You may love sports and think that sports photography is a natural progression as your skills mature, but this form of photography, also known as volume photography, is not for the faint of heart. Unlike a wedding where you compose glamorous, romantic shots your clients will cherish, or a cake smash or family portrait where you get creative with your backgrounds, compositions, and poses, volume photography does not allow the same freedoms. It has its own respective rewards and challenges. Sports Photography, specifically Picture Days, require you to take a large number of photos in a very tight time frame, usually three to five minutes per child. At first glance this may seem like plenty of time to snap the perfect pose, but in the heat of the moment you might find yourself racing to stay on track. When it comes to Sports Photography and Picture Days, pre-planning, organization, logistics, and workflow all play a starring role.
Picture Day Essentials
Once you feel confident you are up to the challenge, the first thing you’ll want to do is book a team, club, or league, and get a comprehensive understanding of your expected workload.
- How many teams are participating?
- How many players belong to each team?
- Is there a single day where you can photograph every team?
- What is the timetable?
Once you know the number of athletes you’re expected to photograph, you can move to figuring out the logistics:
- How many order forms do you need?
- Are your photos bundles/ packages dynamic, affordable, and enticing?
- How, where, and when can orders be placed?
- Can parents see their pictures before purchasing? And if so, where and how can they easily view their child’s photos?
- How many assistants will you need for the day-of? Remember, you’ll need to be manually recording image numbers, grouped by team, as you photograph each child. Bring an assistant to take envelopes and record image numbers, another to answer questions, and another to organize waiting teams to keep the pace going.
- Once you receive orders, how will they be fulfilled? Not just sorting the digital files but printing, sorting, packaging, and mailing/delivering completed orders.
Get organized early to minimize your risk of “hiccups” the day-of.
- Make a list and check it twice! Know what equipment you will need to bring, then add backup batteries, extra memory cards, pens, order forms, and anything else you might need to help Picture Day run smoothly.
- Depending on the number of photographers and assistants you’ll have at Picture Day, schedule teams every fifteen to twenty minutes apart so that all teams don’t show up at once. This will reduce wait times and ensure you control the pace.
- Offer pre-orders. Most parents will want to pay the day-of but allowing online pre-orders boosts your chance of sales. Parents who say they will “order online later” probably won’t, so don’t rely on post-event sales.
- Know your pose before you show up. You won’t have time to play around with different poses, so choose one or two guaranteed poses that will look good. Practice posing ahead of time and don’t be afraid to reposition hands and feet so mom and dad get that perfect photo!
- Know your location. Scope out the field or venue ahead of time to find the idea spot to set up, and be prepared for unexpected weather such as wind, rain, or direct sun. Give yourself enough space that everyone isn’t on top of one another (or crowding you while you work) and remember to leave enough room for team photos.
Increase Sales With Pre-Paid Envelopes
Pre-paid envelopes help streamline your work-load. Day-of sales is your best chance at selling! Arrange a display table where parents can see and touch sample items such as plaques, mugs, memory mates, keychains, magnets, and more. (Athletes will also get excited this way.)
Parents love getting the best bang for their buck, so offer bundles/packages at various price points. Highlight one package as “Best Value”, offer a discount or free shipping for ordering day-of, and don’t forget to include a team print in your higher packages.
Learn more about our Pre-Paid Envelopes here.
Build An Online Presence
For Sports Photography, one of your best marketing tools is your website because it serves two purposes.
First, it’s your digital portfolio. When you pitch your skills to a new club or league, your website reinforces your talent and capabilities by showcasing not only your best action photos, but highlights work you’ve done in previous years with other leagues. Include short reviews from League Commissioners, Presidents, or Event Coordinators to add credibility to your pitch so you don’t strike out.
Second, it facilitates pre and post event sales. Your landing page can include guided instructions for filling out pre-paid envelopes or placing orders following the event. This way parents can easily identify what form of payment to include and how to submit their orders. (Even if the athlete just hands in their envelope before they pose for their photo.) For sports photographers who choose to make the images available online, you can use your website to create individual galleries for each athlete, assigning them a unique password to share with parents. Present your bundles/packages clearly, as well as any specialty gift items parents may add on to their orders.
To Download or Not To Download
As a professional photographer, you never want to undervalue your work or lose out on potentially higher portrait sales because a parent doesn’t understand the value of your Picture Day services. Nowadays, it seems like anyone with a camera thinks of themself as a photographer, but it’s important to remind yourself that you can’t make everyone happy. Offering digital downloads is a double-edged sword you should handle with care. On one hand, parents are fond of digital copies they can spread across social media, text, or email to friends and family, and they are likely to grab at the opportunity. On the other hand, once an image is downloaded you lose control over where and how that image is displayed. Digital copies that are cropped and edited for Instagram, for example, don’t always showcase your skill in the best light. Digital downloads can also be discouraging for physical prints that often end up in drawers or misplaced. (You’d be surprised how often it happens!) Should you decide to add digital downloads to your catalog, retain some control by limiting the number of downloads and shares per file, offering it an add-on only option to a print package, or selling it as a low-res file that can’t be printed elsewhere.
Streamline your sports photography with Lenzart Photographic Lab and save hours of work.
Learn more about Sports Photography Services here.
At Lenzart Photographic Lab, we strive to provide you with high-quality print products that showcase your photography in the best light. When you need a print lab that puts you first, choose Lenzart!