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Sports Photography

15 Apr 2006 1:30AM
Hi all,

I want to know if there are any regulations aroudn taking pictures at sports events. Do I need to be shooting for a publication and have an ID card? Can I just go and shoot as a freelancer?

I'm talking not just about football or cricket but also events like equestrian, bowls, netbal, hockey, etc.

I'm sure it will be different for each sport but is there a general rule or can I take my camera down to the local footy stadium now and go wild?


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keith selmes 14 7.4k 1 United Kingdom
15 Apr 2006 4:25AM
I think, when the professionals get back from whatever they do on easter saturday, they will say, as a general rule, NO, you can't just go and freelance.

I can speak only for equestrian events, but usually there will be a contracted photographer or team thereof and its their show. There may also be people from the local or specialist press, and a TV crew, all by arrangement with the organisers.
Taking photos for your own use is generally OK, (so you could build a portfolio) but not for selling, and you have restricted access, like any other spectator.
Of course you might find an event that doesn't have a photographer, or a pro who needs some help, or a newspaper that needs a cheap footslogger. (I don't think newspapers hire expensive people!) You do need to know the sport in question, and not get in the way or do anything stupid. And then there are questions of insurance and so forth.

I believe the situation for other events would be similar, although some might have tighter restrictions.
If in doubt, ask the organisers, the reponse might be negative, or you might find an opening.

If you use the search facility there have been some threads specifically about event photography.

With the newspapers I'm thinking of a local girl who spends her time at an event quietly absorbed in the photography or the note taking, and has made a good reputation for herself. Her work seems more interesting than what the regular togs do at a horse event, but last I heard she still had a day job to pay the bills.
gravyman 14 45
15 Apr 2006 6:23AM
Hi H

I used to do photography for a football league club and to get into the grounds I needed a licience from the footbal league.
I had to have public liability insurance.

The problem is that you need to have had a number of photos printed in newspapers or publications etc before you were given a licience.

With regards other sports I would imagine it is the same.

You may be able to take a camera into sporting event but you won't have the access that acredited photographers have.

15 Apr 2006 9:49PM

Thank you for the replies... although it does leave me in a catch 22 situation. Judging by your replies, you are not allowed to be a sports photographer unless you are already a sports photographer.

Mmmm.... I'm re-thinking my photographic direction... maybe wildlife. At least there's more physical space and I have yet to come accross an animal asking a photographer for his badge or credentials before allowing him to take a photo.

Thanks guys, this has helped alot.
Sports photography is out of the question then, too many
dogs marking their own territory.

steavyd 13 111 United Kingdom
15 Apr 2006 11:01PM
Right place at the right time i think.
I started going to a new speedway track to take pics, found they had no photographer and put myself forward.
Now in my second season there.
samfurlong 12 2.5k United Kingdom
15 Apr 2006 11:42PM
Depends on the sport.
To shoot football league / premiership rugby / stuff at the top level you need accreditation or in some cases license provided by the league. To qualify you need to be shooting for someone OR be a freelance with a certain number of publihed images. It is often on the conditions of entry into the venue that you will not take pictures for commercial gain without proper accreditation and you are likley to be booted out of the venue if you are caught.

Basically, it largely pepends on the sport and the level.
Anything in the football rugby professional leagues, forget it, some sonference clubs might let you if you ask nicely. Same goes for other sports.
Generally, stick to your local footy team / village cricket side / horse or dog show.
If you fancy shooting at a bigger event then by all means ring them up well in advance and try to sort something out but be prepared to be told no. Most places only have a limited number of press passes (especially for partucularly tasty fixtures) and tend to reserve them for working photographer (and rightly so - I'd be really pissed off if I couldn't get a pass for a game thatI had been offered money to cover only to find out you were there for fun!). If you're going to try this route then pick your fixture, say you're wanting to cover a footy match then don't try and get in for important games such as a top of the table clash! Pick a less important game.
Don't try just going in and shooting because generally you will be asked to stop - or more likley leave.
The_Jedi 12 3 United Kingdom
21 Apr 2006 4:10AM
Hi to you all,

I've recently tried my hand at sports (football) photography. In a way I'm lucky as the team I follow are in the non-league. Getting a press pass when they are home is no problem and the club have been very helpful and accommodating but when they are away, its a different story.

I've got round this by approaching the local newspaper(s). They told me they usually cover most of the local home games but usually don't bother sending photographers to the away games. I explained to them that I was an ametuar looking to establish myself with the view of going freelance and offered my services to shoot and supply images, not just for away games but other sports if they were interested. They took me up on my offer and I now my life is a lot easier to get in and photograph events.
ZenTog 16 7.9k 1 England
21 Apr 2006 5:03AM
theres plenty of openings in sport if you are patient enough, just remember to take out semi pro or full pro insurance to cover your activities, both for your gear and publiv liability.

regarding pros guarding thier own patches this is no different to any other self employment, you need to protect your income. I do it in a friendly way and often offer advice to newcomers, then some of these sometimes come and work for me.

when starting off dont be expected to be paid a lot striaght away even if you are a fantastic photographer, you have to work your way up the pay scale . eventually the good payers will want your work if good enough and pay accordingly
Marlin_owner 13 658 United Kingdom
21 Apr 2006 5:14AM
PaulSFrost said:
Quote:when starting off dont be expected to be paid a lot striaght away even if you are a fantastic photographer, you have to work your way up the pay scale . eventually the good payers will want your work if good enough and pay accordingly

There's hope for me then . . .

It's probably even more difficult to get into race circuits for motoracing etc.

Then again, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it and there would be no proper spectators.
ZenTog 16 7.9k 1 England
21 Apr 2006 5:18AM
hey mark you are getting paid well by those kit car people, got your FPME mag today yet??
samfurlong 12 2.5k United Kingdom
22 Apr 2006 1:30AM
The_Jedi said:

Quote:I explained to them that I was an ametuar looking to establish myself with the view of going freelance and offered my services to shoot and supply images, not just for away games but other sports if they were interested. They took me up on my offer and I now my life is a lot easier to get in and photograph events.

PLEASE tell me you're not doing it for free!!!!
If you are then I would just like to suggest you do not reveal this fact to the pros you are there with as you will not do yourself any favours.

There is a huge problem in sports photography where people who have a 9-5 job in the week come along and offer to shoot sports for free at weekends for local papers / footy clubs so they can get into a venue.

What they often do not realise (or maybe they just don't care) is that in doing this they are directly doing a pro who relies on photography to pay his bills, out of a job.

They wouldn't like it if i went to their place of work and offered to do their job for free would they???
This is the same thing.

Plus - if you start off doing it for free then as soon as you turn round and start asking for money (even if it's not much) they will drop you like a hot potato!!
snapperstan 13 235
23 Apr 2006 12:57AM
i think you will find most employers these days use some form of security system to stop the average joe walking about the place which is what you would be trying to muscle in on peoples work at a sporting event

without a commission from a magazine or the like you shouldnt be there like wise with selling pics you will need permission and sometimes to buy a licence as people are finding out at bike race events this year
most sporting events are not a free for all they are a properly organised and controlled event and people who own the rights etc insist on control of images etc

even at a motorcycle club race meeting the ACU own the copyright not the person who takes the pics

my advice for what it is worth would be show you have the eye and the talent by taking pics of others things and then submit you work like we all have to do to the target people and see what happens
never ever offer to work for nothing as editors and pro togs alike will never respect you
just get good at what you do and then enter the market place in a professional manner and i am certain you will get work

a cheap man/women will always be busy but can they ever raise their prices??

i think not
The_Jedi 12 3 United Kingdom
23 Apr 2006 7:06AM
Nothing in life is free, not even me!

I had images to prove my worth but no published work. Agreed in advance to initially cover a few games (paid) to prove my worth then if happy with my the results I would be added to their list of photographers and treated as a full-time pro.
samfurlong 12 2.5k United Kingdom
23 Apr 2006 10:21AM

Quote:Nothing in life is free, not even me!

Good man!!
I Wish some other people would take a leaf out of your book!!
tenerifejohn 12 126 England
18 May 2006 5:15AM
I recently applied to the Football League for both a photographers permit and a press pass - as I am the Sports editor for an English language newsaper in the Canary Islands. The Football Association/leagues response was - as we only publish 26 editions a year, a total circulation of 300,000 copies I would not qualify for either a seat in the press box or indeed a photographers permit. So I guess that rules out the Football League.I think they are operating a closed shop or something similar.
In so far as other sports are concerned I have taken photographs at the races this year - applied in advance for permission and in so far as local league stuff is concerned - bowls, cricket etc so long as you get permission from the players it would appear to be ok.
Seems to me as one board member said - unless you are already a sports photographer - and remember I have had more than 1,000 photographs published - and/or attached to a football league club your chances of getting a permit are nil.

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