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The first step to start a Sport's Photography business?

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by carauction, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. Wondering if any might chime in to offer advice as to the best way to start a small business in the field.

    Would you begin by getting a license first?

    I would like to know the best advice on how to go about selling yourself to be able to shoot and sell your images at Public School Track and Field meets, soccer, etc. Where do you start in getting yourself accepted to take pictures at these events. And then getting parents to sign off their addresses so as to mail them sample images. Who do you see, what are the steps to take.

    Any advice is much appreciated,

  2. Check out Max Preps, good info there.
  3. Read, read, and read again. Go out on the 'net and research all the folks who write about what they do. Try Ken Rockwell, Dave Black, John Harrington (and his book) and realize that having a photography business means NEVER having a day off. That and you have to remember what Ken Rockwell says here http://kenrockwell.com/tech/go-pro.htm ... Making a buck in photography is a lot tougher than keeping a real job. The photo jobs and locations that pay the most are the most boring. Think you're going to have people hiring you as a travel photographer? Guess again.

    I'm shooting professionally, or as Ken would say, as an amateur photographer (someone who earns less than 100% of their income as a photographer) and I've read as much as I can, learned a tremendous amount, continue learning, and continue shooting.
  4. Mike,

    To distill Ken Rockwell's comments, which I think are mostly bang on, your ability to run a small business is more important than your photographic skills. And there are more than 20 million people in New York state to compete with....

    If you're going to sell images, you are in a business. Period. So selling images and yourself is the same: who are the decision makers, influencers, buyer? Why do they want or need to buy images? What problem, need or pain do you solve for them if you do provide images? Are you only providing a nice to have, or I wish...?

    Note that you will have different buyers: the person who says go ahead, take some shots, the parent who buys the image, the coach who might want them to motivate the team... And they all will offer to pay a different price, ranging from nothing to, well, it depends on how you understand your clients.

    So, to start worth, ask yourself: who at my child's current or former school should I call and ask for advice?

    Just a thought.
  5. Mark,

    To quote you that was "bang on" advice, well done!
  6. OOps

    Sounds like I might be better off returning to the Automobile business if I need an extra buck:frown:

    And maybe continue to enjoy shooting as the hobby:Love:

    Thanks all,

    much appreciated.

  7. Not so Mike.
    You just need to know the facts, along with the reality of what it will take you to actually sell your images for a profit. It's not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.
  8. I'll chime in and say its not as easy as it seems. I am freelancing for a bunch (about 5 if not more) different companies throughout the year, and each one of them is seeing a decline in action sales as well as T&I, as the economy is faltering. I see it as I am sticking around "helping" other photographers make a buck while I still have a constant flow of cash coming in from each one of them. Yes I would probably make more by doing my own thing in T&I and action but for me not knowing what I am going to make on a job would kill me. Especially if that one league you figure to do well at is a total bomb.

    I'll stick to what I have been doing, working for others when they need it. In the end I am making it through on the skin of my teeth but I know in the long run I am learning from some great photographers in the process, figuring 2 of them were Nation/International photogs, AP and in many different Mags. So I will continue to learn while making a small but decent living.

    For what it is worth I am making a ton of contacts, and figure when I am ready, say about 40-45 I can take over in the area that I am in as all of those photographers will be ready to retire. Then again I go day to day so that could all change! Things happen for a reason.

    As for getting into games and such, contact the ADs or yearbook advisers of some local HS's and see if you can get access. After that get a website like smugmug, printroom.com, photoreflect, or such, and post everything online, in doing so make sure you hand out business cards to the fans and go from there. You can make a decent living as long as the market will allow it. But for one you need to advertise and market yourself a ton, as you may get hits on the site, but sales could be slow.
  9. ravencr


    Aug 30, 2008
    Flagstaff, AZ
    What about the sites like zenfolio to handle it for you? Is this a good service? Are there better or more inexpensive ones?

  10. How did you get your foot in the door freelancing? It sounds like it MAY be an option for me. I already freelance for the paper, but the pay is so small ($20 per printed photo) that I've had to go back to trucking full time, and may end up doing long haul driving in the near future, which would shut off all photography options.
  11. The site I use is pretty inexpensive - I think it was just over $100 for the year - it's at the link below

    They have a trial period so that you can see if it works for you
  12. I'm not a pro and rarely try to sell any pics, but here is a link with lots of info.
    You might find something there.

    Also, even though I really don't try to sell anything at this point, I have my own web site which has a link for people to see photos to buy. That link directs them to my Photoreflect account. It's free (no monthly/yearly charge) although they take a small percentage. You might want to check out Photoreflect.com. They make it pretty painless to set up. When people do order prints, I use Mpix - you don't have to use one of Photoreflects labs.

    You don't have to have your own website. You can send people directly to your Photoreflect account/store front if you want.

    I'm sure there are better, but for the little I do, it works well.

    Good luck.
  13. something like this might be helpful from the business aspect of it. See some of the other topics.

    also, there are numerous Small Business Association resources to help you learn accounting, marketing, etc.

    this is a good article that 'just' discusses the equipment aspect of the job and the capital investment required.
  14. step 1: get a day job
    step 2: get a media/press pass for hs sports
    step 3: shoot alot and hand out alot of cards
  15. Lucky in a way and kinda of just did some searches on craigslist, and then some were through word of mouth. Worked my way up, let my pictures do the talking and things have been ok. Still tough to get by but I am doing what I love every day.

    Then again freelancing you have no paid time off, insurance, ect. So you need to make sure you can afford it all including up keep of equipment. Also be prepared for slow months. I worked maybe 5 days all of last November.
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