Wednesday, May 14, 2008

After a 20 minute intermission the Terps took to the field after the NCSU vs GT game. I was pleased to see the Terps take to their home field and hoped that they would win so they could continue their drive into the ACC Tournament. Unfortunately the Terps fell behind early and couldn't recover, losing 2-0 to the Eagles.

I really can't say enough about how well the D3 performs. The D3 is leaps and bounds beyond the low-light capabilities of my D200. The D200 can shoot up to ISO1600 without noticeable noise. But it quickly degrades in it's quality before reaching ISO 3200. On the other hand the D3 can safely shoot at ISO 4000 with the same level of noise as a D200 at ISO1600. I have no metrics to back that up ... just photos. You can go take a look at my D200 vs D3 high ISO low light comparisons on my Flickr page.

I enjoyed taking photos at the softball game. I used the 300mm f/2.8 lens that I'm demoing from Nikon. I used my monopod for most of the shoot but felt pretty cheesy in the process. I hand-hold my 400mm f/2.8 lens during basketball and the 300mm f/2.8 is considerably smaller and lighter. A monopod is pretty awkward to lug around and it can be restrictive when you lean up against a wall or on the side of the dugout.

From time to time I'd shift off to just hand holding the 300mm and I was much happier.

I also used the 14-24 f/2.8 lens Nikon loaned me for some experimental photos. I was really happy with this picture of a dark blue sky while overlooking the Maryland Terrapins dugout in the 2008 ACC Softball Tournament.

During the evening I talked with a few parents in the stands who requested photos of their daughter in the competition. I handed them my card and asked them to contact me. Earlier last week I talked with Al and Dave about DCSB selling some Softball photos. Having been approached several times on the first night I felt vindicated in my pre-emptive requests that we figure out how to handle these orders from fans. Sure enough it panned out ... we were there, moving around and getting the shots, and people wanted to buy our photos.

The issue of selling collegiate photos is a tangled web of interpretation and legal precendent that we have very little experience navigating. Personally I expect we'll screw up at some point and go down the wrong path and upsetting an apple cart somehow.

At the highest level, the NCAA is concerned about the commercialization of student athletes. If I'm a credentialed photographer at an NCAA basketball event, and one of my photos is used to hype a Nike shoe that can be used against the student athlete in the photo. The NCAA can (and has) revoked a year of eligibility for the player and banned the photographer from NCAA events.

The conference can come after you too. There are stories of different conferences (e.g. ACC, CAA, Big-EAST, PAC-10) pursuing civil suits against individual photographers after photos of student athletes have appeared in periodicals that the conference determined to be "commercial" (non-editorial) in nature.

And then you have the individual school. Let's say that the parent of a student athlete wants to buy one of your photos so they can print it and put it up in their family room. Seems like private use and there shouldn't be any problems, right? No... Sure you may be clear from an NCAA and conference, but you still have to obtain the school's permission? Why? Because the school's logo appeared prominently in the photo. And the student attends the school. The school may have a deal with a local photographer they use whereby the school gets a cut of whatever revenues are generated by the local photographer for the sale of photos. As a result they may not want you to sell photos.

Although the school may not be able to legally block you from selling photos they can block your entrance to events by declining your credential requests.

In summary ... be careful if you want to sell photos of college athletes. Get permission from your school before you try to do it. This is what I'm doing at the DC Sports Box. It's better to partner with and work with people in this realm than to make assumptions and work against them.

All that being said, Maryland has been good to us and gave us the nod to sell some photos from this weekend's event. With their official nod, and a few requests from the fans, I'm looking forward to turning the page in the history book for our young organization and seeing what's ahead.

Will selling photos turn into something substantial for us? Or will it backfire somehow? Will it aggravate other photographers? I don't know... All I know is that we have to move forward and as we take these steps into the unknown all we can do is do our best to stay inbounds and off anyone's official shit list. Here's hoping we can color within the lines...


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