Professional Motorsport Photographer Works Event Without A Media Pass
Hi, I’m a professional motorsport photographer and I shot an entire event without media accreditation and nobody noticed.
Yes, that’s right. I bought a regular general admission ticket and photographed the entire race weekend from the spectator-accessible areas. Guess what? It didn’t a single difference in the quality of the images I delivered to my customers for that event.
So to answer the main question – Does it matter if you can’t get a media pass? The short answer is no.
Now, to be fair, I wouldn’t go out of my way to do this at every event. Media access certainly does help at bigger events with large crowds. Also at temporary street circuits where catch fencing is everywhere. While other venues, a media pass will allow you to get your camera gear in – especially big lenses, where they might have restrictions otherwise. But in terms of delivering high-quality images for the most part it doesn’t make that much of a difference.
If you are a budding motorsport photographer thinking that media accreditation is going be the difference to getting those great shots. It really isn’t the case.
However, I did notice a few things from attending the event that you can utilise if you are hoping to take your motorsport photography up to the next level and pursue it professionally.
State & Club Level Events Are The Best Places To Develop And Showcase Your Skill
Everyone who asks me about becoming a motorsport photographer wants to know how they get into the top levels of motorsport. But in reality, it’s the lower levels of the sport where you can best showcase your skills and build up a portfolio and connections to get you where you want to be.
I spent just $25 on a two-day pass and that gave me access to all the spectator areas, the paddock and the pit roof (normally reserved for corporate areas at bigger events). There were no tiered restrictions that required me to buy an extra ticket.
If you are serious about taking your motorsport photography to the next level, these club and state-level events are the perfect places to practice your skills and build up a portfolio of images that you can use to showcase your talent.
You don’t need to apply for a media pass. There are no major crowds to contend with. It’s just a really good, no-pressure environment to practice and develop and possibly even pick up some clients.
Embrace The Limitations
Sure there are some places that you can’t access without a media pass… And you know what, that is just fine.
If you simply accept that you can’t get to a particular area, regardless of how good the shots might be, you’ll free yourself to try and get the best possible photos from the places you can access.
Think about how you can photograph the corners that you can access differently. Is everyone else standing in the same spot? What if you were to capture the action from a different angle? Maybe walk up a hill and get a different perspective? Limitations have a great way of allowing you to focus your attention on creativity in other areas.
I’ll tell you right now, no one has missed out on a career in motorsport photography because they couldn’t get to one corner at a particular race track. It’s all about creating the best possible photos from the areas that you can access to develop a solid portfolio of images.
With that said, move around the areas you can access. The number of amateur photographers that I saw parked at the same corner for every single session for the entire race weekend was madness.
They might have just been taking photos for fun, and there is nothing wrong with that, but if you are looking to pursue your motorsport photography a little more seriously, take the opportunity to explore the circuit and find unique and interesting shots.
I had 75% of the race track to myself because nobody else was willing to go for a walk around. It’s really easy to stand out if you are the only person doing something different.
Access To The Paddock
I touched on it briefly before, but at these club and state events, it’s so easy to access the paddock and the drivers.
Firstly, there is so much more to motorsport photography than just capturing the on-track action. Being able to access the paddock area and create a comprehensive portfolio that showcases a complete skill set covering both on and off track action is essential if you want to pursue this professionally.
Secondly, it’s a great place to make connections and contacts. At top-level events, everything is often so busy that no one has time to talk, or there are some many people around that it is hard to get access to the people you are hoping to talk to. At these lower-level events, you’ll often find the same drivers offering driver coaching or the same teams running their other programs so you can build connections in a more relaxed environment.
If you are genuinely serious about becoming a motorsport photographer professionally, regularly attending these state and club-level motorsport events by simply buying a general admission ticket and getting out there and taking photos is the best way to practice, develop your skills and style and build a portfolio of work that will create the opportunities you are hoping for.
Having media accreditation is not the limiting factor to great images, but you’ll be able to prove that you deserve a media pass by consistently showing up to events and creating high-quality images.
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.
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