming names, you would want to steer clear away from. The problem with wires is, and I shoot regularly for one sometimes for another and on a job to job basis with three others, is that some of the wires will have a lead shooter or two in major areas and already have 2 or 3 other on contract with a number of others that will jump in at a moments notice. Smaller wires will have dozens of shooters in your area and have no direction. I have seen 8 shooters try to get credentials for the same game and none of them get it because the smaller wire actually requested 8 credentials.
Can I monetize this, even a little?
Probably not in the way you are hoping. Commercial sales are the best way to get paid, but if you are on a media credential, or obtained your credential through a media organization, most of the time, commercial sales are out. For Major League Soccer, USAToday Images has the commercial contract, Getty has NBA and NHL, and I can not remember who has the MLB contract, possibly USA Today. Your best hope is that the organization you are shooting for license the image (properly) and you see some sort of compensation come back to you.
Do wire services accept images from unaffiliated photographers?
yes and no. They typically will not accept photos shot on someone else's credential unless they have an existing agreement with them. One of the companies I shoot for has this agreement with another wire and anything I shot for that wire I can place with either company. You can use these images as a portfolio to send to wires as examples and potentially shoot for them later, but if you stick with the company you are shooting for, you are going to be stuck by their rules for a while.

I will shoot you a PM with some ideas that I can not share on the open forum per my own rules...




Jun 29, 2013 at 05:00 AM
robbthurmond
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


Russ, Don't worry about it, I tend to be long winded and sometimes...most of the time it doesn't help. Thanks for chiming in. Your response was exactly what I was worried about, and why I came here.

gschlact, I only ever intended on using the images for editorial. I read a lot on other forums about the dangers of selling prints or stock, and I have completely wiped those off of the plate. Editorial use is the most attractive, but Russ really articulated my concern the best. Services that would be wanting those shots more than likely have someone else at that game.

Carl, I did some more homework and you were right. The group is able to get credentials for the A's, the Giants, and the '49ers. They cover every pro team in the area, but I looked at writers assigned to teams and those were the only 3 assigned. When I had asked about the Sharks, Earthquakes, and Warriors my contact had mentioned an interest in them, but I mistook that for the ability top get credentials for those events.

One of the conditions on my credential, and this IS in writing, is that I am free to sell the images to any other service. They are doing this because they are unable to pay my fee.

And finally, I am shooting on a media credential, I knew going in that it was likely that I was only going to be able to use the images for editorial purposes. The credential itself doesn't say anything other than the club is the owner of all proprietary rights except those created by the bearer pursuant to the credential, but I did get a packet pre-game that I think mentioned comercial rights. The fact that no one is selling prints on or around the stadium is evidence enough alone to stay completely away from that.

Thank you for such an extensive reply.



Jun 29, 2013 at 06:10 AM
Jim Cowsert
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


Fact..no wire service is going to buy your images upfront. If anything they will accept them as a contributor and then only if the image is used then you may get 50% of the editorial use of the sale. You haven't mentioned anything about captioning, transmitting on a deadline, etc..( unless I misread your previous post). That is a must on moving and selling images. Sports photos have a very short shelf life and usually by the next day it's old news.
Your best bet if you want to move some images is to contact a smaller service such as IconSMI out of California and see if they will work an agreement with you to market your images on a spec basis. Icon has a lot of clients and can move images.



Jul 02, 2013 at 03:34 AM
mkchang
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


Couple of things to add:

1) Like Jim said, look at Icon SMI, they can move images. I shot for them for like a year.

2) I'm a little confused as to what their business plan is. They want you to shoot for them but they cannot sell your images? How exactly are they going to make money?

3) Most of the bigger wires won't accept random people contributing to them. You need to be established.

4) But like others said, you are competing with many other wires so working on a strict deadline is a must. With Getty I have to have (for football) 5-8 images at halftime and ~30 an hour after the game. It doesn't seem like you have any experience doing that.

The images you posted are not acceptable for the major wires. Backgrounds are too busy and white balance is all over the place.

It's doable, but remember that your images will be going out to the world so you only want to put the best out there. If you decide to help your friends out, check out USAT Sports, Getty and AP's sites and see what kind of images are coming out of those wires.



Jul 02, 2013 at 03:58 AM
picboy
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


this is a bit confusing. from what you said, they will only post your images on their site and not sell them. you mention they have writers. is this a blog site that wants free images to help attract viewers and ad revenue?

if so, have you studied what blog sites have sold for such as Bleacher--they're in your area. you worked for a start-up and know if you don't receive stock in this venture, you never will see any of the value you are helping create for these people. since they won't pay for submitted images--you're really working for free. add in transportation / equipment cost (not to mention time) and actually you are paying to help create value for the owners. are you okay with this?

regarding your question on Getty: call them to check about distributing through them. they are the only ones that can answer that question, not us.



Jul 02, 2013 at 06:18 AM
robbthurmond
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Pro Sports Photography Question.


Sorry guys, I just got back from visiting family. I really appreciate all of the comments you guys have shared.

mkchang:

How exactly are they going to make money? That is a great question. I think they plan on getting advertising revenue from readership traffic. From what I have gathered it's a couple guys that want to start a website about local pro sports and they've been looked at by FoxSports. When I say small, I mean 2 guys with a few more friends that write. I don't think they even realize that there is an opportunity for them to sell images they acquire.

"working on a strict deadline is a must" Something else I learned. My deadline wasn't that tight. They wanted images within an hour, but I watched other togs grabbing the great shots (not that there were many from the Giants) and stop shooting and start tagging and transmitting. I was amazed at how fast things went up, and you're right, I don't have experience doing that. I left with nothing but mounds of respect for everyone doing this.

"The images you posted are not acceptable for the major wires." I was pretty sure they weren't high enough quality. For one, the equipment I have really wasn't able to handle the light, those images at editorial sizes are soft because of noise as well as the 1.7TC I was using. I needed to have someone else say this so I can go back with a little more than just "Robb said it isn't good enough". I'm know in other work I do for being a perfectionist, so they think that I'm just being too picky when in reality, my best is at the bottom of the barrel and really not sellable. I have explained that compensation as "full rights to the images" isn't realistic.

One question though, you said "white balance is all over the place". I had WB set manually, didn't touch it in post, and as far as just using my eyes on screen, they don't seem too vary. Maybe they do, but nothing was on auto. How are you making that measurement? I'm not saying your'e wrong, I'm wondering what I did wrong.

picboy:

"is this a blog site that wants free images to help attract viewers and ad revenue?" Right now, yes I believe that is the model they are looking at. Their intent is to pay the contributors once they have revenue. Right now the ad revenue only covers site maintenance.

"if you don't receive stock in this venture," Stock is not the only form of compensation startups deal with, especially after the bust. I am aware that if the form of compensation that I have chosen is not in writing then it's meaningless I have indeed worked for free. I've sent them my thoughts about the type of compensation they have offered, and a plan for increasing the quality of their photography and I'm waiting to hear back. My plan is to talk directly with the founders, work out a form of compensation and get it in writing. It really is really really early to even be thinking about stock. I think at best, these guys eventually just want to have new day jobs. I hadn't hear of Bleacher.com, thank you for the note, I'll check it out.

I really do appreciate everyones comments. Thank you.




Jul 13, 2013 at 06:29 AM





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