I've posted this several times elsewhere on POTN - people are probably sick of seeing it.
It's essentially related to motorsports photography but the principles are the same for any sport.
It's a bit long, I know, but It covers most things you probably need to know and, dare I say, it tells it like it is.
A quick few words about my background.
I started my motorsport photography over 20 years ago when I stopped competing in rallies.
The biggest problem I and fellow competitors had back then was getting pics of ourselves.
When I finally parked the rally car, I still wanted to be involved. I picked up the camera and started taking pics at club level events to national championship level from spectator areas and selling them to competitors.
After a while I started submitting to a couple of motorsport magazines. It took a while but eventually, after about 3 years, I started getting some images published and then it snowballed from there to the point where I was able to get accreditation.
Today, I cover all types of motorsport and supply several magazines and agencies with images. I have also covered a number of different sports and events for image libraries including Federation Cup Tennis, International Netball, Wrestling, Pro Golf, AFL Football, International Soccer, Pro Cycling and several other sports and events. Later this week I will be coveruing the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide.
Firstly, what is your reason for wanting media credentials.
Are you a member of the media?
What can you give the organizers by your presence?
Media creds are usually only given to WORKING media. This means people working for and supplying bona fide media outlets ie: Magazines and newspapers and other recognised media outlets such as websites and press agencies.
I’ve been shooting sport, mainly motorsport for over 20 years, and still do club level and grass roots sports.
I supply several magazines and newspapers as well as photo agencies.
I often get asked…
”How do I get a pass to shoot from where you are?”
My reply usually goes something like this…
“How long have you been photographing (insert name of sport) and what outlet do you work for?
To which they reply something like…”Oh I never do. I just want to get in and shoot from where you are. I’m just taking photos for myself”
Ask yourself this…
If you’ve never taken a photograph of an American Football (substitute for any sport) game, would you approach the NFL (again substitute relevant organization) and say to them “Hey Mr NFL Media Man, I’ve never taken a photo of a grid iron game before but I think I’m a pretty good photographer, I’m not shooting for anyone except myself so you won’t get any publicity but can I have a media pass for the Superbowl…"
Seriously, what do you think they would say.
It would probably be cool to be there and you’d get off on it and brag to your friends, but seriously…
Unless you are working media, why should you be there.
Media credential's ARE NOT a free pass to get in to an event.
Admittedly, sometimes I have seen some people with creds who probably shouldn't have them - and people who probably should have them who don't - however it's not for me to make that decision.
I do sympathise with people who wish they could get creds for events and can't.
Event organizers are after publicity. You shooting for yourself does not give them that publicity and they do not have an obligation to give you a media pass just because you think you should have one. It is up to you to justify why you should be accredited.
Remember that the 'togs you see shooting at a track or sporting event etc are being paid by somebody therefore IT IS A JOB. They are not there for the fun of it.
Imagine if somebody came into your work place and thought it looks like cool job, do you think they'd just be able to start doing what you were for the fun of it?
Also, there is a whoooole lot more to it than just standing by the track and taking photo's. There are deadlines (sometimes very short) to meet and as a rule I would suggest that for the same amount of time spent trackside there is at least 1/2 to 3/4 of that time to be spent on editing, sending images etc when the day at the track has finished. If you spend 8 hours at the track, then you will usually spend another four to six hours, at least, once you have left the track on editing etc.
I attend a lot of events where I don't have creds so I do know what it's like from behind the fence or in the bleachers, but I still manage to get good and sometimes great images.
It makes you see things differently and find different angles and ways of shooting.
I'd estimate that about 50% of events I go to, I don't have the magic press pass and pay to get in like everyone else.
Sometimes I'm just there for being there, and sometimes it might be a sport I've never shot before but want to see what it's like. Occasionally I do manage to sell some images.
Also, just because you have good gear doesn't mean you should be there either.
I've seen some 'togs with basic DSLR's and kit lenses take some better stuff than guys with 1D's and white lenses (and Nikon equivalent). I occasionally use a 400D with the 10-22 lens and have had those images published. I also use a sigma 10mm fisheye.
In closing, I will say this...
THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS.
If you want to have creds for big events, start shooting the grass roots of that sport (no it's not glamorous like the big events - but you'll probably make more money) and start supplying images to publications etc.
This is a great way to get yourself known to event organisers. They learn to know who you are and that you are committed to photographing their sport and being known is half the battle. This is not going to take 5 minutes and may take several years, yes... I did say years.
To do this you need to have passion for both the sport and your photography.
You must be prepared to put up with the elements, rain, hail, shine, and depending on the hemisphere, maybe snow (not generally an issue in Australia) etc etc.
Just like any job, sometimes it will NOT be fun and just plain hard work.
It just depends on how hard you are prepared to work to get there.
Except when learning to swim, always start at the bottom.
I see too many people trying to start right at the top. it doesn't work that way.
Apologies if this appears blunt and straight to the point, but it is fact.