How to Get A Photojournalist Press Pass

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Official press credentials are necessary if you are serious about becoming a freelance journalist.

Do I need an official press pass? How do I get one? Freelancers have to pay for them, are they worth their cost? How do I get one? I will answer those questions in this article. For those pressed for time, the simple answer is “yes” on all accounts.

Having a freelancer’s press pass can make the difference between being able to photograph the even you want to cover and not being able to cover it. Police and government agency guidelines may also establish procedures for obtaining press credentials facilitating access to certain places closed to the public. Such passes usually do not guarantee access to a place. They merely provide a means of identifying yourself as a journalist who should be admitted if members of the media are to be admitted. Press passes can get you free access to concerts, and back stage at plays and other live performances. Press passes can get you free access to many other events too. As a rule, they will get you inside the yellow tape to photograph accidents and crime scenes, but not always. However, you have a better chance for access with them than without them. At the same time, don’t abuse the privilege. Obey authorities at all times and act like the professional you are passing yourself off as being.

There are a few different ways that a freelancer can get press credentials legally but I’m only going to cover four of them here. You can obtain credentials from most stock photo agencies identifying you as an official photographer for that agency. Most freelance photographer associations offer them to their members, you can get them through the AP (Association Press), and many smaller newspapers will offer “Stringer” credentials to a photographer for free if he or she has proven their usefulness to the paper. Many small newspapers can’t afford to hire full time photographers and will be happy to offer you credentials in exchange for you being there when they need you. If you can get yours that way, it’s a win-win situation. You’ll save $50 or $60 for a yearly renewable press passes and then is paid for the pictures you take for the paper.

The US Press Agency offer press credentials in several flavors, photographer, videographer, radio, and writer. These are the only press passes for freelance journalist recognized by the US Press Agency. Each pass is personalized with your photo, the official USPA embossed seal, and a brief background of you journalistic history. Your USPA press kit can be delivered electronically or by snail mail. They are the same but the ones your download and print out yourself don’t look as official because they are printed on ordinary ink jet paper. The diy kit with the USPA Certificate costs you $67. The official documents shipped via snail mail (UPS, FedEx, or DHL) costs $65. With this package your official membership number and USPA ID Number appears as a barcode on your press badge. There are extras that you can order too if you want them. Once your order is processed, the USPA sends you an application by email to fill out and submit. The information that appears on you badge is taken from this application.

Picture Stock Agency offers a world wide press pass for $50, including shipping and handling. These passes, unlike most, which have to be renewed yearly, are good for three years. They are relatively easy to apply for and get, you simply send them a passport size photo by snail mail, and they will send you a laminated pass identifying you as a member of the International Press. You can also sign up to receive paid assignment from them for an additional $25. Imagine getting paid to photograph concerts, plays, and other events in your area that you would have gladly paid money to attend anyway.

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