Opportunities in Volume Photograph 1C – Sports Photography

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Sports Photography

Although Sports Photography technically includes Action Photos, we don’t typically include them in the discussion due to a low return on Money for Time (a low ROI).  Exceptions aside, the average, normal photographer is better served by taking Team & Individual (T&I) photos for a sports league than trying to hock action photos at games or an event.  In addition, League Sports typically outperform Scholastic Sports (those taken for school teams).  Now, with the advent of engagement through an e-Commerce platform, like GotPhoto, PhotoDay, etc.) you can reach scholastic parents in a way unavailable 5 years ago.  This has made SOME scholastic sports programs into profitable events that can be worth the time invested by the photographer’s crew.

One caveat with the note about League vs Scholastic sports photos and their performance is that this is historically when photographers were using the old-fashioned pocket flyers (given to coaches to give to students to take home to parents…right).  When photographers move the process to online proofing and send information directly to the parents by email then the numbers dramatically increase – making it worth the effort and time spent.

League sports photography can range from a team of 10 players to a league of over 3,000 players and everything in between.  As a general rule of thumb, over a 10-year study period, we tended to take home (aka Profit) about $9-10 per player that we photographed.  So, if it was a league of 200 players, we’d expect to profit from $1,800 to $2,000.   In our studios, we didn’t take any events smaller than that, as it wasn’t worth blocking out the time away from something we could schedule that was much larger.  Our leagues were typically 500 to 1,500 on average.  Your area will vary, but with only rare very-out-there exceptions, there are thousands of players in your area. 

League photo shoots are typically on a Game Day and taken about 90 minutes before the players’ game.  These would normally be on Saturday and possibly Sunday, but some leagues play during the weeknights.  So, there is some flexibility.  One other alternative method is for a dedicated Picture Day, but you won’t have as many players present for this as you would on a Game Day.  Review the Sports Photo Overview mini session for more information regarding the types of Picture Day and how they are different.  Just remember that sports league photography is typically in-and-out with a makeup day (yes, you should offer a makeup day if there are more than about 150 players).  Notice, this is a Makeup Day – NOT a Retake Day.

The biggest difference between League and Scholastic photo packages used to be that there were no Memory Mates in Scholastic Sports.  The prevailing thought was that the Memory Mate was a Little League item and the scholastic players had grown out of them.  Photographers provided an 8×10 individual photo and a team photo (either 8×10 or the older 5×7 format.) 

However, with the advent of new templates that are much edgier and more dynamic, they are becoming much more desired in the scholastic world as well.  Many graphic designers and design companies, like 3rdCreative.com, PSM Graphix, MyPhotoBorders, AsheDesign.com, and others have complete sets to provide “WOW” backgrounds for any size or product a photographer wants to sell.