#137–Sports Photography–Roger Cotton


Roger Cotton – Sports Photography

Roger Cotton shares his knowledge of running a Sports Photography business.  From the Team & Individuals to the action shots.[/fusion_text][separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”40″ bottom_margin=”40″ sep_color=”” icon=”” width=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]

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Roger Cotton

(from Roger’s website – go here for more info.[/fusion_text][person name=”Roger Cotton” title=”Sports Photography” picture=”http://www.jpeg2raw.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/rnc-217×300.jpg” pic_link=”http://rogercotton.com/” linktarget=”_blank” pic_style=”dropshadow” pic_style_color=”” pic_bordersize=”0″ pic_bordercolor=”” pic_borderradius=”0″ social_icon_boxed=”yes” social_icon_boxed_radius=”4px” social_icon_colors=”” social_icon_boxed_colors=”” social_icon_tooltip=” ” email=”Roger@RogerCotton.com” facebook=”https://www.facebook.com/RogerCottonPhoto” twitter=”https://twitter.com/rogercottonpics” instagram=”” dribbble=”” google=”” linkedin=”” blogger=”” tumblr=”” reddit=”” yahoo=”” deviantart=”” vimeo=”” youtube=”” pinterest=”” rss=”” digg=”” flickr=”” forrst=”” myspace=”” skype=”” paypal=”” dropbox=”” soundcloud=”” vk=”” class=”” id=””]Roger Cotton runs “Roger Cotton Photography” which specializes in sports photography in the mid-south. From Team & Individuals to action shots, from hockey to football, Roger Cotton Photography covers it all.[/person][separator style_type=”shadow” top_margin=”40″ bottom_margin=”40″ sep_color=”” icon=”” width=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]

Show Notes:

  • Intro Questions:

    • Tell how you got into photography?

      • Started with own child taking photography…had run a photo business but dropped it and then back into sports photography in 2009.  In the Memphis area you are contracted through the coach

    • What made you want to start a Sports Photography business?

      • Cut teeth on sports photography…sports photography for the yearbook at school

    • Team Photos / League Day?

      • Big part of the business…this is where the majority of the business comes from

    • Do you shoot other subjects, like weddings, seniors, etc?


  • Running a Sports Photography business

    • What’s the split between action images and staged shots?

      • Majority of the shots now are the staged shots versus the action shots

    • Who is buying the action shots?

      • Mainly the younger ages…T-ball to coach pitch…once the player is high school the parents no longer are buying the photos

    • Where do you shoot?  Memphis, TN…anywhere else?

      • Within an hour are locations within three states

    • What sport is most purchased?

      • Football…so many shots are available because there is more action versus football

    • Does your access to the field help?

      • Football / Baseball…the parents are in the stands which gives me a distinct advantage over the Mom / Dad photographers

    • How do you handle coverage of all kids?

      • Try to keep up with the people on the team…in Football we are trying to get photos of all the Seniors. 

    • Favorite sport to shoot?

      • Girls Lacrosse – Angry girls with sticks.  Prefer shooting girl sports…the boys are more about style while girls show more expression and grit.

    • Which is more profitable, Team & Individuals or action?

      • Which do you like to shoot more?

    • How do you go about getting a league contract?  Especially if they already have a contract with another company?

      • Two large companies in the area that we deal with.  These companies have been around for a long time and have not evolved and are not really good which has had contact come to us.

    • Are you alone or staff?

      • I married a Graphic Artist and she has assisted immensely with the business.  Between the two of us we are able to cover most projects. Schools, Rec leagues, is the approach the same?

    • Sports lighting?  Indoor basketball / Football at night

      • Big challenge…Friday night lights.  Gyms lighting.  This is where the equipment is really important…the more expensive bodies will take better photographs under these conditions.

    • Do you sell onsite?

      • At League photo days there are samples onsite…specifically different types of products. 

      • Have a Dyesub printer but not really practical

    • Big type of product sold?

      • Metal shots

      • Bag tags

      • ESPN themed products…Licensed

    • How important is social media to your business?

      • Had to learn real quick that you can’t stop people from taking photos and placing on Facebook. 

    • How do you combat the fact that a lot of parents just are not interested in prints and just want the digital files so they can share online?

      • I enable people to get a photo (Lo-res) that they can post online…this also had the effect of people purchasing additional photos.

    • What about a website?

      • You can live without a website but I feel that it is important to have a place for customers to come and purchase products.  All hosted through Zenfolio after photos have been edited.  Zenfolio also is my online backup. 

    • Photo editing?

      • Shooting in jpeg and editing through Lightroom and Photoshop.  Very quickly able to go through a shoot and within an hour have the photos processed and online ready for printing / ordering.

    • Most difficult to shoot?

      • Indoor gymnastics…having to shoot with 1/500  with low light

    • Getting a release?  Issues from parents?

      • When the player joins the league they are signing a release for the photos.  This allows the photos to be used for official league photos and sites.  Wouldn’t use to place photos on iStock or such,

    • What are your biggest obstacles and challenges?

      • Getting in the door to make money.  Got to be able to get in the door.

    • Do you cover tournaments and if so, do you print on site?

      • How do you demo the images for parents to pick the images?

      • Do you hire extra shooters for these events?

    • I noticed you offer composite images, are these big sellers?

      • How much extra post processing does it require?

      • Do you do all the editing yourself?


  • Personal:

    • Gear?

      • Canon 7D (faster) and 5D Mark ii (cleaner) 4D backup to all

      • Favorite lens by sport:

        • Soccer – depends…

          • Kids – 70-200 f2.8

          • Large 120-300 f2.8 with 1.4 teleconverter

        • Football – 120-300 f2.8 with 1.4 teleconverter

        • Baseball – 120-300 f2.8 with 1.4 teleconverter

        • Basketball – 70-200 f2.8

        • Swimming – 70-200 f2.8

    • What do you like to do when you are not working?

      • Full-time job in addition to photography…working 7AM-3:30PM which does allow time for photography business.  When not busy I spend time with family.

    • From a photography standpoint, what has been your:

      • Proudest or favorite moment? Nothing to do with sports…chance to that a dudeoir session. 

      • Worst moment?

        • Anything from the prior year…the new photos always looks better.  If I had to pinpoint it would be early in the business. 


  • Wrap Up:

    • What advice would you give someone thinking of getting into the Sports Photography business?

      • Find a mentor…someone that is willing to help and teach

      • Take credit cards – squareup

    • What would you do different if you could do things over again?

      • Not really…has been a pretty good trip with the ability to turn down some business

    • Any message to parents like me?  Parents with gear.

      • No issue with the parents taking in photos…my work will speak for itself and standout. 

      • Make sure you don’t go where you are not allowed…could be a liability issue

    • What’s next for Roger?

      • Breakout year for Senior photographs…want to break into the market and stand out above others

    • Where can people learn more about Roger and stay informed about your projects?

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Images displayed during the show:

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Discuss the show in our forums! – Forum Post

You can also see and comment on these images over in our Forums – Episode #137 Album

Albums from previous episodes can be found here – Podcast Images

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Roger Cotton



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About geephotant

geephotant (Geek-Photographer-Accountant) (aka. Mike Howard) is the creator of Nov Studios and the jpeg2RAW podcast. Mike is an accountant by day as the Controller for a large US based corporation. By night, he is a geek and has appeared on the Home Server Show Podcast & the BYOB podcast ( both found at www.homeservershow.com). He has also appeared on the Home Tech Show podcast (www.theaverageguytv.com) and is now a regular guest on that show. Mike's true passion is photography and shoots when ever he can find time. As an amateur photographer, he is always looking to learn more about the craft.

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