Cameron Indoor Arena during a pre-season practice in 2015 by Sports Photographer Vincent Rush
“Hows your photography business going?”, I am often asked. I like to say, “I’m not really in the photography business. I’m in the “memories” business!”
Obviously that always brings the perplexed look and the invitation to elaborate.
I was recently discussing with a group of business colleagues the subject of pricing and amount of work that, in their opinion WAS NOT out there and in my opinion WAS available.
I went on to explain it this way; When a Mom or a Dad wants something special of their athlete playing their sport of choice, they have a few options.
1) Use their own camera with their “Kit Lens” or their “Point and Shoot”.
2) Hope that the minimum wage people at Life Touch Studios, that only shoot one angle, all the time and try to get as many “snap shots” as they can for the school year book, get one of their kid.
3) Hope the local newspaper has a decent photographer that day that covers the game
or the final alternative; Hire a professional sports photographer that understands the sport, angles, composition and works for the right shot.
I had one of my non photography business associates ask how I could charge so much to go shoot one kid playing a single game.
I asked him if he had any shots of of his kid playing baseball on his I Phone. He did and gladly showed them to me. I then pulled out my phone, went to my website http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com and showed him THIS gem.
I said..”THAT’s why a parent pays me to come shoot his kid in an event. I then showed him shot after shot of the same type of action shots that I had captured for clients.
I said to my friend, “The parent is not paying me to take pictures of his kid. He is paying me to create memories and give him something for his wall that no one else has of their kid”.
The next time someone calls you and inquires about your pricing, ask them a question before you throw out a price. Ask this simple question, that causes them to think.
“Pricing? well that depends. Are you wanting pictures or are you wanting memories? If you just want snap shots, I’m probably not your person. If you want something special that will still awe you 20 years from now, I might be your person”
THAT… is the difference!
By Ohio Sports Photographer, Vincent Rush
“Protect this House” by Cincinnati, Ohio Sports Photographer Vincent Rush of Cincinnati Sports Photography
By Vincent Rush, Ohio Sports Photographer
Ok, not really!
I was just echoing the most overused quote on Facebook, regarding photographers.
It’s school season and more specifically “Senior Portrait” season and among my very close and personal 1400+ Facebook friends, I am constantly seeing photos posted, either great, good, average or just plain poor, with someone’s name and the word “Photography” attached to it.
Then of course the subject or parent goes on to describe what an “Amazing Photographer” said individual is.
As a photographer myself, I am always amazed at some of the pictures that aspiring “photogs” allow to be posted in an effort to establish their brand and style.
In today’s world of photography, with camera technology and lighting techniques along with a basic understanding of Photoshop or other editing software, anyone can take acceptable quality portraits and produce a picture that any Mother would love.
I have never claimed to be anything special, other than an exceptional sports action photographer. I know my niche and what I’m good at.
Every photographer should take inventory and know what their true talent is…as well as what it’s not!
And even at that, I know the real secret to being a “Great Photographer” is in knowing what to delete and what to share with the world.
When I began building my brand, which is more important than building a business because without the brand, the business can’t survive, I was very protective about what I shared with the public.
That discretion allowed me to build my value and identity as a sports photographer.
Every “Photographer” I see on Facebook, has a few great shots that I myself wished that I had shot. However, I often see those pictures sandwiched in between mediocre snap shots that anyone with a “Point and Shoot” could have captured.
I am also seeing, in my opinion, waaaaay too many snap shots posted with a watermark identifying the picture as property of, “XYZ Photography”.
Is everyone with a camera today a professional?
I can however, also appreciate anyone trying to build a little business and produce additional income in today’s economic climates.
I admit, I had no traction in 2006, when I was given a Nikon D2x, as a gift and began shooting for the first time since 1990.
There was also no Facebook or social media back then, so I cannot say that I would have not taken the same route.
But even back in the day, I was very careful about what kind of pictures I exposed on my website and handed out at ball games.
Two good examples of what not to do come to mind;
I have a photographer friend that shoots a lot of low budget weddings and senior portraits.
Now my friend has really improved on their skill and mastery of lighting over the past couple of years and is really starting to do some outstanding work.
However, my friend also keeps damaging their “Brand” by publicizing some really, how do I phrase this…gnarly pics. By gnarly I am implying…non attractive photos of things like, overweight brides in unflattering dresses with even more unflattering tattoos, unless you’re a big fan of “Honey Boo Boo Child”
They are wedding pictures and Senior photos that may be only attractive to the Mothers of the photographed…if you know what I mean.
It’s OK to shoot those, and if your client is happy, that is all that really matters. However, photographer should use a fair amount of discretion on what to “Share with the World”!
There is a reason Victoria’s Secret does not put the women who actually buy their outfits in their catalogs, much in the same way Canali or Armani would not put ME in theirs!
Another example is a local sports photography business, consisting of two guys in my community.
They will cover a sporting event for football or baseball and while they capture some great images, they then dump 400 pictures from the game on their Smug Mug site, forcing a parent to have to sift through to find a photo worth paying $15-20.00 for.
I have had good success carving out a niche to where I rarely do general game coverage anymore.
Most of my business is now “client shoots”, where a parent hires me to come and cover their kid or their team for an entire game.
The price for these events I do range anywhere from $300-$400.00.
I then present the client with a CD of edited…I REPEAT…..EDITED photos and keep the total to between 60-80 shots.
I have a website at http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com that has numerous examples of sports photography and illustrates what I am talking about.
I also get asked every year to do a handful of senior portraits for $500, of which I provide 4 poses, on location, and present a CD to the parents. I typically do about 5 a year.
I asked one of my friends recently, what they charge for the same thing and twice as much work, when it came to senior portraits.
While I never got a clear answer, I assume it was around $250-$300, forcing them to shoot 8.3 jobs compared to my 5.
This friend commented that is was hard to get that kind of money in a small town. While I noted that I lived in a smaller town, I pointed out that it’s not the size of the town, but rather it’s the perceived value of the service rendered. That value has been diminished, not because they are not talented, but because they are not particular about what they post as their calling cards.
So determine, what you are worth and what to you want your value to be perceived as? They are in fact two different things.
And two Cincinnati photographers that I really like in portrait photography are Moon Beam Studios @
Happy Shooting! Vincent Rush, Cincinnati sports Photography
Posted by Monroe Ohio photographer Vincent Rush, Cincinnati Sports Photography and Dayton Sports Photography of Monroe Ohio. Vince Rush can be contacted by phone at (877) 858-6295 or by email at email@example.com or visit http://CincinnatiSportsPhotography.com Check out my about.me profile!
Regardless of what business you’re in, first impressions are everything. A great first impression and a professional look can help a youth sports photography business book more business, and increase its sales on every job.
Presentation when booking the shoot
You will need to adapt your dress and presentation for different situations.
If you’re approaching a coach before a practice, you’ll want to dress more casually (khaki pants or shorts and polo shirts) than you would if you were meeting with league or school officials.
It’s also a necessity that you have professional looking business cards on hand to leave with the person/people that you’re meeting.
Business cards should look professional, not printed at home on card stock, and have a simple layout with all your relevant information clearly visible (address, phone number, email address).
Also, try putting your picture, preferably a nice business portrait, on your business cards. It’s much harder for someone to throw away a business card with a picture on it and it also reminds that person of you.
One mistake that youth sports photographers make when trying to book new business is that they put down their competition. Never be negative about a competitor. This makes you look unprofessional and can cost you the shoot in the end.
Don’t assume that the coach/organization is unhappy with their current photographer. You want to expand upon what your competition is doing and present yourself as a better solution to their needs.
Some other important things to consider:
* Continuity is important. Everything should be branded with your company name and logo.
* No tobacco use in or around school property or the meeting area. Also, no visible tattoos or unacceptable piercings should be showing.
* Smile! Be a cheerleader for your business.
* Have a professional way to show samples.
* Presenting your samples electronically, on an iPad or Laptop, perhaps even with projector, will help you save money on physical samples.
* However, you will want to have physical samples of any specialty products that you offer.
* When making your presentation to a group of people be sure to have copies of your presentation to pass out. For a one on one meeting, having a single page flyer that outlines your services will suffice.
* Know your products and offers thoroughly. Have pricing available that will fit people and areas from all walks of life.
* Have a calendar and scheduling agreements with you, in case they want to book with you on the spot.
* Everything is about expectations.
* Make sure that your expectations regarding a shoot line up with theirs
* Do what you say you’re going to do when you’re going to do it.
Your professional image says a lot about you and your business and it can mean the difference between booking a shoot or watching your competition collect the sales.