Fan Cutouts as Photocrafting

Fans still fill stadiums and arenas even though they can’t attend in person.

I get a kick out of seeing the cardboard cutouts of people’s faces in the stands when we watch athletic games these days. It seems like a nice reminder that fans do exist for the players, and it’s a creative response to the covid rules that limit crowds. Plus, our college athlete granddaughter says it’s “cool to have them.” But recently I realized that I’m seeing photocrafting in action! How do those photos get there anyway? Turns out it’s not too difficult for seasoned photocrafters, even newbies!

Do you have a favorite sports team? You will need to search “fan cutouts’ and the name of your team to find out if fan cutouts are available and specifically how to get your photo into their stands and what it costs. However, here’s the basic outline. (P.S. full disclosure — although we typically have done the photocrafting we talk about in, I have not ordered a fan cutout. I merely took the process far enough to be sure I understood at least one method for creating the fan cutouts.)

1. Take the photo; this is the tricky part!

Note that you need reasonably good lighting and a solid background, You want to have someone take your photo (or set up a timer on your camera.). Be sure you’re facing front and that anything you want seen is within your body width. Here are the guidelines from the Los Angeles Dodgers site:

The guidelines for photos always suggest facing the camera directly with a solid background.

The Portland Trail Blazers have an interestingly different twist. They basically use only your head and neck and let you choose one of three team clothing designs.

2. Sign up with your sports team

There are a range of ways to create cutouts for teams. Some sites ask you simply to upload a photo following guidelines much like those above; other sites offer templates so you can see how your photo will look in the cutout. When you go to your sports team site, you may find that you pay first and then upload the image or upload your image and put it in a cart for checkout and payment. The University of North Carolina allows you to upload a photo and order but as far as I could find, there’s nothing that indicates how your finished cutout appears. The University of Nebraska site displays the template. You can upload a photo and see it displayed inside the template for some basic edits (move left/right/up/down, increase/decrease size). Similarly the Georgia Tech site displays your image in the cutout template before you make a purchase.

Prices I’ve found range from $50 to over $100. The price is often discounted if you’re a season ticket holder and increases if you want a special section of the seating area or if you want the cutout signed by a player or coach.

3. Upload your photo

The Portland Trail Blazers cutout site allows you to upload your photo into a template so that you see how it will look. I had a photo that wasn’t taken against a solid background and that’s clearly a mistake. (The Trail Blazers site offers excellent suggestions for taking your photo correctly much like those above.) Also, my shoulders weren’t quite square but the rotation only seemed to go in one direction (i.e. I couldn’t “lower” my left shoulder.). I was able to do some off-line editing of the image and got a result I liked.

Many of the teams offer an option for you to retrieve your cutout at the end of the season. Some even provide general photos of seating sections to help you find your photo. Most will allow an animal or other figure instead of your person but there are limits. These from Loyola Marymount University are typical:

  • You may NOT include
    • Commercial advertisements, including slogans, websites, social media handles and phone numbers.
    • Offensive or negative references to any other university, franchise, or team.
    • A competitors teams clothing
    • Statements or endorsements of political candidates.
    • Third party marks/logos/branding on clothing or in the background of photos

If the photo cutouts look a little boring to you, try spicing up your cutout (to the extent your sports team allows.). The Los Angeles Dodgers launched ‘Pups at the Park‘ presented by Lucy Pet Foods, a special section just for its four-legged fans. Fans can now purchase a cutout for themselves and their dogs for $149.

Fans don’t have to be human!

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