With the opening of CHP studios earlier this year, I made a conscious decision to market the CHP brand. I do not have a commercial background, and I've not exactly been accustomed to my name being so public, but I have been around business long enough to realize that brand recognition is extremely important. So with the help of a local graphic designer, and the ideas of my marketing major husband, we set off to make known the Christina Holcomb Photography brand.
Business Cards - check. Window Clings - check. Website Design - check. Studio Sign - check. Sponsorships - check. Work Shirts (as of today!) - check.
Ultimately, I firmly believe that high quality services and product, that which I define as the customer LOVING their image, is the difference between an average business and a great one, and not whether or not there is a snazzy marketing plan in place. However, I can tell you that a foot in the door is critical. And in just a short time, I have been floored (and extremely humbled) by the number of potential clients that have recognized me by my little teal box and CHP logo. My brand has done everything that I have asked of it. Now it's up to me to take that recognition and create a highly professional reputation for my photography.
Qualifier: I am not nearly experienced in the world of sports photography to be offering "expert" advice. However, I have spent a great deal of time around athletic competitions over the past few years to learn what works for me. Below are some tips for taking cross country / track & field photos that I recently offered to a friend. Since these are primarily focused on fast movement, daylight activities, they don't necessarily apply to all sports. However, many could be considered for other competitions as well. I hope they are helpful.
1. Use a Zoom Lens! It will provide the most flexibility. You can zoom in close for a more personal shot or zoom out for a wider angle, ALL from the same spot. With a daytime outdoor event like track and field, you will have alot of give and take from the aperture range on your zoom lens. (The same cannot be said for some indoor or evening events.) If you are wanting to get especially close (from a distance) then consider a 1.4 or 2X teleconverter. I LOVE my 70-200mm 2.8 zoom. It is my go-to for sports.
2. What are my Settings? In most cases I shoot in manual mode because it gives me the most control. For sports, I start with setting my Shutter Speed. Then adjust my aperture and iso. A fast shutter is better, unless you are looking for an intentional blur. Start with 640/sec or more. The sunnier the day and the speedier the action, the faster you need to go on shutter speed. I like isolating runners with a shallow depth of field, so I bump up the shutter speed even more to try and get the aperture open to at least f5.6. (Note: the compression on a zoom will also help to isolate the runner).
3. Use Continuous Focus ... but don't forget to move it back to single focus later or you will be upset with the results. Been there, done that :(
4. Focus Point - Choose your focus point. Know how to find this button and get comfortable using it while looking through the camera. Leave enough room to ensure you don't cut off the feet. If going verticle, move the focus point to the top. When the subject approaches they will fill the frame. Keep the focus point on the face or jersey. For unpredictablemovement, the eyes are just too difficult to pinpoint, and if you miss, then the background will be what is in focus.
5. Scout out the route, field, gym, stadium, etc. Pick the right vantage point for the image you want, and consider the light.
6. In addition to #5, think about the background in the picture; pick the trees over the parking lot. Sometimes you just get what you get. Try to capture runners behind or spectaors ahead to better tell the story.
7. Try panning to capture a focused runner and blurred background - you might create a really unique image.
8. Practice on other runners before your athlete / team arrives at the spot. Sports photographs in general are very fast paced and there are no re-takes. Doesn't hurt practicing during a team's practice or warmups.
9. Beware of changing light during the event; clouds, time of day, stadium lights, etc.
10. Have fun! Sports photography is full of energy and emotion, celebration and defeat. Capturing those moments should be fun and rewarding. Not every image you take is going to be a winner. Be patient, allow yourself some mistakes and keep trying.
I am the husband of a professional photographer. I certainly don't know the ins-and-outs of formulating the perfect image, as Christy so masterfully does, but I do know how to set up the lights, change out the backdrops, collect the client information and 'gopher' anything else that is needed. I really do enjoy being around CHP.
This past week, I had the opportunity to accompany Christy on a delivery. There were several big pieces that needed my assistance, and I had met the clients prior, so I was looking forward to the drop off. What I observed made me realize why she is so passionate about each image.
As we began unveiling the prints, the expressions of joy grew greater and the smiles grew wider. I can't adequately describe how happy these parents were with the image of their beautiful baby girl, but I can still see those tears start to flow and that great big hug that the mom gave Christy. That's when it hit me. The pressure in each portrait session to get everything just right, it's because this is the type of moment that Christy strives for every time. When she says "I want you to LOVE your pictures", now I know what she means.
I think I will tag along on a few more deliveries. I might even learn how to take a photo someday.
Thanks to the request of some wonderful clients, I am once again offering the annual 'Sports Mini-Session' to local high school / middle school athletes. Similar to 2012, the 30 minute mini-session is being offered for $25, with no committments. The standard packages will be available, as will individual print, digital image and customized product options.
One positive change from 2012, I expect the customer experience to be significantly enhanced, as these sessions will be shot in the new studio. This will allow each client to arrive in the Broyhill Center's comfortable waiting area and utilize any of the dressing areas in preparation for their shoot.
I am reserving SATURDAY, September 28th from 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM for these sessions. Hopefully this will allow you to plan now for the best time slot and make sure that any uniforms, and/or props, can be secured for the shoot.
See a few samples below and take a look through my sports galleries. Many of the samples that I use for sports portraits either came by way of the sports mini-session or similar backdrop / studio shoots. This is an ideal time for all sports, not only the fall sports, as I have found most coaches extremely helpful in securing uniforms out of season for these sessions.
Call (336-493-2926) or email (email@example.com) now to book your mini-session or with any questions. Hope to see you on the 28th and I would be honored to help create an image that truly captures you or your star athlete.
I am very excited to unveil the official "Preparation Equals Performance" (PEP Campaign) marketing posters for Athletic Republic - Winston Salem and Christina Holcomb Photography. Earlier today I had the opportunity to display our first three images at the new training complex on Phoenix Drive, and beginning at this Friday's RHS football game, similar full page ads will be found in the all-sports programs.
For those of you unfamiliar with Athletic Republic, you should know that AR provides the most comprehensive training in the area for young athletes. Dedicated to results based programs, Randall Allred and his staff ensure that each athlete receives the optimum mix of weight, speed, plyometric and sports specific drills, to maximize performance across select skills.
For those of you unfamiliar with Christina Holcomb Photography, you should know that CHP provides a wide variety of sports photography products and sessions, including the newly introduced 'Game Day' package. Experience in shooting all high school sporting events, has allowed me to gain a working knowledge of how best to utilize the local fields, gyms and courses for that every best picture. Coupled with studio sessions, I can also offer a wide range of products; custom collages, standouts, metal prints .... (see package options below)
I hope that you take the time to visit Athletic Republic (you will be as amazed with the results as we were with our own athlete) and should you have photography needs, I would absolutely love to work with you on creating a package that is just right.