Shooting High School Sports for fun & profit (OK, profit)

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by barry13, Dec 2, 2017.

  1. Yes, currently

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Yes, but only in the past

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. No, never

    5 vote(s)
    100.0%
  1. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi, I have been considering shooting HS Sports for Maxpreps or similar in an attempt to make some supplemental money off my photography...

    FYI, if you shoot for Maxpreps (I'm already approved and have one daytime game published), and parents buy the pictures, you get 100% of the image sales ($8-30 per image depending on resolution).
    If the pictures are published in media (they are owned by CBS), you get ~50% of the royalty.

    I'd like to make at least $20/hour (shooting+PP time) in the short term, and quite a bit more in the long term.

    Discuss:
    1. Potential income (per game day/night). Assume school frequently gets into regional finals for multiple sports but does not often progress past round 1.

    2. Potential income by sport (football vs LaX vs baseball vs ...)
    I realize HS FB season is over now; LaX is starting up but I've had trouble in the past getting the ball sharp at night.

    3. Maxpreps benefits & polices. e.g.
    a. flash required at night or indoors
    b. very strong emphasis on sharp photos, must include faces. Motion blur strongly discouraged.
    Very tight crops required. Basically they strongly prefer portraits in the field over action shots.
    c. annoying resolution and crop requirements (all photos must be exactly 3000x2216 (or 2216x3000))
    d. press passes, etc.

    4. fast workflow (the exact resolution requirement is painful)

    5. other related income opportunities?
    Personally, I don't shoot portraits, so I have no interest in picking up clients while at the games (though I probably would refer people to someone else if they did ask). But discussion is welcome.

    The local paper does sometimes print submitted photos, but only sometimes do they give credit (I'm not sure if that's the submitter's choice), and I doubt they pay.


    For the record, no one else is already shooting the home games of the HS near me for Maxpreps.
    A local newspaper photographer/sports editor does shoot some of this HS' games for the paper, but rarely posts them to Maxpreps. However, he does post many pics from another HS to Maxpreps. Anyways, I stay out of his way when I do see him as I don't want to interfere with his primary sources of income (the paper and/or Maxpreps), and I'm planning to ask him if he's shooting these games for Maxpreps.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
  2. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    FWIW, a few of my most recent HS shots are at Youth Sports (and the post after that).
     
  3. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    @barry13@barry13 I am hoping to find the time to write some stuff tonight, but I have a few quick questions for you.

    1. does maxpreps help in any way to get access to the high school sports or is it all up to you to get access? aka do they provide you a press pass?
    2. what is their image policy: can you submit the same image to them and somewhere else like the local paper or to Getty or Alamy ?
    3. what is their image policy: do you have to send them all the photos from a game or can you send some and do what you want with the others?
    Ronnie
     
  4. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Hi Ronnie,
    • does maxpreps help in any way to get access to the high school sports or is it all up to you to get access? aka do they provide you a press pass?
    This is their current policy:
    My understanding is it's best to talk to the Athletic Director anyways to get field access; obviously the pass should help but the school near me doesn't seem to have many photographers at their games.
    I did walk into one of their football practice games about 2 years ago; no one said anything to me. I did stay completely off the field though.

    Note they will give business cards to anyone shooting for them; I suspect they're just generic (no photographer name) with a link to Maxpreps.com, but that's really all you'd need to get parents to look at the pics online.

    The school near me only seems to restrict access (charge admission) to their football and maybe LaX games; at the softball and baseball games I attended, there were not very many attendees and no charge, even though they were finals. Not sure about basketball.
    I've heard many AD's will allow access to the baseball/softball dugouts, although the local newspaper guy didn't seem to use them. He was largely shooting through the fence... I guess that worked out OK for his Nikon (70-300 maybe), but it didn't work very well for my 40-150Pro; the fence was pretty obvious in most shots (maybe I should have retracted the hood?). The shot of the pitch I posted above was through the fence and the loss of contrast on the black uniform is pretty obvious imo.
    • what is their image policy: can you submit the same image to them and somewhere else like the local paper or to Getty or Alamy ?
    They say you can re-post the images for personal use (blog or social media I presume) but I am pretty sure you cannot re-use them commercially.
    I believe you do still own your copyrights, but their Terms page in the photographers' portal is currently 404.
    • what is their image policy: do you have to send them all the photos from a game or can you send some and do what you want with the others?
    To post a 'gallery' for a game, there is a minimum # of images (20 or 25 iirc, which must be of acceptable quality) that must be submitted for it to be accepted; however afaik they don't care what you do with images you don't submit.


    BTW, one of their FAQ's said you need to have a pro body with a 70-200/2.8, but they haven't complained about my Olympus gear.
    They have said I need to shoot tighter (portraits) and said I should be using a longer lens (70-200 again), but cropping has been working fine for me (to their 3000x2216 format (vs only resizing)).
    And iirc, 40-150+MC14 is pretty close to 70-200+TC on APS-C (and I don't think they recommend TC's on 70-200's.)
    My main 'problem' is that I was usually shooting wide enough to leave room for the ball and player action/movement.

    I know shooting football at night is going to be much harder and the MC-14 will probably not be useful; I briefly thought about the 90-250/2.8 until I realized it'd be over 8 lbs with the E-M1. I guess the Pana 200/2.8 would be useful if one wanted to carry 2 bodies (but then we're getting close to 8lbs again).

    I was hoping I could should some football or LaX before it got dark, but the varsity games start at 7pm and the sun sets before 7:30pm here, in September.
    Guess there's always JV.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
  5. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 All-Pro

    P0021486.

    Barry, I have shot through a chain-link fence without artifacts by pressing my Oly 40-150mm f/4-5.6 against the wires and centering the glass in the opening (no hood). However, one time a wild pitch hit the fence very close to me with a tremendous impact. I was sure my lens had shattered, but there was no damage. Because of this experience, I'm telling you about my technique but not exactly recommending it!

    Brian
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
  6. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Thanks. I was putting my fingers around the hood to try to avoid scratching it on the fence; I could do the same without the hood. Probably wind up with broken fingers at some point...

    I guess a filter would be safer (scratch the filter housing instead of the lens/housing).
     
  7. MPrince

    MPrince Mu-43 Rookie

    14
    Dec 2, 2017
    West Virginia
    Matt Prince
    I haven't shot high school sports, but I have shot AA minor league baseball (for fun, not profit).
    Harrisburg (PA) Senators, AA affiliate of the Washington Senators:

    35157398352_5d7e24c3ab_b.

    When I retire next year I plan on shooting some sports at Shepherd University (football and baseball mostly).
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    One more clarification on this...
    Maxpreps say they are the 'official photographer' for CIF finals games (California Interscholastic Federation) (at least for Football), and that:
    one must have a 'current section media credential for access'
    and you can only post photos from these games for sale on MaxPreps

    I don't know how that goes in other states; Maxpreps are based in the Sacramento area and are much bigger in CA than other states, so ymmv.

    Maxpreps also 'assigns' photographers to many playoff games and restricts non-assigned photographers from posting 'galleries' to Maxpreps from those games. But if you could get in with some other credentials, you could shoot them for some other use.
     
  9. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 All-Pro

    Barry, Maxpreps sounds very restrictive and a real pain to deal with. Have you considered selling pictures directly to the players and their parents? If you need permission from the school, offer to provide free pictures for their school newspaper or yearbook. I got this idea from a professional photographer I met at Oceanside pier. He takes telephoto shots of surfers and sells them via his website. He says the regular surfers know about him and he sells lots of pictures.

    Brian
     
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  10. SVQuant

    SVQuant Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 20, 2015
    SF Bay Area, California, USA
    Sameer
    @barry13@barry13
    As a high school dad (not sport parent yet, my Lax player will only get there next year), I can see the market for something like this, though I am not sure how big it is and how much Maxpreps helps. At our local HS, I have seen photogs who also sell instant prints using a Canon Selphy. Parents seem to buy them a good clip, but I am too cheap to do it myself :)

    I would also talk to the Sports Boosters (the local school's parent org supporting the sports teams) to see if they will agree to be a channel for your marketing in return for you giving them a cut.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
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  11. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    I'd suggest you give this a try - if for nothing else than the experiences. For most of my life, any job I've taken is not usually what it is was purported to be - there is no equivalent for experiences.

    For the annoying resolution and crop - 3000 x 2216 is almost 4/3 sized. And outputting sizes is what software is for.

    I don't know what you use for software, in Lightroom I'd just set a crop factor of 3 x 2.216, crop the first photo to get most of the frame and then sync that with all photos. When going through the images it will be a simple matter to crop with the same crop ratio. Then when you export you just export to that size.
     
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  12. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    If it's anything like motorcycle trackdays, there's a lot of interest at the beginning of the season but then it wanes because the people that want shots already got them and subsequent shots look more or less the same. I'd imagine high school sports would be similar with sales weighted towards the beginning of the season unless you can capture pivotal moments later in the season.
     
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  13. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    I usually use RawTherapee; I don't believe it supports a custom pre-defined crop ratio, so I have to adjust the crop #'s by hand, as well as the resize #'s if resizing.
    An alternative would be to do the cropping and sizing in Gimp, as it does support custom crop ratios (still have to enter them every time though iirc).
    Thanks!
     
  14. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    Barry, for this kind of thing you really want something like Lightroom. It makes that process so much quicker and easier. And you should have a way to catalog your photos, there are means to make more over a longer period of time if you can quickly find the image(s) you need.
     
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  15. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    I do have a DAM (digiKam), and I usually use XnViewMP for the first pass/culling as it's much faster than most full DAMs.

    I'll take another look at Lightroom.

    Thanks
     
  16. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle Mu-43 Top Veteran

    793
    Nov 17, 2016
    like, The Valley
    Well, source code is available for both of those. ;)

    One of the nice things about a platform where you compile the software you use yourself is that you don't have to go far out of your way to change stuff like that... but it does seem weird that this isn't made easier. Even in darktable, you can't store a persistent custom ratio from the interface (as a preset, for instance). Fortunately, all you have to do is add a line to the config file, though.
     
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  17. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    I need to dig into the RT config and see what's adjustable.

    I also should try out DarkTable now that there's a build for Windows.

    My days of modifying C source code are probably behind me. Still do a lot of Perl & PHP though.

    Thanks