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AD asked me to cover his fall FB programs.

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by Otter, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. Hi all.

    I've been shooting cross country and track & field the last few years of our local D1 High School. I've mostly been shooting for our local paper.

    Last fall I was asked by the local AD to shoot a couple of his middle school games. I gave him a CD with a bunch of images. I told him he could do what he wanted with them as long as he did not give them to parents. A lot of them ended up in the yearbook. To be honest, they were mediocre at best - it was the first time I took pictures at a FB game since the late 70's - glad my name wasn't on them.... :smile:

    Anyway, I emailed him a few weeks ago and told him I would like to cover his Friday night varsity FB games for the paper. Even though I know I can get on the field, out of courtesy, I asked him for permission. He responded and asked if I would cover his High School games this fall as well as middle school games. We have several middle schools. He asked me to stop by to discuss.

    I'm happy to do so, however, I don't want to do it for free. Our town (burb West of Cleveland) is a typical mid western town with lots of unemployed blue collar/white collar workers. $5 4x6's, $6 5x7's, $9 8x10's and so on don't sell too well...

    I learned my lesson. This past Spring the person who runs the girls track program for the middles schools asked me to go to some meets, get shots of every girl and she would buy them. I spent lots of my time going to the meets, PP'ing several hundred shots, and (being the nice guy that I am) gave her 65 shots at a buck-a-piece. The idea was she was going to direct the parents to my site to buy copies. I got lots of hits but no sales. I'm not a pro but at the same time my time has value and I can't give it away.

    So what are some thoughts, suggestions, and strategies to think about in regards to talking with this AD?

    Looking for some advice from you pro's!

  2. Here's a good read for you:



  3. Hey Joe,

    I am in a similar situation with a school that I shot for last year. We are at the point where their media guy is asking me to shoot their football games again this coming season. My plan is to go in and be as polite yet direct as possible and let them know that if they want me to shoot this year that we need to reach a financial agreement or I have to move on.

    Whatever we can work out for compensation will determine how much time I will devote to shooting their games. I made a little bit of money from the parents last year which was great and I could have made more but I had to compete with this other outfit that shoots their games too.
  4. wendy


    Jul 5, 2008
    Hi Joe,

    Does you HS sport have a parent 'Booster' organization? I would suggest meeting with them instead of the AD. The AD's like the novelty of having a photographer around... but the parents will tell you if they are serious in buying your pics or not.

    Try to get an up-front fee per player or per game. And, then offer a '$-off coupon' to each family off a $25 purchase. A little investment on their behalf helps you and the coupon will help sales.

    Also, see if they are interested in purchasing different products. For example, a $20-25 poster with a photo collage border of the players surrounding a fun pic of the players in the middle, a photo book with the same pics for $30 or a locker-sized poster-pic of the team w/ their game schedule.

    Don't waste your time posting 100 pics per game. Focus on 2-3 good pics, per player, throughout the season, and then find ways to mass-produce these images with little effort on your behalf for maximum profits.

    I would also suggest trying to secure the spot to take the kids team and individual portraits.

    Don't forget to market yourself and your interests and abilities. Family portraits? Senior portraits? Event photography, etc.

    Be sure to introduce yourself to the opposing coach and hand biz cards out to the parents in attendance of the visiting team. Several times, in my attempt to capture my goalie making the game-winning save I end up capturing the visiting team scoring the game-winning goal - an instant sale.

    The only 'freebie' that I would give away is an 8x10" of your favorite ref or ump in action. Rarely do umps/refs have pics of themselves officiating events - so the pic is appreciated. And in return s/he will refer you over-and-over again for opportunities at other sporting events within a 50 mile radius.

    Good luck.

  5. Thanks Gary, Tyrone, and Wendy for the info.

    I spent some time reading some of those SportsShooter articles. Some of them sure paint a bleak depressing picture for those that are trying to make a living at photography. Wow. Glad I'm not a kid thinking of going to college for photojournalism.

  6. acena


    Mar 14, 2006
    New Jersey
    There are numerous strategies. Here is what works for me in my geographic region. When I get requests, I tell them that my fees are $125/hour with a two hour minimum if they want me to be at a specific time and place. They can also pay $125 to show up to 3 games of my choosing during the season. The fees are just for me to show up prints are not included. If they are not willing to pay up front but it is a customer I may want to cultivate, I promise to go on an "as available basis." That means if a newspaper or magazine needs photos from one of their games or the team is playing another team that is paying me to go to their games, then I will photograph them as well.

    I try to overlap as much as possible with paid requests from publications whether it be a local newspaper, a yearbook company or a magazine. Yearbook companies and local papers pay peanuts but I try to hoard as many peanuts as I can before I go to a game. Magazines only want pictures of the top recruits or specific editorial shots so that is far and few between though the pay can range from $80 to $500/image for a single use depending on the magazine's circulation and how they plan to use a photo. i.e. One national sports magazine is in the process of writing an article about field turf and wanted a very specific field hockey picture so they paid me $250 for a half page use of one my photos, but a membership magazine is only paying me $80 to use a lax photo. Same size photo but different circulation.

    I had a school start off with me on "an as available basis." I was able to go to maybe one or two games for many of their sports but not all. The AD and the SID talked over their photo needs with me, the school and the booster club. For the 2008-2009 season, they decided they are going to pay me to photograph at least one game for every sport for both boys and girls. I negotiated a set fee per game plus the cost of prints. btw, they had another photographer who offered to do it for free and her print prices were less than half mine.

    It took me a couple of years to "Just Say No" to freebies. I was scared the customers would tell me to go take a hike. Believe me many many still do, but there are some who respect you for it.

    P.S. Wendy is right. You should try to get the school's T&I work. It's very profitable. In fact, I read a study once that highlighted that 75% of the youth sports photography market is in T&I. I do a few but I am trying to do less because I find it so boring. Also, many leagues want a "donation" (aka bribe) to get the business. I would rather just work with one or two athletes at a time who may want a private portrait session where I would charge a sitting fee and charge for the prints.
  7. Thats a nice write up Alex! Thanks


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