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After registering for Self Assessment in the UK, I was given a helpful little guide on how to accumulate funds to help my business grow. It included info on finance, asking friends and family and also crowd funding. I started looking into crowd funding and notice that a lot of photographers in the states, seem to just do it like it's second nature, and end up getting the funding they need. 

 

I don't know if it's false pride, or what, but it strikes me down with dread at the thought of asking anyone for help with any finances. 

 

I then thought to myself, well, how else would you collect the funds for a 400 2.8 or a Canon 1D X? (I am currently engaged in shooting sports with an agency helping new photographers get access to football games). I reckon that if it really takes off, I could be shooting for a paying agency in good time. However, How does one manage to get the kit needed to get the job? (Fully accept that you don't need a 400 2.8 and 1DX to do sports successfully, it was an example )

 

Apart from just plugging away at Alamy and 'hopefully' hit payload one day, or taking out finance I don't really see any other way of managing to fund this good opportunity in sports photography. I attended one game a few weeks ago in the Scottish Premier League, and liked it so much that I'll be doing it again this Saturday. Great opportunities there for people who stick at it, and they have a good record for spring-boarding keen folk into agencies. 

 

Already being told that coming into the winter, the 70-200 f4L IS I have won't be good enough when it starts to get dark. I can see where it's already going, but, don't want to let it slip. 

 

So is crowd funding frowned upon, too cheeky or is it becoming the norm? 

 

My plan would be to plug away with the kit I have, and save any money I make, pay my taxes, and stretch it out. 

 

Paul 

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Rent gear as required?

 

My impression (some time ago now I admit) of folk begging on crowd-funding sites for funds to start up their photography businesses attracted family and friends only . . . have things changed that much?

 

dd

Edited by dustydingo

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I think that's the over all impression of it from what I've seen. I could be doing this every other week so renting isn't going to be financially sound as a good business plan. I'm just trying to find my feet with it all really. 

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I thought crowd-funding had decent chance of success if potential donors felt they were helping some good cause, helping create some useful, new, creative product, helping fine people in seriously bad circumstances...

 

And though helping someone follow his dream might fit in, helping a random photographer get better gear to pursue football photography seems a long shot, especially if it's one more person in a long line of photographers looking to buy gear to do non-charitable, 'non-creative' type photography.

 

>>Of course, there's nothing other than your own decision to keep you from trying. Make a good Video to post on crowdfunding page, presenting yourself as incredibly likable person passionate about sports photography. Perhaps include cute pet in video :)

 

The agency that helps photographers get access to photo football games might be in a stronger position of getting funds, if presented as a service that helps provide opportunities to aspiring pro sports photographers.

 

A bit of research/googling might show I'm overly pessimistic, way off.

 

>>Perhaps most Importantly, it sounds worth finding a way to pursue that football photography, since you love it and the agency has record of placing photogs with paying agencies.

 

All the best - Ann

Edited by ann

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Ann, a perfectly good point of view. Human nature usually wants to help the little guy instead of a chancer :) 

 

It's hard to know where you're placed in the world I guess. The two guys helping the new recruits work for an agency and use their contacts to train others. :) 

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With my sales as they are I am somewhat reticent at giving advice to anyone about anything at the moment.

However I have covered the odd football match in the past, also for the agency I think you are referiing to.

With the market as it is I would be very reticent at making a large investment to cover football.

Photographers on the sidelines are dwindling in the face of some very stiff competition.

 

I guess that every genre of photography is taking a pounding with every new person coming on board looking for fame and fortune. Having better gear just increases the opportunity of getting shots. A 70-200 will still get good shots in your half. It's the speed of upload over the competition I think that sets you apart. Thanks for the input :) 

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I used to shoot sport full time and have always continued to do so part time. Last year I was trackside at the British Superbikes Shootout championship decider at Brands Hatch. I came to the conclusion that market for such pics (indeed pro sports in general) is well defined and well covered by existing specialist agencies. I picked up the odd sale to the non specialist press but could not see how a freelance would justify the travel let alone the equipment costs (I already had enough, most of what I needed). The main motorcycle racing magazine also commissions freelancers but demands copyright assignment (for £200+ expenses per day, possibly plus usage fees).

 

I am certain that football will be much the same. I shoot sport when it suits me or mostly minority sports but the opportunities for sales are limited as the market is so closed. I guess the occasional new photographer will break through but only after grinding away in the junior leagues for a pittance. Unfortunately local papers are no longer an outlet whereas I did quite well with them when I was full time; but even then (B&W film days) it was changing.

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I used to shoot sport full time and have always continued to do so part time. Last year I was trackside at the British Superbikes Shootout championship decider at Brands Hatch. I came to the conclusion that market for such pics (indeed pro sports in general) is well defined and well covered by existing specialist agencies. I picked up the odd sale to the non specialist press but could not see how a freelance would justify the travel let alone the equipment costs (I already had enough, most of what I needed). The main motorcycle racing magazine also commissions freelancers but demands copyright assignment (for £200+ expenses per day, possibly plus usage fees).

 

I am certain that football will be much the same. I shoot sport when it suits me or mostly minority sports but the opportunities for sales are limited as the market is so closed. I guess the occasional new photographer will break through but only after grinding away in the junior leagues for a pittance. Unfortunately local papers are no longer an outlet whereas I did quite well with them when I was full time; but even then (B&W film days) it was changing.

 

BTW You need third party liability cover to get accreditation at many events (usually £2million but for motorsport I needed £5million).

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Most of the crowd funding requests that I've seen promise something in return.  For photographers this usually includes a fine art print for small contributions and some sort of book for large contributions.  If you have the rights to publish pictures of the football teams, you might consider pitching a book (Blurb, Lulu, ...) for contributions large enough to cover the cost of a book plus money for you. Not crowd funded but, I was able to sell my book of a church for $250 a copy for signed, numbered copies. (Cost to me was around $45). 

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I was thinking of creating a calendar of my landscape shots from Scotland. I have not bad contacts to get it done at trade rates. I just need some nice pics of snowy scenes, so likely miss the 2015 slot :)

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Buy gear from photographers that are going bankrupt.

Want to make money with your camera? Sell it!

;-)

I know it's an old joke. But not untrue.

Canon usually has gear on loan.

 

wim

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Buy gear from photographers that are going bankrupt.

Want to make money with your camera? Sell it!

;-)

I know it's an old joke. But not untrue.

Canon usually has gear on loan.

 

wim

 

There seems to be a wee underground trade in equipment going between photogs, heard there was a 400 2.8 going for a grand. That's quite a saving. Great wildlife lens too. Keep my ears open when I have the cash earned the right way I think :) 

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Yes at matches or tournaments, where you may or may not qualify. But all that gear is sitting somewhere in between matches ;-)

 

wim

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Yes at matches or tournaments, where you may or may not qualify. But all that gear is sitting somewhere in between matches ;-)

 

wim

 

It also goes on loan to pro network members when equipment is being repaired or for evaluation. For Canon Professional Network even the lowest silver level requires a significant investment in top end kit - 2 pro bodies and 3 L or specialist lenses as I recall.

Edited by Martin P Wilson

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I then thought to myself, well, how else would you collect the funds for a 400 2.8 or a Canon 1D

 

 

You make a business plan, crunch the numbers...

 

and get a bank loan...

 

its called being professional

 

km

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Yes at matches or tournaments, where you may or may not qualify. But all that gear is sitting somewhere in between matches ;-)

 

wim

 

It also goes on loan to pro network members when equipment is being repaired or for evaluation. For Canon Professional Network even the lowest silver level requires a significant investment in top end kit - 2 pro bodies and 3 L or specialist lenses as I recall.

 

 

https://cps.canon-europe.com/

 

One of my qualifying cameras has just dropped out of the list. I wonder if they will kick me out now.

If not for the 17TS (..from my cold, dead hands) I would consider going to the dark side. With the 800 in it's second gen already. Even Sony has the same sensor now. Oh wait my TS's fit the A7R. ;-)

I bet the next A7R will have wifi too.

 

wim

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I then thought to myself, well, how else would you collect the funds for a 400 2.8 or a Canon 1D

 

 

You make a business plan, crunch the numbers...

 

and get a bank loan...

 

its called being professional

 

km

 

 

Honestly Keith as much as I respect you as a person and a successful photographer, you can't half come across as being high and mighty. 

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Most lenders or investors will want to see where their money is going and how will they get it back.

 

Have you thought of speaking/networking with your local  chamber of commerce, rotary club, business support group. This will, if nothing else, give you feedback on what the current market potential is in your area.

 

Another area of support could be local sponsorship but you will need to make a professional case to generate interest. A quid pro quo could be to do their photographic work at a concessionary price.

 

dov

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I then thought to myself, well, how else would you collect the funds for a 400 2.8 or a Canon 1D

 

 

You make a business plan, crunch the numbers...

 

and get a bank loan...

 

its called being professional

 

km

 

 

Honestly Keith as much as I respect you as a person and a successful photographer, you can't half come across as being high and mighty. 

 

 

Doesn't sound high and mighty to me, just sound advice to doing business in a serious way. Although if you were just crunching Alamy stock sales numbers alone, without other revenue streams, the bank would probably just close the door on your business plan.

 

Regards

Craig

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I then thought to myself, well, how else would you collect the funds for a 400 2.8 or a Canon 1D

 

 

You make a business plan, crunch the numbers...

 

and get a bank loan...

 

its called being professional

 

km

 

 

Honestly Keith as much as I respect you as a person and a successful photographer, you can't half come across as being high and mighty. 

 

Keith is just stating a fact.

He earns his living via stock photography and runs a business that to make a profit needs to be run in a professional manner.

There are many people on Alamy who dabble in stock photography, use sub standard kit and expect to sit back and expect to watch the dollars roll in. Keith is passing on advice, not gloating.

If you have the work for a 400mm lens and you can make some money with it then you work out the pros and cons and make a decision. Where do you think all of those other professionals get their kit from in the first place?

Although admittedly I only dabble in stock I do earn a good living as a professional photographer in other fields. To do this I have invested in the best kit I can afford to do the job which includes good quality glass. This, in return, has helped me earn a good living.

Also investment in equipment is of course tax deductable.

This is not having a go, look at it more as echoing Keiths very good advice.

Andy

Edited by AndyMelbourne
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if you need professional kit to cover professional sport then you need to be professional yourself

 

 

km

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if you need professional kit to cover professional sport then you need to be professional yourself

 

 

km

Absolutely right. Professional attitude and professional kit come first, then hard work and reputation follows. After that you can possibly add jam to the bread and butter by other means.

 

For many years I managed to obtain - by being utterly professional and with a sort of reputation building  - lots of commercial sponsorship. (Plus I had a lot of cheek is asking). Kodak film, Polariod large format stuff, as much photographic paper as I needed. mounting materials, photo and studio equipment, a free car - yes! Free ferry crossings to Ireland for two years to undertake a project. Free travel to lots of other places abroad etc. etc. etc. Plus loads and loads of Arts Council, British Council, European funding, research grants etc. All obtained though by being absolutely professional and producing quality work.

 

All this was a bonus to my other earning photographic work and enabled me to undertake projects that would have been economically doubtful at the time. It is now mainly from the work produced on these - and other ongoing sponsored projects that the bulk of my income comes from print sales through quite prestigious galleries. The same principles of utter professionalism and a bit of work in targeting possible sponsors can apply to any creative field. 

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I fail to see what's instrinsically unprofessional, about considering crowd funding over bank loans.

 

In these days of risk aversion, banks are increasingly interested solely in gold plated proposals. Creative projects are either rejected out of hand, or subject to penal terms.

 

Crowd funding can offer cheaper funding for projects that banks are uninterested in, which strikes me as being very professional business management.

A bank loan isn't a serious alternative for many.

 

There are successful movies produced through crowd funding. Does that make them unprofessional, compared to their traditionally funded counterparts ?

Brabham is looking to crowd funding to develop their racing team, with a view to re entering the F1 arena. Does that make them less professional than Caterham or Marussia? 

 

It strikes me that some well established photographers haven't noticed that the business world has changed dramatically since they started.

Start up and expansion capital, are far harder to come by these days.

 

People that want to succeed in creative industries, need to be as creative in the development of their business, as they are with their end product. 

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Buy gear from photographers that are going bankrupt.

Want to make money with your camera? Sell it!

;-)

I know it's an old joke. But not untrue.

Canon usually has gear on loan.

 

wim

 

There seems to be a wee underground trade in equipment going between photogs, heard there was a 400 2.8 going for a grand. That's quite a saving. Great wildlife lens too. Keep my ears open when I have the cash earned the right way I think :)

 

 

I doubt that is underground trade - you'll probably find that the 400 2.8 in question is a first generation, non-IS version with a fair amount of use. IS is less of an issue in sports as you'll typically be using it on a monopod and aiming for shutter speeds of 1/800th or higher - certainly for football (appreciate motorsport freezing action you might be higher) - but the real problem with that generation of lens is that it is no longer supported by Canon and you'll struggle to have it repaired if anything were to break.

 

It might be a steal and last for another 10 years, but it might be a grand flushed if it were to break down in any mechanically or optically.

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To your original post about crowd funding if you have the balls to put it out there then why not - you can't really lose if all you are doing is asking people to pay for your kit with nothing in return. 

 

You'd certainly struggle in any football under DataCo restrictions to be able to use those images at all yourself - so a book or prints isn't an option from it. If you can raise the £3500-4500 for a reasonable condition 400mm f2.8L IS then why not. I think you might be waiting a long time.

 

On the subject of sports photography in general and football in particular then I'd caution your optimism. The market is going one way. Large agencies like Getty, PA and ActionImages (Reuters) who have subscription deals with the paper - yes speed of delivery matters but so does the commercial outlay of using a non-subscription image in preference to one already "paid for". Additionally, and certainly for larger profile leagues, and matches, those guys will either have a runner taking cards and processing images, or direct wifi/ethernet connection back to a picture editor. It is nigh on impossible to beat them to the screen of the papers and technology will drive them even further in-front of the freelancer or smaller agency photographer. 

 

Far better to be working lower league with less competition, and yet still a need to publish images from the matches.

 

It might be fun now - but sit in the pouring rain, or the freezing cold, with your £6-10k investment earning you very little per match and the glamour will soon wear off. Especially if you could have done some weather pics for Alamy in the morning, filed them, and are watching the match on Sky Sports 1, with a beer in your hand.

 

FWIW I'm shooting for an agency shooting Premiership and Championship matches, and I'm into my second season of that. My 400mm was a trade up from a 300mm + funds from my business. The 300mm was a lens funded from weddings, portraits and commercial work (weddings excepted still and always likely to be the main income in my business). If I was only shooting football for the agency I'd struggle to justify it - fortunately I shoot some other sports which pay on usage, and some commissioned corporate sports work which satisfied my personal business plan. Keith is 100% right. Sports photography is possibly the genre with the most significant investment required and you need to have thought it through completely as to how you make it pay - otherwise you are like every other sports loving hobbyist who fancies a crack at photographing something they like to watch.

 

Sorry if that sounds harsh but it is reality.

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