Shooting stock photos – Michigan Football Youth Day!

Had lots of fun last week-end shooting photos of UM football players at the University’s Football Youth Day open house! How I prepared:

– I checked into permission to take photos, since it took place inside the stadium. I sent an email to their media relations person, asking for permission using the text Shutterstock likes to see:

To whom it may concern,

I grant (photographer name) credentials to photograph (name of event) at

(location) on (date)

(Name, role)

(Organization)

(of course I had filled in as much as I could…) He replied with “The Youth Day is open to the public so we won’t have a credential for media.” I saved my email request and his reply with full organizational info as a PDF file and a JPG file to submit to stock websites so they’d know Michigan folks were OK with me taking photos.

– I looked over the UM football website to see that they had a roster of players with photos, so as long as I could see their jersey number I would be able to match up players to names, so I didn’t have to worry about that.

OK, off I went, went there early and they let us into the stadium, then got a cool behind-the-scenes photo of the team getting their team photo taken before the start of the event:

Football team photo

Then they let us in, and remembering that Shutterstock won’t accept editorial photos with identifiable children unless the child’s name is included and not wanting to deal with asking for kids’ names, I decided to focus on photos of the players only (see what I would differently below…).

The players were quite obliging, particularly if I caught them at a break between autograph seekers and asked them by their name and with a smile on my face, and wished them a good season afterwards, got lots of great close-ups of many players, including Sione Houma and Jake Ryan:

UM football Houma

UM football Jake Ryan

Since I started out on the field I stayed there and got shots of the freshman players, followed by a photo of coach Hoke, though not too thrilled with that one but there was a really long line so I didn’t dare ask him to pose for a photo, had to shoot between autographs…  I then started with the players closest to him going around the stadium, taking the time to get an overall shot:

UM football day long

I worked my way around the stadium, taking photos of each player in their position, but unfortunately didn’t make it all the way around before time was up, the hour and a half just flew by!   To review…

What I did right:

– Good prepwork, so I knew I had permission and that I didn’t have to waste time writing down everyone’s name.

– Asked the security folks for suggestions of strategies to take photos, they were most obliging with ideas, and treated all security folks with utmost politeness.

– Wore my cheerful “Michigan Happiness” t-shirt again, that seems to put people in a good mood.

– Kept checking photos and adjusting ISOs as needed as I went to different levels of shade, with a goal to keeping that 1/400 or 1/500 shutter speed to help ensure focus.

– Was mindful of backgrounds as much as possible. Just a few inches to one side or the other was enough to avoid having too many pop dispensers in the backgrounds.

– Focused and composed as the players were signing autographs so I knew I had the settings all good by the time I asked for their photo. I didn’t want to waste any of their time, and got most shots the first try.

– Took the time to get that shot looking down the stadium, I love the composition on that one.

What I would do differently:

– Worn more comfortable shoes, what was I thinking wearing flip flops?

– Skipped the field to start, gone with coach Hoke first then starting with the more popular players and working my way the opposite direction that I took. But then who knows, one of the freshmen I got photos of might just hit the big time and I’ll have his photo from back in the day and seem brilliant…

– Taken more photos of players “in action” signing autographs for grown-ups, thus avoiding my “no kids” rule and yet getting more action shots…

– Reminded myself of the numbers and names of the most popular players, to have a “must get” list…

You can see all the photos from University of Michigan Football Youth Day at my Shutterstock website. If you have any other suggestions for such events I invite you to share it as a comment, thanks!

Shooting stock photos – around Ann Arbor

This week I had some time to take a few stock photos around Ann Arbor. I have a long list of possible photos I think would be good to take, so when I have some time I can check my list and see what I feel like taking. This week I focused on some companies headquartered in Ann Arbor, the Ford Presidential Library, and people getting off the bus at a commuter lot nearby.

What I did right:

– Had the list of potential photos in the first place, so I could quickly get a set to focus on. Ford library has been on my list for over a year, I knew I wanted the sun on the front of the library, but not too bright or the contrast would be too much. That afternoon was pretty good for that.

Ford Library
– Looked for other opportunities as they came up keeping national issues in mind, such as the traffic jam that I could see as I waited at the commuter lot.

Highway traffic
I again started with making sure my ISO was at 100, since I was outside on a nice day, set the white balance to sunny (with change to cloudy as needed), and used shutter speed priority with 1/250 or higher. As I took the shots I checked whether I had to make adjustments to the exposure to span the full histogram and not cut out darks or bright whites.

What I should have done differently:

– Looked up the bus schedules, so I didn’t waste time waiting for buses that didn’t arrive… Didn’t even think to go inside the bus shelter, where the schedule was displayed. I found that out the second afternoon I went, having just missed the busiest bus the first afternoon…

In cleaning up the photos there is not much to do since I had good settings to start with, so mostly focused on a good caption and good keywords. I have submitted them, we’ll see how they do…

PS Update – Shutterstock took some of them, not all, but I liked them enough to submit to others, you can see Dreamstime took the highway one.

Shooting stock photos – Roller Derby game!

Last Friday I attended an event I’ve wanted to attend for a long time, Roller Derby! The Ann Arbor Derby Dimes are a terrific organization that fields three roller derby teams. Last Friday they had a meet with two matches.

Here’s what I did to prepare for the event:

– Read the organization website to learn more about them
– Read the rules of roller derby so I’d have a better sense of how the game works. You can get a quick sense of it in this YouTube video .
– Contacted the team to ask for permission to take photos. I didn’t hear back from them and as it is I had a conflict that first night I planned to attend, so I ended up just showing up at their next event, last Friday.
– Did a search on photographing roller derby events to get some tips. The ones that stood out included:
– Use very high ISO for the terrible light conditions
– Use very quick shutter speeds to freeze motion
– Try focusing on a place on the ground and shoot when
the pack gets to that spot so you don’t lose time focusing.
– Don’t take photos of anyone who get seriously hurt
– Take photos of everyone, rather than focus on just the jammer.

OK, then I was ready to go. I went to the site, paid for my ticket, and explained that I was a stock photographer and was interested in taking photos, and shared my policy: I send them the photos first, and only submit them to stock agencies if I get their permission in writing after they see the photos. I also assured them that I would not use any photos that would be disrespectful.

The team members couldn’t have been more welcoming! They seemed very pleased at the attention. They even said I could eat from the volunteer refreshments table if I wanted to, though I didn’t take them up on that offer, I didn’t want to make the players uncomfortable during their breaks, and I wasn’t sure if the photos would turn out OK…

Then the game started, and what a great display of athleticism and sportsmanship! Here’s what I did right:

– Brought my business cards, which gave me greater credibility as a professional.
– Checked my photos frequently and adjusted ISO, shutter speed, and exposure as needed. This is called “chimping” by the way…
– Wasn’t afraid to go to high ISOs
– Took photos of more than just the players, to include many of the volunteers
– Agreed to take photos of the entertainment, Devil Elvis when the lead singer asked for photos for their website.
– Used the “continuous slow” setting to get many photos of the action, but not so many that my card fills up too quickly.
– Respected all rules and stayed out of the way of everyone.
– During pauses in the action I erased photos that I could tell were terrible. Even with that I ended up with over 800 photos…
– Let the photos sit for a couple days because when I first looked at them all I could see were the mistakes. Going back after a few days more objectively I could see that there were some good shots in there…
– Edited down photos like a mad woman to get to the money shots.
– Use the noise filter in Photoshop to remove some of the noise that invariably was there with such high ISOs…

What I would do differently next time:

– Clear out my photo cards before the event. I had photos still in there from another event, should have cleared them to my laptop and erased them so I didn’t have to worry about limits on memory…
– Move to the other side of the track for the second game. The first game I aimed at the wall at one end because all three other sides were open and light was very bright, which would lead to blowouts. However, after the sun set the area near that wall was very dark, which made for some very dark backgrounds for those photos… Have to be more mindful of changing photo conditions throughout the event.
– Asked some of the other photographers what settings they were using. I was too shy to do it, and likely would have learned a lot by taking to them, lost opportunity…

Here are some of the first photos I have processed:

Ann Arbor Roller Derby, defensive preparation - Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec
Ann Arbor Roller Derby, defensive preparation – Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec
Ann Arbor Roller Derby -  Jammer super move - Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec
Ann Arbor Roller Derby – Jammer super move – Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec

 

Devil Elvis, half-time entertainment
Devil Elvis, half-time entertainment

 

I was so very impressed by these athletes, what a terrific evening! I’ve sent them some sample game photos, I’ll post an update after I hear from them and (I hope) get to post some on stock photo websites.

July 16 update – Heard back from the team, they loved the photos, are going to use them in their advertisements, and they have invited me back as a guest to their next match, I’m thrilled! Still waiting on official permission to take the shots, so not submitting anything to the stock agencies yet.

August 28 update – Permissions all ironed out and approved by Shutterstock, photos submitted and approved so far are here .