Sports Photograph Advice (Also some C&C)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Xander562, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. Xander562 macrumors 68000


    Apr 2, 2006
    Hello Everyone,

    I'm a college student and I shoot sports for the University of San Francisco. It started as assignments from the school newspaper. However I now work with the athletic department, and I cover almost every event for them. I also maintain an archive on flickr of all the photos I've taken for them. They use these photos on the school athletic website regularly.

    I want to get paid for all the work I'm doing for them, but I don't know the best way to do it. Professional photographers: How much should I ask for and how should I ask for it? I was thinking $100/game. Is my work good enough to get paid for?

    Here are the photos.
  2. cosmokanga2 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    Canada, where we live in igloos.
    (Being blunt) Your basketball images look great in regards to technical aspects, although I think some of the compositions could be a bit wider or tighter. From the EXIF it looks like you're using a 50mm 1.4 which is not allowing you to zoom to the action resulting in limbs being cut off which renders an image unusable right away. Also, while the DOF is nice, I think it's too tight. Stopping down to 2.8 would bring everything a little more into focus and cover up times that focus is not tack on. I know that these games are very quick and budgets are tight, but a 2.8 zoom, 24-70mm, would be a much better lens to use.

    In regards to what to charge, thats hard to say, but whatever you do, make sure you have written and signed terms of usage for the photos. You don't want them to start using them for other things now that it costs them.

    Otherwise, great images and keep up the great work. Like all things, it takes time.
  3. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    Good shots, though I agree cosmokanga2 in regards to stepping down to 2.8 to try and get a bit more depth of field. I realise that the gyms may be light challenged though, so it's a balance.

    I'd like to see the use of strobes, but that's expensive and requires set up which I'm guessing is a little bit too far. Perhaps investing in a 135 f/2L may work wonders for you?

    In regards to charging, tricky. You've established a working pattern with them, namely a free one. Monetising it may simply make them look for somebody else who will work for free, or it may simply be what they're expecting. My advice would be go talk to whoever it is that asks you to do this, and sound them out. If they are willing to pay, work out what they'd go up to. $100 per game may be a little too much (for a frame of reference, one of my colleagues is paid roughly that as a daily rate for a staffing post on a news agency), as that will tot up very quickly. How many games a week do you do?
  4. Xander562 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Apr 2, 2006

    It ranges from 1 to 5.
  5. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    Okay, gives a better idea. I think anybody may have an issue paying $500 for a week of games (I mean, how many students earn $500 doing a part time job in a week?), so do think you may want to revise that figure. Of course, if you CAN charge that, do it!
  6. Xander562 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Apr 2, 2006
    This is true.

    I meant for this discussion to be more about the business/interactions of establishing pay, and how to negotiate a price. From start to finish. I'm a novice at how to propose and settle these types of issues so is there any advice on this?
  7. Flash SWT macrumors 6502

    Flash SWT

    Mar 14, 2009
    Houston, TX
    [I'm purposefully ignoring the C&C aspect right now because I feel the business issue is much more pressing.]

    Honestly, you screwed yourself from the start. By establishing that you are willing to work for free you give them little reason to start paying you now. Besides, there are probably plenty of other students willing to do it for free right? :rolleyes:

    Should you get paid? Yes! If the photos are good enough to use on the website or media guides then they are good enough to be paid for. $100 a game is not unreasonable at all, however I'm sure they wouldn't have you cover as many games at that rate. It all depends on the licensed usage. Most daily newspapers still pay $75+ to cover a game and you're only granting editorial rights, much less than the college would need.

    The other issue you are going to run into is copyright. Now, if you don't have anything in writing stating otherwise, and it isn't considered part of your classwork or for a grade, then you still own the copyright to every one of those photos. This means at any point you can tell them they are no longer allowed to use them without a license. Of course this could cause other complications, but it is your right. Be prepared that they will think and claim that they own the photos and can do whatever they want with them. Don't believe them.

    Also be prepared that you may lose the ability to shoot for them. If you ask to be paid and they decline, please be prepared to walk away. In my opinion this may not be a bad thing. You can always get more (hopefully paid) assignments from the student paper to shoot some games. Once you are proficient enough you could start freelancing for local papers covering the same games or high school games in the area.

    But if you ask to be paid, they decline and you keep shooting for free anyways, you have lost the ability to negotiate with them ever again. They know they have you whipped.

    Run, do not walk, over to SportsShooter. Read, learn and when you're ready apply to join.
    Specifically go read this thread right now:
    Ignore the few folks in a pissing contest and focus on the business advice in the thread.

    This may be harsh, it is blunt, but hopefully it will be constructive: Right now you are part of the problem destroying the sports photography industry. I know it is fun to shoot sports, but remember you can't pay the bills, support your future family or repay your college loans with a "byline" or "photo credit."

    Please let me know if you have any questions (in this thread or through private message) and I'll be happy to help.

    Here are some other websites worth reading and bookmarking:
  8. Fultonpics macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2010
    Xander, Think about it: you are paying a lot of tuition and fees to USF. They are making money off the tickets they sell to basketball, etc. You are giving your work away for FREE to them...a service they would normally pay a photographer for to use in their media guides, publication and websites. so, you are right they should pay you or you should stop shooting for them asap.

    I think a certain private div1 close to you pays around $250 per game..but that is for the primary sports.

    Good luck
  9. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    Do they use the photos from *every* game? Beware--if you ask for money and they only need photos on an annual basis, they may just ask you to shoot fewer games.

    That's not to say you should work for free. The best option may be to charge a per-photo fee, i.e. they have access to your catalog of photos but if they use one they have to pay you $x. I would expect $x to be somewhere around $200-1000. Difficult to price without having first-hand knowledge of the market (competition? how much is your work worth to them?).

    I don't see why you're shooting every game. Seems like a waste of time to me… shoot another sport, other events.

    As for critiquing your photos: they're good. The next step is going to a zoom /2.8 lens and stadia strobes.

    I also suggest that with a grain of salt. See this blog for why.

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