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Archive 2013 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?
  
 
DPC1
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


I working it (slowly) and have the opportunity to shoot 150 T&I photos for a Soccer club and need some suggestions on the process from A to Z:

I anticipate running this with a two cameras setup. One to shoot the individual photos and another to shoot the team. For this I plan on having myself and another shooter. Is this enough camera/manpower for 150 kids? What's the average time it takes to shoot a team of 12? I'm guessing "one minute" per kid? And any recommendations for the strobe/flash setup?

I also plan on having another person to greet the parents/kids, collect & check the forms, and collect payment (should I just do checks? or do I need to be prepared to accept credit cards as well?)

What's a good starting price point for the packages and what are some of the hot selling packages in your area?

Thanks!







Nov 14, 2013 at 05:08 AM
P Alesse
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


Best advice I can give to anyone doing T&I is to overstaff it. Three people is not enough. We would do a league of this size with at least six people... probably more around 8-10 staff people. Reason being... things will not run smoothly as you think. At the sales table... you need to have at least 2 people, preferably 3 because it will be your biggest bottleneck without. Teams won't show up at designated times as prescribed. You have may have down times, but you may also have frenzied times, with 3-4 teams all coming at once and all those parents will have questions, won't have any paperwork filled out in advance, and will want to see the product line. You have to be prepared for that. If you can't handle the volume, or if parents are standing around waiting for more than 15 minutes to get photos done, it doesn't matter whose fault it will be... it will rest on YOUR shoulders.

Each one of our photographers that shoots indys gets two assistants... one to get all team information from the coach and record file numbers, and one that does strictly posing. Any less than that and you're looking at more time than one minute per kid. Even with that, if the kids are little, it can take longer than one minute, especially when holding a prop like a bat or ball.

Our team photographer gets two assistants as well. One that will assist in what I call the "herding" of kids when done at the individual station, and one that will help the photographer in team formation setup and file numbers. Add three people at your sales area and now it's a total staff of nine, which is what I would recommend first time out.

This all may sound like overkill. But it's not. T&I is your bread and butter and if you mess up, you'll never get another league in the area ever again. Too much to risk and with the kind of money that's possible, it makes no sense to cut corners. It has to run like clockwork. If it does, the parents will be the best voice of your business. If they have nothing but complaints it can destroy your reputation regardless of any circumstances that were beyond your control.

Product line... mag covers, memory mates, trading cards, buttons/keychains/magnets/game day tickets and all that other knick-knack pattywack give a dog a bone novelty items... YMMV. The basic staples are prints, memory mates, mag covers, and traders in most markets.

Lighting/Strobe... too lengthy to write it up here. All I can say is that it has to get done right. Hoping you have that experience down pat. Honestly, it shouldn't be in question. If it is... you're not ready to take on T&I at this time.



Nov 14, 2013 at 10:12 AM
James Broome
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


In addition to what Paul completely nailed above, you *need* (and by 'need' I mean "you-can't-do-this-without") liability insurance.


Nov 14, 2013 at 12:59 PM
James Broome
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


Oh, and yes, you need to accept credit cards. Go pick up a Square reader.

https://squareup.com/



Nov 14, 2013 at 01:00 PM
leewoolery
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


In addition to what Paul said:

-have you ever taken team and individual photos before...even just one team as a stand-alone?

-make sure you have a lab in place with a proven track record to handle your orders with a full-line of products...prints ( 5 x 7's, 8 x 10's and wallets), custom memory mates, photo buttons, trader cards and fridge mags are the biggest sellers where I am from but items such as acrylic statuettes and I-phone covers are also good to have.

I wouldn't even approach a league without having your packages already set up with a full-service photo lab that specializes in sports.

-make sure you schedule enough time for your teams on picture day...15-20 minutes per team should be enough for soccer with 3 teams per hour.

-if possible, attend a parent meeting or have your order forms passed out well in advance so parents can call with questions or have examples on your website of products available

-I have my order forms printed in envelope form so the money is placed inside and sealed. This will relieve major congestion on picture day since most parents will already have the form filled out and payment enclosed. Most parents just drop their children off on picture day or one parent will bring several.

-if possible, do these indoors so you don't have to battle changing lighting from sun/clouds or wind-blown hair or rain.

-make sure you leave enough room around team and individual photos for proper cropping. I use a full-frame camera such as a D3, D3s or D4 and set the aspect ratio at 5 to 4 so I have an 8 x 10 format within the view finder frame to judge my crop.

-make sure your staff can work well with people under stressful situations...especially the photographers. I am finding out that more and more children have some form of learning disability and behavior disorders and you must be patient and sensitive with those in the team and individual photos...plus the stressed-out parents and many like to show their bad side on picture day.

I have had so many photographers lose it on picture days 'cause they can't handle the stress or just don't work well with children.

Like Paul said...if you are asking questions about strobes and camera settings, you may not be ready for the team photo business. It is not easy!

That is a topic to itself.

Good luck with your venture,

Lee Woolery
Speedshot







Edited on Nov 14, 2013 at 05:23 PM · View previous versions



Nov 14, 2013 at 01:19 PM
bcmusher
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


A lot of great information. I was always wondering how you keep track of who is whom. Do you have separate directories loaded for each team. What about individual pictures when you cannot see the number. Would you have a list of the names/#'s and shoot in that order and put them in the team directory?


Nov 14, 2013 at 01:41 PM
leewoolery
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


bcmusher wrote:
A lot of great information. I was always wondering how you keep track of who is whom. Do you have separate directories loaded for each team. What about individual pictures when you cannot see the number. Would you have a list of the names/#'s and shoot in that order and put them in the team directory?


An assistant writes down the player's image number sequence in a box on the order form. Best way I have found to keep track of who's who and makes it easier as orders are submitted to lab.

In a pinch or if my assistant cannot attend, I have the athletes hold up the order form under their chin as first picture is taken.

From high schools and middle schools, a printed roster is provided to check for spelling or penmanship issues.

Lee Woolery
Speedshot



Nov 14, 2013 at 01:53 PM
sivrajbm
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


Good info there Gentlemen...



Nov 14, 2013 at 06:27 PM
James L
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


Lots of good info. If you have schedule flexibility, meaning you can schedule teams on different days then you can manage assistants or the need for a little better. Schedule them as you can handle them, shoot before games for example. That is if they are not doing a designated photo day. I did a club of 400 kids with just the help of one person collecting order forms and noting the photo file # on the order form after each photo. I had to be super efficient. Will I do that again? No, but I was brought in last minute and I got it done.

Again lots of suggestions above that will help you. If you are using a lab to fullfill orders give them a call to get their feedback on your workflow as well.



Nov 14, 2013 at 07:45 PM
DPC1
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thank you Paul, James, and Lee!!


Excellent insight and I was envisioning best case scenario, but you're right! I will make sure to have more people on site during the shoot.


P Alesse wrote:
Product line... mag covers, memory mates, trading cards, buttons/keychains/magnets/game day tickets and all that other knick-knack pattywack give a dog a bone novelty items... YMMV. The basic staples are prints, memory mates, mag covers, and traders in most markets.


Any recommendations on a good starting price point? I read somewhere that they used $15 for their entry level package because that's what got them in the door with the league/club, but that seems ridiculously cheap! I noticed Lee's package starts at $25 (which seems more reasonable)



P Alesse wrote:
Lighting/Strobe... too lengthy to write it up here. All I can say is that it has to get done right. Hoping you have that experience down pat. Honestly, it shouldn't be in question. If it is... you're not ready to take on T&I at this time.


I have done a lot of strobe/flash work and I have the technical portion down, but that's more of a studio style setting with three lights (or more) and it just seems to be an over kill for high-volume T&I sessions. The reason I ask is because I've seen a local T&I company use just a speed-light on-camera for a league with 1500+ kids... It's not my style, so I'm curious what the typically setup is for someone that has the T&I system down? Speed-lights (I would be worried about them over heating), continuous lights, Alien Bees/Einsteins, etc...? And are you doing two lights (one key and one hair) OR going all in and using all three lights (key, fill,hair)?



leewoolery wrote:
Have you ever taken team and individual photos before...even just one team as a stand-alone?


Yes - I've done a lot of "stand-alone" team shoots. This allows me to take more time with each kid and shoot multiple posses, but high-volume T&I is a workflow I'm not familiar with..



leewoolery wrote:
make sure you have a lab in place with a proven track record to handle your orders with a full-line of products...prints ( 5 x 7's, 8 x 10's and wallets), custom memory mates, photo buttons, trader cards and fridge mags are the biggest sellers where I am from but items such as acrylic statuettes and I-phone covers are also good to have.

I wouldn't even approach a league without having your packages already set up with a full-service photo lab that specializes in sports.



I have an account at WHCC and Bay Photo, but have never used them in this capacity. Anyone here use either lab solely for T&I?


leewoolery wrote:
make sure you schedule enough time for your teams on picture day...15-20 minutes per team should be enough for soccer with 3 teams per hour.


Noted. I'll probably err on the side of caution and go with 25-30 minutes for the first attempt.



leewoolery wrote:
if possible, attend a parent meeting or have your order forms passed out well in advance so parents can call with questions or have examples on your website of products available


Excellent recommendation!!




leewoolery wrote:
I have my order forms printed in envelope form so the money is placed inside and sealed.


Where do you get them printed at?



leewoolery wrote:
Make sure you leave enough room around team and individual photos for proper cropping. I use a full-frame camera such as a D3, D3s or D4 and set the aspect ratio at 5 to 4 so I have an 8 x 10 format within the view finder frame to judge my crop.


Interesting, is it easier to pull a 5x7 from a 4x5 crop? I've never given that much thought.


leewoolery wrote:
Make sure your staff can work well with people under stressful situations...especially the photographers. I am finding out that more and more children have some form of learning disability and behavior disorders and you must be patient and sensitive with those in the team and individual photos...plus the stressed-out parents and many like to show their bad side on picture day.


Another good point! The other photogs I have in mind all shoot kids and family stuff, so they know what to expect.




Nov 14, 2013 at 09:27 PM
 

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DPC1
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


James L wrote:
Lots of good info. If you have schedule flexibility, meaning you can schedule teams on different days then you can manage assistants or the need for a little better. Schedule them as you can handle them, shoot before games for example. That is if they are not doing a designated photo day. I did a club of 400 kids with just the help of one person collecting order forms and noting the photo file # on the order form after each photo. I had to be super efficient. Will I do that again? No, but I was brought in
...Show more

Thanks James!

I already did something similar this season and do not want to attempt that again. Unfortunately the overall time it took to setup and break down the lights, etc seriously cut into my bottom line!



Nov 14, 2013 at 09:35 PM
P Alesse
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?




Interesting, is it easier to pull a 5x7 from a 4x5 crop? I've never given that much thought.



It can work, but you still have to leave some breathing room. I would keep it 2:3 as is out of camera and just give yourself plenty of room. You can still throw away half the pixels on the crop and have no problem getting clean 8 x 10s so don't fret it.



Nov 14, 2013 at 11:14 PM
DPC1
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?



P Alesse wrote:
It can work, but you still have to leave some breathing room. I would keep it 2:3 as is out of camera and just give yourself plenty of room. You can still throw away half the pixels on the crop and have no problem getting clean 8 x 10s so don't fret it.


Thanks Paul!

For your lighting are you just running 2 x alien bees (key and fill)?




Nov 15, 2013 at 08:14 PM
P Alesse
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


DPC1 wrote:
Thanks Paul!

For your lighting are you just running 2 x alien bees (key and fill)?



Large softbox as main light and umbrella as fill for indys. Two lights with umbrellas cross-lit for teams. And yes, ABs



Nov 15, 2013 at 11:46 PM
rrwingnut
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


tag for followup


Nov 16, 2013 at 09:43 PM
leewoolery
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


David:

I have my order forms printed by a local print shop in 6 x 9 and 10 x 13 sizes. They also handle my promo cards, the programs for the high schools I am contracted with and the promo posters for the teams to display in the local businesses.

I have settled on Miller's Pro Lab for our team photo ( and senior portrait) business. Their quality and turn-around times can't be beat. We have most team orders back within 24 hours after they were uploaded. We had them design custom templates for our school and youth leagues and our clients love them.

My assistant selects the best photos for each player from their order form and may use one pose for buttons, another for the individual, another for fridge mags or trader cards, etc...

I tried Candid, Buckeye Pro Imaging, Filmet, Richmond Color Labs, Nation's and others over the years and Miller's is, by far, the most reliable, easiest to work with and consistent.

We gave up on photo labs doing the order entry and fulfillment of our team sports orders.

Reasons being:

1-Only one image per player per order

2-Misspelled names like you wouldn't believe ( and the spelling was very legible on the order form! )

3-Shortages and mix-ups galore

4-Ridiculous or no cropping, at all, of photos

5-Information for sports cards not entered

6-The biggest disaster was having labs ship the products directly to the client....sight unseen. We had items lost, not sent at all, bent, wrong addresses....a real nightmare scenario.

7-Some labs charge as much as 55% of the order total for their fulfillment service.

My assistant selects, crops,edits and uploads the images...one-team-at-a-time...all by herself and then double-checks quantities and spelling and packages them when they come back in their own separate shrink-wrapped packages..one team at a time. During busy times, she brings in help.

When completed, I deliver them to the booster club, school, coach or parent rep or they come to the studio to pick up.

Her success rate is about 99.9%, as opposed to some of the labs ( which I can reveal to you by PM ) were only 75%...meaning 1/4 of our orders had mistakes of all shapes and sizes....sent back to us...supposedly...ready for delivery to the teams.

One culprit would ship photo orders back to us, late, all packaged and ready to deliver with miss-spelled names, shortages, obvious errors, half-printed photos...and their answer was "We anticipate a certain percentage of mistakes!" The mistakes were obvious and they sent them any ways!!!

The last batch they ever did for me cost a fortune since I not only paid the lab order upload and for the packaging service but I had to pay my assistant and 2 helpers to go though each order and find the miscues and there were a ton.

Our new system now works flawlessly and we are getting tons of work done in record time...and I shoot tons of teams throughout the year!

Much success,

Lee Woolery
Speedshot



Nov 16, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Ralph Thompson
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


Just sent you a PM, I'm in Sacramento and can give you advice. Bay Photo is local to you, they are the best out there...(they have delivery truck pick up & drop off in the Bay area). You've had a lot of good advise here, email me & I'll help you sort it out.

Ralph



Nov 17, 2013 at 08:39 PM
P Alesse
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


I'm with Lee. I just can't put my trust in someone else doing the order fulfillment. I have enough doubt in the packaging, handling and shipping alone.


Nov 17, 2013 at 09:19 PM
DPC1
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


leewoolery wrote:
I have settled on Miller's Pro Lab for our team photo ( and senior portrait) business. Their quality and turn-around times can't be beat. We have most team orders back within 24 hours after they were uploaded. We had them design custom templates for our school and youth leagues and our clients love them.


Thank you Lee!!! I submitted my application for a Miller account!

Sounds like you have all the kinks worked out and I appreciate you breaking everything down into such detail!!



Nov 17, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Matt OHarver
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · T&I Photos for 150 Kids - Where to Start?


We use H&H out of Raytown MO. I've been to the Lab, met the people, and seen them first hand. My orders for clubs about your size take 2 days from the time I submit using their software to the time they have them packaged and delivered to my door. Sorted by teams. Their products and support are great. And prices are amazing.

Matt



Nov 17, 2013 at 09:46 PM
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