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.
Yes, I have "officially" been in business for two years now. I have been learning a great deal, meeting wonderful clients and having an absolute blast with sporting events, senior portrait sessions and various photography organizations.
However, until now, I have been in a state of limbo with my actual studio. Inviting families over to the garage has made it seem a bit less professional than I would have liked, not to mention the additional effort required to set-up and tear down on a regular basis, all the while manuevering around the lawn mower and bicycles! We have made it work and those clients have been super patient and kind. THANK YOU!
All this to say, I have made the decision, and the leap of faith, to lease some space. So, let me introduce you to the new Christina Holcomb Photography Studio. Located in the Broyhill Suites (C-101) in Clemmons, NC. It is exactly what I have been looking for and meets all my current needs. I have loved getting to know the various tennants in the buillding and the staff at Broyhill is incredibly small business friendly.
Attached are a few photos from our first month remodeling, move-in and set-up. We will continue to look for ways to make it both comfortable and practical for the client, as well as efficient and technologically advanced for the business.
I hope to announce a grand opening soon, and would love to personally show you around.
Remodeling the space : Demolition, lighting, paint .....
Can shoot against drops on both walls, and against the third open wall
Broyhill is very gracious about common space and allowing tenants to "own" areas outside specific suites
Will begin client viewings at studio shortly
Located off of Clemmons Road (next to Clemmons Elementary), the Broyhill building provides CHP with conference rooms, changing areas, restrooms and waiting areas, as well as a suite that is across from the main reception hall (a busy place for weddings and receptions).