Well Steamcon Four is coming along in two weeks, and the negotiations for being one of the Staff Photographers has finally been hammered together. If you have not been to anything Steamcon ever, Steamcon in Bellevue is a good place to get started, and learn a bit about the culture and see all the cool things that people come dressed as.
So how do you become a Staff Photographer at an event? Or how do you even get a press pass? It depends on the event, and both carry a lot of obligations for the photographer, so make sure you are up to what I think your obligations are. Of course depending on the event, those obligations will vary, but one of the most common things I have seen with a press pass or a staff badge is that no one talks about the show online in a meaningful way. They don’t post the pictures they took of the event anywhere, which kind of short circuits the reason for getting any kind of official credential at a show.
A press pass or a Staff badge obligates you to posting the pictures you took, even if was only one picture that came out ok. It obligates you talking about the show and helping out with some of the PR or publicity that a show is doing.
To get a pass, ask, seriously, just ask, show them some of your previous work, and see what they say. They might say “no” if you have never been to an event of theirs before which is also ok. But go anyways, pay for a pass, take pictures, then share the pictures you took with the world. Honestly that is how I got started, by going to Sakuracon in 2005 and just taking pictures of the awesome Cosplay. Seven years later most everyone who goes to anime or comic cons knows who I am, and people seek me out now to take pictures of them.
Always post your work on Flickr, smugmug, deviant art, 500PX, anywhere including Facebook and G+, people are generally really cool about seeing their pictures, and they will want copies. It is really cool when 1000’s of people look at and download your event pictures. Flickr is always your best bet, they have better integration with Google, Deviant Art is your next big bet for Cosplay as they have a huge community dedicated to Cosplay and costuming.
I have seen far too many people with credentials never ever say word one about the show they got the credentials for, and that is pretty not “ok”. I have yet to find a show that did not have a “Flickr pool” or other group photo sharing pool, and if you have credentials, you need to make sure your pictures of their show are up and running and good to go. Even if you only had one picture comes out awesome. You should always post your work; you are there to help them out by getting free access to the show. It is not enough to just show up nod your head, wander around a bit, and then walk out never saying anything about the show at all. They need your help, you are getting in free, and you need to do your work.
Yeah, I have seen this a lot, there are always people who want in free, but won’t talk about, post about, or share their impressions on the show that they got free access to, and that is a shame. Don’t be that photographer; odds are highly likely that the convention needs you to talk about them, especially the smaller ones.
Events are awesome, they are a great way of networking and meeting awesome people, but it is work, it is a job even if you got in free, so make sure you are posting and talking about the show. I have seen photographers, bloggers, and even news journalists not being able to acquire a press pass or staff badge because they have burned through their reputation by getting free stuff, then not paying back with a blog entry or a photograph, so don’t torch your event reputation before you even get started.