I'm Micheal Hall, the owner of the photography business referenced.
This thread has just come to my attention via another member of the board and I thought I would chime in. I know it's been some time since this was posted, but I figured I would expand on/correct Kirk's idea of our business. To my knowledge, Kirk hasn't approached us or actually spoken to us, so his idea of our business is simply that, his idea of what he saw.
Re: Where we photograph.
We are based in Northern California, but actually photograph all over the country and will be returning to Europe this summer for an annual event there.
Re: Business Model
Kirk has it almost right. We charge a fee to photograph for a family. We then credit that fee towards any purchase the client makes at that tournament. If they don't come back and purchase, we keep the fee as a sitting fee. This encourages people to return and discourages the casual, "It would be fun to sign up for pictures, but I don't really want to buy any." Since implementing the sitting fee, we've gone from 50% of those that sign up for pictures not even returning to look at the images to nearly 100% (it's very rare that a family does not come back to view and purchase images now).
Families are not "required" to spend any more than they already have, but almost everyone does. We usually photograph 150 - 250 images per game of a match so there is a great deal to select from. The coverage is a general coverage of the action of the ball, with an eye kept on the player that signed up. If the family decides to, they can pay for an exclusive coverage where we will ignore everyone else on the team and photograph solely their athlete. It's more expensive, but we're giving up income from the rest of the team. The family gets their choice of any of our collages, plus a CD of all of the images.
An additional major plus point to this approach is that, as a photographer, I now know I am photographing for a person that is a very interested, paying customer so I try that much harder. Our photography and finished products have improved, as a result of this policy.
Re: Not many action shots at the booth.
Exactly what were you looking at? Easily 80% of what we show and sell is full on action. The "sportrait" is also extremely popular - often as a main or large supporting image in a collage. If that is missing from a game, we will often get requests to go back to get one of their athlete so they can include it in a collage. However, the vast majority of what we sell is high quality action.
Re: Having a tough time of it?
Please elaborate. Sure, we shoot in relatively dark venues, with people on all sides of us. But I wouldn't say we're having a tough go of it at all. We've developed a shooting approach and custom workflow which allows us to get the best results I've seen anywhere in circumstances that are far from ideal.
Re: Linking to her images.
You won't find Chelsey's images online. We don't post tournament images online. We post representative samples of actual customer orders, but at a tournament is the only time families have a chance to view and order images. The young lady you shot across from was using a 1D with an 85mm 1.8 and is a photographer in training. If this was in Sacramento, that was her 1st event. If it was San Jose, that was her 2nd.
Re: No EXIF
Any images posted online are optimized for download speeds, which includes stripping EXIF information. But, since you are curious, We have available to photograph with six 1D bodies, two 1DmkII bodies and two 1DmkIII bodies. We use the fastest aperture and fastest focusing lenses we can that have focal lengths compatible with our work, namely the 85mm 1.8, 100mm 2.0, 135mm 2.0, 200mm 1.8, 70-200 2.8, 16-35 2.8. We usually shoot ISO 800 - 3200, with shutter speeds from 1/400 - 1/1250, depending on the venue, bodies and lenses in use.
Re: Providing Equipment.
Whether or not we provide equipment to those that photograph with us depends. If they are a regular staff member we are training to shoot with us, we typically provide equipment from our pool. However, if we were to hire a freelance, they would be required to provide their own. We have yet to hire a freelance though. We're picky about our finished work and who we work with.
Re: Cropping or Post Processing
We crop both in camera and in post, as needed. As I write this, one of our staff is custom cropping the several thousand images we have to process from our last couple of events. In regards to processing, all of our images are shot RAW, color and exposure adjusted as needed prior to RAW conversion, output to JPG highest quality, noise reduced and finally dodged, burned, blemish retouched in PS and either incorporated into their collage design or output for printing. All images are printed as photographs by the best professional photo lab we could find and then are drop shipped via UPS to our clients. It's very work intensive, but I've been custom printing sports images and selling them to families since I was 17 in high school (15 years ago), and if I can't deliver the best quality possible, this is just a job and I don't want to do it. Regards, Micheal