Suppose I aspire to be a freelance photojournalist. I decide to show up at some event that requires press credentials to get the proper positioning. How do I get them, since I don’t have ID from say, Time or the Washington Post?
It’s about convincing the event organizers that its worthwhile giving you a press pass – they only want to give press passes in cases that might result in a story about the event. I imagine it would help to be able to show the organizers that you really are likely to get a story published, with documents such as copies of published articles you’ve written, or a letter from a news outlet indicating they are interested in your story on the event.
I’ve gone about it differently: contact a newspaper or magazine that might have interest in the event, and ask them to order a press pass for you. I’ve only tried it twice, and both times it was for magazines that knew me and had bought my work in the past, so they were happy to do it.
Well, I am a freelance photographer, and Invisible Wombat’s approach is the one I’ve always followed. If you completely do not have contacts in the publishing industry, then you do what Reality Chuck and Patriot X suggested: contact the venue. Also, you can simply try BS’ing your way in.
Get a business licence, publish a small newsletter that you make a couple thousand photocopies of to give out free at local grocery stores and such, you could probably even sell some ad space to local small businesses. Business licence $10-$50/yr depending on location, publishing costs $100 or so a month.
Do that, and legally you are just as much the press as anyone else in town. As a legally established business they would have a difficult time rejecting you one, especially if you can demonstrate you have local licencing in a question of your legitimacy. Ex co-worker of mine did something like this for a magazine and last I heard he had been running for about 2 years and was making a basic living at it.
Drach, tiny business owner…for now
Alternately, do what I did - find a small local indie rag that self-publishes and can’t afford a photographer, ask them if you can shoot for them on spec, and make yourself a nice laminate with the masthead.
I still have that first laminate - it got me in to shoot some pretty big acts (I was primarily a concert photographer) - Guster, Phish, Robert Randolph, Shemekia Copeland.
Big brass ones will take you pretty darn far in the world of journalism - a combination of a ‘of course I’m supposed to be here’ attitude, some type of pre-existing credential (i.e. the aforementioned laminate) and an air of jaded nonchalance will get you in a lot of places.
Basically, don’t doubt that you belong there, and no one else will either, unless it’s a tightly controlled event with real security. And even then, you’d be surprised.
My best friend founded Indymedia Nashville, and he’s certainly press. (Laminated badge and everything.) However, he once got a parking ticket for parking in the “press only” section. Personally, I think it was because of his hair.