opinion on charging for action sports shots
Many of you have provided excellent perspective and advice regarding various situations for other posters. I now look for similar advice. I have been a hobbyist, but would love to capture some revenue to pay for some equipment, or at least a beer ;->
( sorry for the long post )
For many years I have been the parent shooting at all the kids sporting events. When I coach I enjoy taking and proiding the team picture with text overlay etc as well as some individual shots. Until about a year ago, these were always with the G-series Canon cameras with and without a tele extender. The majority of shots was as a parent on the sideline watching the soccer game and usually at the end of the season have a handful of 4x6s to each of the players. This has all been free and I did it because I enjoyed the challenge of getting the action and expression as well as learning postprocessing etc all from the G6 (or similar) type equipment.
Since last December, I have spent about US$5k+ moving up to the EOS 7D, 24-70 f2.8L, Tamron 18-270 Vii, 2x extender (not used much), and just recently the 70-200 IS f2.8L MkII.
It has been a steep learning curve especially with my first experiences coming trying to shoot indoor girls basketball in poorly light Jr. HS and Sr. HS gyms. I continued to shoot and shoot and printed about 250 4x6s at the end of the season - mostly building my experience and the parents were estatic. I think the pics were quite good and I definitly put my time in weekly (avg 2hrs/game) on the computer color balancing, straightening, adjusting lighting and cropping. May parents offered to pay me at least the printing costs I incurred of the photos even though they didn't know in any of these situations that I had printed them for their kids. I chose to decline and enjoyed giften them to the girls. I had shared each week low-res shots via email.
SO HEARE IS MY QUESTION... I now use SmugMug Pro to post all the shots. I share the link to the galleries in low-res water market and they still enjoy viewing them... I feel my skill no long requires the "huge condensed hours" to overcome the learning curve (despite need for continued growth). Nor do I want to continue incurring the printing costs since my volume is highter and more subjective which are preferred. HOW and should I transition to charging for the shots as the quality of the results have been quite decent (mostly equipment restricted by the Tamron). Minimally I want to entice them to print for themselves (will save me about $200 a season acroos 3 kids), but should I make some profit to put to a kitty for my equipment? Just the other day, one mother asked me (recognizing my copyright) how she can download the low-res pic for her own digital album. (this was the first time I had protected the low-res as it was the first game of the season). My oldest daughter made Varsity this year and is with a lot of other new players, and still plays Club with many of the same players as the last 7 years.
If I leave it at the standard SmugMug pricing it is inexpensive it obviously doesn't establish any value. I guess bottom line, I either want to significatly reduce my weekly time processing the photos (typically 100 per game) OR make some sort of profit to justify it to some small extent without keeping the pricing in a very comfortable zone for the partents to purchase. Obviously comfort is subjective, but we live in aflluent suburb of Chicago and kids are definitly indulged. So it would be a matter of Parent recognizing value / desire to own the photograph and purchase it. Again, I am hobbyiest (with sizeable investment now). WHAT would you do in my situation? Where would you set the pricing for the various picture sizes. Mind you that many of these parents are accustome to shelling out $14-$20 per season buying the standard school-type package for their athelete, but all say they love the action shots.
Here is a link to a recent game. (using Tamron). This weekend I try the 70-200 MK2 f2.8 with the 2x extender which I am hoping will provide noticable quality improvment (zoom, contrast, sharpness) over the Tamron (despite being quite good for the money).
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