How To Start Photography Website For Festival Passes

By | 26/09/2022

Terminal updated:

Whether y’all’re an established music photographer or but starting to photograph concerts, you know one thing: Access is everything. Getting into shows with your camera, getting access to the photo pit, and having the approval to photograph bands are all huge hurdles for almost live music photographers of all levels.

The photo pass is a printed credential that identifies y’all to security and venue staff as being approved to photograph a band for about all medium to large concerts. It might take the grade of a wristband, a fabric sticker, or a laminated card. Regardless of the form, the photograph pass is amidst the holy grail (short of the AAA, or Access All Areas pass) for so many concert photographers, because it’s the central to getting upward close and into the photo pit for your favorite bands.

In this definitive guide, I’one thousand going to explain what a photo laissez passer is, why y’all need it, who grants permission, what the considerations are for those approved for photo passes, how to get a photo pass, and how to discover the contact information for the gatekeepers of photo passes for concert photography.


The premise of the photograph pass relies on the age-old barter organization. You, the photographer and by extension your publication, are providing a valuable service to the artist (press coverage), and in exchange, the publicist is allowing you valuable access to their client. That’s it. That’s the bargain.

It goes without saying that you must exist shooting for a legitimate publication and are requesting credentials on the level. You will not make it unless everything is on the level, and if you lie to secure credentials, yous volition be blacklisted in curt order.

Also, it’due south worth noting that while yous can request access for anything you lot like, you lot are not entitled to admission of any kind. It’s within the right and in fact information technology is the job of the gatekeepers to ensure that only qualified photographers and publications are given access to their artists, and that the images produced produce the highest return on investment.

At present with that out of the way, allow’s become on with it.

What is a Photo Laissez passer?

A photograph pass is generally a fabric sticker that is produced past a tour that identifies people who accept been approved with photo admission. At that place may be other sticker passes for the bout that identity guest passes, VIP, creative person meet and greet, and and so forth. For smaller tours, there may be one generic laissez passer for all uses and the specific use is written on information technology when information technology’s handed out (ie, writing ‘Photo’ for a photograph pass, ‘VIP’ for VIP, etc.

Every concert on a tour, venue security volition be provided with a sheet that shows the appearance of each pass and what that pass tin do. A security meeting should inform venue staff of what photo restrictions are for the headlining artist, which are generally enforced for all bands on the bill.

A photo laissez passer is your best hazard at getting into the photo pit, the area between the phase and the barricade that separates the oversupply. Access to this is the area most often granted with a photo pass and volition let you make those images similar this that bear witness performers up close and personal. Underoath photographed at Popular’s in Sauget, IL — 2008.

Why Do You Need a Photo Laissez passer?

Most concert venues of this size may have a brake on fans bringing professional photography equipment in — this rule is generally stated when you lot buy a ticket and it’s often printed on the backs of tickets from large vendors like Ticketmaster or Live Nation.

Creative person management or an artist’southward publicist may want to limit photography to a small number of approved editorial publications considering it helps them ensure only qualified or preferred outlets have media access. Thus, a photo pass is a simply a way of identifying approved photographers to venue staff and security.

It’s important to empathise that, at a certain point, media coverage to an artist can exist viewed equally a liability, especially to those entrusted with protecting and creative person and their interests. Highly vetting which publications have admission to their artists is simply a style of ensuring that they are presented in a manner that benefits their clients.

How Exercise I Become A Photo Laissez passer to a Concert?

So, how exercise you go a photo pass for a concert? At that place are just a few scenarios in which you need a photo pass (excluding music festivals, which are a different kind of brute).

  1. You’re shooting for an editorial publication
  2. You lot’re a wire agency shooter
  3. You’re shooting for the creative person straight, merely without higher access (such as AAA)
  4. You’re shooting for the venue, promoter, a make, etc

We’ll focus mainly outset use, as that’s the most common situation past far. In order to get a photo pass, you take to brand a request and be approved by a gatekeeper, more often than not an artist’s publicist or a promoter.

There are a lot of factors in requesting a photograph pass and how requests are judged. First, in that location’s the reason for the asking. If yous’re a photographer who is just starting out and yous’re building your portfolio, from a band’southward interest, in that location is very little reason to grant access. Publicists will want to empathise that the photos are being used for a purpose that will practice work for them — generally provide positive coverage of their artist that promotes the tour, the electric current album, etc.

If you’re posting images of the concert to Instagram with no publication, no written review, then in the eyes of a publicist or other gatekeeper, in that location’s almost no reason at all to grant admission for a photo pass. Y’all have your best chance at getting a photo pass by showing that yous’re providing value to them.

Large Publications are Ameliorate

The nigh reliable way to go a photo pass is to shoot for the publications already covering the kind of concerts y’all want to cover in your urban center or area. Those are the publications that have the relationships with publicists already and are providing the value that bands want and are approving for credentials.

Established publications with a wide reach in their audience and readership are going to have to have the all-time access for your larger tours playing arenas, amphitheaters and stadiums, on downwardly to all other small venues.

Smaller Publications Can Even so Work

Even so, shooting for smaller publications tin can still grant you a lot of opportunities likewise. From blogs to online music magazines, smaller publications may lose out for the biggest shows, but they should still provide skillful access for the midsized venues like clubs and theaters in your metropolis.

Connecting with a Publication to Shoot Concert Photography

So you know that you need to be shooting for a publication in order to get a photo pass in well-nigh all instances. How do you lot connect with a publication and become a contributing lensman?

Make a Portfolio

Start, you’ll need a portfolio — it’s the easiest way to showcase your work to a photograph editor and illustrate the value y’all tin can bring to a team. Instagram may be fine, but information technology’due south not necessarily an ideal experience for the viewer if they want to come across higher resolution work, and your Instagram feed may not be a true showcase of your very best work in the highly curated format you would want if you need to make a stiff impression. For that, a dedicated portfolio website is ideal. Maybe a PDF. What yous don’t desire to exercise is send a ZIP of loose images. No one’due south got fourth dimension for that.

Regardless of the format, y’all want your portfolio

you’ll need to do the inquiry. A few things to consider:

  • Who is covering the concerts in your area y’all want to access to?
  • Do they take regular contributors already?
  • Can you provide value to them outside of their normal coverage?

How to Request a Photo Pass

Requesting a photo pass is very direct forward, simply it requires setting expectations. When you request a photo laissez passer, the recipient — most often an creative person’south publicist — only wants to know one matter: the publication you’re shooting for. The reason for this is that they want to know the expected render on the admission they might grant. Over again, they want to know that they images produced are doing piece of work for

Publicists are as well short on time. Imagine existence the gatekeeper for peradventure 50-100 bout dates and approving or denying tens of photographers for each show. You can imagine that the number of requests for any given artist for a year would number in the hundreds if non thousands. Given this fact that a publicist may be dealing with a large number of printing requests for a concert — non to mention all the other aspects of their chore, like press releases, analogous interviews, editorial coverage, etc — they just want the facts in a request for a photo pass.

Electronic mail subject line:

[Artist] Photo Pass Request [Date][Urban center][Venue]

Email body:


I’grand a contributing photographer for [Publication]. We’d love to cover [Artist’s] bear witness at [Venue] in [City, State] on [Date]. My assigning editor is CC’d. Here’southward a link to an example of past coverage we’ve done: [link].

Is it possible to ready a ticket and photo credentials for this show?

Todd Owyoung, Music Lensman

In the US, it’s most common for photography credentials to exist handled by a publicity bureau. In other countries, a promoter may be the point of contact.

Regardless, this template assumes a few things:

  1. This is a genuine assignment
    (it needs to be stated)
  2. You are working for an editorial publication
  3. You every bit a correspondent are requesting credentials instead of your editor

I suggest this template just because when I was shooting for newspapers, zines and other publications, I often preferred to make these requests whenever possible. Smaller publications may besides allow or even await that  photographers brand their ain requests. If you’re shooting for a wire agency, you lot may likewise be making your own requests for admission.

In almost instances, photo passes should be requested by an editor and non the photographer, so keep this in mind.

Needless to say, information technology should be stressed that requests similar this should NEVR be faked. Publicists know the major publications for each market place and they know the music/photo editors for the publications that they piece of work with regularly. If you request photograph passes under imitation pretenses, you’ll be blacklisted. It’s as uncomplicated equally that. The music industry is built on trust, so please consider all of this.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s get to the tips of the trade on finding the contact information for photograph passes.

My Go To Sources for Photo Pass Contacts

Hither are some of the very first sources I go to if I need to source a contact for a photo pass:

  1. Facebook Page
  2. Official Website
  3. Google Search for PR Contact and/or Press Releases
  4. Photographer Friends
  5. Promoter
  6. Manager

Nosotros’ll go into this more than in depth below, as well as other options that may lead yous to the correct data y’all seek.

The Usual Suspects

Artist’s Facebook Page

A true go-to in recent years has been Facebook. Just most every single band or artist of every level has a Facebook page, and in the About section, they will list all sorts of useful info. Back in the mean solar day, this might accept been a Myspace folio — but now I’m dating myself.

Permit’s accept Weezer for example. Correct on their Facebook Almost page, they accept their printing contact listed, so that’s basically as easy equally pie.

Creative person Website

Hither’s a natural 1, but this can be hit or miss, just it’due south too dead simple not to try this very early if you’re searching. More often than not, many artists’s will include general info, but like the in a higher place Most folio from Facebook.

Music Label

The label an artist is on is pretty common knowledge or easily discoverable if needed. Some record labels run their on in-house PR team that serves the needs of their artists, and so information technology’southward a matter of finding out who the right contact is for your artist of option. We’ll go into this a little later equally far as actual methods of outreach…

Gatekeepers for Photo Passes

Publicists/PR Agencies

For most larger bands/artists, publicists are hired to manage all of the PR aspects of their client’due south needs. This includes dealing with interviews, reviews, and photo passes for concerts. Finding the publicist’s contact info is an platonic to secure a photo laissez passer, and fifty-fifty if y’all don’t contact them direct, you’ll accept to become through them in some capacity, even if they are backside the scenes approval publications if you lot go another road.

Promoters/Venue Reps

Some promoters like Live Nation may require or encourage you to go through them — it volition depend on the venue or the regional market place and how they do things. If you’re a regular contributor to a publication, this setup of a single source can brand things SUPER easy. When I was shooting a metric ton of concerts in St. Louis, I would really ship my Alive Nation rep a list of a couple dozen shows that I anticipated covering for my publications, and passes would be sorted for the flavor — it was beautiful.


For smaller bands with a manager, the manager may handle tasks including PR, so going through them is a viable road. If y’all manage to observe the contact for an creative person’s manager just Not their PR, you could try reaching out, but I would hesitate to enquire this since it’southward a bit of a waste of time for the manager to handle these inquiries.

Other Sources for Contact Info

Press Releases

Official printing items like tour press releases and PR newsletters are the ideal sources with which to observe the right contact for a tour, equally the press releases are coordinated by the publicist. If you can discover the press release, you’ll detect the right contact.

Just searching for queries such as “[artist name] + press release” or [artist proper name] + tour press release” should turn up results. Refine by including the latest album release, the twelvemonth, and and then forth.

Newsletters and Mailing Lists

Once you lot build a relationship with publicists, you’ll most likely exist put on an email mailing list for that agency’s clients. This will ensure you’re notified of the latest tours and press opportunities from that bureau. Established editors and publications should exist on the mailing lists for all major PR agencies or labels for the genres that are covered.

Crowd Sourcing Artist Contact Info

Boyfriend Photographers

If you have friends in the concert photography scene who you trust (and you should!), you can always ask them for contacts.

Alternatively, if you see that someone has covered a testify for the tour you want to photograph, you tin always effort reaching out to them via email, DM, etc. Still, this should probably be a terminal resort and only done if you take truly exhausted every single other outlet. Even if you lot get a response, the exchange may not result in getting the contact info yous want, so this kind of “cold call” may be unwelcome by some photographers.

A lot of photographers may view the proper contacts as well earned data, so you accept to be considerate of this signal of view.

Facebook Groups

There are various Facebook groups dedicated to concert photography and music photography, some of which allow for the sharing of PR contacts or requests for them. However, not all allow these kinds of posts, and then exercise your inquiry.

Who NOT to Ask for a Photograph Pass

Band Members

It depends on the size of the band, simply contacting artists or ring members directly almost photographing their fix tin exist a tricky proffer. If it’s a larger human action, you’re likely skirting around not only the official gatekeepers, but in that location’s a larger risk of miscommunication to happen, and so you take to be very conscientious with this road.

For smaller bands who accept no publicist or managing director, contacting artists may be reasonable, only if that’s the instance they are near probable playing small-scale enough venues that you lot don’t demand a photo pass in the get-go place.

I other reason non to enquire band members is that y’all automatically set yourself up to be in a position of bartering your fourth dimension and photos for access. This is rarely a position you lot want to put yourself in with few exceptions.

In that location are circumstances with smaller, upwardly and coming artists where this tin can be a mutually beneficial situation.
But outside of very small artists, this kind of relationship is highly imbalanced and ultimately devalues the work of all music photographers if you lot’re giving away images for complimentary.

Google and Searching for Photograph Pass Info

If you’re searching for PR contacts, you’re going to want to become good at Boolean operators and searching to include, exclude, and parse phrases. Here’s a good breakdown on Boolean operators that you tin can use in Google:

Searching using Boolean operators, wildcards and special characters

Mutual searches yous may use may be:

  • “[artist]” pr contact
  • “[artist]” press contact +””
  • “[artist]” + “press release”
  • “[artist]” + “media contact”

and and then forth.

At that place are a 1000000 ways to use Boolean operators to search, but the above are ones that I’ve personally used with success.

If you’re getting a lot of false positives on dead ends or unrelated content, Boolean operators are a fantastic way to upwards your Google game and fine data that would otherwise be too obscure to show up or wade through otherwise.

Cold Calling for a Photo Pass

Sometimes you have to choice up the phone to get results when trying to prepare photography credentials for alive music. Yous may only get then far as the PR agency simply no specific contact or find yourself in other situations were you may demand to make a call to get results. Years agone, I was in a state of affairs where I was trying to set up credentials for Due north.E.R.D. and this was a prove that seemed to have almost no promising leads. I concluded up tracking down a full general contact and had to telephone call the office to find out the right contact. It’s a last resort, only a phone telephone call might exist necessary to go the final mile.

Photo passes for music festivals work in much the aforementioned manner equally photo passes for regular concerts, only may accept even more strict requirements for the types of publications they permit to comprehend these events.

Photograph passes for Music Festivals

Photo passes for music festivals work in much the same way every bit photo passes for regular concerts. There may exist the potential for college selectivity of publications at music festivals as these larger events might draw press from larger region than a single concert, so you lot may be vying for a limited number of passes with not only regional press, but national publications.

On the brilliant side, music festivals almost e’er have their press contacts very clearly listed on the outcome websites, commonly under information, contact or printing headers.

The press section under “contact” on Lollapalooza’southward website.

There is often a formal application for festivals where they collect mutual information nearly the requesting publications — website, readership, social media following, etc.

If anything, applying for a photo pass for a festival is the nigh streamlined and easy kind of pass to go considering of the fact that the contact information is clearly stated and that there are often streamlined applications. That said, larger festivals tin afford to be much more than picky about who they credential, so very small publications may non have a lot of luck scoring passes for this kind of event.

Edifice Relationships

In music photography, like so many things in life, relationships are the goal and the one affair that will enrich your life. The real goal in music photography with regards to access is truly  to is develop relationships with  publicists, your publication, venue promoters, and so forth that y’all don’t have to work then hard for the access you lot need.

In one case you develop your skills and forge the relationships you need as a music photographer, the goal is that you lot’ll outgrow the need for this guide.

Cease Notes

There you accept it. I’ve been photographing live music since 2006 and while the industry and music photography in general has changed dramatically since then, I know that the issue of admission is every bit persistent as always. One of most difficult aspects of getting into music photography is simply getting your camera into shows. To this end, I hope that if yous’re a music lensman trying to get admission, this guide will help you discover the contacts you demand to get the access you desire for that ever elusive photo pass.

Eventually, your goal should exist to develop deeper relationships with artists, managers, labels and the people who are truly making decisions and so that y’all can leave the need to Google for contact info far, far behind.


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Originally posted 2022-02-12 17:40:01.