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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Sports Talk 
Thread started 15 Oct 2007 (Monday) 14:08
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Individual and Team Portraits FAQ (T&I)

 
In2Photos
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Oct 15, 2007 14:08 |  #1

OK pros we (read I :)) need your help.

Some of you may know that I am slowly trying to make my way into the photography business. I started shooting some leagues this summer and have started selling some prints. The feedback that I have received here has been invaluable and I appreciate everyone's help. I hope that I give back as much as I have learned. Now, I did mention slowly right? I had no plans of doing this anytime soon, but I have now been asked to shoot team and individual portraits for one (er make that two now) of the teams in the flag football league that I shoot. I have only been doing the action shots so far. Apparently the coaches will not be able to make the original date of the schedule shoots with the league's studio. So the league has asked if I would be interested in doing the shoots, on about 2 weeks notice. :o I gladly accepted (will that be the death of me?).

I have been researching as much as I can and talking to the league director about what he wants me to have available. First, he is aware that this is my first time doing portraits and that I likely won't have everything down pat my first time. Luckily his team is one of the teams needing photos. His shoot will be first so that he can help me with anything I need.

So this is where you guys come in. I have searched POTN and Google to my wits end and while there is lots of info out there, it is spread over the entire internet and not easily presentable. With this in mind I want to create a FAQ to help not only myself, but the various others that succumb to my fate. ;) Please feel free to add any helpful info that you can think of or tell me that I am off my rocker. I will do my best to keep the first page updated or maybe create a PDF eventually of all the info.

EDIT: Some of this has been updated as per the discussion on the following pages.

Gear

We all know that we need gear to take the pics. But how much do we need? Let's start with the essentials and then add some other items which might take us to the next level.

Camera - If you are looking at this sight then you probably are using digital. If not, then you should go get one. While today's technology is digital I noticed a lot of labs that still offer services to film photographers in my research. So if all you have is a film camera you are fine. A digital camera will offer you more options, but film will work. It is much easier to see your results and retake the shot right away if needed than it is to track down the individual or team and re-shoot. A backup camera would be a very good idea as well. Sure you could ask the parents to come back out but do you really want to?

Lens - Individual portraits are best served by a lens with a standard to short telephoto effective focal length. Anything from 50-135 mm will work fine. Longer lenses would also work and if your backgrounds are busy you might go longer to try and blur them. For team photos you will need a wider lens. The focal length here will vary based on your team size. A standard zoom (24-70 for FF, or 17-50 for APS-C) should do the trick.

Tripod and remote release – This is a preference thing, but there are pros and cons to each. Having a tripod to keep the camera steady would be very beneficial. If you are planning on using one make sure you have a good tripod and find some way to stabilize it or even secure it to the ground. The remote release ensures that you don’t move the camera during the exposure. It also allows you to see the subject and background better while taking the picture, while giving your subject a better view of you (if you look funny like I do it might help them smile).

The tripod can limit you though. Some prefer to move around since not every child is the same size. You could also knock the tripod over which would be very bad.

Flash and Flash Bracket– A flash is one item that you don’t necessarily need, but it could dramatically improve your photos of the light is harsh. The flash can fill in shadows and add some separation between your subject and the background. The bracket is something to help keep the flash in the best orientation for taking the pictures. Having the flash above the lens will yield more natural results and lessen the chance of red eye.

Here are some other items that would take your shots to the next level.

Light Meter – Want to nail your exposures? An incident meter is the way to go. Take a reading, dial in your settings and shoot, shoot, shoot with confidence.

Studio lights – Speedlights could also work here but the idea is to get them off-camera and use modifiers like umbrellas or softboxes to improve the light quality. If you use studio lights you will also need a source of power so keep that in mind. It would also be best to use a wireless method to fire the strobes. Wires can easily be tripped on. Pocket Wizards are the most reliable outdoors.

Posing

Each sport requires a different pose or poses. Have a sheet with a couple of poses for each child to choose. Props might also be required like a football, soccer ball, or baseball bat. Make sure the coach brings any of these items to the pictures. Scheduling the shoot the same day as a practivce or game makes this a no bariner. Place the player so that their back is toward the sun. This will keep the player from squinting and help to reduce any shadows, as well as adding a nice rim light affect around the player. This is also where your flash comes in handy to help illuminate your subject to the same exposure as your background.

For team shots situate the team so that each row of players has a different number. Staggering the players will eliminate the head on top of head look and is visually more appealing. Have the coaches kneel if possible so that they are not giants compared to the players. This will also yield a much better shot with less dead space which will fill the frame better in the long run. The easiest ways to lineup the players is “by the numbers” or alphabetically by last name, or by height. Make adjustments once you have the players lined up if necessary. To minimize the number of players with their eyes closed have them all close their eyes, count to three and open them. Fire the shot right after they open their eyes.

Settings

This is going to depend on your lighting situation, backgrounds, and focal length. But one thing for certain is to stick with Manual mode on your camera. Manual mode will allow your exposures to be the same from start to finish (providing there is not a drastic change in your lighting). For backlit subjects start with f/8, 1/200, and ISO 100. Take a test shot BEFORE your players get there and adjust based on the histogram. If using flash start with FEC at 0 and adjust accordingly.

It has been mentioned that blurring the background is better. Again, this is a personal choice. If your background is distracting then make sure you select a combination of focal length, aperture, and distance to subject to create the DOF you are after. It might help to consult a DOF calculator (external link). A proper combination can make all the difference.

For group shots move to f/11 and adjust your other settings accordingly.

Staying Organized

You need to find a method to keep up with the players and their pictures. One of the easiest methods is to make sure the players number is visible on their uniform and have that number on their order form. But what if they don’t have numbers visible? You might use a numbered card, take a “pre-shot” with the player holding the numbered card and then write that number on their order form. Use envelopes if possible to keep order forms and your numbered cards separate. Some cameras can record a voice memo. After each player’s picture is taken you can record their name. Also record your voice saying their name so that you can make sure you understand it. Have a roster on hand so that you can keep up with which players have been shot. Make indicators for those that are absent. This way you are not running around trying to figure out where this player or that player’s shots are. If you can have an assistant do all the paperwork that is an added bonus. Make sure they are familiar with your packages and can answer questions from the parents. They can also collect your money, so make sure they can add! You don’t want to be giving away product. Bring a table with you and keep extra pens, paper, calculator, stapler, envelopes, business cards, etc in a Tupperware container.

Printing

There are tons of labs out there and all of them are different. In my research I found that there were a few things I wanted to make sure were available. Be on the lookout for these:

Good Customer Service - Make sure that the lab you plan to use wants you to be a customer. These places will be quick to respond to you (and I do not mean an automated email response). They should also be quick to answer your questions and of course be courteous.

Image Quality - Make sure you test out the products before you commit. Most labs offer some free or reduced price samples. Get some. Several also offer counter displays for you to use as marketing tools.

Software - Just about every lab uses different software for the ordering process. Download them and try them out. They are usually free if you become a customer or have trial periods until you open an account. Make sure it is easy to use and that the company provides support. One place I found offered a training course, for $250 a day locally, or $1500 plus expenses for onsite. If I need training for the ordering software it likely has lots of options or is difficult to use. Find out by asking the customer service department.

Products and Pricing - The labs all have their own specialty items but most have the necessities. Make sure you get a catalog and price list. Is shipping included? Individual packaging? How are the prices compared to other labs? How will the price affect your packages you are offereing to your customers?

Getting Your Prints to the Lab - How do you get your prints to the lab? Mail a CD or DVD? FTP upload? These things are important. I don't want to mail anything if I don't have to. I like uploading my orders. Does the software process include the uploading or do I have to order through their website? Can I do both?

Turn Around - How fast is the lab at printing my images? Some of the labs said 2-3 weeks. Some offer next day. Some vary depending on the time of year! Make sure you understand this before committing to both your customers and to the lab. Telling the customer 2-3 weeks and it taking 4-5 is bad for business.

Shipping - How fast does the lab ship after printing? Next day, next week? What type of shipping do they use? FedEx, UPS, DHL, Mail? Next day, 2nd say, ground? Hoe much? Is it included in the pricing? Extra? What packing do they use? Envelopes so my prints get bent? Boxes? Each lab varies with the best being included in the price and Next Day FedEx using boxes.

Here are a few labs I found while looking.

www.millerslab.com (external link) Another good candidate. I have heard good things about Miller’s and have requested an account so that I can see what prices and products they have available. EDIT: I am using them for my first two attempts. They seem great to work with.
www.foto-sports.com (external link) They seem expensive and want total control of everything, right down to what sheets you use for your customers.
www.sports-america.com (external link) They seem to have a pretty good system, with step by step instructions for their software, live online assistance, and good prices. I have a catalog coming.


Some other POTN Threads:

https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=122195
I am sure there is a lot more that needs to be added. As I mentioned before I will try to update this post as new info gets added to the thread.


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DaveL
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Oct 15, 2007 19:54 |  #2

Thanks for posting, some good ideas for discussion...

I wouldn't mind seeing the topic of league proposals touched
upon, I've done one so far this offseason and was just asked
to present another one.


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In2Photos
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Oct 16, 2007 08:35 |  #3

DaveL wrote in post #4130554 (external link)
Thanks for posting, some good ideas for discussion...

I wouldn't mind seeing the topic of league proposals touched
upon, I've done one so far this offseason and was just asked
to present another one.

Thanks dave. A great idea you have there. Hopefully we can get some info on that topic.


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Croasdail
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Oct 16, 2007 11:31 |  #4

Mike - there is one of the commercial labs right there in Charlotte... wish I could remember the name. They have their own software for managing the images and do a decent job. I will look at my home office to see if I still have their info available. I did this type of work last year... and swore I would never do it again. MOA's (mother of athlete) are just as bad as MOB's (mother of brides). There is LOTs of money in this if you have the patience for it - I just don't.

quick web search... and I think these are the guys... and they do everything. One thing I didn't like though was their trading cards. I got those from Prosshooterdirect out of wilmington.

DPI Lab
4403 Lebanon Road
Charlotte, NC 28227
Phone: 704-545-8469
Toll Free: 1.888.313.5090
Email: info@dpilab.com (external link)
Website: www.dpilab.com (external link)




  
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In2Photos
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Oct 16, 2007 11:33 |  #5

Croasdail wrote in post #4134458 (external link)
Mike - there is one of the commercial labs right there in Charlotte... wish I could remember the name. They have their own software for managing the images and do a decent job. I will look at my home office to see if I still have their info available. I did this type of work last year... and swore I would never do it again. MOA's (mother of athlete) are just as bad as MOB's (mother of brides). There is LOTs of money in this if you have the patience for it - I just don't.

quick web search... and I think these are the guys... and they do everything. One thing I didn't like though was their trading cards. I got those from Prosshooterdirect out of wilmington.

DPI Lab
4403 Lebanon Road
Charlotte, NC 28227
Phone: 704-545-8469
Toll Free: 1.888.313.5090
Email: nfo@dpilab.com (external link)
Website: www.dpilab.com (external link)

Mark, funny you mention them. They are literally about 1000 feet from my office! I had completely forgot about them until this morning when I drove by. They handle the work for the Studio that we take my daughter to for pics. I will give them a call this afternoon. Thanks!


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MJPhotos24
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Oct 17, 2007 00:52 |  #6

Ok, trying to read all that at once made one side of my brain tell the other side I need a cold one or else I'll never finish, so I'm going to go one section by one section and give some input that hopefully makes sense.

So the league has asked if I would be interested in doing the shoots, on about 2 weeks notice. :o I gladly accepted (will that be the death of me?).

Two weeks notice is plenty of time, unless you have something planned on that date or something, I usually do pro teams on about 30 mins notice if the manager agrees to help me out. Of course those are older players that cooperate a bit more and have a set schedule to do things.

Gear

Camera - Digital is better...you see the result immediately. I can't count how many times I had to track down players later on in a season for pro baseball because they blinked or something like that with film and had to re-do the shot. Also, for shooting kids, they LOVE to see there pic on there. You get to show them and ask "is that alright?" and 99.9% of the time it is, might take an extra second but I do it as I'm recording there name into the camera with the Mark IIn (greatest feature EVER!!) Having that ability saves a lot of time and money as I don't need an assistant anymore...also, teams hate to take a long time, and speaking as a coach at three different high schools - we hate photographers who take to much time out of our practice schedule.

Lens - 50mm 1.4 is the lens of my choice for both T&I because of the low DOF. Shooting three frames at 2.5/2.8/3.2 gives me three options and when those things are printed you won't believe how many comments I get like "I love how he/she sticks out, how do you do that?" When shooting a team photo I bump it up to 9/11/13 to get all the kids in focus of course. I quickly ditched my standard zoom once getting the 50mm (it was a Sigma) because at low DOF the clarity just wasn't there.

Tripod and remote release – I hand hold everything, just because it's what I know and it allows me to adjust easier to the pose as not every kid does every pose the same way so on one you might want to move up a bit, or down depending on the kid. For example, and speaking for us husky folk out there, you want to shoot a little bit above "bigger" kids so they have to tilt there head upwards and not have the double chin effect I have in all my photos. On a tripod you're stuck and then waste time adjusting. Of course shooting indoor sports you may want a tripod more so than outdoor becuase of less light and more chance of camera shake at a lower shutter, etc.

Flash and Flash Bracket– Well, going to disagree completely and say it is an item you 100% need. NEVER would shoot a portrait without a flash, infact I had to when my batteries died one day and came back to a game and re-shot everyone and the difference was night and day (almost literally). The one kid who I couldn't re-shoot got a full refund and the pics, they just weren't as good as the other kids on the team. A bracket would be nice and something I don't have yet, so I have to fix there eyes sometimes, definately and item I will have next year, or the Gary Fong lightsphere.

Light Meter – waste of money IMO. I was shooting an All-Star game this year and the guy that was hired by the company sponsoring (Nikon user at that, ha) came in with his light meter, called his boss and gave the readings, acted like a god with that thing. I thought he knew what he was talking about and listening to him I thought about buying one, thats until I saw his pics online and the exposure sucked! He did exactly what the meter said and it just didn't work. The company who hired him saw mine and immediately emailed asking if they could buy some, even though they had already paid for his work. My guess is next year at the event I'll get a phone call. Maybe it's just me, but I prefer much more to just shoot a test subject and dial in from what I know. I usually can arrive and know what I'll need done, what settings, just by looking around and seeing the backgrounds and how much sun is available. Again, inside maybe a bit different!

Studio lights – the biggest problem is the source for energy. In one league I would have to move closer and sacrifice the background of the pics for the studio lights, which of course I don't want to do. If you can use them then it's a great way to get even lighting. Wireless is the way to go as mentioned.

Posing


"choose the ONE most appropriate" - no no no...choose the best 4-5 you can find, print them all one a piece of paper and attach it to a clipboard. As the kids are in line they pass the board around and get to choose the pose they want. When it's there turn you just ask which one and they point, you know exactly what they want and how to set them up. You'll always need a "prop" like a bat, football, soccer ball, etc. I require teams to bring that with them.

Shady area, NO!!! bad photographer, bad!!! :lol: Find YOUR background and adjust your equipment to it as well as which way they are facing. Put the sun behind them to the side a little so it's not directly in your eyes and nowhere near there eyes (as said). I see to many shots in the shade and the background usually sucks because the photog doesn't know how to adjust in the sun. I still remember another photographer talking crap behind my back about how I lined up the players, he told the player how I do things doesn't work. Well with the sun behind them and to the side (flash turned up a bit) it makes the background blur even more making the guy stick out and that effect you mentioned. The player saw the photo and looked at the other guy saying "BEEP you it don't work, thats the best shot of me I've ever seen". That photographer was taking the players to the shade and then blowing out the background big time, the sun background so the exposure was way off. Sometimes obviously you don't get the lighting you want, and you adjust to it, but taking them to a shady area says to me the photog doesn't have the equipment or doesn't know how to use it.

Team shots are always interesting. I almost always have the coaches standing unless of course it's the real little kids, in that case you're lucky the kids sit still for half a second to get the shot. Definately try to get them situated so they don't have head on top of head, but for the most part with younger kids you're lucky they are in the area you put them in the first place. I've had pro teams screw that up and little kids are even worse usually but that's what a lot of parents like, to see there "goof ball" falling over or looking the wrong way (we hate it of course). You want to have them lined up by height, and since most teams are small numbers in youth it's easy that way. Put the taller kids in back standing, other kids kneeling, coaches on the side, maybe one or two kids laying in front (girls usually more than guys).

EASY way to not make the coaches look like giants, do not, for the love of god, do NOT put the 6'3" husky ex-lineman of a coach (thats me) in the center of the photo and place the kids around him. Put the coaches on the side! The people who shot our team photo for baseball this year tried to get me to do that and I told him no, he then tried to reset my team after I had them trained on where to line up so we can get it done quick, yea not a good idea. They did that to me a few years ago while coaching girls, and let's just say it wasn't a good idea, coaches like to be on the side in a situation where they are big like that. It really depends though, if you have 3-4 coaches maybe put them in the middle or back. I've had coaches in the middle back, but usually they are in there own row because there's a few and not in the same row as the kids.

Fire the shot right after they open their eyes....never tried that, maybe will though, usually theres parents and the coaches telling them to get ready. Team photos is the only time I wish I had an assistant to bark out the call to take the shot since I'm focusing on other things.

Settings



f/8? Lower f/stop and bump up the shutter. Parents LOVE to see a photo with there kid "sticking out" from the background. I never EVER shoot a portrait above 3.2 unless my finger slips to 3.5 by mistake (with the 50mm 1.4 that is, my old 24-70 I did because the low f/stop sucked with that lens). With the higher shutter the flash usually has to be turned up a bit depending on which sport (baseball has cap shadows for example).


Staying Organized



I'll let you know when I find a way to stay organized, ha. Right now I take there envelope with check or cash enclosed, put it in a pile in my bag and shoot away (or have a coach collect and shoot away). The end of the day it's still in it's pile and organized by team. An assistant is the best $20-30 you'll ever spend though, if needed - and usually they are.

If you can't record there name on the pic (btw, another tidbit, the kids LOVE recording there voice - they think it's "soo cooool" - also you have to take the pic and THEN record not before), have a spot on the envelope for the frame number of at least one of the pics. I wouldn't go by jersey number because the fact A) they forget and wear someone else's B) theres two number 37's C) you just don't see them. That's where an assistant comes in handy, to write down those frame numbers on envelopes. I took pics of guys backs in pro baseball to get there numbers and ran into a bunch of problems of "who the heck is #39". The numbers were different or a new guy came up and took the number while the guy on the roster is now in some other league.

Printing



I use exposure manager for both my event photos site and also order all my T&I through them as well. Since I'm doing it I make up the packages and order them, no worry about what packages they have. The buttons, magnets I make no profit off of, however the prints do good with. I wish they'd get to doing the novelty items on site instead of outsourcing it so it would go down in price, but they haven't yet. However, since EM has the best printing I've seen around I will stick with them for now on T&I.

Digital memory mates, buy a template yourself and do it yourself and then just order it as a 8x10. Make sure the lab is not full auto or uses EZPrints (they are auto) and make sure someone is actually color correcting to there printer. If the lab is full auto you'll have to return prints - EZPrints I'd say 1/4 orders I had to return, EM - 0/500+

MPix would be the best bet after Exposure Manager IMO. I haven't checked out the other labs you mentioned, but definately will some day as always looking for the best - EM just hasn't let me down yet. I've sent in photos I questioned and they came back great...so as of now they have my vote.

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Chief44
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Oct 17, 2007 01:28 as a reply to  @ MJPhotos24's post |  #7

Only thing I have to add is Mpix is great for printing, havent had to anything reprinted.


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VladDracule
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Oct 17, 2007 01:39 |  #8

MJphotos that is some pretty good advice...glad i tuned into this thread :P

One thing im curious about is using a flash, right now i only do sports shooting usually mid day and i dont even own a flash (other than the one built onto my 40d)

i know this is the wrong place to put this but does the camara compensate for the flash on the light meter? or do you under expose by x steps?

when i do team portraits ill be shooting with a 50mm f/1.8 which im sure will do the job and to me it sounds like you use f/3.2 for individual portraits but what about team shots? of course you need a larger dof so im guessing maybe about f/8?


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VladDracule
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Oct 17, 2007 01:41 |  #9

oh one last thing, what metering mode do you use? spot?


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In2Photos
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Oct 17, 2007 08:12 |  #10

MJPhotos24 wrote in post #4138526 (external link)
Ok, trying to read all that at once made one side of my brain tell the other side I need a cold one or else I'll never finish, so I'm going to go one section by one section and give some input that hopefully makes sense.

Two weeks notice is plenty of time, unless you have something planned on that date or something, I usually do pro teams on about 30 mins notice if the manager agrees to help me out. Of course those are older players that cooperate a bit more and have a set schedule to do things.

Two weeks is plenty of time if you have figured out what printer you are going to be using. ;) That is my dilema. I have zero problems doing the shoot, but making sure can get what the league expects for prints and novelty items is a bit dificult when you have no idea.

Camera - Digital is better...you see the result immediately. I can't count how many times I had to track down players later on in a season for pro baseball because they blinked or something like that with film and had to re-do the shot. Also, for shooting kids, they LOVE to see there pic on there. You get to show them and ask "is that alright?" and 99.9% of the time it is, might take an extra second but I do it as I'm recording there name into the camera with the Mark IIn (greatest feature EVER!!) Having that ability saves a lot of time and money as I don't need an assistant anymore...also, teams hate to take a long time, and speaking as a coach at three different high schools - we hate photographers who take to much time out of our practice schedule.

I wish I had a MKIIn.

Lens - 50mm 1.4 is the lens of my choice for both T&I because of the low DOF. Shooting three frames at 2.5/2.8/3.2 gives me three options and when those things are printed you won't believe how many comments I get like "I love how he/she sticks out, how do you do that?" When shooting a team photo I bump it up to 9/11/13 to get all the kids in focus of course. I quickly ditched my standard zoom once getting the 50mm (it was a Sigma) because at low DOF the clarity just wasn't there.

Using a 50mm for the team shots on a 1.6 crop camera might not work very well with flash. In order to get far enough back to get them all in the image and leave room for cropping to various sizes one might not have enough flash to illuminate the subjects.

Tripod and remote release – I hand hold everything, just because it's what I know and it allows me to adjust easier to the pose as not every kid does every pose the same way so on one you might want to move up a bit, or down depending on the kid. For example, and speaking for us husky folk out there, you want to shoot a little bit above "bigger" kids so they have to tilt there head upwards and not have the double chin effect I have in all my photos. On a tripod you're stuck and then waste time adjusting. Of course shooting indoor sports you may want a tripod more so than outdoor becuase of less light and more chance of camera shake at a lower shutter, etc.

This makes sense. I hadn't thought about needing to change angles for "bigger" kids.

Flash and Flash Bracket– Well, going to disagree completely and say it is an item you 100% need. NEVER would shoot a portrait without a flash, infact I had to when my batteries died one day and came back to a game and re-shot everyone and the difference was night and day (almost literally). The one kid who I couldn't re-shoot got a full refund and the pics, they just weren't as good as the other kids on the team. A bracket would be nice and something I don't have yet, so I have to fix there eyes sometimes, definately and item I will have next year, or the Gary Fong lightsphere.

I don't think you need a flash if you shoot on an overcast day. There will be no shadows to fill in. So while I agree with you on sunny days, it is not necessary for overcast days.

Light Meter – waste of money IMO. I was shooting an All-Star game this year and the guy that was hired by the company sponsoring (Nikon user at that, ha) came in with his light meter, called his boss and gave the readings, acted like a god with that thing. I thought he knew what he was talking about and listening to him I thought about buying one, thats until I saw his pics online and the exposure sucked! He did exactly what the meter said and it just didn't work. The company who hired him saw mine and immediately emailed asking if they could buy some, even though they had already paid for his work. My guess is next year at the event I'll get a phone call. Maybe it's just me, but I prefer much more to just shoot a test subject and dial in from what I know. I usually can arrive and know what I'll need done, what settings, just by looking around and seeing the backgrounds and how much sun is available. Again, inside maybe a bit different!

While taking a test shot is what 99% of us will probably do, a light meter is NOT a waste of money. Like any piece of equipment you must know how to use it. And a good knowledge of exposure can quickly confirm if your shots will be correct. If you get a reading of ISO 100, f/8 1/4000 then you should know that reading is absurd.

Studio lights – the biggest problem is the source for energy. In one league I would have to move closer and sacrifice the background of the pics for the studio lights, which of course I don't want to do. If you can use them then it's a great way to get even lighting. Wireless is the way to go as mentioned.

This is why speedlights are very popular, no need for power.

"choose the ONE most appropriate" - no no no...choose the best 4-5 you can find, print them all one a piece of paper and attach it to a clipboard. As the kids are in line they pass the board around and get to choose the pose they want. When it's there turn you just ask which one and they point, you know exactly what they want and how to set them up. You'll always need a "prop" like a bat, football, soccer ball, etc. I require teams to bring that with them.

Good idea.

Shady area, NO!!! bad photographer, bad!!! :lol: Find YOUR background and adjust your equipment to it as well as which way they are facing. Put the sun behind them to the side a little so it's not directly in your eyes and nowhere near there eyes (as said). I see to many shots in the shade and the background usually sucks because the photog doesn't know how to adjust in the sun. I still remember another photographer talking crap behind my back about how I lined up the players, he told the player how I do things doesn't work. Well with the sun behind them and to the side (flash turned up a bit) it makes the background blur even more making the guy stick out and that effect you mentioned. The player saw the photo and looked at the other guy saying "BEEP you it don't work, thats the best shot of me I've ever seen". That photographer was taking the players to the shade and then blowing out the background big time, the sun background so the exposure was way off. Sometimes obviously you don't get the lighting you want, and you adjust to it, but taking them to a shady area says to me the photog doesn't have the equipment or doesn't know how to use it.

If a player is in the shade with a bright background and fill flash is used ther is no reason the image won't look good. But I agree that if you always use flash then backlit subjects look the best.

Team shots are always interesting. I almost always have the coaches standing unless of course it's the real little kids, in that case you're lucky the kids sit still for half a second to get the shot. Definately try to get them situated so they don't have head on top of head, but for the most part with younger kids you're lucky they are in the area you put them in the first place. I've had pro teams screw that up and little kids are even worse usually but that's what a lot of parents like, to see there "goof ball" falling over or looking the wrong way (we hate it of course). You want to have them lined up by height, and since most teams are small numbers in youth it's easy that way. Put the taller kids in back standing, other kids kneeling, coaches on the side, maybe one or two kids laying in front (girls usually more than guys).

EASY way to not make the coaches look like giants, do not, for the love of god, do NOT put the 6'3" husky ex-lineman of a coach (thats me) in the center of the photo and place the kids around him. Put the coaches on the side! The people who shot our team photo for baseball this year tried to get me to do that and I told him no, he then tried to reset my team after I had them trained on where to line up so we can get it done quick, yea not a good idea. They did that to me a few years ago while coaching girls, and let's just say it wasn't a good idea, coaches like to be on the side in a situation where they are big like that. It really depends though, if you have 3-4 coaches maybe put them in the middle or back. I've had coaches in the middle back, but usually they are in there own row because there's a few and not in the same row as the kids.

Good advice.

Fire the shot right after they open their eyes....never tried that, maybe will though, usually theres parents and the coaches telling them to get ready. Team photos is the only time I wish I had an assistant to bark out the call to take the shot since I'm focusing on other things.

I can hardly wait for the parents to start barking orders. :lol:


f/8? Lower f/stop and bump up the shutter. Parents LOVE to see a photo with there kid "sticking out" from the background. I never EVER shoot a portrait above 3.2 unless my finger slips to 3.5 by mistake (with the 50mm 1.4 that is, my old 24-70 I did because the low f/stop sucked with that lens). With the higher shutter the flash usually has to be turned up a bit depending on which sport (baseball has cap shadows for example).

Yes f/8. There are other things that affect DOF. And using f/8 gets you a shutter speed compatible with normal sync speed on your flash which in turn gets you more shots per set of batteries, more range with the flash and shorter recycle times. While I don't disagree with your settings and will likely try them out, not everyone has the means to shoot at f/2.8/3.2/3.5 with the 50 1.4. And when shooting handheld, that shallow DOF can lead to mis focus if there is even a slight movement of either subject or photographer.



I'll let you know when I find a way to stay organized, ha. Right now I take there envelope with check or cash enclosed, put it in a pile in my bag and shoot away (or have a coach collect and shoot away). The end of the day it's still in it's pile and organized by team. An assistant is the best $20-30 you'll ever spend though, if needed - and usually they are.

It is worth a try to stay organized right? :lol:

If you can't record there name on the pic (btw, another tidbit, the kids LOVE recording there voice - they think it's "soo cooool" - also you have to take the pic and THEN record not before), have a spot on the envelope for the frame number of at least one of the pics. I wouldn't go by jersey number because the fact A) they forget and wear someone else's B) theres two number 37's C) you just don't see them. That's where an assistant comes in handy, to write down those frame numbers on envelopes. I took pics of guys backs in pro baseball to get there numbers and ran into a bunch of problems of "who the heck is #39". The numbers were different or a new guy came up and took the number while the guy on the roster is now in some other league.

Makes sense, great advice.


I use exposure manager for both my event photos site and also order all my T&I through them as well. Since I'm doing it I make up the packages and order them, no worry about what packages they have. The buttons, magnets I make no profit off of, however the prints do good with. I wish they'd get to doing the novelty items on site instead of outsourcing it so it would go down in price, but they haven't yet. However, since EM has the best printing I've seen around I will stick with them for now on T&I.

Digital memory mates, buy a template yourself and do it yourself and then just order it as a 8x10. Make sure the lab is not full auto or uses EZPrints (they are auto) and make sure someone is actually color correcting to there printer. If the lab is full auto you'll have to return prints - EZPrints I'd say 1/4 orders I had to return, EM - 0/500+

MPix would be the best bet after Exposure Manager IMO. I haven't checked out the other labs you mentioned, but definately will some day as always looking for the best - EM just hasn't let me down yet. I've sent in photos I questioned and they came back great...so as of now they have my vote.

I hadn't thought of EM but will check them out. Right now I am leaning towards my local lab or Miller's, but that could change. One thing to keep in mind is that some of these places require accounts and it can take days to set them up.

Chief44 wrote in post #4138621 (external link)
Only thing I have to add is Mpix is great for printing, havent had to anything reprinted.

Thanks, will check them out too.

VladDracule wrote in post #4138646 (external link)
MJphotos that is some pretty good advice...glad i tuned into this thread :P

One thing im curious about is using a flash, right now i only do sports shooting usually mid day and i dont even own a flash (other than the one built onto my 40d)

i know this is the wrong place to put this but does the camara compensate for the flash on the light meter? or do you under expose by x steps?

The internal flash is marginal at best to use. It is not very powerful and will limit you to what you can do. If you are not familiar with flash photography I would recommend that you take a look at the flash stickies in the flash forum. Flash photography can be difficult to grasp at first, but with reading and experimenting you can figure it out.

when i do team portraits ill be shooting with a 50mm f/1.8 which im sure will do the job and to me it sounds like you use f/3.2 for individual portraits but what about team shots? of course you need a larger dof so im guessing maybe about f/8?

He mentioned f/9/11/13 in th elens section.

VladDracule wrote in post #4138653 (external link)
oh one last thing, what metering mode do you use? spot?

If you use flash on a backlit subject then I would not use spot. I would use evaluative to expose for the background, not the subject. Then the flash metering will meter the subjects exposure.


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Oct 17, 2007 13:34 |  #11

Chief44 wrote in post #4138621 (external link)
Only thing I have to add is Mpix is great for printing, havent had to anything reprinted.

Heard really good things about them to, been tempted to try them out.

VladDracule wrote in post #4138646 (external link)
MJphotos that is some pretty good advice...glad i tuned into this thread :P

One thing im curious about is using a flash, right now i only do sports shooting usually mid day and i dont even own a flash (other than the one built onto my 40d)

i know this is the wrong place to put this but does the camara compensate for the flash on the light meter? or do you under expose by x steps?

when i do team portraits ill be shooting with a 50mm f/1.8 which im sure will do the job and to me it sounds like you use f/3.2 for individual portraits but what about team shots? of course you need a larger dof so im guessing maybe about f/8?

580EX is what I use and love it. Shooting everything manual and won't touch a light meter, my eyes are the light meter :) Sometimes over, sometimes under expose, depends what the test shots look like that day.

VladDracule wrote in post #4138653 (external link)
oh one last thing, what metering mode do you use? spot?

EDIT: For some reason I originally wrote spot, when I meant to write evaluative.


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Oct 17, 2007 13:58 as a reply to  @ In2Photos's post |  #12

In2Photos...just broke it down a bit and didn't quote this time, in a hurry - sorry :)

Ahh, yess, now I understand about it being short notice now. The first league I shot I went to three different printers to find the best and all of them sucked. Finally found one I liked but it was a good month after the photos were taken and heard a few complaints. The league was ok with it because I kept him up to date, but parents just don't understand we dont want to give them crappy prints.

When using the 20D for team shots I had the prolem of getting far enough back, it was just to far. Odd thing was this year doing a Cardinals team photo (minor league) I went back to the 20D distance looked through the IIn and asked myself what the BEEP am I doing back this far, how did I ever shoot team shots back here, etc. Wish you could turn off that crop factor!

Flash on every day for me. On an overcast day the kid will look a bit gloomy without a flash, the flash brightens it up, but at the same time you don't want it so hot that it creates that fake flash look either...just have to dial it down. You'll never catch me doing portraits without a flash of some sort. You may get that PERFECT day where they don't look gloomy but it's rare.

Never having used a light meter I'm not sure, but if it tells me anything above 2.8 or 3.2 for portraits I'm not using the settings. Is there a way to put in the max f/stop you want to use? If it came up ISO 200, f/8, 1/200 on a sunny day I'd say thanks meter thingy and go to ISO 125, f/2.8, 1/3200 anyways (that was a common set up this year for me btw).

Shooting in the shade - I've honestly never seen on that I remember liking because of the shadows. The guy I mentioned is the king of this, he uses fill flash and the photos still look bla at best. Most guys shoot with the sunny area as the background blowing it out, which makes no sense to me. Others, I've seen shooting under a tree using the woods as a background, well last time I checked little Timmy wasn't playing baseball in the woods.

Parents are fun at times, some will help you, some will give you attitude. Either way you take it with a grain of salt and keep moving. I've had moms run in adjusting things and others who use it as an excuse to ditch there kid off with the photographer for 15 mins while they go have a smoke. Be good with the kids and they'll love you either way :)

f/8 - forgetting that not every flash can be put in sync at higher shutters you're right. I forgot my days as a wee lad with the 420, haha :p It's well worth getting the 580EX though, for that alone and being able to sync at higher shutters. The shallow DOF can lead to mis focus, been there a ton of times and one reason I shoot three shots and as I walk over to the kid zoom in to the photo to check them so I dont get home going "what did I do!!!!" A school photog who uses a bracket, tripod, etc. takes one shot and doesn't even look at it during our last team photo, amazed me, now he was shooting at such a high f/stop EVERYTHING was in focus, which I don't like honestly, but thats me..and what if they blinked...check your results.


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Oct 17, 2007 15:17 |  #13

MJPhotos24 wrote in post #4141616 (external link)
In2Photos...just broke it down a bit and didn't quote this time, in a hurry - sorry :)

No sweat!

Ahh, yess, now I understand about it being short notice now. The first league I shot I went to three different printers to find the best and all of them sucked. Finally found one I liked but it was a good month after the photos were taken and heard a few complaints. The league was ok with it because I kept him up to date, but parents just don't understand we dont want to give them crappy prints.

That is my fear as well, bad quality. Most of the places I am considering requires accounts which mean I barely have enough time to set one up, let alone get test prints. Other's recommendations will be a big help here.

When using the 20D for team shots I had the prolem of getting far enough back, it was just to far. Odd thing was this year doing a Cardinals team photo (minor league) I went back to the 20D distance looked through the IIn and asked myself what the BEEP am I doing back this far, how did I ever shoot team shots back here, etc. Wish you could turn off that crop factor!

I am hoping that my Sigma 17-70 will do the trick. I just had it serviced to repair a focus issue so it should be dead on now. I can borrow a couple other lenses if need be but I think I wll be fine with this lens. I loved the results I got before it went out of spec.

Flash on every day for me. On an overcast day the kid will look a bit gloomy without a flash, the flash brightens it up, but at the same time you don't want it so hot that it creates that fake flash look either...just have to dial it down. You'll never catch me doing portraits without a flash of some sort. You may get that PERFECT day where they don't look gloomy but it's rare.

I love using flash as well. To be honest I don't know why I am writing about NOT using one. No way would I do it. The flash will be a must for me, but I guess I wrote the FAQ for everyone, flash or not.

Never having used a light meter I'm not sure, but if it tells me anything above 2.8 or 3.2 for portraits I'm not using the settings. Is there a way to put in the max f/stop you want to use? If it came up ISO 200, f/8, 1/200 on a sunny day I'd say thanks meter thingy and go to ISO 125, f/2.8, 1/3200 anyways (that was a common set up this year for me btw).

I am not sure about the light meter. I haven't used one either. In reading the manual for a popular Sekonic model you can take ambient readings in Aperture Priority mode with f-stops from 1.0 to 90 (not a misprint). So it should work for your settings of 2.8/3.2/3.5.

Shooting in the shade - I've honestly never seen on that I remember liking because of the shadows. The guy I mentioned is the king of this, he uses fill flash and the photos still look bla at best. Most guys shoot with the sunny area as the background blowing it out, which makes no sense to me. Others, I've seen shooting under a tree using the woods as a background, well last time I checked little Timmy wasn't playing baseball in the woods.

Good point about shooting in the woods!

Parents are fun at times, some will help you, some will give you attitude. Either way you take it with a grain of salt and keep moving. I've had moms run in adjusting things and others who use it as an excuse to ditch there kid off with the photographer for 15 mins while they go have a smoke. Be good with the kids and they'll love you either way :)

Tha parents so far have been great at the games. Hopefully this trend continues. Since the League Director will be there I don't expect much of a problem.

f/8 - forgetting that not every flash can be put in sync at higher shutters you're right. I forgot my days as a wee lad with the 420, haha :p It's well worth getting the 580EX though, for that alone and being able to sync at higher shutters. The shallow DOF can lead to mis focus, been there a ton of times and one reason I shoot three shots and as I walk over to the kid zoom in to the photo to check them so I dont get home going "what did I do!!!!" A school photog who uses a bracket, tripod, etc. takes one shot and doesn't even look at it during our last team photo, amazed me, now he was shooting at such a high f/stop EVERYTHING was in focus, which I don't like honestly, but thats me..and what if they blinked...check your results.

I have a 430 and can shoot in HSS but at ISO 100 the effective flash distance drops quickly. I have many wonderful shots using HSS but if I can only get a flash range of 5 feet it does me little good. Checking a DOF calculator if I use a 50mm lens on my 1.6 crop cam at f/8 my DOF is 3.77 feet at a subject distance of 10 feet. This is plenty of room to work with and will blur the background nicely. Plus my flash range should be 15 feet (GN=120, @ f/8 ). Looks good to me!:D

For your setup the DOF would be 1.12 feet at f/3.2, 50mm, and 8 feet to subject. I love shallow DOF but in this case I think I would be playing with fire. Eventually I might get good enough to work within those limits.


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Oct 17, 2007 17:16 as a reply to  @ In2Photos's post |  #14

Nice job, thanks for getting this started.

I use Exposure Manager. RE memory mates, I'd make my own. The sport I shoot predominately (gymnastics) doesn't have an appeal for trading cards so they don't apply. Although they would be interesting to the younger girls, MAYBE.

Here's my latest shoot, (external link) all done last week.

My lessons learned:


  1. Good quality lighting is not optional. It doesn't take a large investment, even one quality light will make a world of difference.
  2. Have a pose board - Suggested poses for the athletes to try. Limit the athlete to 2 poses, maximum.
  3. Organization is key, as you mentioned and the specific organization depends on if you pre-order or shoot and offer web based sales or some hybrid.
  4. Pre-order boosts sales.
  5. Bigger order potential if you take credit cards. (untested, but many of my parents have told me that if I took credit cards they'd order more)
Not much help, I know, but I need to absorb what written so far and offer further comment...

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Oct 17, 2007 20:20 |  #15

I'll jump in on this a bit...

My stepson's little league photographer used a 30d, 70-200 2.8, and a 50 1.4 to do T&I's this year. 70-200 for indy's, 50 for teams. And she used a 580 flash. Here's my copy of the team shot ( I snuck one of each of my stepson's teams) from a little farther back, I shot at 70mm with my 70-210 3.5. (no flash)

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: 404 | MIME changed to 'text/html' | Byte size: ZERO


So for this size group, a 50mm should be fine, and I think Mike's advice is solid.

As for poses, I would limit their choices to a couple ( it's flag football, how many different poses could there be?)

Good luck! Jon

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