After a long wait for everyone, North Carolina high school sports are back! Following the state’s schedule, our local teams are holding try-outs and getting their first teams together for the school year.
I love this time of the year (even though it normally happens at a different point on the calendar). Coaches and athletes are excited to get their season going. The new uniforms are arriving. Practices are beginning. And that means LKN Images is ramping up our sports photo shoots.
Over the years, my sports photography business has grown a lot. And it has changed a lot. A dozen or so years ago, when our kids were little and just starting to get into rec-league sports, I took my family photography business and brought it to the sidelines of our kids’ games. Digital cameras were just coming in. Paper order forms were the norm. Parents would sign up for photos, pay, and hope that they liked what they got. Even in those days, my #1 goal was to make sure I took care of that last piece – making sure my photos exceeded every parent’s expectations.
Today, my sports photography process doesn’t even vaguely resemble what it used to be. Neither do my products. I don’t do “picture day”… I do Media Day. I bring equipment to our schools that big photographers didn’t even have in dedicated studios just a few years ago. I don’t shoot the traditional pose and then move on to the next athlete; I shoot multiple poses and angles. I go for personality.
Paper forms are a thing of the past; everything is handled online (particularly great in a pandemic world). And no need to purchase photos or a photo package before the shoot; parents and athletes are able to see the final product and then decide what they’d like. Speaking of seeing the final product… all of our online galleries include face recognition so you can easily find just the photos you are in. And you get to view the pictures whenever you want, wherever you want using your own phone, tablet or computer.
When we roll into a school and start unpacking our equipment, we usually get a curious look from the coaches and players – we bring cases and bags of cool looking technology. As we set up and make the gym or the field resemble a pro photo studio, you start to see them all get excited… because this is all for THEM! Depending on the location, I will have an array of 5 to 8 lights set up to capture the type of quality shots that I want. Multiple cameras. Multiple lenses. And even multiple sets… because senior banners need a whole different setup than team and individual photos. But in about 15 minutes, we have our equipment set up, tuned, tested and ready to roll.
Media Day is always a fun event. But probably my favorite part is when I shoot the first athlete. They are standing there in a brightly lit gym, with a bunch of fancy lights set up all around them. I pose them and take a dozen or so photos of them. They think it’s going to look like any other photo from any other year or sport they have played…
… Then, I show them a sample. And I love the reaction. It’s not what they expect – it’s more. They look like a rock star. And they are! Because this is THEIR gym, THEIR field, THEIR school. THEIR sport. THEIR moment.
Senior athlete banners have become a big part of high school sports. And just like the rest of Media Day, I deliver something unique and special to help celebrate senior year. I work with the school to design a great graphical template. I shoot multiple images on a special lit background. The images are extracted and dropped onto the banner art. They are printed on heavy gauge canvas and shipped directly to the school.
Play with the slider below to look at the before and after!
It took us a while… but North Carolina high school sports are back! And I’m thrilled to be able to play a part in this unique and incredible season by making these great local athletes, coaches and Athletic Directors stand out (we make everyone look like rock stars).
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