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Archive 2016 · selling youth sports photos
  
 
PitchInvasion
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · selling youth sports photos


I shoot all of my son's soccer games and have generally just shared the photos with the other parents, free of charge. People love them, and it got me thinking I should maybe be making some money. Here are my questions:

Does anyone have any experience in how to monetize such photos among teammates' parents?

And do you think it would be seen as money-grubbing to share photos on a site like Zenfolio or SmugMug, but protect them so they can't be downloaded unless purchased?

I don't want to come across as crass and predatory, these other parents are usually very cool. But I wouldn't mind being compensated a little on all my time effort.



Oct 13, 2016 at 10:49 PM
John Patrick
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · selling youth sports photos


You've been giving them away. I can predict ZERO buys if you try to sell them. You've already established your price with them the first few games, why should they pay now?

You can't sell to your kid's teammates' parents. That sell just doesn't work. Been there, done that, gave up years ago.

Your only option is to go after other teams. You do have the permission of the league to be monetizing their games, right? Be prepared to show liability insurance (typically $1M), possible background check, etc.


John



Oct 13, 2016 at 11:11 PM
PitchInvasion
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · selling youth sports photos


Sorry if I was unclear. I would never do that to people I'd already given them to. They've already got photos now, anyway. This would only be people I haven't dealt with. (He's on multiple teams.)


Oct 13, 2016 at 11:25 PM
PitchInvasion
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · selling youth sports photos


John, as I am a total novice interns of the commercial side of photography, maybe you (or someone else?) could help explain a couple of things? These are genuine questions and I my tone is not defensive, though it might look that way. I honestly don't know the issues here.

Why would I need a 1) background check or 2) permission from the club to shoot games (and possibly charge for photos after the fact) on public fields when I'm I am there at my son's games?

Also, what could happen that would require insurance of any kind?

Thank you!

Bill



Oct 13, 2016 at 11:47 PM
P Alesse
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · selling youth sports photos


John is 100% correct in everything he said. You simply cannot show up to a field and shoot for sales. There is a whole list of issues. First... there may be a contracted photographer that has exclusive rights to shoot and sell. Second... parents are going to want to know what you are doing at the field without permission from the league. Third... you MUST MUST MUST have liability insurance if you enter the realm of "professional photography". Once you put up one photo up for sale, you are now a professional, by definition... and can be sued if you or your equipment causes injury to someone else. Yes, it's rare, but the possibility exists. If a kid trips on your camera bag and gets hurt, they can go after you. All the more reason why it's important to get authorization from a league to be there because if you hurt someone, that parent can go after you and the league... all the more reason why a league will ask for your liability insurance before allowing you to be there.

After all these considerations... I can tell you this. IF you get insurance and IF you get authorization, if you want to make a serious go at this, plan on investing thousands of dollars in marketing, fulfillment systems, staffing and customer service because that's what it will take to have any chance of making a small return on your investment. Action sales is a tough grind. Even the most seasoned pros are getting out... there is just way too many obstacles and problems in this climate.

One more thing... you mentioned that you didn't plan on charging the team that you have already given your work to for free and that you would go after other teams. Did you stop to consider that maybe Unknown Photographer B who has been giving away work for free has the same plan with the team that he is currently shooting that YOU now want to shoot? The point is that the problem of giving away work for free is pervasive. You're not the only one. The practice as a whole has ruined the industry in that regard and has been the source of distress for so many professional photographers. John was actually very nice. So many seasoned veterans who have left FM would have been a lot more harsh.



Oct 14, 2016 at 12:42 AM
 

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glort
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · selling youth sports photos



Has a post been deleted? I can't see a thing here atm that I'd consider harsh or anything other than polite, honest and helpful.

Bill, if you think anyone here so far has been remotely harsh or had any sort of attitude to your question other than a desire to help and tell the truth, Seriously, forget the idea now. If the thought even passed through your head of selling the work online, run away as fast as you possibly can and don't even think of looking back! That one idea alone will guarantee your failure more certain than anything else for this particular work.

In reality, forgetting this idea would be my advise anyway.
I'm another one that got out of this market and I was by far the biggest and most invested in it of anyone I knew in the whole country.

It is just not a Viable nor worthwhile business these days.
Could you monetise it? Yes, absolutely.
Would it be worth the investment of time, effort and funds as against other things in photography you could do? Not even close. Unless you are prepared to put a few years into it loosing money to get to the highpoint where you earn about .50C an hour GROSS.
That is of course if the market does not completely dry up in that time.
One thing is for certain, the market isn't going to improve!

Why?

Every person now has a camera on their phone and 80% of parents will be happy with the pics they get with them. If they are not happy with the pics, the price will fill in the shortfalls of quality without question.

The other 20% have their own SLR or P&S cameras. Any shortfall in the quality or technique there will be filled in adequately by... the price.

As well as the people giving the pics away, ( and at least 25% of teams have someone) there are other parents and people shooting this that do very good work and charge $2.50 a print " Because they love taking pictures".
That is below their real cost, not that they would realise or accept that truth but it's hard fact just the same.

From a business ( or even paying hobby) POV, what you are looking to do is a terrible proposition. That's nothing to do with you, the quality or service you may provide, it's the things you ( nor any of the rest of us here) have control over.

I believe it was John that came up with some unique and inspired ways of selling to this market some years back. I thought they were brilliant but in the end I believe the returns still didn't come near repaying the effort. If the ideas and experience/ credibility and everything else John had going for him couldn't make it worth while, then all I can say is it would take someone far more brilliant than I to make it fly.

I sold my trailer and disposed of my V stations because I couldn't get anything for what I had as a Business.
I went into T&I work and I am very happy with what I make out of that. Minimal investment, great returns and plenty of opportunity even now.

I would suggest this as something you may like to look at as well. I don't know anything else you can do in sports to make proper money ( Min hourly wage).
I average over $150 an hour on the work I do ( shooting/ processing/ delivery etc) and my costs are very low so I'm happy with that but just the same, I'm always looking to bump my overall returns and keep pushing forward.
That's part of the fun.

I realise this isn't the answer you were looking for or what you wanted to know bit it is the bottom line and the most truth you will get.

If you can find anyone making Minimum wage out of this ( realistically, not Imaginatively) we would ALL like to hear from them and how they are doing it.

A miracle like that would be worthy of sainthood nomination these days! :0)



Oct 14, 2016 at 08:10 AM
leewoolery
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · selling youth sports photos


Everything Paul said...

...plus...I just make sure all of my contracts are in place for schools and youth leagues and everybody in authority is in the loop as to who is the go-to photographer for sales of team, individuals, action, sponsor posters, banners and end-of-season gifts for seniors or league participants.

Example...

I was finishing up a high school football game recently and discussing upcoming events with the school's athletic director when another photographer walks up and asks the AD ( with me standing there ) about getting sideline access to shoot and sell pictures for a freshman football game.

The AD looked them squarely in the eye and pointed to me and said this is our official photographer and if parents want pictures taken, he's the guy....and very bluntly left it at that.

Another school I shoot for had a very lax and liberal policy regarding sideline access for photographers ( meaning every parent with a camera could show up and start clicking away ) but when a new AD was brought in he cut that off and now only allows media ( me ) and the official school photographer ( me ) to be on the field.

These parents were giving away the photos for free download so when I took over the photo contract, I may have sold a few action photos but the school pays me to be there so it is not a major problem from a business standpoint.

They still show up to take pictures but are way behind the fences or in the stands...and still give them away for free download...and it makes no difference as to my sales since I use the action photos for what the school has contracted me to produce...and only that.

Point being...once somebody is giving away pictures for free, it's next to impossible to expect clients to now pay for professional-quality photos...let alone amateur snap shots.

As Paul stated, this is the biggest reason why most pros no longer mess with action photography for youth and high school sports but concentrate on the team and individual business and everything that comes with it.

Those parents with cameras may have thought they were doing a nice thing but when you want to transition from "take these they are free" to "please pay me now" you are out of luck.






Oct 14, 2016 at 01:59 PM
Vcook
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · selling youth sports photos


PitchInvasion wrote:
I shoot all of my son's soccer games and have generally just shared the photos with the other parents, free of charge. People love them, and it got me thinking I should maybe be making some money. Here are my questions:

Does anyone have any experience in how to monetize such photos among teammates' parents?

And do you think it would be seen as money-grubbing to share photos on a site like Zenfolio or SmugMug, but protect them so they can't be downloaded unless purchased?

I don't want to come across as crass and predatory, these other parents are usually very cool.
...Show more


I'll give you my 2 cents since I'm in a similar situation. I'm an amateur, I shoot all my son's sports(baseball, football, soccer) and whenever possible I make them available for the other parents. This garners me goodwill with the other parents and most importantly FIELD ACCESS to get pictures of my son, for every 1 picture of other kids I get 2 of my own. Totally worth it for me and wouldn't change this.

All that said I see 2 ways to easily monetize your photography without having to go crazy.

The first is family photos, I've already been approached by parents to shoot their family pictures. If you have the skills here it's an easy transition and you have a lot of potential clients that you're already showing your work to. Different parents season to season can lead to reoccurring work, return customers, and you don't have the hassle of trying to market to individual players.
The other is taking game photos for other teams that might not have a parent performing this duty. I'm not a pro but I've yet to see pictures from any other team in the league that are above average. With a little social marketing(chatting at practice, etc) you should be able to drum up some "shoot the entire game/team and provide the results to the coaches" type options for set fees. You're not going to get rich here but you're often already at the fields so the effort would be minimal. I've not gone down this road but I've given it significant consideration. This works better at the athletic level below high school, once you get up there it's a whole different world.



Oct 14, 2016 at 02:35 PM
PitchInvasion
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · selling youth sports photos


glort -

Boy, I am not expressing myself properly on this thread!

I was just qualifying my own questions, because I didn't want to come across as a pissy neophyte in the area of selling photos.

Thanks for your input!



Oct 14, 2016 at 02:54 PM
mikekeating
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · selling youth sports photos


Hey Pitch,

That is exactly how I got started. I just did not feel right charging the parents of the girls on my daughter's team. So I don't charge them for the games my daughter plays (if she is injured I will charge a small fee-nominal and the parents have no complaints since they realize I don't really need to be there if she is not playing). Basis for this decision is that I used these girls to practice and get better at photography, small concession on my part.

What has come from this: I get asked to do schedules for the high school teams, special projects (team pictures for the state championship brochure etc.), senior portraits and some family portraits. It is a niche business for sure, but it is a hobby for me, so this just pays for the gear.

I do use smugmug for some photos that I have edited or put some additional time into, if a parent requests an edit to a photo, that is a charge and I place them on smugmug (with their permission, or not if they don't want their daughter on the web-I get it). Or if it is a funny picture and the parents want to embarrass the kid later.

Hope this helps,
Mike



Oct 14, 2016 at 03:03 PM







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