First Media Pass; Need Some Pointers


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Dec 22, 2014
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South Korea
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Hi all. I've been shooting for a few years, but just started to take photography as a serious hobby. I don't believe I'm at the point of making this a business, but I am taking it more serious lately. My passion is auto photography, and I love racing so I really want to get into motorsports photography. I've discovered it's pretty difficult to get passes to any decent size event, which is where the best vantage points are found, but that's ok, I need to practice a little and build my portfolio.

So, I recently talked to Cupcake Meet (little backstory: CCM is a charity auto group that organizes auto events and donates proceeds to a few charities) about their event here at Circuit of the Americas, and was surprised to hear they granted me a media pass! Now, it's not a huge event and to most people this is no big deal, but it's my first one, so that leads me to the point of my post.

Business-wise, what questions do I need to ask them and what do I need to do here? I'm talking as far as licensing, selling images, how much to charge if they should want images, etc. I believe my first question should be to find out if I own all images or if CCM holds some type of rights to the photos. Anything else I should be asking them right out of the gate? This is a little different than what's normally discussed here, so searches don't come up with much.

Equipment and knowledge-wise, I think I'm somewhat sorted. I've got a Nikon 18-140mm and 70-300mm and a Sigma 17-50mm I'll be bringing, with plenty of storage and batteries. I've marshaled at the track before, and I've also looked at other photos from big events, so I have a decent idea of where I need to be for some good images.

Just looking for some guidance, mostly on the business side. Thanks!
Just because they gave you a pass doesn't necessarily mean you're providing any photos for them, press passes may be issued for various reasons. But if they do want photos that'll involve licensing usage. If they allow cameras at the event that would mean attendees are allowed to take pictures, and of course a pass usually allows you in to take photos in areas that are restricted to someone with just a ticket.

Try American Society of Media Photographers or PPA for guidelines on usage, contracts, etc. Typically you own the copyright of photos you take and it's usually necessary to learn how to license usage of your photos. That would be done for a specific use and for a specific time period, etc.

I'm familiar with other sports mostly hockey but usually teams work to protect their name, logo, player images, etc. and may restrict what lens attendees can bring in etc. I'd probably get informed as much as possible (look at their website and any media guides etc. they make available) and write down any questions you still have to ask them.

You might need to get the name of a contact person or whoever's handling their PR/media relations. You might need to know where you are allowed to be. Be aware of other photographers, TV crews, athletic trainers or ushers and other staff so you're staying out of their way. I'd usually check to make sure I was not obstructing fans' views of the game.

If you're familiar with the sport/venue that's a help and if you can get a schedule of events for the day you can better anticipate what will happen next and be prepared.
Thank you. I'll just have to email them and see what I can find out. I'm sure I'll be signing some sort of contract on the morning of the event, so I'll just have to see what comes my way. I'll read up on licensing and see what I can find.

I do have a schedule, I'm sure I'll get a more detailed one the day of too, so I feel somewhat prepared. Just comes down to putting skills into practice I guess. I think I'm much more concerned with the business side, but it may turn out to not be a huge deal.
Most events like this they are wanting exposure. Having people see the photos to get there names out there. Generally if its a meetup type event. A lot of charity type events they may ask for a few photos to show off the event etc. If there is any contract rights or useage they will let you know. If there is any type of racing or track time almost every track will hold a media meeting to go over rules,saftey etc. Just email whoever gave you the media pass and ask some questions.

If you plan on pursuing this more and want media access get involved with an online publication. Bigger the publication the more access you can get. And the cooler the venues you can go.
Some pro teams in Canada will hand out a few photo passes to amateurs, the deal is that they are given a certain number of images, usually 10, that they can use for whatever they want. Two things often happen, the people with the passes and camera suck, and the images are unusable. It doesn't cost the team anything and in the odd chance they end up with a couple of nice shots, it still didn't cost them anything. It is however difficult to get photo passes for some teams, as they say, "we don't want tourists"
Yeah some teams will have their own photographers. You will find some events have their ow photographers and rules. Gncc has a series photographer so i can get media access but i sign a waiver sayong no photos will be sold. Which
For me turns those events into networking and portfolio building. Shooting indy cars take all the photos you want but if they catch you taking any video whatsoever your media vest is yanked on the spot. They all have their rules. Generally smaller the event the more open an more access you will have.

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