September 3, 2010

How to: Avoid Paying Big Bucks For Skating Images

This is a subject close to my heart. The last 3 events in which I participated have had professional (to what extent I'm really not sure - could I have done the same job with a tripod and a £2000 camera?) photographers taking staggering amounts of images of each skater. They usually have a stand set up at the event and take orders for prints from the family and friends. Expensive orders. I'm talking the equivalent of $18 for one image.
I   don't know about you guys, but that's a lot of money to me, especially when there are 5 or 6 images I like overall (once I've trawled through the compulsory, original and free dances!). I can't be the only one flabbergasted by this problem. I've still not bought any pictures from 2009 nationals because I resent the price so much.

So why do they charge so much? If you put yourself in the photographers shoes, I kind of get it. They want to make a decent amount of money for spending 5 days straight (or more) in a freezing ice rink half bent over a tripod, eating dubious rink food. Factor in their travel expenses, accommodation, and meals out, and they need to sell a fair few photos just to break even.

They know that parents/grand-parents/family friends/skaters are attracted by the idea of having that perfect action shot to display at home (and of course on Facebook, and the rest). So out come the hefty price tags. I don't even want to think what an A4 print costs!

So what's a gal to do? Often times photographers don't push the fact that they can provide all the jpeg images (skater specific, not event specific) on a CD for a much lower price. Insist and you will usually find they do provide this service, mainly via their website on which you can also pay.

Once you've received all the images, the possibilities are endless. Print  your own photos at home using your printer, or use one of the multiple online choices. I use Photobox.Com and am always astounded by not only the image quality but also the speed of printing and delivery. These options are so flexible, as you only have to print up images as and when you want them. The perfect idea for a grand-parent birthday gift when presented in a beautiful frame. Or on coasters. Or a tote bag. Or a keyring. You get the idea: tons of products based on your photo are available for purchase.

If you have original files as opposed to printed photos you can have fun making art from them too. A very high standard and completely free open source image editor named GIMP, can be used to make pop-art style renditions, change colours, make b&w images, add things in, assemble collages, the possibilities are endless!

To wrap this up, I'm not trying to rain on photographers parades. Really I'm not. I get it, it's a hard job and the majority of their work doesn't lie in the rink, but in the weeks of post-processing necessary to filter out all the dross and deliver those perfect 15 images to a skater. But in today's economic climate we're all making changes, and if I only enlightened a few folks with this post then it'll be a job well done!

Until next time, get snap happy !

Photo credits (all downloaded at
Camera by ilco

1 comment

  1. I'd love to know the secrets! I have a Nikon D90 and getting good ice shots is not easy! My biggest problems are: 1) My lens frosts over 2) People step in front of me or knock into me, even though I never stand in the way, always careful to be considerate 3) Lighting is poor and inconsistent 4) The hired camera is always int he prime spot - no disrespect!. I have few great shots of my granddaughter. I DO keep playing with the settings and trying to get it just right. Lucky for me Photoshop can correct for some of my errors. My best tip - get the longest lens you can afford!

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