How Do You Get a Photo Pass for Sports Events and Concerts?

Events like concerts and professional sports are some of the most exciting and desirable things to photograph, but they almost always require a specialized pass for access. If you are wondering how to get one, this excellent video essay discusses when you will need one and how to go about obtaining it.

Coming to you from David Bergman with Adorama TV, this great video discusses the issue of obtaining passes for photographing things like concerts and sporting events. This can often feel like a bit of a catch-22, as venues and/or media companies will want to see established work before hiring you or giving you access, but of course, it is hard to build a portfolio without having access. One way around this is to simply aim for the lower levels and offer your services in exchange for access. You are not going to walk into the press box for a major league baseball game, for example, but if your city has a minor league affiliate, simply offering to share some shots they can use for promotional purposes will often get you a pass. Of course, just be sure to act responsibly and respect any rules or requests once you're there. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Bergman.

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Matt C's picture

eh, if you have a reason to be there (work or whatever) then your access will be no problem and will be taken care of. If you have to beg someone for access, you should probably take a hint..

Robert Escue's picture

A friend of mine got to shoot Static-X by asking the tour manager if he could shoot. I shot a show where I had to ask the tour manager for access to Pagan Rebellion since the venue did not have my information despite me going through the label's PR for a pass and a ticket. Sometimes "begging" does work.

Brad Smith's picture

"One way around this is to simply aim for the lower levels and offer your services in exchange for access". This is one of the ways I dislike fstoppers. In what world do you think it's ok to devalue the work of actual professional photographers? This creates a problem where clients believe work isn't of monetary value to them.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Wrong. There's nothing wrong with someone just starting to hit up small venues to trade to build up their portfolio or just for fun. If you are a so-called actual working professional still bottom feeding on the small venues, you might want to re-evaluate your profession.

Matt C's picture

"still bottom feeding on the small venues"

or y'know the photographer just doesn't live in a major city..

Robert Escue's picture

That depends on the genre of music you are shooting. I shoot mostly metal and unless you happen to be Megadeth, Metallica or Iron Maiden, most bands play small venues. The better opportunities come from small as opposed to large venues.

Brad Smith's picture

If the better opportunities come from small venues, why are you letting the small venues off the hook? That is...if there wasn't a bunch of people looking to shoot for free, they'd have to actually have a budget for real professionals.

Robert Escue's picture

Brad, this is how I got "discovered" as a concert photographer by shooting shows for a venue. I provided them with photos that they used on their Facebook page and tagged the bands in them. This resulted in me getting selected to shoot for a major metal music website as their contributing photographer since they had an opportunity to see my work and was recommended by other photographers.

bernardand rews's picture

Yeah, sometimes it is just enough to talk with management. If you have diplomatic skills, you will get the access