Saturday, July 26, 2008

On Wednesday Al contacted me with news that a promoter had reached out to him and asked if the DC Sports Box would be willing to cover a lacrosse tournament being held this weekend in Germantown at the Maryland Soccer Plex. We discussed some possible rates we could charge and moved forward with accepting the job confident that we could work out the payment details later on.

When all was said and done we were offered a fixed rate to shoot the event as well as 100% of the photo sales proceeds. The promoter only wanted a CD at the end of the event that contains all of the photos and the rights to use the photos in future promotional materials. This sounded like a fantastic deal and we naturally accepted it. Paid work is great, and the opportunity to work with a promoter in the Washington DC region could lead to follow-on work down the road.

Scheduling coverage for the event was challenging. There were 3 fields that were active for 75% of the day, meaning we'd need 3 photographers to do a really good job. We could do it with 2 but that would mean that one of the photographers would have to move at halftime, and that limits our coverage. What if a major event happened during a half where we weren't present?

We scrambled to get our photographers lined up. I committed to covering Saturday and Sunday's activities. Al Santos and Yuchen Nie took Friday and part of Saturday, Yuchen took Sunday, and Mike Busada showed up with his assistant Kim Bauer for a handful of games on Saturday.

It was a lot of work.

It was blisteringly hot out on the artificial turf. The air temperature was in the mid 90s, the humidity was high, there were very few clouds, and very little breeze. It had to have been 100+ on the field. Several of my shots actually capture the heat waves floating off the field. I never knew you could photograph heat.

I opened up by shooting f/2.8 but noticed that several of my shots were out of focus. I attribute this to my being out-of-practice from sports photography as well as the difficulties the heat caused. I suspect that the heat waves coming off the field interfered with the AF system in my camera and caused the focal length to be slightly off. I switched to f/5.6 and my shots became noticeably sharper and in focus.

Post processing was a real challenge. With an event this large one person needed to take responsibility for obtaining all the photos from the various photographers. That same person has to then make sure they are correctly named, captioned, and uploaded to the PhotoShelter site where we sell our photos. I didn't trust anyone else to be thorough so I took on that responsibility. It was a lot more than I thought it would be.

We had problems with photographers not being accurate on their filenames, and that appears on the photo sales site. Some folks named their files "DelmarVsNorCal_01.jpg" but it was actually Delmar Prep that played. Likewise, the caption information did not reflect the correct team. When that happened I had to pull all 150+ photos into Lightroom, re-caption them, and re-export them. It was very frustrating.

We also had bandwidth problems. One of the photographers used "FINE JPEG" as his setting and that produced 4MB and 5MB pictures. He uploaded 200 - 300 photos to our site, and I then had to download those files to my local box before re-uploading them to PhotoShelter. If PhotoShelter had an SFTP interface I could've just slid the files from over to PhotoShelter and that would've saved considerable time but I couldn't do that due to PhotoShelter's upload policies. As a result I had to download 1.5GB of imagery from 1 game over a rather slow upload from, and then re-upload 1.5GB of imagery from my T1 at work or my cable modem at home to PhotoShelter. Fortunately Comcast will burst your uploads and I was able to squeeze out an average 4Mbps on my upload. But while at my office I was put-putting along at a measly 1Mbps. And we pay $400 a month for that T1 (my cable modem at home runs me $43 a month)...

We're still not finished with all of our work from the event and we're all really tired of looking at these photos. It takes a lot of work to organize all the photos that are taken by 3 photographers during 3 days of solid work but I think it's taught us a lot. We're planning on doing a post-mortem this week to talk about what worked and what didn't work. That'll help us the next time around when we're approached by someone that wants us to cover an event.

In the meantime we've earned some cash for our small organization, and that'll help us seed the next round of growth. It's exciting to be paid for photography, but it also involves a lot of work.

Please head over to our DC Sports Box article on the 2008 Adidas National Lacrosse Classic and take a look at our galleries.


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