This Past week several people have asked me at various events, what is your favorite sport, or thing to photograph? That is a trick question for me. I really enjoy what I do and look forward to each event or session. I do have to admit there are some sports that at times get long and tiring to photograph. I have been doing this so long there are times that I get into ruts or routines. I feel though that a routine is good at times. There are certain shots I know have the best chance of selling so I make sure to get that shot at each game of each participant.
Action photos are often hard to come by. You know you get that 1-0 game, or a football game where the team runs up the middle every time. I have learned in those situations to make your own action. And I love to get the shots I call sweetheart shots. My definition of a sweetheart shot is, that shot through the catchers mask, or an extreme close up of the kid smiling as he/she reaches first base, or the kid in the dugout leaning on the fence. Those shots almost always sell. I have also learned that an “action shot” is in the eye of the beholder too. I love working on a pitcher in baseball and softball, especially one who has those classic facials. To me the ball rolling off the fingers just at that time it leaves the had is the ultimate. So often though, I sell that photo of the pitcher at the height of his or her wind up or just standing in the starting position.
Dealing with umpires and refs often become problematic too. Last week I was sitting on the shortstop of a softball team, by that I mean I was on her with the camera, not taking photos just had her in focus so if the play was at her. Her mother had asked for photos of her and I had been through my usual routine so I took time to concentrate on her. Things worked out perfect, well almost, as I had her in focus a shot was hit at her she made a spectacular play. When I reviewed my photos just at the point of impact, the ball and her glove , I had a photo of the umpires arm. He had moved over to get a better look and of course he was in my way. Oh well mom bought a poster so I must of got something good.
Anticipation plays a big role in any type of photography I do. I have been around the ball fields and sports all my life. I feel I have a good idea of where and what is going to happen. I have even noticed in my many years of portrait photography that you need to anticipate the smile or look of a subject. The worst thing you can do is tell a kid to smile, that is when things go south. The best thing to do is smile at them and that is my strong point I smile a lot.
So what is my favorite. Still not sure. I love a good hurdle shot, a swinging baseball/softball shot when the ball impacts the bat, a sliding shot, diving catch, a swimmer with a beautiful stroke, a header, a celebration, a sweet smile, a deer sneaking into view, still not sure I just know I love photography. That is the most important thing. If you are a pro or just a person who likes snapshots. Get out and do it, you will find there are so many photos you will like.
To see some of my favorites go to my website thepictureguywv.com I have a tab at the bottom called the Best of The Picture Guy, there you will find some of my favorite action photos. I also have chose a lot of my favorite posters and poses in my sample albums.
I guess my favorite thing to photograph is my next job.
It’s Not All About The Price
The beginning of a new season, such as the upcoming Spring Season, brings a lot of questions my way. Questions from leagues and their board members. Questions like, what is your best price? What can you give our league? What is your turnaround time? All viable questions but what really is expected when you hire a photographer for your league?
Here are thoughts from my side of the fence. When I take on a job, be it a school or a league, I put my heart and soul into the job. I take each job personal and try to treat each customer as I would like to be treated. I guess you could say I wear my heart on my sleeve when I do my job. I try to connect with my customers. Weather at the camera, in the board meeting, on the field or in the coaches office. I want a connection, and hopefully a connection that will last a long time. I realize that photography companies have created monsters by paying crazy rebates or percentages back to leagues. Sometimes that is hard for me to accept. Especially when contacted by a league who had a horrible picture day the year before, got sub par products, but got a huge check. I try to keep my pricing at a very comfortable level for both the customer and myself. Sometimes I loose job opportunities because I just won’t pony up the amount of money the league or organization wants. Here is my thought on that. I want each person to be able to have a memory in photographs for their season. I will treat you fair and give the parent a good product at a great price. I try to go overboard to give the customer everything they request. I just can’t bring myself to increase the price on a package or product just to increase the money for the client. Let me give you a short example of what I’m talking about.
The other day a new customer of mine gave me a price list of a competitor. I broke that price list down with a fine toothed comb. I was amazed. First the price list was soooooo confusing. Secondly I could not believe the restraints this company put on the customer. They could not buy ad ons without buying a package nor could they place late orders. I looked at that and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. You don’t bring a payment you don’t get a photo. I really differ here, I take photos of every child so no one feels left out, also you can purchase anything you want, and I have even been known to break up a package just to fit what the customer wants. The cheapest product you could buy, from this competitor, was a team photo at $11. So next I broke down the price list, The Picture Guy offers 12 different combinations under $10 dollars, WHAT A DIFFERENCE!
Another thing I believe that sets The Picture Guy apart is my service and my compassion. Here are a couple examples. Many times I work situations out with customers to help out the family who may be struggling. I am very happy to give a complimentary photo to those who can’t afford it. When I take the job I want to become part of the family. Often times I have designed memorial photos for coaches, or players and even board members who have passed away. I even try to find that special photo to put in a poster. Like the one that is with this article, the soccer players mother and grandmother are in the background, just for added memory value. Last season my heart was broken when just after picture day a little girl lost her mother. The family contacted me and the next day we had photos, custom photos to display at the memorial. That is just who I am and the approach I take to my business. I know that it doesn’t fit the mold of big business but I want my photos to become precious memories and not memories lost because of cost.
So I challenge you if you are a board member, Athletic Director, Principal, stop and look at the value not just the dollar sign. It’s NOT all about the price.
The Memory Mate
The Memory Mate? With this week being the week that most High Schools will be holding their Fall Media day sessions, I wanted to talk about the backbone of The Picture Guys photo arsenal, “The Memory Mate” The Memory Mate has evolved into a popular item for most photography companies. Many of whom use basic templates with basic lettering in their presentations. The Memory mate took its place on the photography scene to give the customer an 8×10 product with team and individual photo combined into one. This has become a staple expectation now in this area as a necessary item. A nice presentation of the Memory Mate makes this even more attractive along with a minimal price. The Picture Guy believes what sets his Memory Mates apart from the competition is customization along with reasonable pricing. We customize our Memory Mates using your team, or organization logos and colors, to show your team spirit. We also can take your slogan or other custom wording and incorporate them into the design. Pricing also sets us apart.
So do you want a Memory Mate with tired templates and high pricing. Or does a Memory Mate with custom graphics and lettering, accompanied by a reasonable price sound better. Check out the designs here in this blog, or click Memory Mates on our home page and see more samples. Give the Picture Guy a call to design that one of a kind Memory Mate for you.
Gotta Have Attitude
Last fall the novel idea of doing attitude posters for teams sprouted and came to life. In past years the idea had been kicked around and lightly explored. The decision of The Picture Guy to finally do “The Attitude” photo came to life in the fall of 2012. Kids, Parents, and photographers often tire of the same old mundane team photos. You know what I mean. The photographer says, ” give me 7 in the front row 8 in the next row be sure to window up”, same old same old every year, the traditional stack. Well “the traditional stack”, is here to stay because it is needed for all of it common uses. The Picture Guy decided why not try something different. Starting off doing a Senior based attitude photo it soon blossomed into a photo for the whole squad. We found that teams exceeding 30 were hard to get just right. So teams that were that large we just done the senior poses. Then the team concept took form with soccer teams cheer squads and others who fit the mold as far as numbers went.
As the year progressed kids were inquiring during their photo session, are you doing one of those attitude things? The answer turned into a yes! The attitude photo opened up many doors for The Picture Guy too. Schools or coaches called just for that style photo. So by the end of the school year The Picture Guy, along with the graphic wizardry of Ted, pulled off attitude photos for over 30 teams. Pretty impressive for a first attempt at something this unique.
The new school season is right around the corner. High School and Middle School teams we photograph, we will be doing attitude shots for you. Youth leagues we will be glad to explore the idea with you too. The Picture Guy is looking for this to be a banner year for the “Attitude” Poster. So Athletes be ready. Think of a pose you want to do, be creative. Coaches, Principals, Boosters, even though The Picture Guy is not your official photographer we still will be glad to schedule a session for your team(s). Beware these photos are being attempted by others but the detail and quality doesn’t compare to the original “Attitude”. The saying, ” Copied but never duplicated” applies.
So get an attitude and be ready to show it off in this unique way. See you at the field!
Just a Picture
The Fall Season is just around the corner! Media Days, team and league photos, and new seasons beginning. Over the years I have a lot of memories from Fall photo sessions. Days are often long and HOT! During these photo appointments I get to see the best come out in the athletes and myself, but sometimes in the heat and just plain old being tired things get a little edgy. I must admit though this is my favorite time of the year. All the sports teams getting ready to turn on ” The Friday Night Lights” and get down to business. Soccer, Football, Cheer Leading, Band, Volleyball, Cross Country and Golf, all ready to leave it all on the field. Plus my first child, my daughter Katelin, was born the first day of Fall, another reason to love this time of the year.
When taking photos this time of year, especially with the High School and Middle School athletes, I sometimes hear, when asking about a pose or photo idea, the dreaded words, “it’s just a picture”. Oh my what that does to my insides. I am sure I betray my inner feelings by my facial expression. These fall photos, or even the photos taken in these situations no matter Spring, Summer, or Winter, often become family classics. You know the baseball photo where you can really notice your child’s freckles or that toothless smile. You know what I am talking about we all have that classic photo we can pull out and say that is the one I love. Everyday as a photographer that is the photo I want to capture for my subjects and their family. That brings me to the photo(s) included in this blog.
The way the team and community had rallied with Jeremy to fight his cancer battle is often the story line for a Hollywood movie. This was real life. As I discussed the various attitude poses with the boys we laughed and carried on. Some wanted the Heisman pose, others a serious flex pose. When Jeremy stepped up to do his pose he thought that holding two footballs out to the side and staring at the camera would be an intimidating pose. Little did we know at the time the impact this pose would have, especially on my life.
Back home in the comfort of the AC I start to edit and separate the photos from the days shoot. Some for the program, some for memory mates, some for the booster, hundreds of photos to look at. As I got to the attitude photos I started to laugh and enjoy memories I had of these boys from the time they were little football players, now they were men, well almost. Then I get to this photo of Jeremy. The rally call of Jeremy’s battle with cancer had been from the get go, “God’s Got This”. As I looked at this photo I could see a lot more than a young man holding footballs to his side. I saw Christ. The vision of this boy fighting for his life, coupled with the vision of Christ giving his to save Jeremy, and me.
A few months went by and our Pastor let the church know that in a few days we were having a special speaker come to the church and give his testimony. It was Jeremy. Then it came to me I wanted to do something special with that photo, that spoke so vividly to me. So I get on the phone with Ted, my graphic designer, and describe what I am thinking. Well as usual Ted comes up with better than my thinking. So with the addition of graphics, the photo taken on that hot August afternoon has been given that “Classic” honor.
“Just a picture”, The next time you think that photo you take, or pose for, is just a photo. It is not. It is a frame of time. Your time, my time, time that is not promised to any of us, but a precious moment. Thanks for allowing The Picture Guy to be there for those times. Be sure when you see me toting that big lens around, with sweat pouring off my face, and my cap on backwards, I am on a mission. I am not just trying to earn a few dollars to support my family. I am trying to capture the next “Classic” for you.
The Picture Guy