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Sports Event Photography & Fees

Connie Wagner , Jul 05, 2008; 07:11 p.m.

I was asked to photograph softball tournaments. Is it customary for the photographer to charge a fee? I've also heard where the photographer actually pays the event coordinator a percentage of their earnings in exchange for being the sole event photographer. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you!

Responses

Matt Laur , Jul 05, 2008; 07:22 p.m.

Private league? College? Public school? Summer program?

Who has asked you to - a parent? A coach? Someone running the tournament? Need some more info.

Michael Harris , Jul 05, 2008; 08:28 p.m.

Connie they pay you and then you give them some sort of fair use rights to the photos. You should never pay the people who ask you to do the work. You own the images and then license them to the organizers. If any players, coaches, parents, or anyone else want them they pay for them.

Connie Wagner , Jul 05, 2008; 09:10 p.m.

It's ASA & Pony League Fastpitch softball for girls teams. And it's usually the tournament director who has asked me. I did two tournaments and several other compeetitons but want to make sure it's worth my time. I did read somewhere in this forum a while ago that you actually pay the tournament a percentage for the exclusive rights to shoot all teams. I just want to be competitive with what others are doing. Thanks!

Steve Hopkins , Jul 06, 2008; 10:06 a.m.

Connie - you should charge and, as I've stated to organizations, I'll provide them "with a selection, on CD, to use on their website and for club promotional liuterature".

I've been charging, starting this year, $250 per day for an essentially 8+ hrs, all day event. Also, a one game option is $75.00. That's very reasonable, even maybe/probably considered low balling to seasoned pro's. But you/or I are not 'seasoned pro's', but need to attach a value to our work and offerings. For an all day event at $250, that probably might average out to about a $1 per person involved in the event. That's one way to justify it to the organizers. You, personally, must also consider the time you will spend reviewing/deleting the good and 'useless' captures, doing minor adjustments before uploading, and then fully editing when an order is placed. Note: it really takes too long to fully edit each image before uploading to website to offer prints etc. for sale. I use to! Also, you need to be very self critical when reviewing and not upload hundreds of mediocre images. I'm getting better at that, but not there yet. One reason is that it gives the viewers/parents too many to choose from, and not buying any!! That brings up another point - you need to advertise/market to the parents, not the kids!!! The parents will more likely be spending money on line and not their children. The kids want free copies for MySpace paages! If you get an all day tournament, bring extra batteries and plenty of media cards. Depending on the activities going on, if it is a bunch of games you should plan on filling up 10-15 gb of cards. I have a portable HD that I will offload to if necessary. Makes me bit nervous moving these originals, so I keep buying more cards. But, in an 'emergency' the HD could be a lifesaver. Steve

Steve Hopkins , Jul 06, 2008; 10:11 a.m.

Connie - you should charge and, as I've stated to organizations, I'll provide them "with a selection, on CD, to use on their website and for club promotional liuterature".

I've been charging, starting this year, $250 per day for an essentially 8+ hrs, all day event. Also, a one game option is $75.00. That's very reasonable, even maybe/probably considered low balling to seasoned pro's. But you/or I are not 'seasoned pro's', but need to attach a value to our work and offerings. For an all day event at $250, that probably might average out to about a $1 per person involved in the event. That's one way to justify it to the organizers. You, personally, must also consider the time you will spend reviewing/deleting the good and 'useless' captures, doing minor adjustments before uploading, and then fully editing when an order is placed. Note: it really takes too long to fully edit each image before uploading to website to offer prints etc. for sale. I use to! Also, you need to be very self critical when reviewing and not upload hundreds of mediocre images. I'm getting better at that, but not there yet. One reason is that it gives the viewers/parents too many to choose from, and not buying any!! That brings up another point - you need to advertise/market to the parents, not the kids!!! The parents will more likely be spending money on line and not their children. The kids want free copies for MySpace paages! If you get an all day tournament, bring extra batteries and plenty of media cards. Depending on the activities going on, if it is a bunch of games you should plan on filling up 10-15 gb of cards. I have a portable HD that I will offload to if necessary. Makes me bit nervous moving these originals, so I keep buying more cards. But, in an 'emergency' the HD could be a lifesaver. Steve

Joseph Leuzinger , Jul 06, 2008; 10:42 a.m.

I would say it more depends on what the photographers in your area are doing, and the size of the event. Sales of events greatly vary in the traditions and interests of the area. If from their experiences in years past, parents are expecting a photographer at the event and plan on buying pictures, than a commission is certainly in order. In Madison WI, we as well as a couple of competitors do pay a commission back to the league for being allowed to photograph the event for a large weekend tournament. If it were just one team or player, then we would require a payment and no commission.

We also do all sales of pictures on site. We send an extra person or two to upload pics to a viewing station and take sales. We've found that it is most important to get the parents and players viewing the pics the day of, as interest fades over time and internet sales have actually cost us money in the time it takes to upload and web hosting fees.

John Puckett , Jul 30, 2008; 11:52 a.m.

I have to agree with Joseph. In todays market there is alot of competition and those willing to do anything for the work. A commission back to the league is standard in competitive markets. Some are willing to give back as much as 20 percent and rights...

however, these photographers can be amature, moms with a new toy etc...and dont give good images, mess up the ordering, dont deliver..and if the league knows this normally they stay clear so not to upset the parents, make the league look bad. Unfortunily it has made people shy away from ordering with promise of later delivery if placing orders on location, especially if they cant see the image on location.

As Joseph states, showing proofs and print-on-site is the best way to score more money. For this though you will need:

a fairly skilled computer person that can multi-task:

1) multiple flash cards coming in and move to computer,. 2) organize the photos. 3) print paper proofs of photos. 4) print 8x10's or packaged photos....all on the fly and quickly under pressure...

A sales person to up-sale the images and help with orders to pass of to the tech.A color printer that can print paper proofs fairly quickly and the tech to know how to run that and print pictures on..my experience is larger proofs better sales. If you have a laptop to view images that is ok..however, I found people hog the screen and in an event where time is money you loose people who are impatient..

A ink jet or dye-sub printer that can quickly print DECENT 8x10's..

Access to power, preferably in a place close so you can run extension cords to be visible to parents and players.

Tables for your laptop, and printers and one for the sales table.

Prices sheets for prints and things they can buy. And make sure to tell teh coordinator to either announce over PA if they are using one or have a friend go around with flyers directing people to your table...

Trying to manage this can be abit tough for someone who has not done it before and I have had some real crazy days in the beginning that flat out went into the toilet. Best to start with a very small group or one that no one knows or cant pass on the info..or in another state!

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If you dont want to fuss with this you can print flyers with some catchy marketing and drive them to your website to view proofs and order online...maybe even say 1 week only discount...and just use your normal price the add 20% to orders after that date after that.

Just make sure you have disabled right click and download image onyour website...many kids today know how to do this and many want to upload their images to myspace..and rip off your image...a waste of your time and loss of sale. If you dont know how to do the disable, then put a big ole copyright over the image and let them get some website traffic and free advertising.

Also, perhaps even having an email alert form on your site where they can fill in a family member, boyfriend or whom ever email address and send a email to them notifying of images they can purchase..

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If you want to simply sale the CD to the league with rights...just charge extra and give the extra back to the league..

Hope this helps JP

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