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Photography Question 
Mark Plummer

how to get press crudentials as a freelance travel


I have been playing around with photography for most of my life. In the past year I have started taking my photography more serously. My wife and I love to travel and she loves to write. We have thought about getting into the travel writing/photography market. I know to publish many photos you need a release and in some cases you need press credentials to be able to photograph inside locations, but I don't know how to go about getting to this point as a freelance photographer and writer.

Anyone have any tips on this market and how to gain access inside locations?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



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8/2/2005 5:19:22 AM

As far as I know, the only way to get press credentials is to be part of the press. That's aligned with a newspaper, magazine, or news agency like Associated Press. If you have a nice portfolio and are headed somewhere they have nobody stationed, you could be a stringer for them.

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8/2/2005 5:00:45 PM

Forrest C. Wilkinson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/15/2005
Being a member of the press, I will tell you that there is no all powerful "press credential" as many people seem to believe. You don't just walk up to security, flash a little piece of plastic and get back-stage access. You firstly, have to be associated with a major newspaper or press agency such as a major city newspaper, in my case, Ft. Worth Star Telegram. But this could be anything from Getty, AP, New York Times, LA Times, etc. Secondly you have to be assigned to cover the certain event, trying to get access to press-only area's without having an assignment is illegal. Many events do not accept "press passes", even though your major newspaper/press agency will provide them, they require you to send in an application, and whoever is in charge of the event publication decides whether or not you are a worthy press individual that they want to cover the event. I have seen many of these websites where you can "buy a press pass", it is complete bogus, any person that knows what they are doing will spot these phony passes and you will get no where and end up wasting money. But 1/2 times, a press-pass isn't what you need to get into major events, you'll need to contact the event's press department with a letter saying who you work for and why you need to cover the event. Hope this helps.

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8/2/2005 10:37:22 PM

Kitty  Cross   Mark

If you're looking for the "backstage pass" type laminate credentials, you can pick up a pretty good looking thing on Khao San Road in Bangkok with your photo and everything. Also Cairo if I remember correctly--ask the backpackers on Lonely Planet's thorntree (

Last year the going price was 5 US I think. Might be $10. It's a pretty good piece of documentation and with a little fast talking will get you past a few entertainment security points and maybe into the photo pit of some musical events depending on how much the act needs the publicity.

I highly doubt it would get you past the gates at Glastonbury and it may get you arrested in Zimbabwe(as would any press credential)Depends on what you need it for. Got me an introduction to the hot air balloon guys and a free ride over the Valley of the Kings in Luxor (Egypt)In return I sold a piece (photos and story) on their operation to a magazine. Everybody wins a bit--they got some publicity and I got a free ride. At the time I hadn't sold the piece so I might have stretched the truth a bit....

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8/2/2005 11:47:50 PM

Kitty  Cross   And while I'm at it, I completely agree with Forrest. Especially with access to North American things. I used the pass more as an intro in the middle east and Asia and South America. If you're serious about covering an event, as he suggests, just call their press agent. A bogus pass is only useful for smaller things where you need an intro.

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8/2/2005 11:53:35 PM

Jon D. Delagrange   Mark, I think I might have an answer for you. Several years ago I joined a program called IFPO (International Freelance Photographers Organization, you can reach them at It seemed kind of cheesy, but I paid for a lifetime membership anyway just to give it a try. You see they publish a small magazine and as part of your membership they give you credentials and press request forms stating that you are on assignment from them. I received all the information and credentials they had promised, but never did anything with it until about a year and a half later. You see I am a big horse racing fan as well as a photographic enthusiast, this was 2004 and Smarty Jones had won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Just the Belmont to go and He would be the first Triple Crown Winner in a long time. I said to myself this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. So I called the track in New York and asked to speak with media relations. I was given a fax # to send press requests to, so I filled out the form I had and faxed it in. Several weeks when by and I didnít get a response. But this was important to me, so I started calling the track every day and speaking with media relations and inquiring about the status of my press request. After about 5 days of this, I called one morning and the lady I had been speaking with told me my credentials were there. I said "what did you say" she replied "your credentials are here for you" I told her thanks and hung up . Then I was like what does that mean, so I called a relative of mine who is an editor for a newspaper and asked him. He told me I would just report in and they would take me to the press office to pick up my credentials. So I made flight and hotel reservations and headed to New York, I went right to the track told them who I was, they took me right in to the press office and sure enough my name was in there along with my pres pass and everything else I needed. So for three days I stood side by side with photographers from Sports Illustrated and The New York Times and Just about every other large Publication you can think of and clicked away. I had full access to the track and stables. There were 300 photographers in all, I was a bit nervous thinking I was way out of my league. But most of them were really nice people and even helpful. It was funny, the guys from SI would say who are you with and I would say "Today's Photographer Magazine" and they would go " oh ok" like they had heard of it before. Needless to say it worked and it was the experience of a lifetime!!!

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11/26/2005 9:13:13 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Take my word for it they hadn't heard of it and even though a mag like Sports Illustrated was there, that wouldn't work for something like the major three sports for a big event. Hundreds of press events are requested for sports events and once all the name recognizable people are given theirs, your mostly counting on luck if a universal press credential service like that works.

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11/26/2005 11:18:14 AM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2005
  Jon, that is TOO funny!

It just shows you how far a little bit of moxie will often get you.

How about posting some of your pictures?

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11/29/2005 4:29:29 PM

Luis A. Morales
  Hey Mark,

Sometimes a little imagination and a lot of luck goes a long way. Last April, I was sitting in my barber's chair and just shooting the breeze, when he asked me if I was going to go and hear Senator Obama speak at the train station...I laughed, thinking he was pulling my leg...He told me he was serious and that Paoli was one of the train stops. Well, I stopped by the train station, and sure enough, they were getting the place ready for something major!

I jumped in my car, raced home, grabbed my camera, battery, CF cards, and my 70-200mm f2.8 and raced back to the station...all the time I am asking myself how was I ever going to get close enough to photograph the Senator. I parked and began to ask around for the person in charge. I, and another photographer, approached the person in charge of handing out the press badges. I told her we were freelance photographers looking for an opportunity to photograph the Senator and asked her for a Pass...She asked for our credentials...We were dead in the water. I just looked at her and told her that I didn't have any, I was freelancing. It worked...I about fell over when she handed us the Passes.

I stood about 50 feet from were Senator Obama was speaking to the audience. I was at eye level with him and managed to grab about 400+ photos. It was an experience I will never forget, especially now.

I truly believe this will not work all the time, but you never know unless you ask.

Good luck to us all...


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1/15/2009 9:00:51 AM

Chuck Bruton
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/2/2007
  I think it sometimes depends on your location. In rural America , just a photographers vest and fancy gear will get you access or help. Also some small weekly publications will allow you to use their name to register as press with the local authorities just to have someone available to cover the event.

When I want easy access I'll wear my photographers vest , sometimes it works.

Happy Shooting

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2/15/2009 4:56:59 PM

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