How to Get Independent Press Credentials

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If you are considering working in the field of freelance photography or photojournalism, at some point you will have to consider how to get independent press credentials as a journalist. But why do you need press credentials as a freelancer, and how do you get them when you don’t work for a large media outlet or division? In this article, we will touch on everything you need to know about how to get independent press credentials, including what makes them worth investing in over other kinds of media passes!

What Are Independent Press Credentials?

If you are a photojournalist or photographer working on an independent or contracted basis, you will not have the luxury of a streamlined, pre-cut path to independent press credentials; in fact, you will have to go out of your way to seek these from the appropriate resources. So, what are independent press credentials?

In short, these credentials are a freelancer’s ticket onto the front lines of special events and news coverage as it’s happening—from live sporting events to corporate summits and other types of exclusive events. These credentials, often in the form of a photo ID badge worn around the neck, not only get freelancers into venues but can also grant premier access to press conferences and opportunities to interact with public figures.

Why Do I Need Press Credentials as a Freelance Photographer?

Since press credentials are necessary to gain entry to significant news events and cultural celebrations, they are generally considered a wise investment—particularly for freelancers who do not work for a major organization but on their own terms. By selecting your press credentials source wisely, a freelance photographer will have access to all sorts of high-profile, regional, or global events for coverage!

How to Get Independent Press Credentials

To qualify for independent press credentials (also sometimes called a “press pass”), a freelancer must fill out an application with the following prerequisites:

  • They must have published an anthology or book with an independent publishing house within the last five years
  • Within the last two years, they must have produced three published pieces—either in print or online
  • Must have published 15 minutes of video coverage, either in one broadcast or three five-minute intervals
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Are Press Credentials and a Press Pass the Same Thing?

Some beginning freelance photojournalists find themselves confused by some of the verbiage regarding press credentials and how to ensure they have the proper accreditations for each event. After all, you wouldn’t want to be turned away at the door!

In short, yes, the terms “press credentials” and “press pass” refer to the same level of clearance—that is, they both offer a relatively high level of event access, sometimes even on the global stage. However, this is not to be confused with a “journalist ID” or “journalist’s credentials,” which are not the same thing.

How Are Press Credentials and a Journalist Credentials Different?

While at first it might sound as if a media or “press credential” might offer the same benefits as “journalist credentials,” in reality, the two different passes afford quite different benefits. For example, a journalist ID badge is essentially a glorified name tag—and you can even assemble your own at home! This will have your name, a photo ID on a lanyard for your neck, and any company or collaborator you are associated with. This can be issued by private companies offering exclusive access to certain events.

Press credentials, on the other hand, are issued by a recognized newspaper, magazine, or broadcast outlet, and often have international clearance. These range in scope but generally allow freelancers access to regional, continental, or global events. The degree to which you need coverage will affect which level of press pass you purchase—though some employers will reimburse you for the cost of upgrading.

Best Internationally Recognized Independent Press Credentials with IFPO

When it comes to selecting between press credentials and journalism credentials, you will need to have a grasp of the level of clearance required to attend your event. For high-clearance coverage, such as international war zones, humanitarian areas, or global sporting events, you will want to look into an International Freelance Photographers Organization like IFPO that offers Universal Press Passes of the highest order of clearance. However, if you are just sinking your teeth into the industry and still working on relatively small projects such as local area event coverage, you will likely do just fine with the Gold level Press Pass from IFPO.  

Whatever level of area coverage you prefer, for those wondering how to get independent press credentials, you’ll simply need to join a press pass-issuing entity like IFPO. IFPO offers a fully staffed support desk five days a week to help you manage your portfolio and help your career take flight. For more on the process of enrolling, join us here!