Youth sports event photography is a tough business. However; it does account for about 15-20% of our annual sales, so it is definitely worth doing. More importantly, it gives us a chance to spend time with our customers and to meet board members of parks that we are targeting for team and individual business. We see it as advertising to our most important customers and prospects all while generating revenue.
We stick to one rule religiously when shooting action photography. We do not post our photos online. Period. If we don’t post online, we will lose 10% of our sales. If we do post online, we will lose 90% of our sales. Kind of makes it a pretty easy rule to stick by.
However, when I start preparing for our action photography season each year, I go through a slight depression. I have terrible thoughts of dragging out the 100 lb. case full of old laptops and seeing which ones still work, dusting off the huge 18×20 tents, making sure all the 6 foot tables and chairs are in working condition, and untangling all those Ethernet and power cords. Then, knowing once everything is up and ready to go, I look at the setup and hate it.
So I desperately start researching online ways to improve our operation. How can we make this easier to setup and breakdown? How can we make it more appealing to our customers to view the photos of their athlete? How can we reduce glare so our customers can actually view the photos when they do visit our booth? We make small improvements each season, but we basically are stuck with the same general setup. Feeling defeated, I resign myself to the fact that we have to get through another year with what we have.
Until this season.
The first key to making everything easier for our company and our customers was to get rid of the ancient laptops and start using iPads. Sounds simple, but this problem is anything but simple. There were no viable options out there for large volume event software that could be displayed on iPads. Of course we could rig something together, but when you have invested time and money to be at an event, the last thing you want to do is mess with software and computers.
We needed a rock solid program.
After years of searching for the right programmer and/or software, we finally found developer Brian Barkwell of WellTech Software. He developed Fotobility, a software program that fits perfectly in our event workflow. Fotobility works without any internet connection and displays beautifully on any device. With the software problem solved, we then focused how we wanted to display our iPads.
Through extensive research and comparison, the Wallee along with the Connect and Connect Lite was the only way to go. We were able to configure setups by using lights stands, adjustable arms, and clamps that I already owned. The setup has a much smaller footprint allowing us to fit 12 viewing stations in the smaller 10X20 pop up tent comfortably. All the gear from Tether Tools is rugged, durable, and allows for flexibility when setting up at different venues; not to mention the coolness factor. People just want to come and check out what is going on with all the iPads on display.
The sales results? So far this season, our sales have increased at each event from 20% – 50%. The look, flexibility, and performance of the system have all contributed to increased sales. Our tent no longer looks like a mess of rigged together components. It now looks like a place that professional photographers sell professional images.