As a professional sports photographer, workflow is a vital part of my business. My clients have many options, and without a consistent, speedy workflow that immediately delivers my photos from the game, they can easily go to one of the other 20 photographers or agencies at the game for their coverage. I'm a staff photographer for the sports agency Icon Sports Media (www.iconsportsmedia.com), where my schedule consists of two to three shoots per week, as well as making edits to incoming photos from our contract photographers. My complex workflow demands consistency whether I'm in the office or out in the field. This is no longer a problem thanks to Spitfire Photo Pro (www.spitfirephoto.com).
While on assignment for a football game, I usually take between two to three camera bodies, with a Canon EOS 1D Mark III as my main camera. The majority of the time I use the following five lenses: a 400mm f/2.8; 70-200mm f/2.8; 24-70mm f/2.8; 16-35mm f/2.8; and a Canon 1.4x extender. During the game, I'll shoot 800 to 1,200 images, which will take up about four to five SanDisk Extreme IV 4GB cards shooting in raw mode.
To quickly process and review about 20GB of images, I use an Apple MacBook Pro and SanDisk FireWire card reader to import photos into Camera Bits' Photo Mechanic software. After the photos are on my computer, I quickly tag my first edit selections and caption them using code replacement files, which are premade before the start of the game and imported into the software. I then do a light edit of levels and apply a small amount of sharpening in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
I take my first edit (usually a small number, between 20 and 25) and upload this initial set to Icon's online archive, which is powered by Spitfire Photo Pro. Photo Mechanic's FTP features connect directly with Spitfire Photo to allow direct export and publishing to the web. After the initial upload, I go back over my take, make a better scan of my photos, and use color selections in Photo Mechanic to more deeply edit my photos.
From a shoot I'll usually end up with anywhere from 150 to 200 nice stock and news photos that I'll archive on Icon's site. Spitfire Photo's rapid upload tools ingest my images quickly so that they're up on the web and available for magazine, newspaper, and website editors within minutes after the game or right after a key play.
In addition, the website's access system streamlines the process by ensuring only the clients that I give download rights to can access my high-resolution image files. Clients can browse or search the images directly from our website using captions and keywords to find what they need. They can create and manage their own lightboxes within the system and use the built-in distribution capabilities to download or FTP several images at a time with one click. The download tracking features make it easy to follow up and see which images were used by our clients.
Thanks to the extreme versatility of the Spitfire Photo platform, the Icon website has a unique look and feel to match the brand that we've worked so hard to build. Spitfire's new Design Studio features make the process of customizing the website easy, while still providing the flexibility that we need to integrate our brand throughout. Our clients only see the Icon Sports Media name, whether they're browsing, searching, or logging in to download.
Besides providing rapid image availability to our editorial clients, we also offer prints and other types of merchandise available for sales to fans visiting our website. Spitfire's e-commerce engine makes setting this up easy. They take care of everything from collecting the money to fulfilling our orders through their professional print lab. They're fast, the print quality is fantastic, and they take care of my customer support.
I've tried almost everything in my pursuit for the most streamlined solution to get my photos online and to my clients quickly. I've finally found the answer with the speed and flexibility of Spitfire Photo Pro, by far the only available platform that can tackle our demanding editorial and image distribution workflows, as well as offer streamlined e-commerce and fulfillment capabilities. It's a complete online package.
Dustin Snipes is a staff photographer and editor for Icon Sports Media (www.iconsportsmedia.com) in Los Angeles, CA. His work has been published in almost every major news publication in the United States, including Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Seattle Times, and LA Times, as well as ESPN, among others. In 2006 Snipes was awarded the SportsShooter.com Photographer of the Year. For more information about Dustin Snipes or to view his portfolio, go to www.dustinsnipes.com.