Sports Photography Trends: Growth in Girls Soccer a Big Opportunity for Youth Sports Photographers

When it comes to Youth Sports Photography, photographers love shooting the big three – football, basketball and baseball. But one can’t ignore the growing trends in youth soccer.

According to the U.S. Youth Soccer Association, since 1990 the number of participants in youth soccer leagues all over the country has almost doubled from 1.6 million to over 3 million in 2010.

But the growing trend in youth soccer isn’t the fact that the overall sport is growing, but the fact that it’s growing in popularity with young women.

In fact we’re almost to the point where, among active players in youth soccer leagues, there are more girls playing soccer than boys.

In 2008, the percentage of girls playing youth soccer, among active players, was 48% up from 45% in 2000 – while the percentage of boys playing soccer was 52%, down from 55% in 2000 according to statistics provided by the U.S Youth Soccer Association.

This kind of growth provides a huge opportunity for sports photographers looking for new business, especially if they’re wanting to branch out into other sports besides the most popular such as little league baseball or pop warner football, because it means an increasing number of subjects to shoot and the more photos you take the higher your overall sales will be.

But the fact that soccer’s popularity is growing among young women is also exciting for sports photographers. Sometimes photographers will get a little too focused on the most popular boys’ sports, thinking that they’re the only ones worth shooting which is completely untrue.

Through several events that we’ve shot, we’ve found that girls’ sports have just as much, and in some cases more, sales potential than boys’. In fact, in some cases sales from girls’ basketball have exceeded boys’ football.

Regardless of what a photographer shoots they need to realize that children are branching out and participating in several different sports like soccer, rugby or lacrosse. That’s not to say that sports photographers should stop shooting the most popular sports, but they need to realize that there are more opportunities for business than just shooting football or basketball and that they can capitalize on the growing popularity of these new sports.

If you want to know how you can grow your youth sports photography business, Candid Color Systems can help! Contact our Customer Development department at 800-336-4550 today.

Successful ways to increase sales for Youth Sports Photography

There are probably more than 7 reasons to take multiple shots when shooting youth sports, but here are a few that come to mind. Let’s dive in….

Reasons to shoot several poses:
1)    Offering more poses and choices may help you book more teams as parents want choices
2)    Parents may prefer one type of pose to another
3)    Parents can better find a shot with an expression that they really like
4)    More poses usually results in higher sales – We have done comparisons where we have traditionally taken 3 poses, then when we added a 4th pose our sales and profits increased.
5)    Some parents will buy all of the poses offered
6)    In a digital world there is little cost to taking more poses and showing the parents more images – it has a positive effect on profit.
7)    By taking several poses you can offer multiple image products (like collages) as another product option.

It is a very simple concept – If you take several shots of each player you are more apt to get one that the parents will want to buy.

Plus, taking more poses is good insurance. The parents can usually find at least one they like so you are going to make people happy by giving them choices, disappoint fewer people and minimize the number of retakes that might need to be taken.

Taking several poses lends itself to a marketing approach which allows the parents to order from proofs – either paper proofs, email proofs or proofs online.

When you go from a “pre-order marketing method” to one where parents can “view first” and select from proofs (which is a strong booking advantage) – it is very important to your sales that the parents be able to find several images they like of their athlete.

Each sport calls for different kinds of poses, but they will all generally fall into one of these categories:

1)    Standing
2)    Kneeling / sitting
3)    Close-up portrait
4)    Action shot (or simulated action)
5)    Buddy shots with friend or coach

6)    Team –  a traditional shot & then a “crazy” or informal shot

Consider shooting more poses and see how it positively impacts your sales.


Use A “Playbook” To Get In The Game

Candid Color Photography has seen tremendous success with a new marketing tool. They designed and printed a “High School Playbook” and a “Youth Sports Playbook” to book with area leagues and districts. This marketing tool outlines all of the features and benefits or their service and gives coaches and decision makers an insight into your business. 

The playbook is a great marketing piece to use when you have an appointment with a coach or a group of decision makers. It shows your audience that you are not only professional, but you have a creative edge. In your playbook, it is essential to outline what you can provide to coaches, parents, booster club members and players. It is important to use images of your products and enticing colors and text. Some talking points for your playbook could be the ever popular Level Two™ and of course View First™. This is a huge selling point for coaches, many have never experienced the effortless photo day, easy ordering systems and quick order delivery.

Candid Color Systems is here to help you put together a playbook to get you in the game! If you would like more information contact Customer Development at 1-800-336-4550.

Hotshot Imaging Story

In 2002, Eric Kromps and Karl Schmudlach formed Hotshot Imaging near Sacramento, California. They began the business with a focus on the white water rafting that is popular around Lotus, but soon realized that they needed a less seasonal market, one with growth potential. With Eric’s business acumen and Karl’s photography skills, they began a push to incorporate youth sports photography as a market that they would serve.

The opportunity in the youth sports market was tremendous, but they recognized that they needed a strong lab to grow their business the way they envisioned. In order to do that, Hotshots needed to conduct business online in order to streamline the process, workflow and systems without hiring more staff. Although the pre-pay marketing method had been their business model since the beginning, they saw online images with emails as the way to get from one point to another.

The Challenge

Hotshots began to recognize that the prepay method of photography was a labor intensive process that took time away from cultivating new business or scheduling additional shoot days. “Prepay is a process that is layered with distribution forms, data entry, handling of cash, and several details that need follow-up when mistakes take place”, said Eric Kromps, President. “When a parent gives you a $30 check and orders $40 worth of product, the follow up to fix the error in their math is a nightmare.” Karl Schumbach, General Manager, adds, “I’ve had a three inch stack of checks and cash that take me longer to fill out the bank deposit form than it did to actually have the picture day. We really needed a more streamlined process for our business.”

After exhaustive research, Karl and Eric chose Candid Color Systems to handle all their lab work, order entry and backend software and technology.

The Solution

Candid Color Sports was the overriding solution with their ViewFirst™  method of shooting for several reasons.  Eric saw Candid as a way to begin thinking about more than one league at a time and grow the business.  He wanted to get out of the business of having 3 people spend all day on Monday after shoot day doing order entry and follow up.   Instead of passing out envelopes and doing data entry, Hotshots now passes out webcards and collects email addresses, so that when pictures are ready, it’s a simple email out to everyone letting them know to view their photos.

ViewFirst™  also allows customers to view all the options and lets them make the image choice for their photos, a huge competitive advantage that parents, coaches and leagues love.  With pre-pay, you are reliant on the photographer to choose which photo is best, and with hundreds of photos to choose from on any given weekend, that can become a cumbersome job.  ViewFirst also allows the customer to input the information, eliminating difficult handwriting to read and decipher and more time on staff to complete a job.

There were other reasons that Candid rose to the top of the competition of photography labs: turnaround time and delivery options.  “There are some photographers who wouldn’t have the pictures to customers until after the season is over”, said Karl. “Everyone likes to shoot on opening day.  But let’s face it, you can only shoot so many teams in a given timeframe, and ViewFirst allows you to spread out the schedule because turnaround is so quick.  This, coupled with the option of delivering it straight to the customer’s home, frees us up from the administrative headache of order distribution to concentrate on our core business.”

The Results:

-Grown from 1,000 kids to 15,000 kids photographed
-Taken the business from pre-pay envelope method to Candid Color Sports ViewFirstmethod, where all photos are posted online for ease of ordering.
-Reduced the amount of time spent on data entry after a shoot day by 50%

Candid Color Systems offers great tools for pre-paid and speculation sports programs. We offer online proofing, online ordering, order envelopes, password cards, mailing direct to your end customer, software to print paper proofs, an amazing array of sports products, photographer order entry and over 30 years of photography experience!


For help or questions, please call Brian Speers at 800-336-4550, Ext. 251, or Dan Hays at Ext. 227.

Spring Sports Are Being Booked Right Now!

Though we know it is the beginning of your fall season but, you should be looking at the calendar as though it says March 2008; especially if you are planning to market, book, and shoot spring sports. Though you may think this notion extreme or, perhaps even premature, I can assure you that if you are not yet planning for the spring sports season, your competitors are!

If you have decided that youth sports (such as baseball or soccer) will be a viable market for you in 2008 then the groundwork must be laid now. So where do you begin?

First, decide what spring sports you want to focus on (why not all of them), and search through your files to see if you can create great looking samples, which you’ll need to market your services. If you don’t have great-looking images, CCS can provide its’ customers with sample images for most of the popular sports played in the 4 to 12 age group.

Great looking samples will be an integral element to whatever marketing materials you’ll be leaving with your league decision makers, along with a letter of introduction, testimonials from past customers and a sheet detailing why they should be working with you.

Next, you are going to need some leads. Good sources of potential clients for your sports business are church, school, and league websites; city/town recreation departments; and also competitor’s websites. Online research is the easiest way to learn about your competition also!

After accumulating leads a sales plan must be designed and implemented. Are you going to plan an email campaign to potential leagues; or, perhaps, use a cold-calling phone campaign to establish appointments or presentations to league or school administrators? What points of difference will you highlight: your products, your pricing, your marketing method (view proofs first and purchase later vs. traditional pre-paid)?

Whatever sales strategy you select, just make sure it is clear and repeatable. Assign a staff member to focus on sales so it does not fade in importance. The sales process for spring sports has an early wake-up call. Think of it as spring training that happens to take place in the fall!

*Candid Color Systems offers great tools for pre-paid and speculation sports programs. We offer online proofing, online ordering, order envelopes, password cards, mailing direct to your end customer, software to print paper proofs, an amazing array of sports products, photographer order entry and over 30 years of photography experience!

For help or questions, please call Brian Speers at 800-336-4550, Ext. 251, or Dan Hays at Ext. 227.


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