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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

New high school sports photo business
John Manna, Photographer
wharton | nj | United States | Posted: 9:56 PM on 01.15.12
->> Hello, I am a new Sports Shooter member. I have been working freelance for two weekly news papers during the past 3 years. I do most of their sports, covering 5 to 6 assignments a week. As you all know the money is not great, but it has been a good experience. I plan on starting a sports photography business shooting teen sports and I am looking for a little guidance. Is there some sort of rule of thumb for pricing a job for a sports team? I am planning on providing a 16 x 20 action photo poster for each team member? Also, is there any source that I can use as a base for creating a contract? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Mark Kauzlarich, Photo Editor, Student/Intern
Madison | WI | | Posted: 10:39 PM on 01.15.12
->> I'm sure its not what you're looking for (because ever sane freelancer is looking for a free option) but I would think that this program called fotoQuote is exactly what you'd like to know for pricing and contracts.

That being said, I don't exactly understand what you're looking to do here from a business standpoint so I could be completely wrong.
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 10:47 PM on 01.15.12
->> You might also want to look at the MaxPreps shooters group on Flickr
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Jack Megaw, Photographer
Dubai | UAE | United Arab Emirates | Posted: 12:22 AM on 01.16.12
->> Best advice I can give is don't give your pictures away for free, try to get exclusive rights to be the single photographer there (to avoid parents/gwcs on the sidelines giving away pictures and cutting you out) and get Photoshelter or something similar to give people a place to go and buy prints online. I believe through Photoshelter it will handle the prints too so you don't even have to worry about that.

On pricing +1 for fotoQuote! Also check out the websites other people who are doing the same thing just to get an idea of the prices that will sell.

Hope that helps!

-Jack
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 8:28 AM on 01.16.12
->> John - the best advice is to lock up T&I contracts vs. trying to make money on action photography. The title of your thread says High School. Action sports sales for HS aren't that great anymore. You're better off with tournament/meet exclusive contracts for travel team / gymnastics - people obsessed with their kids and lots of money to burn. But in today's facebook world, typical HS athletes and their parents just don't buy enough to make it worth your time. They want to view on-line and via phones. While well-made posters can still sell - the amount of time spent shooting to get posters of every kid really isn't worth it. If you think the pay shooting freelance for papers is bad - wait till you try making money shooting HS action sports. T&I is a much better business proposition.
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Jon Wright, Photographer
Wayzata | MN | USA | Posted: 9:57 AM on 01.16.12
->> The traditional model for this venue is pretty tough. It is important to be diverse and find some unique strategies that will keep you from competing with every soccer mom.
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 12:56 PM on 01.16.12
->> Another thing to consider...what are the local rules on selling images of high school athletes. I am running into this right now. I started a website dedicated to sports, recreation and the arts. The hunt for advertisers is actually going well. The area I am in is underserved, so people seem interested. What I didn't expect was the local school folks saying I couldn't sell images to parents.

Now, this seems to fly in the face of everything I have seen from the State level, but I didn't want to start my relationship off for this venture with an argument. I have sent feelers out to see what the official state policy is. It was my understanding that as long as a parent requested the photo and the images was published, you could sell.

So...you need to look at that. You might think it is a great idea, but you will have some obstacles. Personally, I don't know how the Maxpreps people do it. They have to pimp out their personal stuff to get folks to buy images from Maxpreps - from what I understand.

I would be curious to see what other experiences people have in this area. I mean, I have already had a dozen parents wanting photos, so, personally, I need to resolve this issue and maybe we will help John too.

Thanks...
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 3:11 PM on 01.16.12
->> Scott, ask the schools to show you the contract or ruling that states you can not sell to parents.
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John Manna, Photographer
wharton | nj | United States | Posted: 11:26 PM on 01.16.12
->> Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. I did not know about fotoQuote or the MaxPrep group on flickr and I will definitely check them out. I agree that a photographer needs to offer a lot more to stay in business. John thanks for your comment on focusing on tournaments and travel teams. Also, I never anticipated a problem with a local school not allowing me to sell parents photos.
I wish you all the best in your careers,
John
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Paul Alesse, Photographer
Coram | NY | USA | Posted: 6:32 AM on 01.18.12
->> John... the HS market can be very tough. You might do better expanding your services to include youth leagues as well. The younger they are, the higher the sales. In our area... HS sales are dead. We don't even shoot HS athletes anymore. Most of our income comes from T&I, but when considering on whether to take on an action event, we consider the following two questions pinnacle to our decision making...

1) How old are the competitors?
If it's predominately 13 and older, we skip it. We are looking for mainly 8-12.

2) What is the importance of the event? Don't ask the event organizer because their response will almost always be the same. They all think THEIR event is very important. For us, we research it on on our own to find its significance. If it's just a run of the mill tournament, showcase, qualifier,etc... we skip it.

Finally, if you are looking to really make a go of this, you need to invest money to make money. Consider adding viewstations to your plan and your sales will multiply exponentially. Online sales are nearly dead at this point. If they don't buy on site, they don't buy at all.
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Paul Hayes, Photographer, Photo Editor
Littleton | NH | USA | Posted: 9:01 AM on 01.18.12
->> Personal observation: Youth sports (K through 8) seems like a better market. More kids than at the high school level (and thus more parents buying photos). Also less competition at this level (fewer photographers focus on youth action from what I've seen). You might even be able to become the exclusive player portrait photographer, if someone else isn't doing that already.
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Jim Pierce, Photographer
Waltham | MA | USA | Posted: 12:43 PM on 01.18.12
->> John,

John,

I have been working with HS teams for the past 8-9 years and it is actually still as strong now as it was 8 years ago, if not stronger.

The best advice I can give you is to NOT do this on spec, meaning, show up at a game and shoot; pass out cards for online sales. The sales doing this are minimal at best and won’t be worth your time.

I have found the best approach is to get in touch with the parents boosters club of each team. The teams I work with all have a group of parents that organize fund raisers, the end of year banquet, team yearbooks, game programs, etc. These are the people you want to be best friends with and the best part is that it is usually the same parents from one season to another.

Once you make this contact, ask to attend their next meeting. Plan on offering more than one product, a simple 16x20 print is a start, but you will run into teams that have small budgets as well as large budgets. So you will need to be able to give them a few options. I typically only supply the seniors with items, as the budgets are not large enough for everyone to get a poster or the like. I usually supply a framed print or composite collage. Some teams want me to do the T&I as well so the images can be used in the team yearbook, game programs, ad books etc. Some also want many action shots on disk or printed to be used in the same or videos. It varies by each team so you will need to be flexible and be able to adjust quickly.

Even though this has and continues to do well for me it is combined with a few select tournaments and leagues T&I.

Again you need to make the contacts first, don't just show up shoot and post as others have said a waste of time.

Jim
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Sam Bennett, Photographer
Alpharetta | Ga | United States | Posted: 1:26 PM on 01.18.12
->> I totally agree with Jim. I just started a business doing youth and high school sports and the best thing I did was getting in contact with the league reps and booster clubs. They are the key to getting your name out to the parents, players and coaches, especially for high school sports. Definitely hand out cards and make yourself available to the parents. If they know you, then they are more likely to buy from you. Here's my site if you want to check out what I've done so far: www.ceimagesinc.com. Best of luck with your business!
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Hillery Shay, Photo Editor, Photographer
West Saint Paul | MN | USA | Posted: 8:30 AM on 01.24.12
->> Hi John I would also would make sure you check on league photographers. In Minnesota the High School Leagues employ photographers.
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Thread Title: New high school sports photo business
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