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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

High School Sports Photographers
Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 7:05 PM on 11.16.15
->> I am wondering how many of you shoot for a high school sport site whether it be story based or Photo based trying to look at ideas around the U.S. to get ideas. Also if you would tell me when you post the site how long you have been doing it.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 10:33 AM on 11.17.15
->> Please give some examples of story- and photo-based sites. Are you talking about something like MaxPreps that sells photos to the media and parents and the photographer gets a percentage of sales? Some "agency" companies demand full marketing rights to the point that you can't even post your own work on your own website without permission.

What is your goal/desire?
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Paul DiSalvo, Photographer
Highlands Ranch | CO | United States of America | Posted: 12:20 PM on 11.17.15
->> I've had good experiences with MaxPreps - been doing it for around 5 years now. I've had several paid assignments/features and have sold a lot of photos. The photos sales are spec work but if you work it right, it's pretty predictable spec work. Plus if you have a paid gig from a booster group or paper, then you can just post there and maybe get a little more income from the other team or add-ons. You can keep full copyrights so you can do what you want with the images. A lot depends on local market dynamics like how many parents shoot the game, how many other photogs are in your area, what other competitors are out there, whether MaxPreps has a relationship with your state HS sports governing body.
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Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 2:44 PM on 11.17.15
->> Yes similar to max preps but only doing for like 10 -15 schools in a metro area.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:53 PM on 11.25.15
->> Where are you going with this Marv???
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Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 2:54 PM on 11.27.15
->> We have a site in Birmingham,AL area. Otmj sports.com. We are looking for ideas to start getting stories and advertising into the site. Just looking at ways other people are doing it.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 3:44 PM on 11.27.15
->> Marvin...

You've now just entered the neutral zone where a step to one side could be great and a step in the other direction could bring you massive grief.

So here's the question: Are you looking to gain free/cheap content where you can exploit imagery for perpetuity for no additional compensation, or do you have a business plan that will compensate photographers for their content in a fair and reasonable manner? If the second, what is the plan or proposal?

Be careful with your answer as it will determine the ideas offered up.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 3:54 PM on 11.27.15
->> Or am I mistaken in that you are secure in your photographer needs/providers and are looking for different types of ideas to increase/promote your business? If this is your question, then nix my post directly above. The various posts go in different directions so it is not clear what your intent is.
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Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 7:06 PM on 11.27.15
->> NO Doug, We have the shooters already lined up. There are 4 shooters for sure and we have an agreed amount per game to be paid. What I am trying to find out is how do other people market their high school site and also look for very creative sites and ideas. Believe me no free shooters here.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:46 PM on 11.27.15
->> How do your schools benefit from your site? Are they a part of the business plan?

Over the past ten years we have had several attempts of photographers forming an alliance in order provide broad coverage of high school athletics under a label called "Media". They have all been short lived and failed.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 9:14 PM on 11.27.15
->> Marvin...

Your business execution sounds great -- quite the opposite of trends that are trying to be made into standards. I hope you have fantastic success.

As to past business practices, I have a good friend who did high school and league sports photography. She went out of business because parents would shoot the team photos over her shoulder and give away their pictures for free.

A few years ago I dabbled in high school sports doing swim meet photography, team photography and portraits. At first it didn't do so well because I made the mistake of letting parents shoot their own too whereupon I wouldn't make any sales. Then I stopped letting parents and others duplicate my work and my orders went up but not as much as I needed to turn a profit. Then I tried getting the booster clubs to raise its membership fee to include an 8x10 print for everyone to guarantee my time/expenses. Several parents complained because they had 2-3 kids on the team and only wanted one print instead of 2-3. At that point I wanted the booster club to guarantee a minimum of orders. When they couldn't I declined to provide my services anymore and moved on. I was replaced by a parent with a kit camera whose quality was a lot less but the photos were free which made all the parents happy.

For league swimming championships I used a different approach which proved profitable. Instead of shooting all the heats and hoping for orders, I created a first come, first served reservation system. Parents would sign up before the meet to have their kid shot during competition. That was nice in theory the first year but didn't prove profitable because after I photographed everyone only a fraction actually placed orders.

After that, all orders had to be pre-paid. The number of parents making reservations dropped, but my profitability rose to over 100% in some instances. Parents would reserve a heat, I shot it, put my selects into a Photoshelter gallery, emailed the parents with the URL to their kid's photos, they chose which one they wanted, and I printed/mailed it to them. Parents also had 30 days to make their selection or risk losing their prepayment. Each year I have one or two who never ask for their prepaid prints despite repeated email reminders; thus the over 100% profit because I have no print/postage expense. With this business model I averaged $800 a day after expenses (printing, postage, and hiring an assistant to take orders). Plus, I made a couple hundred more from parents wanting to order poster size prints. Last year I had parents contact me days before the championship wanting to make reservations before I opened for business to guarantee a slot for their kid to be photographed.

Originally, my prepaid pricing was $25 per kid for a C-print, sales tax and postage. I then bought a Canon Pro-1 printer for highest quality ink jet prints and raised my fee to $30. My per print cost went up a dollar, but I eliminated my time/mileage costs of going to/from the print lab.

Now you may say $30 is too cheap for the work and an 8x10. But when you're doing guaranteed shoots with zero spec work, the volume of prepaid orders quickly raises the revenue stream. I'm no longer having to worry about shooting every kid; instead I'm concentrating on making high quality imagery. As such, my work load dropped but my income rose because I became selective in my shooting and cliental.

Again, good luck with your venture.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 1:03 AM on 11.28.15
->> It sounds like Marvin would like to create and maintain a prep sports news site with articles and photos, and like a traditional newspaper selling advertising to generate revenue to cover the cost of reporting just like any other reporting endeavor.

Is that correct Marvin?
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Paul Bobenmoyer, Photographer
Cheyenne | Wy | USA | Posted: 11:06 PM on 11.28.15
->> This maybe off topic but as a new comer, how would one go about being picked up at MaxPreps. I shoot for local HS's and it would be nice to have that connection.....
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Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 11:27 PM on 11.28.15
->> That is correct Clark, just trying to see if there are any models out there. We have shot one football season and will end up shooting state championship this week. We have a good idea how to cover basketball. The hits are already coming in and preparing to start showing advertisers the numbers to get ads. So the next step is on its way.
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Sam Morris, Photographer
Las Vegas | NV | USA | Posted: 3:19 PM on 11.29.15
->> Paul, Google is a wonderful tool:

http://www.maxpreps.com/photo/photographer_agreement.aspx
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Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 6:13 PM on 11.29.15
->> Paul why do you need MaxPreps? You do all the work locally and they get a percentage of your profit. If you are hooked up already you have half the battle won.
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Paul Bobenmoyer, Photographer
Cheyenne | Wy | USA | Posted: 6:35 PM on 11.29.15
->> Thank you. I got to the link and info. Apologize for the newbie questions....
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Paul Bobenmoyer, Photographer
Cheyenne | Wy | USA | Posted: 6:44 PM on 11.29.15
->> Marvin, as a retired combat vet, and just starting out on this, and at the moment I am just wanting to get my name out there. I have one HS i shoot for regularly and now I started with a second HS. I did however just get the chance to shoot at a D1 college for football and they asked me to cover some basketball games. Iwant to try as many venues as possible and learn as much as I can. I have a long way to go i feel and think using MaxPrep would assist in that goal.

I got to start using this site more so i can learn from all you high caliber shooters; i look at alot of the shots from you guys and am completely envious of that talent....one day....
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Michael Augustin, Photographer
Plano | TX | USA | Posted: 9:35 AM on 11.30.15
->> Marvin, FYI you keep 100% of your sales with MaxPreps.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 6:24 PM on 11.30.15
->> @Michael Augustin

Not quite true. The photographer who has digital files purchased for private viewing does receive 100% of the income less fees and discounts. Revenue derived from commercial use is split 50/50. There is no mention what share the photographer receives from images that are licensed for editorial use.



"Standard Digital Photographic Usages

Exhibit A - Standard Royalty Compensation. Upon the sale and delivery of photographic digital images to consumers, Member shall earn a royalty of one hundred (100) percent of the net proceeds. Net proceeds are defined as the total sale price, minus credit card fees, discounts and sales tax, if applicable.

Commercial License Photographic Usages

Commercial Royalty Compensation. Upon the sale and delivery of photographic digital images to commercial consumers, Member shall earn a royalty of fifty (50) percent of the net proceeds. Net proceeds are defined as the total sale price of the license. "
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 7:10 PM on 11.30.15
->> @Paul Bobenmoyer

Max Preps (MP) is probably in your best interest if you are going to be a part-time/hobby/person-with-a-camera and like shooting pictures because it is fun.

However, if your plan is to be shooting 10 to 15 years or longer, build a self-sustaining business (meaning you are not infusing cash from other income producing activities) and make it full-time work, then it strategically is not a good option because it will make it that much harder to establish your brand, your own business identity. By submitting your content to MP you are helping to strengthen their brand and presence in your own backyard. And, someday they may go from being a ally to a competitor when you finally realize that giving them content to promote their business, is not helping yours.

Ultimately, you want your audience to come to your website where you can control not only the photos they see and pricing but also stories, your contact info and advertising. You want your market to visit your site where you can woo them with special offers, additional photos, a list of your product and services and internal news about your business successes. Finally, you won't need MP if you aggressively build your social media network and exercise diligence in increasing your business' presence across multiple platforms.

If you goal is to pursue photography as an income producing activity take the time you spend looking at all the high-caliber shots on this sight, multiply it by three and spend that amount time learning how to market your work, customer service and methodology to developing your products and services. Use that time to find niches, implement innovative ideas or find underdeveloped services/products. As my grandpappy use to say it, "The grass is greener at the front of the herd and lot smellier at the back."
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Michael Augustin, Photographer
Plano | TX | USA | Posted: 7:41 PM on 11.30.15
->> Clark, Thanks for the in-depth clarification.
I was referring to the old splits MP had a year or so ago. I wasn't sure Marvin had the latest info where you now earn 100% on sales.

You can also market your images on your personal business sites without restrictions. I make at least 5X more from my own site sales than from MP.
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Andy Mitchell, Photographer, Assistant
Chattanooga | TN | USA | Posted: 3:23 AM on 12.01.15
->> We have a startup company here in Chattanooga, that has been around for a few years. They report, have images, and video from HS sporting events on their site. Here is a link to their site......http://rivercsports.com/
I have not shot for them, but I have been contacted for content, they were not willing to pay my price so they passed, but I have become friends with some of the reporters at the games. I dont know their plan or how they make money, but the site might give you some ideas.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 2:00 PM on 12.01.15
->> @Michael Augustin

Your welcome. Clarity and accuracy is always a friend.

"I wasn't sure Marvin had the latest info where you now earn 100% on sales."

That is only true for files downloaded for personal use and again for the sake of clarity not with images that may be licensed for commercial or editorial use.


"You can also market your images on your personal business sites without restrictions."

That swell, but when covering a game under a MaxPrep credential you are obligated contractually, if not morally to promote your work on THEIR site. The point being that weakens both your brand and position in the marketplace. If your business Game Changer is credentialed and you are giving them free content to display that is another story with a whole set of different issues.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 2:12 PM on 12.01.15
->> Clark and Michael...

In looking over MaxPrep's photo contract, while they will market your images for as long as you shoot for them, they retain perpetual rights to your imagery for their own promotional and other uses. And while you get paid 100% for any sales made, the agency has the right to sublicense your work to the schools with no mention of any split with the photographer. In fact, the agency could license your work to the school for $1 in exchange for the right to be the school's photo rep because there is no language that allows the photographer to have a say in pricing.

While the 100% and 50-50 cuts sound attractive, when you start analyzing all the other clauses and the image rights the photographer gives away or loses out on, then the long term overall aspect of a relationship may not appear so rosy. For some it can be great; for others not so much. It is like the old adage "one person's junk is another's gold."
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Michael Augustin, Photographer
Plano | TX | USA | Posted: 4:24 PM on 12.01.15
->> Clark/Doug-The MP "credential" is basically useless. My experience has been that HS events are either loosey-goosey and anyone can show up and shoot (hence all the MWC/DWC on the sideline complaints) or the access is strictly controlled by an aggressive AD who refuses to recognize MP. My experience has been that the MP credential has all but no influence on getting access. I have never had to show the MP credential since I shoot in a HS district where access is strictly controlled by the AD. I have found this to be true even outside my "home" district.

I look at MP as just another photo site and opportunity to get paid. (My "gold" as Doug so eloquently puts it.) MP is 100% OK with offering for sale on your own personal site the same photos you upload to the MP site and I keep the Copyright. I have also found that clearly the majority of my sales are NOT great action shots (think Odell Beckham Jr) but instead, are shots of the kids doing nothing but standing around. Mom's love these shots because you can see the kids' face OR because the kid never plays and it's a keepsake image of his HS athletics days. I doubt there will be any demand for these top-sellers for any commercial endeavor.

In this day and age of less and less opportunities for sports photographers, MP is a small but viable resource for income. There are many MP photographers who shoot "Friday Night Light"s HS football, shoot NCAA Football on Saturday and then shoot NFL games on Sunday. It's all about maximizing your income potential.

BTW...thanks guys for chiming in. I really enjoy the insightful and respectful discussion.

JMHO
YMMV
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Thread Title: High School Sports Photographers
Thread Started By: Marvin Gentry
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