We will be covering the 2017 Houston Judges Cup hosted by Woodlands Gymnastics Academy this weekend (September 30-October 1.) This is always a fun meet, with a cool theme and neat activities at awards time. I hope each of you has a safe trip to and from the meet, lots of fun at the meet,and an awesome meet as you compete. This year's theme is "Girls Just Want to Have Fun! 80's style . . .". Be sure to stop by my booth and say HI! Be sure you get a meet flyer and register AT THE MEET for some of the best deals we have ever offered (three awesome deals that are ONLY available while the meet is happening--You snooze, you lose--Don't miss out!)
Several gyms which are traditionally at this meet are still closed from Hurricane Harvey. Please continue to remember, pray for, and financially suport (if you are able) the relief efforts to help our friends at those gyms. See the fundraising page for the Gymnastics Association of Texas at www.gatx.org. Also see more information at the Texas USAG site:www.txusag.com. Thanks for your help!
Last year, I offered several packages at meets with BIG discounts compared to my normal gallery pricing. I and my system were totally overwhelmed by the response. It took 3 months after the season to recover, and there were many times in the spring that I wondered if we would recover at all. I couldn't go through that again. So . . .
This summer I rewrote our entire website! All the new galleries will be shown on my website gallery system. We will not be using the archaic platform that you and I suffered with for the last several years.
I have tested many things during the compulsory qualifier meets this fall. The biggest thing I have found is that the meet PreOrdering is now working like a champ. I am bringing it back. This weekend (at the 2017 Houston Judges Cup meet) I will re-introduce the PreOrdering system. I will offer parents of all Judges Cup competitors three blowout deals DURING THE MEET. The minute the last gymnast finishes her routine, the PreOrder sale will end. Receive ALL of your gymnast's live action images as electronic image files in one of three sizes: 1. Small images good for emailing to family/friends or social media ($25), 2. Medium images which will print at up to 4x6 size ($35), or 3. Large images which will make quality prints at up to 8x12 ($45). You'll get around 25-45 images for that price. I will not have the images organized and uploaded AT THE MEET, but I will have a slideshow playing on a monitor at my booth so you can see they actual images we are capturing for you.
These packages will offer the lowest price-point for all your images that I will offer at any time.
You may be asking, "What is the catch? Is this offer really that good?"
First of all, the offer is THAT GOOD. When the gallery opens if you order single image files, they are priced as follows: Small files $15 each, Medium files $25 each, and Large files $35 each. If you like only 2 of the images you receive, you are better off with one of the PreOrder Deals.
Secondly, there is NO CATCH, unless you think the time limit is a catch. If you order AT THE MEET, I can process all the orders withing 10-14 days and be done with this meet. I save a lot of money since I don't have people sitting around waiting for orders over the next 60 days. I pass those savings on to you! It also makes my life a lot simpler. Some people may consider that ordering before seeing all the images is a CATCH. I know the type of images we capture. I hear the compliments of the people who buy from us. I know that for the VAST MAJORITY of people, this is not a problem. If, however, the gallery opens and you don't like your gymnast's images, it's okay. Just shoot me an email, and I'll refund your money. In fact, I'll email you BEFORE I send your images to make sure you are happy with the images. If you are not happy, I will refund your money and I will not burden you with images that you don't like. It is just that siimple! I won't be happy until you are happy.
Check with us at each meet to see what event or events we are covering at that meet.
Capital Gymnastics hosted a Qualifier Meet for District 4 gyms this weekend. Over 450 competitors put on a cool show of gymnastics for us. As far as I can tell, we didn't miss any gymnasts as they performed on the balance beam. I am working to finish organizing the images and upload them to my web server. It will take about 24 hours to upload the over 18,000 images from the meet. If you haven't yet registered, be sure you do so (follow the instructions on the meet flyer I passed out before each session. Beginning on Monday after the meet, everyone who registered will receive the gallery link and password in the meet information emails.
Remember that the gallery system is like a front door with a handle lock AND a deadbolt. You must be logged in to your account in the Sports Photos USA website AND you must have the gallery password from the meet information website in order to access the gallery images. My belief is that people who are not friends or family of gymnasts competing at a meet we cover have NO BUSINESS browsing the images of the gallery. Hopefully these steps will help deter the "creepers" from gaining access. Thanks for understanding.
The District 4 Qualifier Meet hosted by Jason Jarrett and his team at Capital Gymnastics is underway. The level 4 gymnasts are looking like champions. Good luck to everyone competing!
With the Gymnastics Association of Texas convention (GAT) coming so close on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, a lot of gyms from the Beaumont-Houston-Corpus corridor are not in attendance this year. The stories of destruction, however, are being discussed all around the convention. Thankfully, we have not heard of injury or loss of life among the gymnastics community, but the loss of your livelihood is also devastating. When water levels reach the second floor of your gym, you aren't going to be back in business any time soon. Not only does the owner lose a business (even if only temporarily), but coaches and other employees lose their income as well. Of course, gymnasts lose training time. For those gymnasts striving to earn a college scholarship, this could be a severe blow to those efforts.
GAT is acting quickly to support gyms that have been adversely impacted, and has established a fund to assist these gyms, their owners and employees. USA Gymnastics is joining with GAT in the fundraising efforts. I have attached a copy of the press release announcing the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
Please remember these people in your prayers and consider contributing to the relief efforts. Here is the link to donate: http://squareup.com/store/gymnastics-association-of-texas. You can help with your donations, your prayers, and even your physical assistance when possible. Perhaps, though, the most importsnt thing you can do is spread the word. Please share this post and the one on my facebook page so that we can use social networking for its highest and best use. Share the story with your friends and family, and let's get the word out about helping our fellow members of the gymnastics community. Thanks in advance for your assistance!
Everyone is familiar with the greenscreen system that allows the television weather person to stand in front of his or her weather maps. Those maps are not actually there. The weather person stands in front of a blue or green wall and the computer replaces everything of that color with the image of the weather maps. This is called chromakeying. Our system does basically the same thing. We remove all the original backdrop color and you get to replace it with the background of your choice from our virtual background library.
Many people have asked about the blue floor. The backstory is that we experimented with full length chromakeying, but the parents (and I) hated it. An automated system simply can't extract a gymnast from the original images and place her in front of a backdrop and have her look natural. There are no contextual clues to "tie her" into the virtual backgroun. She invariably looks like she is floating in the air in front of the backdrop. We solved that issue by photographing a gymnast where she looks the most normal, on a blue floor. Occasionally, though, I hear from parents who want the floor removed. That is possible, but for her to look right, more editing must be done. The background itself has to be modified since it will then have to do double duty as backdrop and background. Then shadows have to be added. It simply something that one of our artists has to do manually. There is a $20 editing fee for each image/background combination we prepare.
In speaking with a mom this week about her daughter's images, however, she asked if I could make the floor black. I didn'g give that much thought because a black floor would tend to look strange (true black has no detail or texture in it. Overnight, however, I realized the we could modify the color of the floor to coordinate with either the backdrop or a color in the leotard. I never considered this idea because the blue carpet is the quintessential look of gymnastics . . . or it used to be. In the last several years, I have seen pink floors, maroon floors, beige floors, and gray floors. Gymnastics has gone psychedelic! So, we have decided to go with the trend. Not only does it keep all the context clues telling the viewer that your gymnast was actually on that floor, but it saves you money. This is a much easier edit to do than trying to make a gymnast realistically look like she is part of the backdrop scene. We tried it, and she loved it. The total cost to her for the edit was only $7.50. Thanks, Lee Ann, for pushing me to think outside of the box.
So, as of today, you have another option in your arsenal to customize your gymastics portraits!
The Virtual Background choices for photographs on our Virtual Reality set is growing again! For years we were stuck with plain cloth backdrops that couldn't be changed. Then we began using a projected background system, but the images were fixed as soon as they were captured in the camera. Today our chromakey system allows us to give you the chance to pick your background at the time you order. We now have almost dozens of choices. Almost all of the backgrounds are available for horizontal poses as well as vertical ones.
Choose from patriotic background featuring flags or eagles, or put the cheering crowd behind you. Your tastes may be more abstract, wanting more shapes and colors. Or you might be looking for an inpressionistic rendering of a gym, a workout area, or a meet setting. There are also cool backgrounds that have only been available in our poster lines until now. I am pretty confident that there is something for almost everyone. Visit your gym's portrait gallery and try as many backgrounds as you like. Pick your favorite and place your order. Your prints will have your personally selected background!
We will be rolling out almost 5 dozen new backgrounds over the 2017-18 season, so keep your eyes open for the new additions. If you simply can't find anything that makes you happy, send me an email and attache a photo of something you like. I can't promise that every suggestion will be adopted, but we will consider them all.
That's all for now!
We photographed the fall sports teams at Jacksonville High School last weekend. Volleyball is already playing, football players are getting ready for the first game of the season, and the cross country teams are looking forward to an awesome season. We will cover as many games as our hectic travel schedule allows. Watch for the game galleries here. Good luck Indians and Maidens!
The 2017 Compulsory Meet season in Texas is underway. If the competition hosted at Atascocita High School by Coach Justin James is any indication, the gymnasts are ready to compete. We photographed all the girls on the balance beam. Here is a sample of what is in the gallery ladies. Congratulations on a successful meet, gymnasts and coaches. We'll see you soonl
This year we have a few surprises for you. Here is the first one, and it's a big one.
We have DELETED our best selling item from our online catalog. That's right, our "All your images on USB thumb drive" will NOT be available when our galleries are active. It was too labor-intensive in the midst of a heavy meet schedule, and it caused our delivery times to suffer.
We will offer this item AT THE MEETS, however, so you can take your images home with you. To keep it simple we will not mail these. Order yours during the competition and pick it up before you leave. To help manage long lines, we will not take any orders after the competition ends for your session.
There is no better gift than memories. I hear former gymnasts all the time talking about their precious memories they have of the sport. Not a single one has ever said "I have too many photographs of me competing." Our photos are a time machine taking us back to the moments that mean so much to us. I look at images of my daughter's gymnastics photos and I can feel and smell the gyms where I photographed her competing. I remember the state meet where she absolutely aced the vault. I can also remember the meet in Plano where she simply couldn't stay on the beam (3 falls); it was a rough day.
Why not give the gift of memories? It's easy to do. Visit our Gift Card page (the link is at the top of the page in the right-side menu. Choose the amount you want to give, answer the prompts, add it to your cart and check out. Your gift will be sent on the day you select directly to the email address you indicate.
Your gymnast will love you for it!
Sports Photos USA has been selected to cover the District 5 Compulsory Qualifier at Atascocita H.S. on October 12-13! Be sure to stop by our booth at the meet. We are going to have some surprises this year! You don't want to miss out. We will hand out a meet flyer before each session. If you arrive late or don't get one, we'll have one at our booth. Be sure you get one.
Gymnasts, I hope every single one of you has a great meet. We'll see you at the meet!
I promised that we would have a blowout sale on our cool live-action posters this summer. I have finished upgrading our entire system--everything from registering with us at meets to the approval of poster designs and everything in between. We have have scrutinized everything to make it easier and more enjoyable to use.
With the redesign completed, the big Summer Sale is here! Click on Summer Sales (in the menu on the right side of the home page under the RAGE posters slideshow. The sale runs from today until August 20.
Here is how it works. Visit the gallery where your favorite images are and decide which ones you want to use (mark them as favorites to make a later step easier.) Then go to the Summer Sales section on our main website. Select the poster or blanket you wish to order. Check out and watch for your receipt email. When the order reaches us, we will send you an instruction email for how to communicate your chosen images to us (please follow the steps we explain in the email). We will email you to confirm that we received the image selections. Poster design takes about 3-5 weeks. You will have a chance to review and approve the poster before we send it to the lab to print.
Today we activated a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) on our website. "What the heck is an SSL?", you may be asking. Well, let me try to explain.
SSL is used to keep sensitive information sent across the Internet encrypted so that only the intended recipient can understand it. This is important because the information you send us on the Internet is passed from computer to computer to get to our server. Without encryption, any computer between you and our server can see usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information. Since we've added the SSL certificate, the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server to which you are sending the information. This protects it from hackers and identity thieves.
In addition to encryption, a proper SSL certificate also provides authentication. This means you can be sure that you are sending information to the right server and not to an imposter trying to steal your information.
Web browsers give visual cues, such as a lock icon or a green bar, to let you know when your connection is secured (see the photo with this post.) This means that you can trust our website when you see these cues. The address of the site will also begin with "https" for a secure site. Be sure to watch for these cues next time you visit. Better yet, look in your browser's address bar right now to see these cues.
THE LOCK ICON IS NOT JUST A PICTURE! Click (or double-click) on it to see details of our site's security (this works on any secure site.) This is important to know because some fraudulent web sites are built with a bar at the bottom of the web page to imitate the lock icon of your browser! Therefore it is necessary to test the functionality built into this lock icon. Furthermore, it is very important to KNOW YOUR BROWSER! Check your browser's help file or contact the makers of your browser software if you are unsure how to use this functionality.
Try it! - Visit our home page (http://www.sportsphotosusa.com). Click the link to "Log in" . Note the lock icon display in YOUR browser. Click the icon, or double-click (varies by browser), and examine the security information displayed about the web site. If there is no display at the bottom of your browser try clicking "View" in the main menu and make sure "Status Bar" is checked.
The SOLO poster is a 16x20 poster featuring your single favorite image. For the 2016-17 competition year, there are three styles of SOLO poster:
- the Signature (see photo for this post),
- the Honeycomb, and
- the Water Blast.
Choose your favorite image, and style and have your own classic poster.
2016 Woodlands Judges Cup -- Each of our poster designs includes a specific number of images in its base price. The Multiplicity posters include 4-6 images. "But wait," you say, "I see 9 images in this Multiplicity poster. Yes, some of our posters may have extra images added to them for an extra price. At Woodlands Gymnastics Academy, the meet layout provides a really "clean" background at the Uneven Parallel Bars for gymnasts in flight B. In this poster, the 9 images really tell the story of an awesome bars routine.
I train all my photographers to look for the "big moments" in every routine. We may not get them all, but we strive to capture as many as possible. We look for the top of the jump or the moment of the highest intensity, concentration, or focus. Here a gymnast at the 2016 Level 8 Region III Championships is totally tuned in to her routine as she reaches the top of her straddle jump. While many moms say, "She's not looking at the camera," I would almost guarantee you that this is a memory that she will treasure forever.
Though twenty-five years of photographing gymnasts, I have developed a sense of the "Art of Gymnastics." In fact, my business card bears that very tagline. Many people think that tagline refers to our work being the Art. The reality, though, is that the gymnast is the Art. Our job is to capture the Art she produces. I train all my photographers to look for "The Moments" -- the poses, jumps, leaps, kicks, etc. We strive to capture the moment of maximum extension or height. I have learned that every routine is different (even at the compulsory levels) because each gymnast has her own interpretation of the skills she performs. For some, their primary aptitude may be rhythm, and so she will flow right through her moves and poses. Others will have crisp, concise movements, punctuating each pose with a small pause as if to say, "Make sure you see this!" Some gymnasts emphasize their flexibility by exaggerating every extension. For others, strength is their defining talent. It is fun to watch as they slowly press to a handstand from a straddle. It is amazing as they fight gravity and come down in a very controlled manner.
It is from this point of view that I developed the Digital Painting series. There is so much in a gymnastics meet that distracts from viewing the gymnast's Art. People, chairs, coaches, other gymnasts, and decorations in the venue are all vying for the viewer's attention as they look at the image of your gymnast's special skill. We developed a painting technique (in our various editing software) where we mimic the color pallette of the original image and get rid of the "noisy" background elements. The seemingly random brush strokes of color are painted over the distracting background to allow the viewer to actually focus on the Art in the painting (your gymnast). After you approve the painting in our preview system, your image is printed to artist's canvas and shipped to you in a tube. You can take the canvas to an craft or framing store (like Hobby Lobby) and have them mount the canvas to foamcore and put it in one of their frames very economically. While it is not quite the same as a canvas on a strecher frame, it is significantly less expensive.
We can also completely finish the piece for you, but the shipping cost of a mounted and framed 16x20 canvas is around $75 (depending upon the carrier and the destination.)
2016 Powerhouse TNT Judges Cup -- We are expanding our line of poster styles this year with the Multiplicity posters for Bars and Vault. Digitally capturing images allows to use powerful editing software to create a poster reminescent of the multi-exposure images from the days of film. We can only offer this at meets where the layout allows us to position the cameras for capturing images compatible with this poster. Watch for our announcements at the meets.
2016 Pensacola Classic Invitational in Pensacola, FL -- The smile tells the story of this gymnast from the host gym (Pensacola Gymnastics). In the final pose of her floor exercise, she rolls the toes on her left foot in this kneeling lunge. Regardless of the pressure on that left ankle, that expression tells you she nailed this routine!
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