Radio Interview Transcripts

MorePhotos Radio - SportsZone Imaging


ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the More Photos’ Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by helping professional photographers with all their internet needs. Also brought to you by Finally, an e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here is your host, Damien Allen. 
DAMIEN: Good morning and welcome to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and joining me today on the telephone is Gerry Wait of Sports Zone Imaging of Ventura, California. Good morning, Gerry, welcome to the program.
GERRY: Good morning, Damien, how are you doing?
DAMIEN: I’m doing just fine. Hope you’re doing well, sir.
GERRY: Well it’s very nice and sunny today.
DAMIEN: You’re in California, you’re always doing well. Where exactly is the studio located and how long have you been in business, Gerry?
GERRY: We’re in Ventura, California. We are right at the beach. I know that’s hard for people to take right now, and we have been doing the sports business…this is our 6th year.
DAMIEN: So six years. How did you get started as a photographer?
GERRY: Actually I started as a combat photographer in Vietnam for the Army, and I’ve been doing it at one level or another ever since 1967.
DAMIEN: Wow, so you’ve been doing this for quite a while. How did you get involved with sports photography?
GERRY: Actually I went to a seminar at a conference in Dallas. I was doing studio photography, weddings and so on and so forth, and I went to this seminar of a fellow who was doing sports and team and individual photography and I said this is what I need to be doing. So I left the seminar and called my studio, had them cancel all our appointments and went into the sports business.  It was that simple.
DAMIEN: Did your background as a combat photographer actually help in sports photography? 
GERRY:  Actually yeah, because it’s all about speed, you know, trying to organize your shots and being active. We started off doing action photography and then got into doing team and individual which is the place where the money is now a days. Yeah, it’s a matter of shooting fast, being organized, having all your stuff together and just being ready to take on what comes your way.
DAMIEN: I just remember from certain movies and books and stuff as I was growing up, coaches constantly saying football is war and on the battlefield.
GERRY: Well it sort of is, yes. One side pinned against the other. Just the exposure and all taking a lot o pictures, that’s what every photographer’s got to do to be successful.
DAMIEN: Now do you shoot alone, or do you have an assistant or co-photographers that go with you on shoots?
GERRY: Actually I do very little shooting myself today. We have crews that go out and the shooting. 
DAMIEN: Does that leave you to do the editing and the selection at that point?
GERRY: Yeah, we have a studio crew too. We have graphics people here. We shoot a lot of our images on a chroma key. We are one of the few in the country  that actually go out and in the field shoot chroma key so we come back and we have a lot of extraction to do and cropping backgrounds and that type of thing. So we’re sort of unique in that regard.
DAMIEN: What do you think is the single most important skill a photographer needs  to capture that perfect shot in sports, Gerry?
GERRY: The way we do it is a matter of being organized and having everything ready to go knowing your lighting. Lighting, of course, is key particularly if you’re shooting action shots, understanding lighting and where you are in relationship to the lights and the subject on the field and as the action takes place. As a team and individual photographer, organizational skills are really the key. If you’re not organized when you are shooting 1,000 kids in four hours, you really have a problem. You will lose the client.
DAMIEN: Doing sports photography, you are working with a lot of different types of sports. You’re working with a lot of different schools. What’s is like? How do you focus on that and how do you get the report going with these teams and with these individuals?
GERRY: It’s all eyeball to eyeball. It’s a matter of finding out the persons in any sales first that makes the decisions on who is going to be doing the photography work and going out and trying to meet them.   There are a couple of sales people that spend literally all day combing the internet, combing sources to try and find the contact to meet the various youth athletic teams, high schools, elementary schools. That’s the process. It’s really a matter of finding the person.
DAMIEN: What is the best piece of advice can  you give to a team that you are doing photography for, Jerry, you know there are a lot of people milling about, or if they are just doing the group shot for the year book or whatever, what is the piece of advice you could give to a team you are doing photography for?
GERRY: Show up on time, be organized, and have your paperwork ready, and they will be in and out before they even know it. It’s really a matter of following our advice, the information we give them, and if they do that they will get great pictures and they will be done quickly which is ultimately what everyone wants. They want to be done quickly. They don’t want to be bothered. They want to end up with a great picture. We do teams and individual photography. We don’t do anything else as far as photography. We changed our name to Sports Zone Imaging, because we felt there was an opportunity for some vertical integration in marketing. We also along with the leagues that we have and the schools we have, we do trophies and we do uniforms, and we do custom shirts and things like that which fit right into what our clients needs are.
DAMIEN: So the custom memorabilia mugs, mouse pads, team bags, etc.
GERRY: Yeah, exactly, everything…sublimations , custom plaques. We put their pictures and names on virtually anything.
DAMIEN: What kind of turnaround time do you have on items like that?
GERRY: We give our leagues and schools, we give them a 3 week turn around time.
DAMIEN: Very nice, in deed.
GERRY: Yeah.
DAMIEN: Certain parents like to have photos of their young athletes and stuff like that. How do you handle request for certain picture sizes and poses?
GERRY: Well we don’t give people options on poses unless they are doing what we call a “buddy shot” where they have the family or they have their friends on the team together, and then we will custom pose them, and they pay an extra fee for that, but when we are shooting the whole team, the whole league, we have 6 poses which everybody uses. We don’t really give them options. When you’re dealing with that many kids, you don’t have time to sit down and pose every individual child separately.
DAMIEN: How many teams or athletes would you say you guys photograph in a year?
GERRY: I think we’re up to about 32,000 right now.
DAMIEN: Wow. That’s a lot of children.
GERRY: Yeah, that’s a lot of kids.
DAMIEN: Yes it is in deed. Well what’s going to be happing for Sports Zone in 2011, Gerry, anything new on the horizon?
GERRY: Again a request to add additional marketing opportunities. We have actually added some…we will be providing actually food service trailers on days where we do big shoots where we do 800-1000 kids and we are out there 4 or 5 hours. We’re actually now bringing out a food trailer where we prepare food on site. It gives us a chance to make some more money off the people that are there. We also provide that service on site for events that they are doing, tournaments that they are doing. We are also bringing out equipment to do custom t-shirts, sweatshirts on-site at tournaments. So that is all new this year.
DAMIEN: How far out does Sports Zone Imaging range from Ventura?
GERRY: We probably go 150 miles total. Maybe 75 miles north and 75 miles south, and go all the way up to San Luis Epispo and down as far as Central Los Angeles.
DAMIEN: Well, Jerry, if someone wants more information on Sports Zone Imaging, where do they go? How can they find you?
GERRY: They can go to our website or they can call us at our studio at (805) 658-5634 or they can send an email to We’d love to talk to anybody.
DAMIEN: We’d like to thank you very much for joining us today and talking to us about Sports Zone Imaging.
GERRY: Thanks, Damien. I appreciate it. You have a good day.
DAMIEN:  We’ve been speaking with Jerry Waite of Sports Zone Imaging in Ventura, California. You have been listening to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen, everybody have a great afternoon.  
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