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I’m Stuck and I Can’t Seem to Advance in my Photography
Olyn Taylor, Photographer
Pearland | TX | USA | Posted: 8:46 AM on 09.27.17
->> Im looking for a bit of advice from our pros here.
I have been shooting local youth sports since high school in 82. I’ve shot a couple of college football games since I was in college (thanks to a buddy in Media relations) and a few local MLS games thanks to that same buddy.
Living in South Texas where “Friday Night Lights” is life, it is difficult to get a sideline pass to even a high school game.
I want to move on from shooting youth sports to high school, college and even pro sports, but can’t seem to find a local or national media outlet that will take a chance or even return my calls or emails. What aggravated me is that at the MLS games and college games I’ve been able to pull favors to get into, in talking with other photographers, some just freelance but are at all the big events. How do they secure credentials?
Could someone please tell me how to get to the next level? I’m to the point now that I’m not sure what to do. Any suggestions/feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
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Kevin M. Cox, Photographer
Galveston & Houston | TX | US | Posted: 5:09 PM on 09.28.17
->> Olyn, first you have to decide if you want to be on the sidelines of these "bigger games" simply to "be there" or are you looking to earn a living and advance your career? There are a lot of freelancers on the sidelines who aren't getting paid but simply shooting on spec or giving their images away for the access. And while some photographers are able to make this situation work for them I'd venture to say that most are not.

What have you been doing so far to try to get these assignments? What work samples have you been sending? We're the second largest newspaper in your area and have teams playing in Pearland all the time but our photo editor doesn't remember ever hearing from you looking for work. Make sure you're exploring all your options. A good strategy is to look for the local paper that covers any "away" teams traveling to your area, especially late in the season, and offering your services. This can also work for early season tournaments in sports like volleyball and basketball.

Most outlets will already have a list of preferred freelancers. Getting your name on the bottom of the list won't guarantee any assignments, you'll usually have to wait for everyone else to already be busy or a last minute assignment to pop up. Make sure to jump on these opportunities when they present themselves.

Right now you don't have anything to send potential media outlets or something that will show up in search results if they are looking. It took me a little effort to find your website, and I then I found two of them. The first geared toward portraits and the second geared toward event photography. If you're looking for assignments from media outlets I'd suggest a third site with that focus, keep it simple like: Make this a portfolio site. Just your best 20 or so images. Full AP style captions. Make sure contact information is on every page for easy access. Link to this from your SportsShooter profile page.

And since we're on the subject of captions, they are of utmost importance. We frequently have good photogs asking us for assignments but they simply can't handle editing, captioning and transmitting on deadline. Make sure you've got that part of your workflow down pat before accepting any game assignments from a newspaper.

And lastly don't get hung-up on the need to shoot these "big games" to feel like you are advancing. You can easily make images just as good or better at youth sports games as at the higher levels of competition. Just look at the first place sports action photo in this months clip contest. Plus you have better access and less hassles to deal with.

Feel free to follow-up with any questions, hopefully some other folks will chime in as well.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 10:37 PM on 09.28.17
->> Kevin has great points which I would like to second many of these and give you my spin.

Kevin's suggestion about a new website would be great. You need that link on your Sport Shooter member page. You may need some tear sheets on your website to show others use your work.

Your bio needs to be written with the customer perspective. What you do for customers and maybe listing some of those customers.

If you are trying to shoot for editorial market you really need to show your ability to write captions. I used to have this on my pages, but I am shooting more commercial than editorial these days for sports.

Most everyone on the sidelines shooting at the national level I think are pretty equal. Most all shooting sports for major newspapers when you look at their edits of a game are so similar with minor differences due to the angle they had on the play.

Magazine Shooters typically have those nuances they separate their work from just getting the moment. They have great color with skin tones. The images are super crisp and really clean backgrounds. They also have a greater depth of coverage. They have great wide shots, medium shots, tight shots and even detail shots in those coverages. They have photos that give you context. Those are often those shots that show skylines or something that lets you know where the game is played.

They have photos of fans that show the experience of being there.

But most of all those at the very top have surprises in their coverage. Not what you expected. The thing that is most impressive is they are always looking for something different in addition to getting all the shots that most every guy is shooting of the game.

While you have some "moments" on your page they are not where I can see the expression of the athlete giving their all and the competition trying their best to stop them.

Look at the POY sports photographer of the year Patrick Smith's work

Also when I search for "Sports Photographer Pearland Texas" you need to be showing up. This just underscores your brand not being established for those looking for a sports photographer to find you.
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Ric Tapia, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 12:52 AM on 10.01.17
->> Olyn,
Do you have a website? I couldn't find a link on your page and when you google search "All-Star Images" I still couldn't find it.
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Olyn Taylor, Photographer
Pearland | TX | USA | Posted: 7:57 PM on 10.02.17
->> Kevin, All I can say is "Wow!" Thank you for the information and suggestions. You are correct, I have not tried the Galveston paper. I have been banging my head locally trying to shake something loose. I love photography and feel passionate about sports in particular. I don't see myself making a living at it. I have a full time job in education that is comfortable. Extra money is always good, and welcomed. I do give 100% to every job I do.

Stanley, Thank you for the valuable info. There are several sites that come up when a search for Pearland sports photography or Pearland photographers, I have tried registering on several sites, but it never shows up. I tried contacting them, but did not receive a response.

Ric, If you do a search for "All-Star Images" in Google, my site is the first one to come up.

Guys, again thank you! I will start working on this. Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again!
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 10:32 PM on 10.04.17
->> Olyn

You need your website and not part of another company.

Then you need to have metadata all through your website on all the pages and all the images. In Keywords should be "Sports" and then the name of the sport and the level of that sport like high school or college.

You then need solid AP style captions if you are trying to get jobs shooting for editorial outlets.

If I were you I would pay someone to help you with a portfolio review. I think you would learn a lot and also get the tips to go to the next level.

I recommend Brad Smith, or anyone that was a staff photographer in the past with Sports Illustrated.

What you want to pay for is not a one time review but a series of reviews. You want to have them look at what you have now and then after listening to them shoot a game and then let them look through the whole shoot and give you pointers.

Then do that again and again. You will learn more than you would expect.

You need a coach/mentor. This is what will take anyone to the next level faster than anything I could ever recommend.

You can do this with Skype, Facetime or some other software.
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Olyn Taylor, Photographer
Pearland | TX | USA | Posted: 5:36 PM on 10.05.17
->> Stanley,
Thank you. for that. I will look into it. I have already started a website on Photoshelter under Still piecing it together before going live.
I really appreciate all of the advice I have found here. You guys are awesome, and I want to thank you for taking the time to help me move in a positive direction.
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Thread Title: I’m Stuck and I Can’t Seem to Advance in my Photography
Thread Started By: Olyn Taylor
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