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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Sports Talk 
Thread started 13 Jan 2016 (Wednesday) 07:46
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Shooting children's sports and making money

 
Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Post edited over 2 years ago by Left Handed Brisket.
     
Jan 13, 2016 07:46 |  #1

Short background. Last fall I was in discussions with an area photographer who shoots travel baseball tournaments. His business model is to shoot a couple of innings, print out what he has and then sell them to the parents on the spot throughout the day. We talked a lot and I finally became comfortable enough to buy a 100-400 v1. Then the day of the tournament, after I drove an hour to the big city, he completely ditched me, wouldn't return calls etc.

So now i have this lens and it isn't making me any money. I need to move fast on this or just get rid of this lens.

FWIW, I feel I am a very competent photographer but have zero experience with this market. I run my own business managing website, print, and other marketing projects, while supplementing my own projects and others' with photography, so I'm able to present a professional appearance. I also recently made contact with someone who is very familiar with the local High School sports, and knows a bit about travel leagues, he agreed to help open some doors for me.

I would really like to get into this field but need some advice about the market specifics. The sheer numbers involved with these travel teams is crazy, I had no idea how big they had become. If I sell to 30 percent of 300 kids/parents in a day seems hard to go wrong … assuming they are spending a few hundred a weekend, what's another 10 bucks to document the tournament?

I am currently able to sell digital images online and am pretty sure I could set the whole thing up to have parents pay onsite and have the image immediately download to their device. Or I could buy a small printer and go that route.

any help here, or via PM if you don't want to share with the world, is greatly appreciated. You can just tell me I'm bonkers too, I can take it.


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BlakeC
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Jan 13, 2016 07:57 |  #2

Left Handed Brisket wrote in post #17856412 (external link)
Short background. Last fall I was in discussions with an area photographer who shoots travel baseball tournaments. His business model is to shoot a couple of innings, print out what he has and then sell them to the parents on the spot throughout the day. We talked a lot and I finally became comfortable enough to buy a 100-400 v1. Then the day of the tournament, after I drove an hour to the big city, he completely ditched me, wouldn't return calls etc.

So now i have this lens and it isn't making me any money. I need to move fast on this or just get rid of this lens.

FWIW, I feel I am a very competent photographer but have zero experience with this market. I run my own business managing website, print, and other marketing projects, while supplementing my own projects and others' with photography, so I'm able to present a professional appearance. I also recently made contact with someone who is very familiar with the local High School sports, and knows a bit about travel leagues, he agreed to help open some doors for me.

I would really like to get into this field but need some advice about the market specifics. The sheer numbers involved with these travel teams is crazy, I had no idea how big they had become. If I sell to 30 percent of 300 kids/parents in a day seems hard to go wrong … assuming they are spending a few hundred a weekend, what's another 10 bucks to document the tournament?

I am currently able to sell digital images online and am pretty sure I could set the whole thing up to have parents pay onsite and have the image immediately download to their device. Or I could buy a small printer and go that route.

any help here, or via PM if you don't want to share with the world, is greatly appreciated. You can just tell me I'm bonkers too, I can take it.

I have limited experience with tournaments but I am confident you could handle it. I'm a "trial by fire" kind of guy though. It sounds like you have plenty of experience. I think you are worrying too much. I honestly don't know what you are worried about. You just have to go and try it for yourself.

I think a printer would be worth it. The only problem is the time to print. I use a canon selphy for small events because it is inexpensive and the prints are intsant dry and water resistant. I also set it up to work via wifi with my setup. Adding prints would most likely mean you would be adding a helper. I would honestly try to sell the downloads right there. You know that you have to get the impulse buy right there. Most people won't follow through and buy after the fact. I would try it without a printer first and see how it goes. Get a feel for it and try out your system for selling downloads on the spot. THEN, once you are comfortable with that, maybe add a printer. Less to worry about at one time.

Either way, you got this!


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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Post edited over 2 years ago by Left Handed Brisket.
     
Jan 13, 2016 08:06 |  #3

BlakeC wrote in post #17856421 (external link)
I have limited experience with tournaments but I am confident you could handle it. I'm a "trial by fire" kind of guy though. It sounds like you have plenty of experience. I think you are worrying too much. I honestly don't know what you are worried about. You just have to go and try it for yourself.

I think a printer would be worth it. The only problem is the time to print. I use a canon selphy for small events because it is inexpensive and the prints are intsant dry and water resistant. I also set it up to work via wifi with my setup. Adding prints would most likely mean you would be adding a helper. I would honestly try to sell the downloads right there. You know that you have to get the impulse buy right there. Most people won't follow through and buy after the fact. I would try it without a printer first and see how it goes. Get a feel for it and try out your system for selling downloads on the spot. THEN, once you are comfortable with that, maybe add a printer. Less to worry about at one time.

Either way, you got this!

thanks for the quick feedback and vote of confidence. When I saw you were the first to post I expected you to say "You're BONKERS!" :D

I'm honestly not sure what method would take more time. I need to do a full analysis, with the key factor with downloads being that parents will not want to see their kid's pictures online, and for sale, in a public manner. I suspect that I will have to upload individual galleries for each player and make custom URLs that would keep the gallery semi-private. At the end of the day the galleries come down.

the bonus being that the transaction would be taken care of online. I could have 5 people entering their CC info at the same time rather than having people wait in line while I handled transactions one at a time.

Do you have any idea what the fade resistance is on the Selphy media and inks?


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PhotosGuy
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Jan 13, 2016 08:22 |  #4

So You want to be a professional Sports Photographer

LOTS of links:
Need Info on Sports Photography


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BlakeC
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Jan 13, 2016 08:44 |  #5

Left Handed Brisket wrote in post #17856426 (external link)
thanks for the quick feedback and vote of confidence. When I saw you were the first to post I expected you to say "You're BONKERS!" :D

I'm honestly not sure what method would take more time. I need to do a full analysis, with the key factor with downloads being that parents will not want to see their kid's pictures online, and for sale, in a public manner. I suspect that I will have to upload individual galleries for each player and make custom URLs that would keep the gallery semi-private. At the end of the day the galleries come down.

the bonus being that the transaction would be taken care of online. I could have 5 people entering their CC info at the same time rather than having people wait in line while I handled transactions one at a time.

Do you have any idea what the fade resistance is on the Selphy media and inks?

lol... u are right...I almost said that!

For the parents concerned... maybe mention to them that the photos in the gallery will only be available for download the day of through the day after the tournament out of respect for the privacy of the players (also write this text in the gallery). Any prints after that, you will need to be contacted directly. Walk around with cards and tell them to view the day's gallery on your website and place their order today. Doing it this way would allow you to keep shooting more.

As for the printer, Canon says 100years in an album. I can only speak of the water resistance of them. When I first used the printer, it was at a tractor pull and it was raining. I had the printer in a vented plastic tote. I printed a sample and taped it to the table and it sat in the rain for 3 hours. It was a constant sprinkle. It had standing water on it and at the end of the night, it was fine. No smears and no damage. That alone sold a ton of prints. I was stuck there an hour after printing more. People kept asking for more photos of themselves!

When using the Selphy, I walk around with a 70D and my tablet. the tablet is tethered to my 70D via USB. I show the drivers their photos on my tablet then i print them via wifi from my tablet to the printer.


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Hannya
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Jan 14, 2016 07:58 |  #6

Over here I've seen set ups at motorcross etc. Need a van, need a laptop, a printer, a power source, at least 2 people (one to shoot, one to manage the van/print/sales and a way to get the images from the camera to the printer - wifi is sometimes non-existent so running back and forwards with memory cards. For me, it seems like an expensive start up and a need to be at events at every opportunity to make enough dough, but may be I'm too cautious. You also need to be the sole shooter, you don't want competition at events. Good luck with the venture.


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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Jan 14, 2016 11:28 |  #7

Things are getting serious … have a serious local buyer for the lens.

I put him off until early next week.

Ugh. Cash flow is tight right now.

Guess I better reach out to the couple of contacts I made last fall, hope I can find their contact info.


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MBB89
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Jan 25, 2016 22:40 |  #8

It's not exactly my area (I do sports photojournalism) but my experience with other shooters in the sports community is that this business model is increasingly difficult. Like anything it can be done successfully but keep in mind that this is exactly where Mom/Dad-with-camera is competing for free and probably making halfway decent images in broad daylight where 200mm is enough reach.




  
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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Jan 27, 2016 17:20 |  #9

MBB89 wrote in post #17873051 (external link)
It's not exactly my area (I do sports photojournalism) but my experience with other shooters in the sports community is that this business model is increasingly difficult. Like anything it can be done successfully but keep in mind that this is exactly where Mom/Dad-with-camera is competing for free and probably making halfway decent images in broad daylight where 200mm is enough reach.

i ended up selling the lens last week, thankfully for exactly what i paid for it minus a drive to deliver it. I have already done some more research and plan to see what I can do.

I am at least as good, if not better, with processing images as I am at capturing them and I am pretty damn sure that I can do better at both than even an above average parent. Although I see your point MBB. When I was left hanging last fall by the slack ass photographer, i managed to take in all that was going on. There were a couple of folks there taking pics, but it seemed like they were only capturing their own kids or kid's friends.

Pretty sure I can make this work with my current set up, at least for a solid market test.

If anyone else has any input, i am always open to suggestions.


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JeffreyG
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Jan 27, 2016 18:57 |  #10

The general consensus is that youth sports was something where a lot of people could make money at it a decade ago, but most of the more casual approaches are losing propositions now. The main issue is that your basic parent who really cares about photography will probably spend the money to get the equipment they need and will work at it to get their shots. Add to that the fact that if your kid is in sports then they have usually played for years and will play for more and you do wind up with a lot of opportunities to get nice pictures of them.

The area that really seems dead to me is the single guy working on speculation. This guy shows up at a tournament or game, shoots what he can and hands out his business card hoping that people will come to his website and order pictures. I think some guys were making money at this 10 years ago but I can't imagine there are many left because I don't think there is much of a market left. You need a pretty dedicated parent to hang on to the card, remember to visit the website, paw through all of the images of all of the kids, and then order and pay for pictures. When you figure how many parents can get shots on their own (even so-so stuff) it's a lot to expect.

The other approach I've seen is a real full press. I've only seen this at my nephew's big gymnastic tournaments, but these guys run 3-4 photographers all shooting around the event and sending in everything via wireless. They set up a big kiosk with several screens where people can view pictures and print / pay right there. I have to assume this is profitable because they have too much invested to be doing it for fun.

One last approach that I used to do for teams where I had some affiliation was to shoot on contract. That means up front I meet the coach or boosters and we define what I'll shoot and deliver. I used to do this with teams or coaches I knew but I do it less and less now. Still, this makes some money while speculation doesn't (or at least that's what I've heard.)


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Jan 27, 2016 19:50 |  #11

JeffreyG wrote in post #17875507 (external link)
The general consensus is [...]

What he said.

My preference is to shoot on contract* for a parent(s) or the school (boosters or directly), though most of my shooting is sports action photos for a yearbook** company with the extra photos posted for speculative*** sales.

As a percent of income, as of right now it is about 15%*, 40%** and 45%*** respectively.

I do not do this as a living. I'd be starving if I did and/or would have to shift my focus from sports to events. I do earn enough though to make it worthwhile from a tax perspective and for personal enjoyment.


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Feb 15, 2016 10:24 |  #12

JeffreyG wrote in post #17875507 (external link)
The general consensus is that youth sports was something where a lot of people could make money at it a decade ago, but most of the more casual approaches are losing propositions now. The main issue is that your basic parent who really cares about photography will probably spend the money to get the equipment they need and will work at it to get their shots. Add to that the fact that if your kid is in sports then they have usually played for years and will play for more and you do wind up with a lot of opportunities to get nice pictures of them.

The area that really seems dead to me is the single guy working on speculation. This guy shows up at a tournament or game, shoots what he can and hands out his business card hoping that people will come to his website and order pictures. I think some guys were making money at this 10 years ago but I can't imagine there are many left because I don't think there is much of a market left. You need a pretty dedicated parent to hang on to the card, remember to visit the website, paw through all of the images of all of the kids, and then order and pay for pictures. When you figure how many parents can get shots on their own (even so-so stuff) it's a lot to expect.

The other approach I've seen is a real full press. I've only seen this at my nephew's big gymnastic tournaments, but these guys run 3-4 photographers all shooting around the event and sending in everything via wireless. They set up a big kiosk with several screens where people can view pictures and print / pay right there. I have to assume this is profitable because they have too much invested to be doing it for fun.

One last approach that I used to do for teams where I had some affiliation was to shoot on contract. That means up front I meet the coach or boosters and we define what I'll shoot and deliver. I used to do this with teams or coaches I knew but I do it less and less now. Still, this makes some money while speculation doesn't (or at least that's what I've heard.)

That's exactly how i have seen things. Shooting on spec was a ton of work, then after a few weeks, maybe I'd break even. Photos are an impulse buy. If parents have to lift a finger, they won't buy. On-site display and sales worked better, but the cost of equipment and staffing made it a net wash in income. Contract shooting works, but requires a lot of up-front contact, and in the end- it really wasn't a huge success either.

Lately- I've come to view shooting any action sports as marketing. It puts me in front of the kids and parents, I can collect emails for anyone who views the photos online, then I can market them something more profitable. It's a shame- I love doing it, just can't find a way to make it pay.




  
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Brad999
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Feb 16, 2016 16:49 |  #13

We have a daughter that competes regularly in figure skating competitions, and the "circuit" hires this lady and her daughter for every event to photograph it. The pictures are horrendous. My wife buys a collage of three photos for $35 Cdn every time she competes, and I just shake my head at the poor quality.

The photographer has about 6 monitors that you can view the images on. You write the numbers down and she puts them in a template, and has two printers printing. Not much processing. Each competition is 3 twelve hour days, but there is always about 10 people in line, and she makes $35 every about 5-10 minutes all day...each day.

It has to be a profitable business, but very exhausting work. I wouldn't do it, myself. When I take my camera, it turns into too many parents asking if I can grab a few of their kids, and being the pushover I am, I just leave it at home and enjoy the show, and complain about the other photographers lack of quality work. :(




  
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Hannya
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Feb 17, 2016 08:06 as a reply to  @ Brad999's post |  #14

That business model seems to replicate itself all over.


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Shooting children's sports and making money
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