21st of May 2008 (Wed), 12:28
A relative put someone in contact with me about possibly doing photography for a dance recital. My dad and I are both capable of covering an event like this. The woman who called was also interested in maybe having us come to a few practices at the dance school, and maybe the rehearsals as well.
She's unable to pay for the services, but offered exclusivity as photographers for the event. We'd be able to sell our prints to the dancers/parents/etc. My dad I guess is capable of printing on site, he has a Kodak dye-sub that can do 8x10's, but it would probably just be a web store.
We've never covered an event like this. I do sports/concerts, he does portraiture and landscapes. It could probably evolve into a full time gig covering their shows if this one works out.
First, would you take the work? Second, what kind of prices would you set for the prints?
21st of May 2008 (Wed), 12:39
definitely, 1st off, exclusivity as photographers for events, sell images, plus exposure to parents. what better way to advertise yourself. it's a big chain of good events waiting to happen
21st of May 2008 (Wed), 12:47
definitely, 1st off, exclusivity as photographers for events, sell images, plus exposure to parents. what better way to advertise yourself. it's a big chain of good events waiting to happenAgreed.
If you do not have any, grab or use some nice fast primes. Since dance recitals can be pretty quick, these will be ideal. 1.4's and 1.8's will work out great here.
21st of May 2008 (Wed), 14:55
Most definitely I'd grab that gig and see how it goes!
It gets me thinking about things, just hearing about it.
Here are a few things to consider, that you may or may not have thought of:
1. You might be able to use flash at the practices, or do some setups before or after, for some additional opportunities. I have a location lighting setup I use for more "formal" shots in some cases. But, a lot can be done with simple off-camera flash, too.
I suspect you won't be able to use flash during the actual performance. So work out living with the available lighting in advance (i.e., at the practices) and plan to shoot with fast lenses and higher ISOs.
Set a custom white balance and go with the flow during the performance.
In situations with variable lighting, strongly backlit or spotlighted against a dark background, I usually set the camera up manually and just leave it there, occasionally checking the histogram, or with an incidence meter if that's possible, to see if any tweaking is needed. I get a far higher number of correct exposures this way, than letting any of the auto exposure modes try to figure it out.
Shoot RAW if at all possible (RAW + JPEG, if printing on-site... you don't have time for RAW conversions on-site). This will give you more room to later tweak difficult exposures and/or color balance that are a little off.
Get some shots of the audience and other "behind the scenes" shots whenever you can, too.
2. Try to get model releases. Give them a complimentary 8x10 in exchange for a signed release. I see you are signed up with two stock photo agencies. You may get some shots that can be sold elsewhere, and stand to make much better money off properly released photos. Even a single sale can cover the cost of a bunch of free 8x10s.
At my events, I've started posting a sign that says "FREE 8x10, Ask Me" and has a photo of me.
It's easier to get releases at places you have photographed before, where people have gotten to know you a little and learned to trust you.
The powers that be at the dance school have a strong incentive to help you get releases. They can then use the released photos in their promotion and marketing, too, without concern.
I have found that I often get a rash of additional sales *after* sending out the complimentary 8x10s, which I print myself as time allows after the event. I think it whets peoples' appetite for more images.
By the way, I'm thinking about adding a line to my release giving them a choice to check off: A. ___ I'll look at the images and choose one as my complimentary print, or B. ___ I'll leave it up to the photography to choose an image to print and send to me.
That would make my life easier! Often the hardest thing is getting people to choose what they want to receive!
At one recent event I got 17 releases signed (out of 39 participants), and only two have been fulfilled in the three weeks since. The other 15 haven't let me know what image they want yet! But, it's also a great excuse to be in contact with them after the fact, by email or by phone, which can also be a good thing.
Note: Technically, a release isn't valid until the signer has been "compensated" So I don't feel right putting their images up for stock or for any commercial use, until I've fulfilled my agreement, even though I have a signed release in hand.
3. I'd offer the dance school free or steeply discounted (but limited) use of my images - their choice (within reason) - in exchange for my URL printed in their program, perhaps even an ad, and a link on their website to send people to my online galleries. I request photo credit on any of my images they use, but that's not really a big deal to me. An announcement (or several) about the photography at the event is always nice, too.
4. And, find out if the school will be limiting other photography by friends and family. They probably will be at least asking the audience not to use flash. But, they might restrict all photography, especially when there are kids involved, and note that they have employed a professional to safely take photos in a manner that will not interrupt or impinge upon anyone's enjoyment of the performance. You can't really do anything about the occasional cell phone grab shot, but the image quality of those will be put to shame by yours.
5. By all means, if at all possible, print on-site. You will double your total sales in most cases by doing so. There are three basic types of buyers: One is the impulsive type who will buy on-site during or right after the performance, and will forget to go to your website or talk themselves out of buying later. Another is those who later find out just how crappy their cell phone grab shots are and suddenly are happy to pay for a nice print online. A third is those who want to sit down, look through everything online at their leisure and pick out some nice shots for you to print later.
About half will fall into the impulse category. If you don't capture those sales by offering on-site printing, you will almost never make later sales to those people, I can assure you. That's simply money left laying on the table uncollected, as far as I'm concerned. Heck, you've got a printer and someone to handle the printing while you do the shooting. Those are the biggest hurdles to on-site printing!
On-site we only offer glossy prints, and only three sizes: 4x6, 5x7 and 8x10. Be sure to display samples of each, so people can see just how wimpy a 4x6 looks next to the other two. Otherwise, all you will sell are 4x6.
Take twice or three times the supplies you think you will need to print on-site. It's tough to gauge exactly how much of each you'll need, but nothing is worse than running out of supplies and having to say "I'm sorry" to would be customers.
6. Also provide a sign up sheet where people can give you their email addresses so you can send them a notice when the photos are online for viewing. This gives you a means of marketing after the fact, but there's no need to spam people. I try to upload image thumbnails in several batches, and send out broadcast email notifications right after each upload. That way I'm able to send several reminders without appearing obnoxious about it.
7. When you get to the editing and such after the fact, don't go overboard. Just do a rough edit and get thumbnails up online as quickly as possible. You have no idea what sizes people might order, so save the final sizing and editing work until an actual print of an image is ordered.
Do you have an online provider to display your thumbnail galleries, take orders and collect, print and ship for you? There are a number of possible providers (I use Printroom.com, but there are others).
Do you have a business license and need to collect sales tax on on-site sales?
8. If you use multiple cameras, check that the internal clocks are pretty close to in sync. Then you can put all the images from both into one folder and sort "by date created" and it will put the images in exact order taken, no matter which camera was used. The only time this is tricky is if the cameras happen to be in sync with file numbers, too. In that case, rename all the images from one of them temporarily, with an "a" suffix or something like that. Depending upon your softwares, there are various ways to do these things.
9. If the school has participants sign any sort of waiver, if at all possible it's good to have a clause added to it that both informs that photography will be done during practices and performances, and that some or all images may appear publicly (i.e., on the Internet). This does not serve as a model release, but does state thing up front and head off a lot of questions and complaints.
In the same context, it's great when there's a notation on tickets and even a sign posted at entrances that photography is being done.
10. Sometimes videos are popular, too. If you know any videographers, you might be able to work out a deal with one. This is another thing to discuss with the school, to see if they are allowing the audience to record the performance, or are restricting that. With kids it's particularly easy to justify restricting things and controlling exactly who's able to get copies of any videos. In general, I've found that videography and photography don't tend to steal customers from one another. People either buy a video, or stills, or both. But not a video instead of stills, and not stills instead of a video. So, in my opinion it's okay to do this, from a business perspective.
p.s. I also should add, don't put too many images online, and if at all possible figure out some ways to sort them into smaller, less intimidating groups.
After editing out the shots of your toes and the ceiling, and any poor focus, too far gone to bring back exposures, motion blurs, etc., go through and eliminate close duplicates too. Just show the best ones. You might even take out anything that looks awkward or "off".
I was hired by an event organizer who fired her previous shooter... The reason was the single gallery of 8000 images he posted for participants to wade through. No kidding. 8000. He must have held the shutter button down all day long on his D2x, at what, 8 fps? And, he obviously didn't edit a thing. Same event, following year, two of us ended up with about 1000 images, organized into 5 or 6 sub-groups that made it a whole lot easier to browse them.
21st of May 2008 (Wed), 15:20
love some of your suggestions Alan,
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