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Old Jun 1, 2011, 8:36 AM   #21
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I dunno.... Maybe they just should just go all the way and make it REALLY easy and try convincing companies like Canon, Nikon, Pentax or anyone else to not sell anything white, extendable beyond 3 inches or remotely capable of certain levels of photography to anyone other than verifiable, accredited, professional photographers?
Greg - no doubt there are pros that long for the days when the "cost of entry" was much steeper. Before digital. Before the internet helped people learn what equipment to use and how to use it. But, they can't go back to those days. What they can do is work within the world as it exists today. Sounds like there is a good business relationship between the track and the photographers. That makes it easier for the photographers to protect their revenue stream. It's much more difficult in other sports - like NCAA football for instance. Photographers work for publications or services. But the school controls access to the sidelines. That causes no end of grief for photographers trying to earn a living.

For what it's worth, it is inevitably a losing battle in many cases. The "press" is never going to pay for access. Without a financial stake, the event in question is not going to enforce any type of restrictions. This is why camera restrictions are more easily enforced for concerts and such - the venue has a financial stake. Without the restrictions, artists will perform elsewhere. Sports is a bit trickier. In your specific case it sounds like there is a business relationship that benefits both the track and the photographer. So, just like at a concert, camera restrictions will be enforced. They can't turn back the clock to pre-digital days. But they can do that. We may not like it. But as a business man as well as a photographer I understand their desire to do so.
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Old Jun 2, 2011, 6:14 AM   #22
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remotely capable of certain levels of photography to anyone other than verifiable, accredited, professional photographers?.
What does it take to get/become this?

To be more precise, how about for someone that does photography as a hobby, to get access to these sorts of events?
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Old Jun 2, 2011, 8:52 AM   #23
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What does it take to get/become this?

To be more precise, how about for someone that does photography as a hobby, to get access to these sorts of events?
Usually to get access to a professional support program like Olympus, Canon, Nikon and others have for working pros, you have to be able to document that a certain percentage of your annual income is derived from photography. In the case of Olympus, that number is 80%. This would be the most logical way to document your status as a working professional photographer.

http://olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/oima_slr_ogps.asp

The answer to your second question is easy. You can't, unless there's some sort of "in" you have with the venue.
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Old Jun 2, 2011, 9:35 AM   #24
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Dan,

For sports shooting at professional venues (in general, not specific to horse racing), there are usually 2 types of professional photographer:
1. Media
2. Event contracted shooter

In some cases there may be professional photographers contracted by participants. In most cases, the venue or hosting entity controls access. Requests are made through their media relations (or similar) department. The chances of a hobbyist that doesn't know anyone getting a credential for an event are slim and slim goes to none as the magnitude of the event grows. What someone calls themselves, whether they belong to Nikon / Canon / Oly professional services is irrelevant. Doesn't matter. What matters is who you are working for. For example, media requests are made through an editor. If Joe photographer calls or sends an email saying they're freelancing for such-and-such newspaper that request is likely going to be ignored. The editor of such-and-such newspaper needs to make the request. Smaller events/venues will grant more requests. For larger events/venues a small local weekly paper isn't likely to get a photographer a credential.

But, as Greg mentioned - the other way to get access is to know someone. It still amounts to the same thing - whether a request for credential is honored depends on: who is doing the asking and on how many available credentials the event has to give.
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Old Jun 2, 2011, 10:05 AM   #25
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clarification: a photographer may own a studio and be a full-time professional photographer doing portrait / wedding work. The fact he/she works full time as a photographer will have very little bearing on whether he/she gets a credential at an event. A person who knows the event coordinator or a person freelancing for the local newspaper (but who derives only 20% of their income from photography) will have a much better chance at getting a credential. In the case of horse racing, I suspect that an owner making a request for Joe Smith to get a credential to photograph the owner's horse during the race would similarly carry much more weight than how much income Joe Smith derives from photography. Football is a great sport to see this concept. Look at NCAA or NFL football game and watch the sidelines. You'll invariably see someone with a digicam taking photos. It's a safe bet that person isn't their on behalf of the AP / Getty / NY Times. They're there because they know someone and there's a lot of space. Look at a MLB baseball game and things are different - very little space in the photo pits so Mr point-and-shoot doesn't get a credential.
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Old Jun 2, 2011, 11:29 AM   #26
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So, following my kids amongst the ranks (of whatever they get into) would be impossible then... I better start practising my shmoozing...
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Old Jun 2, 2011, 11:49 AM   #27
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So, following my kids amongst the ranks (of whatever they get into) would be impossible then... I better start practising my shmoozing...
Dan - it really depends on the level. Getting close enough to take photos of tee-ball is one thing. Getting close enough for MLB baseball is completely different. How old are your children and what sports are they involved in?
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Old Jun 2, 2011, 12:17 PM   #28
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So, following my kids amongst the ranks (of whatever they get into) would be impossible then... I better start practising my shmoozing...
If other parents do not know you, you can get into MUCH more in-your-face trouble just trying to shoot your own kid playing T-Ball if someone thinks you're out there taking pictures of their kids!
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Old Jun 2, 2011, 1:10 PM   #29
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Dan - it really depends on the level. Getting close enough to take photos of tee-ball is one thing. Getting close enough for MLB baseball is completely different. How old are your children and what sports are they involved in?
My oldest is in kindergarten.
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Old Jun 2, 2011, 1:34 PM   #30
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My oldest is in kindergarten.
Well, I wouldn't worry about what things are like in the NHL just yet then Seriously, the entire landscape of photography will be completely different by the time your eldest is in High School.

For now, things are pretty easy. Outdoor sports like soccer, tee-ball, football are really a non issue - they're on small community fields and you're pretty close to the action. So, there usually isn't an "access" issue. Indoor sports can be a little more restrictive due to lack of space / safety. I've shot youth basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, swimming, baseball, football, soccer, teeball, track & field. Here's where you'll find issues:

Gymnastics - usually the MOST restrictive - that's a tough sport for a parent to get down on the floor to shoot so you're often relegated to the apparatus closest to seating.

Swimming - you'll have some access at the home pool. The key there is you don't want the other team parents complaining you get to be on the deck and they don't. So, you need to be "team photographer" or at least on good terms with coach and other parents.

Baseball/softball - for lower level rec leagues there's not much of an issue - no fences and close to the action. The problem is when you move to full size fields and fences enter the picture. Especially with baseball there's a serious safety issue with having people inside the fence. For travel teams it's pretty tough to get that access. As a parent you are often relegated to shooting from outside the fence.

Football: probably the easiest sport to shoot from inside the fence. There's a lot of space and not so much of a safety issue. Again, you may find that an away field is more restrictive. Again, your best bet up until HS is to simply be friends with other parent/coach and you'll have access.

Soccer / lax: in between. Since the field is larger than football there can be less sideline space so officials are more likely to enforce restrictions - but a lot of muni fields for youth soccer there is no fence anyway so not much of an issue.

The biggest thing is: be unobtrusive. If you get in the way of the sport OR in the way of parents viewing their kids that's the quickest way to get kicked out. Be knowledgeable and respectful AND be personable and you likely won't. When you look and act like a photographer and not like a parent people are less likely to object to you being where they are not.

Now to Greg's point: paranoia. Sadly, some people are paranoid. With a kid on the team in question, you're not going to have much issue. Other parents will have seen you interact with the child and, hopefully, with them as well. If you haven't come to any practices and just show up at a game and start taking photos of every kid, that might make people nervous. A couple weeks ago, I brought my gear to my son's first tee-ball game. A couple people asked me good-naturedly about my camera or in one case about "what I did with the photos". I explained that I was taking photos of my son, #2 on the team. No one freaked out or got in my face. They saw me before and at games since and recognized me as a father of a player. But, in the hundreds of sporting events I had photographed prior to that as an independent photographer I've never been confronted by a suspicious parent. Because I acted like a professional and didn't try to hide and talked and socialized. OH, and I always made sure the coach or athletic director knew who I was and why I was there. That way if there was ever a question about my being there I could direct the parent in question to that coach or AD. Never had to do so though.
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