I was motivated to write this post about Media Accreditation for a number of reasons. Firstly, because I had no clue what it meant when I started and at times it’s a bit hazy still. Social media is a minefield for newbies and has the potential to kill a lot of work for the pros. Plus I thought it may actually be interesting for my clients to know what it means when I say ‘got accredited-all good to go’

What is Media Accreditation?

So let’s start by breaking it down. Accreditation is a process where you as a photographer or the magazine you are working for- more on that later applies to the show for permission to photograph. Now anybody can a camera there, there is very little they can do to stop you. Especially with iPhones etc. but the main difference is what you do with these pictures after the event. There is no issue with taking some mementos of the day and showing your friends Zara Tindall going around Burghley etc.

However, when you start posting them all over social media or even think about selling them then there becomes an issue. Unless you are accredited don’t even think about selling images, or offering them up for grabs. You may think there is nothing wrong with it but you are undermining and devaluing people who have worked hard to get accredited. This takes time and often working for nothing to get a foot in the door. You have to build relationships with official photographers and the organisers.

Offical Photographer and Media Accreditation

The official photographer will be employed by the event to photograph the event. They may have had to tender for the rights to this or they may be contracted. Either way a large part of their income will come from selling to competitors. This is why many of the rules around accreditation protect the official photographer. Rightly so, we all love pictures of us riding at events and if we continue to make their life hard we may well find ourselves relying on iPhone pictures!

In my honest opinion though I think the official photographer has a different to job to people like myself. I’ve had to explain to a client what that all means in terms of pictures. One lady was confused as to why she only got 2 cross country jumps. I had to explain that the officials job is to get every competitor. Every single one, so unfortunately this means sitting at one jump. Carefully selected for light, minimal Christmas trees and ‘wow’ factor and staying there all day.

Whereas I can follow the horse, from tacking up to cooling down and I can get far more images. I avoid the jumps the official photographer is located at in order to maximise the photographs for my client-who will still purchase the official’s pictures. Alternatively, I’ll be shooting with brands or sponsors in mind and again this means that you have to focus your energies on a couple of factors.

Media Accreditation: So why bother?

Accreditation means you’ll get into the event, get car parking and sometimes an area to work. Sometimes this can be a factor in accreditation, not enough workspace or parking for everyone. For me this isn’t an issue I mainly work around the course, I like to be editing and getting my pictures out ASAP. I love the social media element and that’s what I focus my energies on. All my images go out with a large watermark so they are hard to use but also to encourage competitors to continue to support the official tog. For me it’s all about getting my brand out there, working with other brands and giving my followers content rather than making money via competitors.

Media Accreditation: What does that mean for me and my pictures?

Accreditation isn’t easy to get. You generally have to be shooting for a publication, ‘a commission’ .Plus have an arrangement with them about what you will be providing for them and if you can sell to other brands or publications. I have been able to apply and be accredited on my own merit but I have also been declined. That’s okay- it’s all part of the learning curve. Once I’ve been declined I wouldn’t attend the event and photograph anyways. That makes me look very unprofessional and it’s important to maintain your integrity.

Media Accreditation: Points to think about

So whilst it’s tempting to flaunt all your images on social media and even consider selling them firstly consider the following.


Where you accredited?

If not then back away from the computer, contact a magazine and try and build some connections to get accredited in future. Be mindfull of putting your images all over social media as if they get used incorrectly this could be damaging to your reputation.


If you were accredited are you allowed to sell on?

You may have been accredited but that doesn’t give you a free for all. Often there is a 3 month wait time or even more specific rules. These should have been given to you in the handbook or guidelines when you received accreditation. If in doubt, ask the venue.

Hopefully that answers some questions. I don’t claim to be a guru I’ve just had one hell of a learning curve this summer. I feel like if I had known what I know now I may have done things differently. Plus, we all need to support each other and ensure we all maintain professional integrity. You never know who is watching 😉



Potential clients if I don’t get accreditation I won’t be able to photograph the event I’m afraid. I’m building a brand and my reputation is important to me. Equally if anyone is reading this that would like me to provide them with images please get in touch.