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How do you freelancers get access?
Jeffery Patch, Student/Intern, Photographer
Huntington Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 10:04 PM on 03.07.07
->> Ok this may be a stupid question or maybe it's one of those secrets that people who aren't in the know aren't allowed to hear. But, I have no clue and can't find anything about it on the message board so I'll take my chances and ask.

How do so many freelancers get credentials for all these big events? I see a TON of people shooting UFC and other sporting events as freelancers. I understand that newspapers and big wire services almost always get credentials, but are freelancers able to submit requests just like the bigger guys? Or are they typically shooting for a publication?

I just couldn't imagine calling a local baseball team and saying, "Hi, I'm a freelancer, can I have credentials for the game on Tuesday night?"

Maybe I should.

How's this process work?
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Andrew Smith, Photographer
Ross-shire | UK | Scotland | Posted: 10:28 PM on 03.07.07
->> Ask a paper if you can do it for them, or a magazine or even a web site. Failing that, call the organiser/promoter and just tell them the truth: You're a freelancer who wants to start covering bigger events. Often you'll get a polite refusal, often you'll get a yes. Doesn't hurt to ask.

Some people adamantly insist that ASKING POLITELY isn't enough to get you credentials. I can tell you from personal experience that it often is.

Honesty and sincerity will get you a long way.

Use other people's weakness to your advantage: Just think how many wannabe photogs are ringing up for media passes, trying to bluff their way in, pretending to be something they're not. Event organisers must roll their eyes every time they field one of those calls. Then they get a call from the guy who says upfront that he's freelance and politely asks for permission to come and shoot the event. You're already miles ahead.
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Margaret Bowles, Photographer
Houston | TX | | Posted: 10:30 PM on 03.07.07
->> It's been my experience that the pro leagues and large colleges don't credential freelancers. Freelancers, like me, have to get credentials through a publication or wire service. I have a paper in Charlotte that credentials me; I shoot under their banner, not my own. You have to beat the bushes; they aren't easy to come by.
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Walter Calahan, Photographer
Westminster | MD | USA | Posted: 10:40 PM on 03.07.07
->> What Margaret said.
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Chris Large, Photographer
Okotoks | Alberta | Canada | Posted: 10:46 PM on 03.07.07
->> On some events, look at who has commercial advertising on the venue. Say its Bob's Restaurant...he has purchased the big sign at the back of the baseball field where the home run ball goes over, or one of the signs on the hockey boards. Maybe Bob has enough juice to request that he wants a shooter to gets some shots of action with his ad in the BG. If he's paying enough then the host ( team ) may provide him with credentials to accommodate his request.

This won't usually work with big time NFL, NBA or NHL but smaller markets, smaller venues it might be a foot in the door. You use this to network, build up a portfolio, make contacts. And maybe to get Bob as a commercial contact to shoot other things for him.

I've found that just getting out there and talking...and more important listening to people around you will help you.

It's a hard grind....but you need to work at it and try and move step at a time.
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Alex Menendez, Photographer
Orlando | FL | USA | Posted: 6:26 AM on 03.08.07
->> It also depends on the outlet for the photos. Are you going to keep them and for what purpose? If you shoot for an organization (paper, mag, internet, sponsor) then who owns "your" images?
If you are doing it to simply say that you were there then chances are you will be sitting in the stands like all the other spectators.
I would suggest you get to know the other shooters in the area who are credentialed, watch what they do and how they behave, perhaps they will get double booked or sick and may call on your services. If you do indeed get in and shoot, play nice with the media folks at the event and introduce yourself that way. Its not always how good of a shooter you are, unfortunately its who at the top knows you and wants to let you in...if you are a freelancer.
I've found that the credential folks in my area know each other very well even though they are in different sports, piss one off and kiss your chances goodbye to shoot other area events.
Good luck,

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Alan Look, Photographer
Bloomington | IL | United States | Posted: 7:55 AM on 03.08.07
->> Pretty much what Margaret said. I have only been credentialed on my own after attending a particular event for a number of years and the promoters have got to know me. This doesn't happen everywhere. The majority still want to know who your client is.
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Mark McIntyre, Photographer
Greensboro | NC | USA | Posted: 8:37 AM on 03.08.07
->> Start with taking some great & unique images of other minor sporting events. Have images that other photographers are not doing. Don't be afraid to walk up to Athletic Directors and Sports Information folks and show them your work. I started with minor league hockey and moved to baseball & finally basketball. In college it was a daily dose of woman's field, men's lacrosse, baseball, tennis, fencing, and cross country... Capturing great exciting images is the key to opening doors to other events.
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Donald Montague, Photographer
Orlando | FL | | Posted: 9:39 AM on 03.08.07
->> hey Alex, I need coverage in Lake placid NY, and since i hate the cold you seem perfect to cover it for me.

as for the post Margaret said it all.
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Mark Buffalo, Photographer
Lonoke | AR | USA | Posted: 9:47 AM on 03.08.07
->> As far as beating the bushes, two of my teams have made it to the state championship basketball games in Arkansas and I've been contacted by 3 or 4 different freelance photographers who say they will be shooting the games and wanted to know if I needed photos from them.

Unfortunately, I had to turn them down since I write my own stories and shoot my own pics.
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William Maner, Photographer
Biloxi | MS | USA | Posted: 7:16 PM on 03.08.07
->> Like Margaret said, very few freelancers can gain access to big events. You have to be representing some established media outlet.

On the college level, I've been on the Sports Information Director's side of the table.. Most of those are pretty sharp about who's who in the media..

Sometimes you get lucky.. I can recall some 35+ years ago when I was in high school.. I went to an area college football game.. It was Homecoming.. The biggest game of the year.. I was trying to get on the sidelines to take photos.. I was a somewhat naive high school kid with a lot of gumption.. Outside the stadium, I asked around about who to see for a sideline pass.. I was told to go see "so and so".. I went looking for him.. Found him.. He gave me the brush-off by saying to go see another fella--the assistant athletic director of the school..

I didn't have a clue as to who he was or where I could find him.. This was like an hour before kick-off.. I got a program and looked at the VIP photos.. Saw the guy's picture.. I waited outside the press box gate to see if he showed up.. About 15 or 20 minutes later he walked up, with our Congressman in tow.. The school was going to honor the retiring Congressman in a pre-game ceremony..

I was young, daring and full of nerve.. I just walked up and asked the ass't AD for a pass. He wasn't expecting such a request.. He was at a loss for words.. Finally, he replied "Why should I give you a pass?" The Congressman was standing there listening.. I said, "well, I think you're a nice guy and I'd really like to take some pictures..".. He was shocked.. He didn't know what to say.. I guess he didn't want to look like a bad guy in front of the Congressman.. He blushingly reached in his coat pocket and pulled out a pass and gave it to me.. He said, "be careful down there son.".. I replied "THANK YOU SIR!!!" with the biggest smile I could muster..

Whenever I think back at that situation, it was certainly a "being in the right place at the right time" moment. Having one of the most powerful Congressmen in the country standing there was also a big piece of luck...
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Andrew Bright, Photographer
Auckland | New Zealand | New Zealand | Posted: 5:12 AM on 03.12.07
->> This isn't a direct answer, but I've found that over time, enthusiasm and hard work gets you everywhere you want to in life.
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Tami Chappell, Photographer
Metro Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 9:12 AM on 03.12.07
->> This won't be a popular answer but I think if you are freelancing you should be ON ASSIGNMENT for someone. In order to do that you need to get some experience whether its at a smaller or medium newspaper and go freelance with clients in hand. I cannot imagine trying to go straight from school and begin freelancing without any real world experience.
I will add I just spent 4 days next to a "freelancer" during the SEC tourney (which had the most "freelancers" I have ever seen at the tournament in 15 years). This freelancer talked thru the entire freaking game, listened to music or played his little handheld game, took his spot and half of mine and when Arkansas left the court after a win....yelled over to them "it wasn't over". Obviously, that sure makes everyone look bad.
I am a freelancer myself but I have freelanced for Reuters for 16 years. I only freelance on assignment. There is no doubt there are more freelancers now more than ever and I would dare to say that the majority are working spec.
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Jim Leary, Photographer
Staten Island | NY | USA | Posted: 3:33 PM on 03.12.07
->> In sports photography, sometimes it can be a case of who you know not necessarily what you know. I'm not saying that you don't need talent because you most certainly do but knowing the right people goes a long way. "Getting your foot in the door" in this business is a key, and over the years I have seen less than the best go pretty far thanks to their talent in promoting themselves.

Unless you are fortunate to have an "in", the straightforward request is a good way to go but rather than trying for the big leagues, start at the bottom and work your way up. Try to get in to a minor league game even if its a single A baseball game and work up from there. Perhaps you'll meet some people like team representatives who may help you get to the next level. The thing you want to do is get material for your portfolio. After a while you may be able to show your work to a local newspaper or magazine and get a credential to the big leagues. Somehow, some way you need something to show and as you shoot get to know team people such as the Public Relations representative and go from there. Your own public relations will take you a long way. Combine good PR with good photography and you should do well. I've definitely seen enough average photographers with good PR skills and the luck of being in the right place at the right time make it in this industry. Improve your skills but always remember too that the "gift of the gab" can get you a long way in this profession. Good Luck.
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Bert Entwistle, Photographer
Colorado Springs | CO | USA | Posted: 5:56 PM on 03.12.07
->> Jeffery,

Welcome to the world of freelance photography. I think that you should look at this as part of of the learning of the craft.

Like any business, there is a learning curve, and getting into the "big events" is really not all that important early in your career.

Credentials are getting harder to come by even by the long time shooters. As a freelancer, I would recommend that you start by shooting everything in sight and start to build up a good portfolio.

Most of the time you will need to get your credentials from someone else to get you in, normally some type of publication. Those are the people to approach first, and have a portfolio handy to show them.

From this point on the quality of your work and your personality is everything. People you meet in the offices, the arena and in the general world is what it's all about.

I get tired of hearing people on this board and others talking about what jerks they meet on the sidlines and what smart ass answers they give them to their questions - you will regret having this kind of attitude.

Try and be good to everybody and answer their questions when time and circumstance permits, this will get you farther than anything else.

I will bore you with one example. I was on the road shooting a PBR event one time and a guy approached me and pestered me with questions and took some of my time away from my work. I didn't really care for him but tried to be as nice and helpful as I could.

We exchanged cards and I forgot all about him until a couple of months later when he called me from my business card and offered me a chance to shoot an Indy Car team at the local raceway, (Pikes Peak International Raceway).

I took the job, and the track manager saw some of my work and hired me as a track photographer, After that, I had unlimited access and many great jobs with various sponsors all the way up to the time they closed in 2005. That led to many other opportunities from there, I could have blown him off, but chose not to.

I guess what I'm saying is, use every thing you know about the business, keep your eyes and ears open and use your personality to make good relationships.

The credentials you want will come along eventually, just keep plugging along.

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Jim Leary, Photographer
Staten Island | NY | USA | Posted: 1:04 AM on 03.13.07
->> Bert really hit the nail on the head. Just be good to everyone you meet because you just never know who they are and how they may help you in the future. As Ralph Kramden put it, "be good to the people on the way up, because you're gonna meet the same people on the way down."

In time you will find that your personality goes a very long way in this business. We have some great talent in this industry but frankly, the vast majority of the photographers you run into at the games are simply average to good photographers with great Public Relations talents (perhaps some good BS skills) and a little luck to have been in the right place when it counted.

Talk it up, always be positive and be good to people you meet. All that and some photographic talent mixed in and you'll do fine as long as you maintain the drive to succeed. Good Luck.
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Joe Nicola, Photographer
Fort Worth | TX | USA | Posted: 9:38 AM on 03.13.07
->> And, hey, Jeffrey, when you do get your access, please follow the rules about where to sit/stand/kneel, etc. so as not to make it harder than it already is for the rest of us who are working or trying to work.

You're gonna find that some of these security guys grow really weary of having to keep people behind the lines because, invariably, it just makes them more sensitive to it and something become very militant about enforcing "the line."

I was shooting the Pointsettia Bowl in San Diego this last year and there were not one, but two photographers, who are members here on Sportsshooter, who felt that it was perfectly okay for them to park themselves inside the dashed lines infront of the foam barricades / advertising banners while the rest of crowded behind.

When I asked the security guys about this, they told me they weren't supposed to be there. But did they move them? No. Why? Who knows.

Could they have had special access? Why would a small paper be given special access inside the NCAA mandated safety zone?

Anyway, hang in there, Jeffrey. Follow Margaret's advice and keep pluggin'. That's how I got mine. Use your sportsshooter web site to highlight your work and send it often to photo editors and anyone who you think will offer you a crack at what you want. Try some of the sports annuals, too. I shoot for one and it's gotten me into several college bowl games...right where I want to be.

Good luck!
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James Lathrop, Photographer
rochester | ny | usa | Posted: 9:54 AM on 03.13.07
->> Lets NOT forget that these FREELANCERS also usually try to sell these pics when many times there are REAL photographers either hired by the tournament,team etc to provide professional high quality photos. In my case i have the exclusive contract to provide photos for all teams participating in the section v basketball tournament, YET there are FREELANCERS who somehow obtain permission to shoot, and i find the photos on their website. Now this is NOT a problem , as i just call the lawyer who works for the tournament, and sue them. 99 percent of the time their work is not even CLOSE to being of the same caliber as the working professional. SO to all of you people who are out there doing this, remember its NOT LEGAL !!! Its ONE thing working up a portfolio, but DONT try to take the money out of the hard working professionals out there because there WILL be repercussions. HOW many of us have seen people that have NO right or reason to be on the field , court etc just because they have SOMEONE that likes them get them credentials. We work hard and have perfected our craft to get where we are. YOU must do the same. Think how YOU would like it if you were hired to do the job and some amateur was trying to do that to you.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 1:10 PM on 03.13.07
->> James:

Freelancers aren't professional photographers???? I think there are a lot of people on the site that would beg to differ ;-)
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Nick Doan, Photographer
Scottsdale Phoenix Tempe | AZ | USA | Posted: 1:32 PM on 03.13.07
->> Interesting. Now, it begs the question, How does one go from being a FREELANCER to becoming a REAL PHOTOGRAPHER?

And, why would any of you REAL PHOTOGRAPHERS give up that metaphysical state of being and inner peace of being REAL to join the lowly ranks of us FREELANCERS?

Wait, this is a metaphysical discussion right? Or, does somebody just have a rather large chip on their shoulder? ;)
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Jeffery Patch, Student/Intern, Photographer
Huntington Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 1:34 PM on 03.13.07
->> This has become quite the thread. Thank you all for your advice, warnings, and encouragement. I hope it's useful to people other than just myself.

For what it's worth, I shot the Big West tournament this weekend for the second straight year and met a lot of people (including some SS members). Everybody was incredibly nice and helpful there and it really felt like a small community of people working together instead of competing against each other which some may argue is the reality. And thanks to that hard work, I'm off to the Columbus regional for the LBSU vs. Tennessee game. :)
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Jim Leary, Photographer
Staten Island | NY | USA | Posted: 5:46 PM on 03.13.07
->> Jeffrey,

Just stick with the positive attitude and promote that "community" feeling and you'll do well. I cannot emphasize enough how important a good attitude toward others is in this industry and when you encounter those with the bad attitudes or those who "look down" upon freelancers, just smile and walk away. Freelancers are indeed professionals and more and more these days we are seeing good staff photographers let go and freelancers being used instead. It can be a tougher way to make a living as a photographer but there's no question that there are an abundance of "professional" freelancers in the industry and more on the way. I think any "staffers" that frown upon freelancers and call them "unprofessional" are doing so for one reason - they're afraid of losing their job to them because that's the trend more and more these days. Keep the attitude you have and best of luck.
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M. David Leeds, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 6:37 PM on 03.13.07
->> Admittedly, I'm not shooting too many events these days, but I feel the need to voice my feeling on this topic.

Freelancing is NOT a synonym for beginner, amateur, hobbyist, etc - it's just that sometimes a person is both.

With respect to the opinions above - I don't think that "freelancers" are looked down upon for being "freelancers". Photographers - staff or freelance - who do not behave professionally are looked down upon (as they should be). Many times the "out of place" people are "out of place" because they are inexperienced - and, therefore, in most cases, not a staffer.

While I'm freelancing myself these days - regardless of my status - the thing that bothers me is "photographers" who are not at the event to work - talking throughout the ball game, rooting on the sidelines and generally being in the way - because it may prevent me from doing my job. and it's at least an additional obstacle that none of us need.

We all start someplace - I for one, don't mind if you've got a question to ask or a funny comment to make - just don't tap me on the arm and start jabbering while the pitcher is getting set on the mound for a potentially important moment - which in this day and age could be just about any moment.

Additionally, I would strongly encourage you NOT to "volunteer" to shoot for free. Build a book as best you can - concentrate on having solid content - clean backgrounds, decisive or interesting or humorous moments - shop your book around - be nice and professional - and you'll end up getting an assignment if you're book is reasonably good enough .. Once you paint yourself as somebody who will work for little or no money it is difficult to re-cast your self. Further, it inherently reduces the value of what clients are willing to spend - which is compounded by other things (see ad rates, circulation, etc) and will ultimately result in previously fruitful sources of work from feeling confident about lowering their scale (see Times, New York and the contract that the circulated a couple of years ago.) There have been numerous comments from editors both here at SportsShooter, and on the record elsewhere, that a strong picture is a strong picture whether it's from Game 7 of the Finals or the Series, or from little Timmy's tee ball tourney. Make good pictures and value what we do. PLEASE.
Yes, there are insecure people in our field as with any other, and, there are those who simply won't help those coming behind them. But, that is not the big problem in the field today. I wish it was.

-M David Leeds
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Bert Entwistle, Photographer
Colorado Springs | CO | USA | Posted: 9:59 PM on 03.13.07
->> Thanks you Mr. Leeds -

"Freelance is NOT a synonym for beginner, amateur, hobbyist, etc..."

These words should be tatooed somewhere on every shooters body...

Well said...!

So many of the great photographers that I have met or whose work I have admired are freelancers, and to call them anything but professional is nothing short of a crime.

Jeffery - welcome to the fun and rewarding world of freelance photography, it's great - or so many of us wouldn't be doing it.

Email me anytime you would like to visit about the business.

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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 1:03 AM on 03.14.07
->> Theres two sides to every issue as we all know, and in this case, the two sides are the photographer who
wants credentials and the officals in charge of approving them.

Now photographers can want credentials for a wide range of reasons. Some may be on assignment,
some may simply want to shoot on spec, yet others still may be hoping to shoot for a portfolio and as
long as we are being honest, theres those who simply want free entrance to an event and the so called
"best seat in the house".

Honestly why the photographer believes he/she deserves credentials is beside the point though. I'm sure
we've all got our own reason why we belive we should be there.

What it comes down to is not what the credential can do for the photographer, but what the photographer
can do for the party that issues the credental, Ala JFK if you will.

To be perfectly blunt, not alot of promoters, AD's, marketing folks and the like are really going to give a
darn if a new photographer wants to shoot for something like a portfolio. Buy a ticket to the game like the
other 70,000 people they'll tell you.

Having worked in music marketing and promotion I can tell you firsthand that I used to get tons of people
who wanted credentials to shoot concerts. Some perfectly honest and upfront request such as that they
wanted to get a portfolio of shots and they of course couldn't do that because they couldnt bring a camera
without a photo pass, so could they please have a photo pass. Classic catch 22 right ? Well sad to say
but having a camera doesn't make you anymore special than all the other fans who paid money to see the

Basically if you make an exception for one person, then wouldn't you be expected to make that expection
for everyone else thats got a camera ? Why buy tickets to an event, just get a camera instead and say you
want to practice, make a portfolio etc and they'll let you in free so you can take pictures. What a deal!

So now that I've touched on why you may not get credentals, what you've been waiting for, why you
WILL get credentials!

As I've said, it all comes down to what giving you that credential will do for the promoter. "Whats in it for
me" they'll ask on some level.

Shots going into your portfolio obviously aren't going to benifit them at all. So what will ? Press coverage
for the team, league event and so forth. Thats the whole reason they allow media in the first place in some regards.

Now shooting for a publication, website, sponsor etc is a given, and its the best way to go. Theres already
been loads of great advice so I won't go into that any further.

So if getting the images published or otherwised used is the main thing that gets you a credential, then all
you've got to say is that you want to shoot freelance "on spec" as they say and your in ? Not so fast.

In this day and age with the wire services and so forth, its a lot tougher to be freelance and get your stuff
picked up much less even seen. When wires have direct feeds to picture editor desk, guess who's stuff
gets used most ?

Someone shooting on spec that has no means to move his/her images really isn't doing the promoter
anymore good that someone who's just using the images for his/her book now are they ?

So what it takes is the ability to convience that person granting the credentials that while you may not be
shooting on a given assignment, you have a variety of clients who may choose to pick up your images.
You've got to outline exactly what your hoping to shoot there. Spec work is tough, but it still does get
picked up if its good and unique and something no one else got.

This is probably getting way off topic but one thing that can really help you is if you've got some
journalistic skills as well. If you can not only pitch an editor photo's, but also provide copy, they may
just run your story. This is far more likely in motorsports than something like the NFL of course, but
you get the idea I hope.

Bottom line is that you've got to be able to look them dead in the eye, (or via email) and say, "look, I'm
not shooting for any publication, but I belive I should be able to cover this event because ____________."

These folks have probably heard it all, so if your story isn't strong, your probably out of luck.

It can be done though, I've done it myself, and I know plenty of other people who have as well.

Its definatly like trying to iceskate up hill, make no mistake about it. Freelancing is getting harder and
harder each and every year and I know of no sports market segment hit harder in recent years.

No easy answers, no secret handshakes, no one looking to throw you a bone. Maybe not what you
wanted to hear I'm sure, but in most cases its the truth.

You may luck out and catch a break. It happens, but you can't count on just happening to make friends
with someone with an extra pass. If it happens great, make the best of it, but if you really put your mind to
it, you can make it happen.

best of luck
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Michael Johnson, Photographer, Photo Editor
Dansville | NY | US | Posted: 12:56 PM on 03.29.07
->> I've been on both sides of this. As a photo editor/photographer for a paper I use quality freelancers. I was helped along the way to get where I'm at and so I feel that if the right freelancer walks into my office and I can help that person get better I'll do it. Because in return they can help me learn.
Any photographer who knows it all and thinks he/she is better need to wake up and remember we are all in the same boat. We all need to work together not against each other.
In fact I've sent guys to events so they can gain the experience they will need. Could that hurt me in job hunts... yes, but I belive the better man should win and if they are better so be it.
Anyone that freelances that has any questions feel free to contact me. Like I said I can learn from you just as much as you can learn from me.
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Bert Entwistle, Photographer
Colorado Springs | CO | USA | Posted: 1:57 PM on 03.29.07
->> Jeffery,

Sometimes I get the feeling that some sidline shooters seem obsessed with the other guy shooting next to them. If it's a guy with a $100 point and shoot or an old pro it shouldn't really make any difference to you or me.

The way I see it is - What they are doing is not really any of my business...!

If I worry about them and how they got their creds it will just irritate me and give me ulcers. Lots of good advice given here - I think you probably have a handle the deal.

One time at a big rodeo finals a guy next to me had one of those $100 point and shoots with the little movable screen on it. He was only about 5' tall and couldn't see over the fence so he held the camera above the fence, turned the little screen towards him and fired away.

I don't know if he ever got the cowboys in frame or not, but heck it still provides me with a smile now and then, so for me it was well worth him standing next to me.

Have fun,

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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 2:06 PM on 03.29.07
->> If you're just starting out consider lying through your teeth to get in. It's worked before for quite a few now-famous photographers.

If you do get in... Stay out of everyone's way once you're inside and make a good impression. Say hello a lot and introduce yourself when nothing is happening on the field. Leave everyone with nice thoughts about you.
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Michael Rubenstein, Student/Intern, Photographer
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 2:15 PM on 03.29.07
->> you could always just show up and cry at the gate. that works for me all the time.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 3:09 PM on 03.29.07
->> "Leave everyone with nice thoughts about you."

Not likely to happen if you're lying through your teeth...
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Tom Sperduto, Photographer
Piscataway | NJ | USA | Posted: 8:07 PM on 03.30.07
->> Here's a tip that worked well for me getting on the sidelines. Get hooked up with the anthem singer, color guard etc. Let them work for you getting the credential. Just be careful it's not "Pre-game" or the security guys will ask you to leave. I built my early portfolio this way and it got me shooting NFL freelance for AP.
Be like water. When you hit the wall keeping on moving until you slip through.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 8:24 PM on 05.28.07
->> I freelance for a bunch of companies, and to the point in most stadiums around here just give me credentials for who I am because they know the photos are going to outlets. However, going to other places that don't know me I'd have to show them who I shoot for, and usually I have one company that I use for credentials - but let's say another photog comes in from that company I have a list of about 9 backups I could use as well if I didn't want to bump that guy/girl and make them find other creds, just a phone call away to fax a letter if needed, though I rarely need that unless hitting a MLB/NHL/NFL game where everything is well documented.

While doing this, I see a bunch of "freelancers" claiming to be this, that, and the other thing for companies I shoot for. None of them I've heard of, or some I have and know they get used very rarely if ever. I've seen a lot of them get called out in a way, and then never see them again because the media director finds out they were lying. That gets around fast and all of a sudden there's a black ball on the guy/girl. Or the person doesn't have a clue what's going on and gets ousted that way. Last year one guy kept getting in fans way, walking on the field during play, sitting in play, etc. and he was never seen again after the media director finally booted him mid-game.

In other words, freelancers need to know whats going on and have a name behind them - either there own in smaller events or a company, because a company wouldn't hire a guy who doesn't know whats going on (or so you'd think). For bigger events you definately need a company to shoot for, all the freelancers should have a name on the "affiliate" part of there pass and several major sports make the photograpehrs sign a contract saying the photos only go to that affiliate. We all start somewhere, I started for a team, then a card company and learned the ropes from another photog, now when a new photog comes in the media director tells him to find me to show him the ropes, it all comes back around.
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Joe Livingston, Photographer
Douglasville | GA | USA | Posted: 3:27 PM on 05.29.07
->> Remember: Not everyone you meet can help you, but everyone you meet can hurt nice.
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Michael Granse, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 5:35 PM on 05.29.07
->> This is going to sound rather crazy, but when I am shooting a game I'm not sure where I would have time to pull other photographers aside to spot check the validity of their credentials.

As for "bumping" other photographers, how does that work? Does this mean that if I show up at a game with a legitimate credential obtained via XYZ Photos Inc, and you show up with nothing but a list of names and phone numbers in your pocket, I'm going to be escorted out of the stadium and you are going to wind up shooting my assignment for XYZ Photos?

I would not be very interested in accepting an assignment for XYZ Photos if they were in the habit of "bumping" people who have turned down other assignments to be there in the first place.

Who are these agencies that have granted you the authority to "bump" other legitamately credentialed photographers? I just want to make sure that I do not turn down any other offers in order to cover an assignment for them :)
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Konstandinos Goumenidis, Photographer
San Francisco Bay Area | CA | USA | Posted: 5:46 PM on 05.29.07
->> Ah yes! I have shot only one so far. I actually contacted the promoter... these guys seem to be fairly cool if you would like to shoot something like this especially if its local. I am not sure how the bigger guys are, the more popular ones like UFC, but maybe if you shoot for the local paper and they would like photos that might work out.
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Andrew Sullivan, Photo Editor, Photographer
Kissimmee | FL | USA | Posted: 12:37 PM on 05.30.07
->> Jim, joking or not, thats a horrible suggestion. In answer to your question Jeffrey, the way to get credentialed to an event you would like to photograph is to either A: have a legitimate reason to be there, covering it for a media outlet or commercial client or B: become good friends with the venue operators or event promoters. Yes, people lie to get access to events all the time. People also Photoshop legs out of photos to make them look better all the time too. Neither of these practices is ethical, and neither makes the job of working photographers any easier.

Andrew Sullivan
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Oscar Sosa, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | USA | Posted: 3:06 PM on 05.30.07
->> --
1. Work hard and get a good portfolio.

2. Show it to legitimate media outlets that publish events you are interested in or are good at covering.

3. Accept an assignment to cover an event.

4. Do a good job.

5. Repeat.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 5:29 AM on 06.05.07
->> Michael, yea that's not exactly what I was saying. Would make for an interesting situation though! In fact, I know a photographer last season who got a pass for a regular season game, went down to find another photographer from the same company who had a security guard check his name and pass claiming "it's my stadium and you shouldn't be here". Well, he was put in his place pretty quickly for trying to "bump" the other photog out the door, by that photog, the teams media director, the teams GM, and the publication as well.

"Bumping" I've seen happen for freelancers and not assignments. If you get an assignment I don't see anyone ever having the right to bump you unless the company said they didn't need you anymore because they found someone better or were cancelling the assignment. What I meant to get across was that I've seen media directors issue a pass to a person but then once they found out I, or another photographer, was going and shooting for the same company they would call that other person and say they can't fit them in - basically "bumping" him from the media list ahead of the actual event and not waiting until the person got there. This is not a usual occurance, in fact very rare, but it happened a few times during media frenzy days where there just wasn't a lot of room and the other photog ahead of me didn't offer as much (i.e., his photos went to one source while my photos went to six or seven sources, which meant more coverage for the team - media director made a choice to "bump" that guy).

There was one time a couple years ago the night before a game we (photog I was traveling with) were called and told we cannot use the media passes we were issued for that next days game. This was at around 11pm, we were screwed! Turned out that day two "senior" photogs who had been shooting for the company longer wanted to cover the game to shoot stock photos, which was all we were doing so they took our passes. The company bumped us, after the team told them they'd only allow two from one company, so the company made a choice and gave us the boot, er bump :)
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Thread Title: How do you freelancers get access?
Thread Started By: Jeffery Patch
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