Thoughts on Credentials and etiquette

Discussion in 'Sports' started by all-star sports photography, Oct 17, 2008.

  1. I have been trying to gain some insight on credentials for photographers. There seems to be a lot of thoughts
    going around about whether or not they are needed. And if they can really help were can you get legit credentials.

    A friend and I are starting a local Sports Photography Business tailored to the local high schools and youth
    sports. And I am wondering about getting some sort of credentials. My thoughts were once the business is fully
    legalized to create some sort of a badge for us to wear to help identify how we are and what we are doing. And as
    far as getting into the events my plan was to call the local schools and tell them what I am doing in and see if
    they will let us in. I don't expect to just show up and hope that they will let us in. But some of the events
    they probably would.

    Are there local credentials that we should look into getting? For those of you that shoot high school sports how
    do you go about gaining entrance into the various events?

    They other thing that I was curious about is in regards to shooting etiquette. I was at a game tonight and I was
    helping to cover the visiting JV team. About half way through the fourth quarter I had a coach I think from the
    Varsity home team stop me and ask me who I was shooting for. I was on the home team side line about on the 10yd
    line or so and they were at like mid field. Anyway I told him that I was helping to photograph the visiting team
    and shooting for myself. He then told me that since I was shooting for the visiting team that I should return to
    their side of the field or leave the infield. Of course I returned to the other side, but that left me wondering.
    Did I cross a line by going to the other side of the field to shoot or was that coach just being a jerk? Are
    there unspoken rules when it comes to photographing a certain team?

    Thanks for any input anyone can give me.
  2. David -

    In response to your first question - There is not a legitimate credential agency short of your local papers, or AP, UPI, Getty, etc... The ones that you can find on google (Shoot for us! Get Passes to Major Concert Events!, etc...) are almost always scams - Unless you have a tear sheet from an actual magazine or paper most events won't let you get into the "press" area. Maxpreps is one of the exceptions that comes to mind... They are legit and have several hundred schools around the country under contract.

    The other way to get press passes is through the event sponsor. Get to know them and they will come through with passes.

    For High School Sports - Talk to the local Athletic Director. The Coaches almost always will defer to them. They're busy coaching their team and don't want to be bothered with trivial things. The AD can respond in one of two ways...Not a Problem - stop buy and pick them up. (Be prepared to tell the school what they get out of the deal...Free photos, donations / kickbacks etc...) or No We've already got that covered. Some schools have exclusive contracts with Maxpreps or other photography firms.

    In regards to shooting etiquette - If I'm working with a particular team, I stay on their side of the field. If I'm working freelance - then I go where I want to. Within the constraints of the sport.... meaning for football - I stay out of the team boxes. I've never seen a hard fast rule regarding staying on your team's side of the field though..I just do it out of habit and not wanting to incite anything with the other team.

  3. Credentials are issued either by the agency you represent or by the agency hosting an event, and them mean very different things. The
    storied "press credential" means almost nothing. It just says "this person represents the XYZ Daily Times" and in no way guarantees
    admission to any private event or special treatment by authorities governmental or private.

    Credentials issued by a host organization (for example, the home team at an NFL game) generally grant access to specified areas at
    specified times. There is always language in the fine print that access can be denied or revoked at any time, for any reason.

    The host organization for HS sports is usually the state high school athletics association. If they will credential you, you'll generally
    have good access to most events. Rules varies state-to-state and enforcement of the rules can vary regionally within the state. IMX,
    and as you might expect, small town are pretty relaxed, rich suburbs pretty uptight.

    If you're going into the youth sports biz, be aware that most of the state high school sports organizations are pretty media-savvy at this
    point and will want a piece of the pie, commissions, fees, and increasingly, rights. Some states contract out the big events themselves,
    and provide exclusivity. Some youth sports outfits contract directly with the schools, which guarantees access home games, but not
    necessarily away games.

    As to shooting from the "other team's" side, I'd say, yes, it was poor form. If you're taking pictures under an agreement with a team,
    you're part of their posse. Your being on an opponent's sideline is not really any different than a coach or a player being there. Media
    generally are allowed to roam freely, professional ethics preventing them from sharing information. That said, at most football games,
    the middle of the field, generally between 20-yard lines is "blocked out" for the teams. At the college and pro levels, you get kicked out
    ASAP by security if you so much as put a toe in there. HS there's usually some tolerance for media, especially if they know you, but
    you may be asked to leave by a grouchy assistant coach.
  4. Thanks for the responses.

    David thanks for the tip on Maxpreps. I was able to look at their site and recognized a few of the photographers that shot in this area.

    And as for the etiquette. I hadn't really given it much thought until this happened. I got to the stadium and was setting up and noticed that the home team was on the west side of the field and i knew that the better shots were going to be taken from that side at 5p in the evening. So off I went.

    Knowing this I will stick to the side of the field of the team that I will be shooting. Unless I'm going there to specifically cover both teams. I think I will also create some sort of a badge for myself and the other shooters that we have just so they have something that can identify them and who they are shooting for nothing more and will work to get further permission from the home team.

    Thanks for the tip on state high school athletics association Brad. I will look into this as well as the local high school District main office.
  5. I had the same shooting etiquette situation happen to me this morning. I've been shooting actions photos for our
    YMCA's junior tackle football team. I don't get paid or make any money for this, its all volunteer. I sell the
    photos and give the money to the YMCA. I also give them photos for promotions and newspaper articles. This year
    the director set a rule that no one could freely roam the home sidelines shooting photos except for me.
    (Apparently coaches were complaining the sidelines were becoming over crowded with parents). No one complained
    and everyone complied.

    This morning, eight different pairs of parents from the opposing team showed up and pitched camp along our
    sidelines. They had video cameras on tripods as well as still cameras. Not only did they set up along the
    sidelines, but they also set up inside the coaches boxes. One of the coaches almost tripped over a tripod!
    Worse yet, they started shouting, cheering for their team... from our coaches boxes!!

    One of the program directors began to approach each set of parents and politely told them they are not allowed
    along the home sideline. Each one took issue and started hassling the director. They all then pointed to me and
    asked why I wasn't being booted. Even when the director explained that I am a part of the home team's program,
    they still argued and accused our town of not being hospitable for not accommodating their desire to shoot from
    our bench. I have never seen such rude actions before.

    When I go to away games and decide to roam the field, I first speak with officials and coaches to get their
    blessing about what's okay and what's off limits. You're on their turf and its because of their game that you
    have an opportunity to take photos. You need to respect that by accommodating their wishes and by further being
    a neutral, unobtrusive presence.
  6. My response is mainly directed toward the etiquette of shooting on the visitors side of the field. I have been
    shooting for two local high schools and a NCAA III college for the last 4 years. I cover all the sports for all
    three seasons and I have never run into these types of problems. During football games I use both sides of the
    field but I do stay out of the players and coaches boxes so I end up shooting between the 30 yard line to the end
    zones. I as a photographer have just as much right to photograph the field of play as do the players using the
    field. Still I was taught not to draw attention to yourself so I try to keep a low profile at all times and this
    practice has served me well to date. There really should be no difference between you shooting for a newsletter,
    yearbook etc...or that of newspaper photographer as long as you act like a professional should. As always this IMHO.
  7. Thanks for the input Bruce. I have always tried to stay like a fly on the wall. And I don't think Friday night was any different. Could have been the school I was at or the fact that the home team was down by three touch downs. Not sure. I mean I shot an entire three and a half quarters on the home side because that was the better lighting choice.

    But I did find out an old neighbor is a coach for the team that was home that night and have got in contact with him. He has already told me to come back and shoot any time. Would have never known if I hadn't gone to that side. Guess there was a plus for stirring the pot that night.
  8. I shoot NCAA D-III football. The NCAA rule is as Bruce mentioned, 30 yard line to end zone and behind the end
    zone. Also back off the sideline however far the dashed line is. You may enter the team area only to pass through
    if no other route is available taking care to not interfere with the team. I have been amazed at high school
    games (where I would think that the same rules apply) at the photographer for the local paper and news video
    folks shooting from in the team area. As both of you do, I keep a low profile. Enjoy.

    For permission, as has been mentioned, contact the AD or activities director of the school.
  9. Yes, high school is a different game. Everything's fair play as long as your not on the field or bugging the teams. I shoot for a weekly paper, high school and sometimes college, and the college rules are the 30 and back, like mentioned, whereas HS is wherever you want. however, when shooting high schoool I try to stay out of the way of everyone while still getting my shot and have never had a real problem.
  10. A lot of coaching and discussion of game plans, plays, tactics, etc., goes on in a team area during games. If you are affiliated with one team, you should not be in the other team area without having clarified your status and your credentials with that team. In any case, credentials should be pre-arranged with the home team athletic director and if affiliated with a visiting team, that school should make arrangements. If a valid media photographer, you should be able to go direct to the host school.

    In any case, you need to determine in advance what areas will be open to you and where you would not be allowed. Do not assume that because access of some sort is discussed on a forum that other schools or areas will have as flexible or as rigid controls over access. Don't just show up and expect them to accommodate you. The school is under no obligation to allow you or any other media rep access to the sidelines and field areas.
  11. Gabe -

    Depends on the school and the rules... I've seen H.S. just as serious and strict as the pros in terms of limiting access and where a shooter can and can't be.

    Some of it is liability and some of it is just competitiveness. If the school is a powerhouse and going for the state title - they're not going to let a photographer from another team in their "team" area.

    As Craig points out - check with the home team as to what's permitted and not. If you're traveling with the visiting team - stay on their side of the field.


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