I've been getting an increasing number of calls and emails lately from people asking me to take pictures for various things -mainly for local athletes and sports teams. For example, the High School basketball coach wanted a large format action photograph of each of his senior players to present at the last home game of the season. Because the coach is someone I know well and has given a lot to the community in general and my son in particular (coaching him in both basketball and baseball), I agreed to do it as a favor to him. I think he would have paid me something if I had asked him, but I didn't. I'm pretty happy with the two pictures I produced - the one at left, and this one:
Last year, I also took photographs of all the Middle School sports teams and athletes. I created a variety of packages (with various size team and individual size pictures, buttons, etc.) to offer for sale to parents. I did it as a fundraiser for the school sports programs, making no money for it myself. We raised about $3,500 for the school over the course of the year, and all the families were very happy with the results. This year, mercifully, I have a terrific partner in the venture, so I'm not doing all the work myself!
I have also, on occasion, taken pictures for the local little league, my son's travel baseball team, and my son's soccer club. I have done all of these as fundraisers for the organization, donating everything over cost back to the program. I have also donated photographs to school auctions (of San Francisco Giants baseball players) and have had them sell for hundreds of dollars! I have enjoyed it and never thought about making money for myself on these ventures. Then, this week, the same basketball coach asked me if I would be willing to take the pictures for the JV basketball team, as he was unable to schedule something with the regular company with which the high school usually contracts for sports photographs. He offered to pay a fee, and for the first time, I really considered it. In the end, I told him I would do it as fundraiser for the high school sports program instead. But, I also have a request from the local soccer club to take team pictures. Since I don't have a kid in the soccer club, I am going to keep the profit I make on the pictures, rather than donate it back.
So, this has raised all kinds of questions in my mind - Does this make me a professional photographer? Should I pursue this further? Have any of you considered these questions before? What have you concluded?