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To what does a sports photographer aspire?
Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 4:41 PM on 02.07.16
->> In most professions, there is an elite, a pinnacle of the pyramid to which entry-level practitioners can aspire. A place to direct ambition.

In the past years, sports photography has had its pyramid severely flattened. Magazine staff positions largely vanished about a decade ago, newspaper positions are going the same direction and Sports Illustrated, once the very tip of the sports photographer pyramid, 86ed its entire staff just a few weeks ago

What does a baby sports photographer now want to be when it grows up?

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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 12:07 AM on 02.08.16
->> I've gotten some replies via email, but I really wanted to start a discussion here.

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Alan Look, Photographer
Bloomington - Normal | IL | United States | Posted: 8:39 AM on 02.08.16
->> Self satisfaction and any paying customer. The big boys are still the pinnacle, but they aren't the best ones to work with. Most are very slow to pay and the rates haven't gone up in years. Web use rates aren't enough warrant the visit.

Self satisfaction with the intent to deliver a better image than the last is my driver.

Before anyone nails me for harming the industry, I don't give away my content, but pay in a medium market isn't high enough to be the major incentive.
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Keith Lucas, Photographer
Verona | VA | USA | Posted: 10:33 AM on 02.11.16
->> Paying customers and interesting events. That said, I think I have shot a lifetime of what I consider non-interesting events.

I travel a great deal- and I have some very regular customers and have been fortunate to add more regularly. But, I will readily admit I have 2 full-time jobs- I am an 8th grade teacher and a full-time sports photographer. I travel to shoot, I miss school, and I shoot every weekend from August 1- June 1 with few exceptions. I cover games most nights - 26 out of 30 days in September as an example and many weekends cover 3-5 events.

Yes, I work with many DIII institutions and a FEW D1 schools. I pride myself in quality images and strive to get that one image that just kills it every trip out.

Yes, I buy my own gear, do my own processing, invoice, collect, bank, taxes, etc..

I would have to say I aspire to leave my day job (which provides insurance) and shoot 100%.

Before I get the "you are not a professional speech," let me say I work for a rural school district and easily make over 50% of my income from photography.

I would love to shoot the Super Bowl, World Series, Final 4, Daytona, etc.. But I don't have that access so I try and shoot everything else. I email, I call, I beg...I refuse to give images away though.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 4:47 PM on 02.16.16
->> So, essentially [crickets] on this one?
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 6:45 PM on 02.16.16
->> Crickets because there is nothing logically to aspire to at this point. Why would someone want to be a professional sports photographer if they are not already a trust fund baby, a pensioner or had a sugar momma/daddy. As we both know it is a well-lamented fact that only a select few can earn a living shooting pro sport on a full time basis. The fact that T&I work derives greater compensation and the most efficient revenue stream compared to producing editorial content for publication should serve as a message that the once coveted glory is gone.
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Simon Wheeler, Photographer, Photo Editor
Ithaca | NY | USA | Posted: 9:12 PM on 02.16.16
->> I shoot sports an ever smaller piece of my job at a very small daily. I enjoy the wide variety of assignments, often self generated, that a small daily in an interesting area gives. I don't think I've ever aspired to shoot sports full time. Shooting sports in an editorial manner always seemed to be a difficult niche within what was always a competitive profession. I was pretty good at it, could follow focus with a 400 2.8, but it seemed there was more to life than that. Real jobs for shooting editorial sports seem to have disappeared. What seems to be left, imho looking in from a distance, as a way to make a living in sports is a branch of commercial photography with a specialization in complicated portraits which is not my forte. Of course I may not have a clue living an in a very isolated area for editorial photography.
I aspire to be the best community based journalist I can be as that seems to be a harder type of position to replace.
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Larry Lawson, Photographer
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 1:47 PM on 02.17.16
->> I would say if you can make it to be hired on as a professional sports photog, full time, which will pay the rent/mortgage/insurance/food/etc then you're doing ok in this market.

Getting in to a 'super/world' event may be cool on the first gig, but even then it's a lot of frustration/work at the same time if you're there to actually work.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer, Photo Editor
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 7:32 PM on 02.17.16
->> Mark -

I made the mistake off posting on a previous thread - I should have known better. It was the typical "I work on spec but don't know how to make money" thread and gave my opinion.

After receiving a number of "anonymous" emails through Sportsshooter email with very disturbing comments, it makes me less inclined to give responses anymore. I have an opinion that working for free or for a rate that is not profitable not only hurts you, but hurts the industry. That opinion apparently gets rude and obscene emails sent to you.

Lucky for me, the emails (sent with false names - the cowards) are sent with an IP address that in most of the cases I was able to narrow down where they came from. One person, who has worked for me ironically, won't be getting work from me in the future.

Regardless, it's a shame that people can sling insults without putting their name on it.
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Thread Title: To what does a sports photographer aspire?
Thread Started By: Mark Loundy
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