What is a Photo Pass?

A photo pass is a credential that identifies an individual to security and event staff as an approved photographer for an event. Photo “passes” most often take the form of a fabric sticker, but they also come as wristbands, laminates, or pieces of paper.

Ultimately, the main goal of photo pass is to generate images for use as editorial content, which can in turn generate publicity for a tour or relevant album.

Who Gets a Pass?

By virtue of their purpose, photo passes are intended largely for media outlets, ranging from newspapers and magazines to online sources like webzines and blogs.

The process of approval may depend on several factors, including the size of the publication one is shooting for and personal relationships with those controlling the media list.

What Does It Do?

In most instances, this photo pass simply allows you to shoot for the allotted limit for a show. If there is a designated area for photographers to shoot from, such as in front of a model/performer at the front of the stage, a photo pass will grant access to these spaces. Contrary to the popular belief of many non photographer /videographer, a photo pass doesn't get you into backstage or designers' Area.

Individual Approval?

Whether individual approval is needed for each band on a concert bill may depend on the acts performing and/or the venue policy. For some tours, approval from the headlining band may grant access to shoot the supporting bands. For other acts, individual approval is necessary. Ultimately, honoring a photo pass secured through one band is up to the venue and the management of the other bands performing.

When requesting a photo pass for a show, photographers might list out previous shows they have shot at and include samples of their work. For an art festival, a photographer will have to answer very specific questions on their application:

  • For the company you are working for, what is its distribution?
  • How often will you publish posts promoting this event (before and after)?
  • For online publications, what are your views per week/per month?
  • Who is your audience?
  • How do you plan on covering this event and through which outlets (press or online)?