Do You Need Media Accreditation To Photograph Motorsport?
The short answer? Yes and no. Media accreditation is an approval from either an event or a promoter to work in a media capacity during an event.
From a motorsport photography point of view, having media accreditation primarily means access to shooting from restricted areas that the public can’t access. It’s also recognition that you are working for reputable media outlets making access to teams and other things a little easier. Finally, media accreditation allows access to the media center making it much easier to work on the go.
But do you absolutely need media accreditation to photograph motorsport?
Realistically, not always.
Confused yet? Let’s pick this apart.
Start at the Beginning and Build Slowly
If you’re someone who is just starting out, focusing on media accreditation first and foremost will only slow you down.
Generally, there is an expectation that if you plan on working at an event you should apply for media credentials. Organizers of national and international level events are very strict about media accreditations because hundreds of people want to access those races for a myriad of reasons.
That’s why the organizers are very diligent as to who they allow access to, and media accreditation isn’t the easiest thing to get when you’re just getting into motorsport photography.
However, I’ve often worked at lesser, club-level events as a paying spectator (within those limitations), particularly when I’ve received last-minute calls to cover an event, and my work hasn’t suffered as a result.
Going to events as a paying spectator is an excellent way to get started: sure, you won’t have access to the media center and certain locations near the track, but even from the spectators’ area, there’s still plenty you can do.
At small events, it is very much possible to be able get access to the pits and have the freedom to roam around within the spectator areas as much as you like.
So here’s my advice: shoot the events, figure out your angles and hone your skills, talk to other photographers, network, and before you know it, you may just get a foot in the door.
Once you build a solid portfolio, you can then apply for media accreditation with the help of reputable magazines and online media covering the races. But to build the portfolio, you need the work first – so get to work first.
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I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.