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Freelancing: Just starting out


About me: I do photography as a hobby. I have never sold any of my work. I have love photography and love landscape and out door pics. I have taken thousands of pics of my two kids sports. My oldest is in third year of collage. Youngest in 7th grade. I have been elected be the photographer of my daughters middle school tennis matches just to get a few pics for yearbook and give away pics to parents and make a music video for banquet.


The Idea: I want to start freelancing for high school sports.  I did it for one lady for baseball and did not charge her anything, just to see if I could deliver.  It was a great experience.  I use a Canon T1i with a 70-200L 2.8  Also have a 70-300 4-5.6 is.  It take good shots in sun light.


Instead of shooting the whole team. Hire my self out to a parent to shoot as many shots of there kid in one game for a flat price. They would be getting more pics and better action shots and I would not be just getting a cut from the web site. I will touch up, using gimp right now and give the pics to them on a small drive in raw. Then they can do what ever they want to with the pics.  It just seems easier for every body.
Or am I missing something
Thanks for you time.


Pricing: Thought about starting out with this deal.

$50.00 to shoot one game.

That is 40.00 to retain my services, up front, none refundable and $10.00 for the best top 20 images. (.50 per image)

.25 for any images' after that.

You never know, they might want all 450 inages that I have taken. lol

 I sort of based that on this woman was paying $1.50 for one 4x6. I know a lot of yall might think that is low and that I am low balling my self. But I am just starting out and I am my biggest critic. But that is 50 dollars plus, for a night at the ball park and go home and clean up 20 images'.

 I don't know maybe 1.00 per image and .50 for image after.

 What do you think.

Thanks DAVY



Interesting concept that you could do well with. My one comment is about giving the RAW photos. Most people don't know what that is, and might not know what to do with them. They might not have software to read them either, so I would give them JPEGS instead.


As far as pricing is concerned, a lot depends on the area of the country you are in and what the market will bear. Be ready for people to negotiate with you, but don't undercut yourself just to get the work. It's a lot easier to lower a price than to increase it later. Make sure all your costs are covered especially if you are printing any of the photos.


Good luck in your endevour!


Based on this post, and your other, it’s obvious that you’re just starting out in (digital) photography as well.  Nothing wrong with that, but keep realistic expectations of what is a heavily impacted profession.  And although you have a decent lens, the average soccer mom these days has a better camera than you.  Don’t get me wrong, I am the antithesis of a gear junkie, but you have to have a skill that you’re selling.  Are you going to be able to provide results that are better than someone with a 55-250 kit lens?


Unlike selling prints, you’re trying to sell your experience as a photographer.  You may find it tough to convince people to pay you to shoot for them without proof of experience.  Even then, I think most would be more apt to pay for specific prints of their kids than “rent-a-tog”. 


You mention giving the client a “small drive in RAW”.  This tells me you don’t have any experience with RAW.  RAW is just that, raw – unedited (with the exception of including a sidecar with edits).  The only people that want RAW are photographers & editors, and they can go out and shoot the games themselves.  The typical client wants you to provide them with a small handful of edited highlight shots. 


I’m not saying your business model won’t work, I’m just challenging some of the ideas.  I think you’d find it easier to sell shots to at least build up a reputation, but you never know, with enough charisma you may be able to sell your services.  Just keep in mind that $50 to shoot an (hour+?) game and do all the post processing isn’t very much.  I understand wanting to get your foot in the door, but be careful of pigeonholing yourself. 


I’m no sports-tog, but the Real Estate business has a similar dichotomy.  There are run-n-gun RE togs that will shoot a 4 bedroom house in under 40 minutes and spend less time than that in post.  In my opinion the final pics look hurried and uninspiring, but there’s a legitimate market for this type of photographer, as shown through the amount of businesses that use this model.  On the flip side are high-end RE specialists that will spend more 40 minutes on a single shot – for the dusk time money shot.  I’d spend even more time editing the final shot, but I waste too much time in post.  But I would rather have a small handful of shots that make people stop and look at them, than a whole book full of RE snapshots.  But as I said, both are legitimate business models, you have to decide what works for you.  Just keep in mind that if you start walking down the path of one it can be hard to jump to the other.

I do have a portfolio if they want to see it.  Your right I am new at shooting for someone else.  I have only shot for my own pleasure and satisfaction. I am new at RAW.  But I would like to think that I have, over the years, perfected my photography skills without the need for RAW.  I do clean up the photos that I give to other people.  I have been recently shooting with a professional photographer that shoots for college teams. He uses a Canon - EOS-1D X Digital SLR with the  Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens.  He has about $20,000 in his set up.  He said he started out shooting collage with the set up I have.


I don't think your average parent will pay over $50.  for just images but they will be getting more and better action shots.  I have talked to several people that post pictures on web sites and they have a hard time selling quantity.  Most people buy one or two photos and then let every body in there family look at the rest of the photos on line and then they are done. I live in a town that has a lot of, what I call, 50 cent millionaires.  They like to act and look like they have a lot of money but really don't.  So, hiring a personal photographer for there child will be right up there ally. lol
Thanks for all the advice and insight, greatly appreciated.      



I shoot for our local school district.  I have for over 20 years.  Right off the bat I can tell you our school district would not allow you on the field.  That is just too risky and is prohibited.  I am sure you can understand that with the way the world is today.  Maybe your school district is different but none of the others I have had contact with is.

This means you are confined to the stands or bleachers.  And, yes, the above post is correct.  Most "soccer moms" are going to have a better camera than you do.


How did you wind up with a T1i and a 70-200mm f2.8? Not a combo you see a lot.


If you are not offering professional RAW images, what are you offering? Snapshots? Most schools I know have students in photography class that do exactly what you are wanting to do. They do it free for a grade!


In photography will must offer something the customer can not get, or do, for themselves. Everybody has an “uncle” with a Rebel to do what you want to do.


Since experience is the best teacher, I say go for it and good luck.


EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

@KingDome wrote:

I am new at RAW.  But I would like to think that I have, over the years, perfected my photography skills without the need for RAW


It's a fine stance, and not an uncommon one, but I would challenge it.  There are still plenty of film photographers that see RAW as cheating, meanwhile using all the other advantages of digital photography.  RAW is far more flexible than jpg, regardless of your photographic skill.  I'd also argue that nobody has perfected photography; especially if you’re relying on your camera to judge exposure.  Yes, programs like Photoshop can adjust luminosity slightly on jpgs without significant artifacts, but it’s not near the control you have with RAW.  And what if you capture a perfect ‘in the moment’ shot but the sun was beating down on half the subjects face.  With RAW you might actually stand a chance at recovering those highlights to an acceptable amount.  Simply put: you will have more keepers if you shoot RAW, no question.  You can pray to the photographic Gods and question if this is just or not, but don’t limit yourself just to ‘keep it real’.  As I mentioned in my first post, you don’t have to actively edit RAW, you can have your PP program auto-convert on import, but you’ll have the RAW files if you come across a picture that needs some tweeking to make it sellable. 




@KingDome wrote:

He has about $20,000 in his set up.  He said he started out shooting collage with the set up I have.

I don’t disagree at all, it wasn’t my intent to suggest you need fancy equipment.  However, you will be surrounded by people with equal or better equipment, and without the skills to make your work stand out, significantly, it’s going to be tough to convince people to hire you.  Again, I don’t believe in needing fancy equipment, but when you’re selling yourself you have to accept that image does factor into the equation, and potential clients are going to want to see a ‘photographer’, with a bunch of fancy photographic equipment.  Unless you can really make your work stand out.


Oh, one more thought, some students have a 'no photographs' agreement with the school.  If you take their picture, you and the school will be in a whole bunch of trouble.  You need to find this out first.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

@ebiggs1 wrote:

Oh, one more thought, some students have a 'no photographs' agreement with the school.  If you take their picture, you and the school will be in a whole bunch of trouble.  You need to find this out first.

Nonsense.  The school can ask you to leave, but you won't be in any legal trouble for photographing an event open to the general public.  You can't use photos of someone's likeness in advertisement without release, but that's another issue.  These athletes might have some sort of contract drawn up between them and the school, but if you as a photographer didn't sign anything the most they can do is ask you to leave.

I came on here a while back asking about up grading from the t1i.  Y'all made me fell like an idiot for asking because my camera was not broke.  I think the t1i is a pretty good camera for what I do.


I've never seen a parent, in any school event using a canon 70-200mm 2.8 L series.


I do use RAW.  I said I am new at RAW.  I don't think you need RAW to get the shots I am trying to get to satisfy most high school parents.  Mainly because I know how to operate my camera and secondly I am confedent that I can get the shots that parents and grandparents can't get.  I've been doing it over and over again.


Not sure what combo you are talking about, I don't do combo's.


Yea everybody might have a rebel, but they don't have a 200 2.8 L  and they don't take 500  to 1000 pictures in one game to get one sports illustrated shot.  So I think I have something to offer.


I didn't say I perfected photography.  I have perfected my skills without the use of RAW.  There is a big difference.
Don't get me wrong, I agree with everything you have said about RAW.  It's a great avenue.


Thanks for all the      GOOD advice.  I think I'm done here now.


"So I think I have something to offer."


This feeling is all you need.  So go for it.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!