Photographing a Kid's Judo Tournament?
December 31, 2007 6:36 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to photograph a kid's judo tournament and have pictures ready for the parents right after awards are presented?

My judo club is hosting a tournament a few months from now. I've been asked to look into taking photos during the tournament and having these photos for sale by the end of it. The idea is to raise money for club operations by charging parents some amount for the pictures. What's the best way to go about this?

By way of equipment, I have a Nikon D70 with a telephoto lens (80-200mm f/2.8), and I can scrounge up a couple of laptops. The tournament will be in a large community center gym, with overhead fluorescents, so I might to do some basic color processing before images are presentable (probably along the lines of Picassa's "I Feel Lucky" touch-ups).

I don't believe I can practically offer prints, but I should be able to produce some number of CDs. The goal is to have something physically available for interested parents.

The main problem is timing, I think. Parents and their kids may have travelled some hours to get to the tournament, and may want to leave right after awards are given, rather than hanging around for me to burn CDs.

Any suggestions on how to do this? Thanks.
posted by chengjih to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If there isn't another solution, you might offer mailing at a small bump in cost for those who can't wait for CDs on demand. You may also be able to use say, Kodak Easyshare Gallery or similar, email the link to all the parent who pay you the donation, and allow them to buy prints or whatever they want at their leisure.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:44 AM on December 31, 2007

Instead of offering prints or CDs at the moment, you could upload the pictures to a photo hosting site that allows hi-res downloads. That way you can give the parents a website url and they can view or download the pictures at their leisure. That also give you some time to do some processing and touch ups if you want.

As for sites, phanfare immediately comes to mind. They are currently changing things up a bit and will have free accounts with up to 1 GB of storage available any day now (unlimited storage for pay customers). They allow hi-res downloads and have photo printing capabilities.
posted by Nickel at 6:48 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

You could set up a mobile photo station with a 4x6 printer, like an epson picturemate. Are you trying to make money too? You could just put the pictures on flickr, people can make their own prints off of that. But you can't charge them. is a service that will make prints for you, but you have to pay them a (reasonable) fee. The process is somewhat involved to set up, but I use it and it has worked (have not used it extensively but no problems to report).

Have you shot indoor action a lot? I can say that it's challenging. I would practice (A LOT!!) before you attempt this, particularly if you are charging

Ok I reread. You are charging, or the club is charging.

I'd practice quite a bit. If it were me, I'd defintely be using flash to do this. I'd have a crapload of batteries. I'd be praying that the walls are white, so I could bounce the flash behind me. I'd buy a green gel to put over my flash so that the overhead lights (green) wouldn't mess with the flash light (blue).

I don't shoot sports but I do shoot a lot of dancing. You will not be able to stop motion effectively with the overheads, unless they are crazy bright.

I'd also be hoping to hell that there was at least one non-mirrored wall.

It's not my favorite style of photography, but you should check out

People on that site are insane for this kind of photography.
Um, ok this will answer most of your questions:
posted by sully75 at 6:55 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

I photographed MMA fights for several years and I always had prints ready about 10 minutes after each worked out well and this is how I did it:

1) One Laptop
2) One Color Printer (bring extra ink!!!! and buy a fast printing printer - we got ours for under $50)
3) Two Digital Cameras (We used a Nikon and a Canon)
4) A table that doubled as a workstation and showcase
5) Plenty of photo paper
6) Flash Drive reader
7) Photoshop 8

First, I didn't do it alone. I had a partner who was equally as good as taking the shots as I was. So one person would man the station the other take pictures. As soon as the fight was over we would upload the pictures to the laptop via the card reader. We would import the pictures into Photoshop where we had set up a batch that would "correct" the imperfections of the shots. For the most part all the problems were the same due to the low level of lighting. Plus we printed almost exclusively in black and white as that was our "thing"

We would then display some of the shots on the table and during intermissions we would walk around and network.

For those people that wanted printouts on paper too large for our printer, we would take down their information and mail them the pictures at a later date (usually using Costco/Smiths to do the printing)

A couple suggestions. Put up posters that show examples of your pictures around the complex. For example, on bathroom doors or weigh ins; places people will guarantee to migrate. Take pictures not only of the fights but of the fighters training or warming up with their coaches. This was an unexpected hit for us. We found out that people often loved these shots and more often than not, did not have one. Target mothers! Mothers are the main people that bought our pictures.

Finally, Build a web site and hand out business cards. There will be plenty of people that wanted pictures, however, as you mentioned had to travel home. These people will often at least visit your site and if they don't purchase pictures will at least pass your name around.

Good luck! I hope that helps.
posted by birdlips at 7:03 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you have enough help I would set up an assembly line; have 2 or 3 memory cards, shoot for a few minutes with one, then switch cards and pass the first card off to the first laptop for processing; after a few more minutes (ideally between bouts) switch cards again and give it to the second laptop (assuming it will take longer to process than to take the pictures). Afterwards put all the final pics on both laptops and use one for viewing and the other for burning. Keep each bout or group of bouts in a separate folder so that it will be easy for parents to find their kids.

Also, be aware that shooting under fluorescent lights can be tricky because their flicker can cause problems at the high shutter speeds normally used for sports.
posted by TedW at 7:07 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

In addition to what's been suggested here, you really should spend some time reading through the forums at This sort of thing has been discussed quite a bit - although not specifically Judo - but basketball, baseball, etc. Regardless the ideas are the same.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:35 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Take the pictures, hand out cards with a URL on them to the parents. Upload the pictures to the site, but make sure the pictures have watermarks on them.
posted by djgh at 8:39 AM on December 31, 2007

2.8 will not be fast enough without strobes. You need at least another 5 stops, and that pushes your ISO into ass-ugly territory. Either by grain or blur, 90% of your shots are going to be unsellable.

I would strongly recommend buying 3 or 4 inexpensive slaves and set them on half or quarter power. Vivitar 285's are good for this. Arrange them around the participant's area, get them high up and point them at a down-angle so they're not in-shot. Use pocket wizards to trigger them, or if you're short on case, you can use your own camera's flash (remember, you wouldn't be using the on-camera flash for exposure... set it low enough to just trigger the flashes). If you set them to 1/4 power the audience probably won't even notice them go off (the flash duration will be very short).

Remember, VR doesn't offset the motion of the things you're taking the pictures of -- it only helps with the motion you induce (camera shake). You'll still need around 1/250s shutter speed to freeze the action, and there's no way in hell a community center gymnasium's fluorescents will get you there.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:55 AM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

short on case

Make that, short on cash.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:56 AM on January 1, 2008

« Older Beautiful Non-Fiction Books Needed   |   Good feminist blogs? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.