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Photography Question 
Tina Woods
BetterPhoto Member
twoodsphoto.com

member since: 3/1/2006
 

Printing On-Site at an Event


I shoot bodybuilding competitions, but one organization is now asking me to do on-site printing. I could really use some guidance. Is it worth the trouble? What printers are best? Does any printer create 8x10 prints on-site or are they all smaller. Thanks!

11/6/2007 12:08:20 PM

 
Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Tina, for event shoots like these, those photographers who do offer on-site prints usually use dye sublimation printers. Kodak makes a number of models, as do a couple of other companies - though sadly they seem to have disconinued their 1400 model. It costs around $500 and can print up to 8x12" output.
The advantages of dye subs are twofold: The output looks more "photo-like" than most inkjet output, and there is no chance of running out of one color of ink. Rather, a type of ink ribbon is used that is consumed 1:1 with the prints - meaning you also know exactly the cost per print.
The downside of dye sub is that you are only able to use the paper/ink that is offered by the manufacturer - generally there are not a lot of options (glossy and matte, for instance). Even though the 1400 was discontinued, you can still get supplies and probably will be able to do so for a few more years.

11/6/2007 12:57:18 PM

 
Joel Garza

member since: 6/14/2005
  Tina, is this to increase your sales or just a wish of the event holder? check with yout local pro-shop on renting dye-sub printers. Depending on the shop, you may be able to rent a printer before making the investment. You'll have to buy the ink/paper but some models allow you to remove it for storage so you can save it for another event. Ask if you can view sample outputs. Also consider the connection and the software you will need to make it all work. Do you plan to shoot tethered, wireless or transfer your images after the shoot? will you have to do post-corrections or will they be ready to drop and print. Will you need to increase your prices? These are just a few thing to consider. Back to my original question - will this increase your sales or is it a wish of the event holder? you may ask them if they are willing to pay for a minimum number of prints to offset your costs... Joel

11/13/2007 6:01:46 AM

 
Martin J. Preslar
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/25/2005
  Tina,

I am gearing up to do this kind of thing myself, so I will share my research with you.

Dye-sub is the way to go. The professional look and laminated finish of the prints makes a bit impression.

For 5x7 and smaller, the Sony UP-DR100 and UP-DR150 are the ones to go with. They are fast and easy to get used or refurbished on eBay or other sites. I would suggest the UP-DR100, since it is cheaper. (I also have a couple on ebay that I am selling that end today, but I wouldn't want to seem to be trying to sell them to you... :) The downside on these is they use a SCSI interface and to get full speed you wouldn't want to use a SCSI-USB adapter, but actually have a SCSI card on your computer. That makes it a bit more pricy, since SCSI cards cost a bit and you would have to use a desktop computer to run them (unless you can find one of the touch-screen printing consoles that they run on in stores).

That said, if you want something that does 8x10, you will need something different, which is why I am selling mine. There are a few Sony UP-DR70's available, which is the discontinued model I would choose if I went with Sony (and still might). They tend to be more expensive, but I have heard good things about them. The other option in discontinued product is the Olympus P-400. It doesn't do FULL 8x10, it is more like 7.64x10 on A4 size paper, and the paper is pretty pricy. The best I have found with paper and ink combined is about $1.25 per print at 8x10, but you could do 2 5x7's or 4x6's for that price. In general, you will probably be charging on the order of $5-10 for a 5x7 and $10-20 for a non-DA 8x10, then you can go up in to the high $20's for "magazine cover" or "event art" 8x10's, so the media cost is pretty well taken care of by sales. I bought one of these for under $250 shipped. I just hope to get some jobs that I can use it at! LOL! :)

Marty in Central Illinois - The Land of Corn and Flatness!
www.prairieperspectivesphotography.com

11/13/2007 7:09:57 AM

 
Steve Parrott
LightAnon.com

member since: 9/4/2004
  Marty's advice is very good, but I will put in another angle on it. Yes, dye sub printing can be very nice, though I personally have had issues with the colors not being as "vibrant" with a dye sub print as compared to ink jet. I have done a few on site printing events and use a Canon Pixma ink jet. The printer accepts the CF card directly from the camera, and I use pre cut 5 x 7 photo paper. People have always been very very pleased with the results. Do keep in mind that no matter what you use, be prepared for some people to be waiting in line if it is a large event and you are shooting lots of photos. I have seen some photographers using a simple Epson 4 x 6 printer, which is pretty fast with cheap print costs. Also, if you are printing without using a computer, be sure and do lots of test shots to get your in camera photo as good as it can be... you can't fix it later in the computer. Also, you do not need to have your camera set on the max resolution and size, it will just slow down the print process. On site printing can get a bit hairy at times if it is a large event. You MUST have an assistent with you... DO NOT try to do it all yourself.
Steve

11/13/2007 7:43:51 AM

 
Martin J. Preslar
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/25/2005
  Steve,

I have looked at the Pixma printers. The 9500 looks like it might be as good as a Dye-Sub printer in a lot of ways. Which model do you use and how does it stand up to the workload?

I will also second his comment about an assistant! DON'T TRY TO DO IT ALL!!! You should concentrate on shooting the pictures and have someone else to run the table, take the orders, print the pictures, etc... If you try to do it yourself it would be a nightmare!

Marty in Central Illinois - The Land of Corn and Flatness!
www.prairieperspectivesphotography.com

11/13/2007 8:04:51 AM

 
Steve Parrott
LightAnon.com

member since: 9/4/2004
  Marty,
I can't tell you the exact model number of the Pixma I use for on site print jobs. I keep it in storage away from here and only pull it out when needed. Honestly, I try to avoid on site printing when I can. I actually have 4 Canon printers, and the results from them all are very nice indeed. I do however ALWAYS use ONLY Canon paper. I have tried Kodak and generic papers and the results are never as good. My on site Pixma is an earlier model that is not made any longer anyway. Just be sure you get a model that will print directly from your camera card. The Canon printers are fairly fast compared to all other brands, so that helps, but as I said and you agreed... NEVER try to do it all yourself. My wife operates the printer. I shoot, give her a card, put another card in my camera, and she prints. If the event is not too large it works out well, but with even the fastest printer, there will be people waitiing for prints if it is a very large event. Be ready for it and try to stay calm! LOL

11/13/2007 8:49:40 AM

 
Lucia I. Stanley

member since: 8/25/2005
  How about offering them "proofs" to take home with a receipt of sale if they want to purchase what they see on your lap top (yes, having a lap top is a must for clients). This way you can have some dry dark room time and, thru the dry dark room and its magic, offer them some addtional photos that you've played around with, either by zooming and cropping or adding artistic flare and color reducing, just to name a few. Remember, the more you flatter them, the happier they'll be.

11/13/2007 11:27:43 AM

 
Tina Woods
BetterPhoto Member
twoodsphoto.com

member since: 3/1/2006
  Great. Thank you all for your input. It is something that I have shyed away from and now I am realizing why. I have on-line print sales, where I can review and upload only best images. This makes me realize that I am capitalizing well by what I did last year- no on-site prints. I sold them a disc of all their stage images which I burned after the event and mailed to them for $75. There is no overhead for that and no aggravation. Not sure how same-day sales would make a better profit, but am doing my research. Thanks again,
Tina

11/13/2007 11:34:37 AM

 
Martin J. Preslar
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/25/2005
  Tina,

The draw to the on-site prints is IMPULSE PURCHASES! In general, if you don't get their cash on the day of the event you are not going to make the sale. We live in an "Instant gratification" society. People are becoming used to the concept of "want-it-now, get-it-now" in all aspects of life. There is no reason you cannot still offer the burned discs for $75, but look at your records and see how many of the contestants/significant others/fans did NOT order a $75 disc. Then ask yourself: "How many of those people might have bought an 8x10 for $12 or $15, a 5x7 for $6, or a set of 5 5x7's for $25? You could even offer "graphically framed" pictures at a premium, especially if you can get some competition specific graphics from the organizer to make it a memento of the event!

The other compelling factor in offering on-site printing is that if you don't, somebody else will offer it to them next year and you will loose the gig. It is the way "sports-event" photography is headed...

Just my 2 cents more...

Marty

11/13/2007 12:11:03 PM

 
Tina Woods
BetterPhoto Member
twoodsphoto.com

member since: 3/1/2006
  Marty,
How would I offer a graphically framed photo? Can the printer hold a template? The other issue is that I did well with the disc sale b/c most young people today want jpegs for their myspace page. But I do understand that a few more sales could be made, however, do you print them out & hope people buy them? Wasting paper & making more costs. Do they view them in a little screen in the printer? I just imagine more chaos, confusion and lines, but I know that this is a sign of the times issue.

11/13/2007 12:23:49 PM

 
Tina Woods
BetterPhoto Member
twoodsphoto.com

member since: 3/1/2006
  The other issue I left out is that with bodybuilding events, there are many poses. It's not just one "miracle moment" shot. So, people will want to see all the shots. This can be very time consuming? No?

11/13/2007 12:28:14 PM

 
Steve Parrott
LightAnon.com

member since: 9/4/2004
  Tina,
To answer one of your concerns, I get payment UP FRONT before printing the photo. I have an area set up with lights and backdrop, people pay, and receive the print later. One thing I learned the hard way is to stop taking photos at least an hour before the event ends. This will normally give you time to get all the prints done before people are leaving. I made the big mistake of not doing this on a New Years Eve party once, and was still printing at 4 AM with lots of mad and drunk people waiting around. In your case, you might be best off to have a laptop there and bring up the photos for people to see, then if they want to purchase they can. There is really just not an easy and perfect way of doing this, or at least I have not found one. Concerning Marty's suggestion of using an event specific frame for the photos, that is a cool idea, but you would have to have the template in your computer and drop each photo into the template in PS... or at least that is the only way I would know to do it. This would add greatly to the time and work aspect of the whole operation though, so I doubt if it would be worth it to *me*.
Steve

11/13/2007 1:31:56 PM

 
Martin J. Preslar
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/25/2005
  The way that it works at hockey tournaments is as follows:

- Set up a table in the lobby/snack-bar area of the rink
- Deliver memory cards to your assistant, who loads them onto the computer (either laptop or desktop depending...)
- The assistant prints contact sheets of pictures for a given game. (For a bodybuilding contest I would think this would be for a group of contestants between breaks or something.)
- The customers look over the contact sheet to decide if they want to purchase any prints, fill out an order form, pay the assistant, and, if things are slow, take their print when it comes off the printer. Otherwise they come back later and the print is waiting for them.
- If a digital frame or some such is ordered the assistant drops the picture in and prints it. You can also add text, show it on screen to the customer, etc... Having the screen to show the customer is an important sales tool!

The real key is that the assistant has to do the printing and selling, though to a certain extent the pictures sell themselves. The photographer needs to concentrate on getting good shots, not on the rest of the stuff.

Steves advice about stopping pictures at some point is important too! Most of the time at hockey games the photographer leaves the ice at the end of the 2nd period early in the 3rd, that way the assistant has time to get the contact sheet done by the end of the game when the parents are streaming past your table into the snack-bar!

There are places that sell software to do this type of thing. Google on-site printing or on-site event photography for some places. One that has a lot of info is 5 Minute Photo (http://www.5minutephoto.com/ - with which I am in NO WAY associated, by the way. Though I did buy their information booklet) :)

Marty

11/13/2007 2:18:14 PM

 

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