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Creating a Press Card (NOT faking it)

Hello dear collegues. I’m in a situation where I have to draw myself a press card:) A local newspaper is giving their accreditation (stamp) for it so dont think im faking something here. I’ll be able to access almost every local event, but I want to make it useful when I go abroad too. So from your broad experience, how do you think what should I include in it besides the standart info.

by Emil Zinger at 2009-05-06 18:52:05 UTC (ed. May 8 2009 ) Vilnius , Lithuania | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Er, this is a joke right? Draw yourself a press card that might be useful abroad?
For any press credentials to be taken seriously abroad, then it needs to come from a recognised authority.
See the recent thread about a certain organisation that was allegedly selling press cards.

The World has changed-a DIY approach isn’t going to impress these days.
Even with a recognised press card in the UK, for instance, you can still end up getting your arm broken by the police.
I’d hate to think what would happen with a home-made one.

by JR, (John Watts-Robertson). | 06 May 2009 20:05 (ed. May 6 2009) | rothwell, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

I’ve made a few before for various publications I’ve worked for. Making it useful abroad is basically as hard as having something that looks official and hoping the security/police/border patrol don’t really understand what’s going on.

Feel free to PM me and I can get you my InDesign template or offer some advice on design etc.


by Christopher Guess | 06 May 2009 20:05 | Madison, Wisconsin, United States | | Report spam→
It’s up to the local authorities, Emil, whether they allow you into secure areas. JR is right, in some areas the authorities are real ball-busters, and even if they themselves issued the pass, they can still make your life difficult on the street.

But if you are working locally, something that incorporates the name of the local publication could work. I once used my NPR employee badge to get into an area from which the general public had been ejected. I don’t think that would work very often, but, hey, try everything! And in Perugia Italy I once got into a space where the President (of Italy) was meeting the mayor and giving a speech to a bunch of students by just strapping a couple of DSLRs around my neck and shoulders and speaking English to the bodyguards (and trying to look very much like a pro — missing only the scarf and the vest). I know some guys that got into Iraq (and ultimately to Baghdad) at the time of the US invasion with nothing more than their driver’s licenses, passports, and a big bag of chutzpah!

by [former member] | 06 May 2009 20:05 (ed. May 6 2009) | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Hey guys thanks for speaking out your thoughts!
The staff at the desk of newspaper that I shoot for occasionally said to me that I’d photoshop myself a press card and they would confirm it with their stamp.
Recently I was getting all kinds of access (cultural events, ambassies, etc) with one person (a journalist) who had such a self made card (Approved by a local np with a stamp).

The logo of the newspapie will placed, big words like ‘press’ and ‘access’, a sentence stating that everybody should give the needed cooperation, ‘photojournalist’, my pic and credentials. Somethings missing?

Much thanks for the input fellas!

by Emil Zinger | 07 May 2009 04:05 (ed. May 7 2009) | Vilnius, Lithuania | | Report spam→
by the way, what should be the size w x h cm?

by Emil Zinger | 07 May 2009 04:05 | Vilnius, Lithuania | | Report spam→
Emil, why don’t you just join the Lithuanian Journalists Union? They’re affiliated to the International Federation of Journalists who can issue you with an international press card.



And John, when it comes to testosterical Brit coppers breaking bones, I suspect they don’t have a sliding scale of violence that they apply according to the validity of your press credentials…

by Andrew Moore | 07 May 2009 05:05 | Hong Kong, Afghanistan | | Report spam→
You’re right Andrew and I’ll certainly do it, but need some more time to get some needed papers in place.

This year the head of journalist union is the same guy which we selected to be a head of union of lithuanian art photographers :))

by Emil Zinger | 07 May 2009 05:05 | Vilnius, Lithuania | | Report spam→
Can’t the local paper give you a pass, instead of making one? If not, can’t you just copy what they have?

by Brian C Frank | 07 May 2009 05:05 | Des Moines, Iowa, United States | | Report spam→
What do their staffers use? Brian in right copy what they use. But if you are going to make your own, make sure “Press” is nice and big.

by Richard Lui | 07 May 2009 07:05 | Chaiyi, Taiwan | | Report spam→
Brian and Richard, why copy a press pass when legitimate press credentials are available for working journalists? I understand that it can be tricky for somebody in the beginning to get sufficient work to qualify for entry to their local journalists organization, but it’s not an insurmountable problem.

Using a fake press pass is a recipe for potential disaster. You’d be better off with no press pass at all.

by Andrew Moore | 07 May 2009 08:05 (ed. May 7 2009) | Hong Kong, Afghanistan | | Report spam→
its not fake, they will confirm it with their stamp and confirm that im working for them if contacted. i could get the same they use but they said that it doesnt matter and i can make my own, and i actually liked this idea

by Emil Zinger | 07 May 2009 08:05 | Vilnius, Lithuania | | Report spam→
ok guys what yall think?:))

by Emil Zinger | 07 May 2009 08:05 (ed. May 7 2009) | Vilnius, Lithuania | | Report spam→
Emil, why not make your own driving license, your own passport? A legitimate press pass is no guarantee of access or safety, but, depending on where you’re working, a homemade press pass is potentially dangerous.

by Andrew Moore | 07 May 2009 08:05 | Hong Kong, Afghanistan | | Report spam→
Andrew> because nobody will confirm/approve your id or driving licence and thus it will be illegal.

by Emil Zinger | 07 May 2009 08:05 (ed. May 7 2009) | Vilnius, Lithuania | | Report spam→
Very nice Emil and as you say, it’s not a fake. I’m sure it will work for you just fine at home,
but I thought the whole idea was for it to be useful abroad-which it may or may not be.

The point I was trying to make earlier is that if you showed up at say 10, Downing Street, London with this pass
of yours…… it will be as much use as a chocolate teapot.

Personally I’ve never liked whipping a press pass out. But the truth is more and more people are demanding to see credentials these days, and especially the police. So if you come to the UK, better make sure you get an accredited pass which IS recognised by the authorities and the same goes for most other countries. The sliding scale of police violence Andrew mentioned made me laugh. The point I tried to make so badly there was that even with the ‘proper’ police recognised pass there is no guarantee of access or personal safety from thuggish rogue coppers.

by JR, (John Watts-Robertson). | 07 May 2009 08:05 | rothwell, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
There are places that a homemade press card will be considered not just a breach of protocol but potentially illegal, but the decision is yours. Going back to your first post, it’s disappointing/unethical that a newspaper is trading accreditation in return for work. If you’d asked for payment instead then you’d be going a long way towards overcoming any obstacle to joining your local journalists union, and you’d also be gaining both their and the IFJ’s backing should you ever encounter problems.

by Andrew Moore | 07 May 2009 08:05 | Hong Kong, Afghanistan | | Report spam→
JR, I have press cards from law enforcement agencies in the USA and the company I work for but I am pretty sure Emil’s homemade is just as good when confronted by London street cops. In the US everyone can be a journalist.

by Richard Lui | 07 May 2009 09:05 | Chaiyi, Taiwan | | Report spam→
Just to hit home on the IJF pass (the irony is, they’re poorly put together):
Details of getting one are here:
“Importantly, the IFJ card is not issued without verification of the applicant’s status as a working journalist.”

“Beware of expensive imitations – none of which are endorsed by the world’s journalism network. There are some organisations issuing cards to make money, but who represent virtually no-one, do not engage in any effective international representation of journalists and cannot provide back-up to protect journalists who get into trouble.”

I don’t know how it works in Lithuania, but with the NUJ in Ireland and Britain, you contact them, go in front of a small committee who verify that you are 1) receiving the bulk of your income from media work, 2) getting stuff published. Then you attend a branch meeting where your membership is decided on a vote (mostly a formality).

You are then issued a press card, and this enables you to apply for the IJF pass.

by Dave Walsh | 07 May 2009 10:05 | Amsterdam, Netherlands | | Report spam→
“badges? we don’t need no stinking badges!”

apropos Hunter Thompson’s “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved,” in which he describes the ordeal to get accredited for himself and artist Ralph Steadman, this last weekend I was in Louisville with some friends and colleagues at the Derby, and between us, we had legitimate letters and press cards from: Newsweek, The New York Times, the BBC, and Magnum Photos, and not one of us was actually able to receive the official press pass!

None of which mattered after the third mint julep. Access is what you make of it, not what people in power decide to condescendingly bestow.

by [former member] | 07 May 2009 13:05 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
If you get the chance look up the story of the recently deceased Terry Fincher. I met him about ten years ago, and he told me how he needed accreditation so he “created” a news agency called Photographers International, and went off all over the world using the IDs he made for himself. To be fair he was already widely published, but his point was that as a freelance he did not get taken seriously by foreign media organisations when he asked for local press accreditation. By creating a front, and then writing his own letters of accreditation, it opened doors everywhere. Things may be tougher now (certainly here in the UK – yes there is a sliding scale – the more genuine your pass the more genuinely Plod seems to have it in for you!) but in some places having the “credibility” will still open doors, more often than not, though, it will just get you penned in with a hundred other photographers. Sometimes you’re better off being outside the pack.

by Michael Cockerham | 07 May 2009 17:05 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

Here in Nepal I got the official gov. press pass. But when I applied for it some years ago I couldn’t show work as prints were never send over to me. And many images ended up through a news agency so actually no idea where it went.

So the officer said something like this: “You have no publications to show? Ok come back tomorrow and ‘arrange it’ and also print whatever you do on fax paper as our chief thinks that genuine.” and blinked an eye to me.

So I printed print-screens of whatever I found of my photos online including print-screens of my agencies, on fax paper.

Next day the officer didn’t think it was enough hahaha. So he advised me to pay 10 bucks to arrange it. I said ok. Then he opened a file of another photographer with the same first name, grabbed some publications out of his file and tucked them in my file. “Solved” he said, and I got my pass.

LOL Unbelievable.

by Tom Van Cakenberghe | 08 May 2009 01:05 | Kathmandu, Nepal | | Report spam→
Any event abroad that will honor a press pass from a local newpaper won’t be wothy covering!

by Richard Prudhomme | 08 May 2009 03:05 | Rawdon, Quebec, Canada | | Report spam→
“having the “credibility” will still open doors…”

But now thanks to Google, it can now get you handcuffed to a heating pipe and repeatedly kicked in the kidneys.

Could someone tell me how come we’ve all got a downer on Photoshop fake artists, but not on complete dickheads who want to stunt up press cards?

BTW, good job Emil, on not only telling us about your fake ID, but also showing it – so when you get ‘busted’, your fraud is now just an internet search away. That error alone, would be one reason why I’d never give you a presscard, and I hope the IFJ finds out and turns you down.

And Tom, you’ve just openly accused a Nepalese Gov’t employee of accepting a bribe from you to obtain your official presscard – so that makes both you, and the Gov’t officer subject to potential scrutiny and criminal charges by the Nepalese authorities.

LOL Unbelievable” indeed!

Google searching both of your names instantly brought your LS profiles up on top. A couple of mouse clicks beyond that and I’ve got you both by the balls, admitting to ID fraud and bribery on this thread. What makes you think others can’t or won’t do the same?

Press accreditation gives you no more rights than any other civilian. It’s simply an ID that can be verified by an umbrella organisation, and if anything, carries responsibilities rather than privileges – for example, the NUJ recently withdrew a press card from a photographer who had multiple aliases, and a conviction for assault while working.

The fact that some border guard can’t or won’t check the ID is besides the point – its that journalists are increasingly considered as legitimate targets for harrassment and disbelief, and already documented cases of journalism fraud provide an excuse.

British Police officers on the ground already barely accept the legitimacy of ANY press card, and there are already cases of journos being cross-checked on Google by various types of Gov’t and non-Gov’t goon.

A bunch of so-called journalists chatting about their habitual ID fraud on an internet forum is not only irresponsible, its dumb and helps give people the excuse to treat us all with suspicion.

“Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” might the motto of the US Marines, but here’s a tip for all you gung-ho warmongering Gonzo wanabees:

We’re not fucking Marines, OK?

So the next time another poor sap gets ‘busted’, because some scumbag figured they were a fauxtographing, Photoshop-bending, presscard faking liar, or no better than a Marine, so just as worth killing, kidnapping or jailing, maybe all the Gonzoids could cough up for a wreath or ransom, seeings how their bragging about ID fraud has now incrementally moved us all closer to being dropped in the shit?

Think it’s no big deal? Tell that to Roxana Saberi’s family.

by [former member] | 08 May 2009 03:05 | Singapore, Singapore | | Report spam→
Very interesting and rich commentaries in lots of various aspects :) You all guys are incredible, I love reading it all.

Only some of you I guess read just a half of something and then rush to comment.

The thread is about creating a press card thats gonna be legally approved, not copying/faking one – I would not do that ’cos its one lil check away from a big problem.

I totally understand and support the above commentary by Sion, only the fella got a misconception about the what i’ve made.

Anyway thanks all for very energetic replies:)

by Emil Zinger | 08 May 2009 04:05 | Vilnius, Lithuania | | Report spam→
Emil, don’t take it personally. Often these conversations grow organically, branching off into ancillary subjects. I think to summarize some of the thoughts here (chime in everybody, if you don’t agree) is thus:

1) It’s lame that the paper won’t just give you one of their passes since you are shooting for them, and instead you are having to create a pass which they will then stamp.

2) It’s even more lame that they are going to give you the opportunity of a lifetime in creating that pass on your dime so you can work for them.

3) Either have them give you one of theirs, or if you are going to make one that they are going to stamp, make your pass as close to theirs as you can.

4) A local paper’s press pass won’t do much, if any, good internationally.

5) You should look into the Lithuanian Journalists Unions mentioned above.

6) Going without or going with a fake pass can lead to British cops beating the crap out of you.

by Brian C Frank | 08 May 2009 04:05 (ed. May 9 2009) | Des Moines, Iowa, United States | | Report spam→

Nepelese people have to bribe ‘everytime’ they put a foot inside a gov. building. Of course I accuse Nepalese officials of accepting bribes as that is the system, thats how life is organized here. Believe me I wish it wasn’t like that, but it is. Articles enough online about that, with name of the writer. I even had to bribe police to get my own motorcycle back after it was stolen and they found it. Am I accusing the police? Hell yes!! They wanted to buy a goat and eat it they said. So?

Do not forget people that pay bribes are victims of misuse of power and that must be told, I just did that here.

by Tom Van Cakenberghe | 08 May 2009 05:05 (ed. May 8 2009) | Kathmandu, Nepal | | Report spam→
Thanks Emil, I did get the message, but I’m talking about legitimacy and validity, not what the pass looks like, how its made, or for what purpose.

Why are you creating your own press card? Why doesn’t the paper simply issue you with a stamped letter of accreditation on company stationary (if they don’t use passes), or if they do issue a pass to their staff, why can’t you get one?

If they don’t issue passes, and their journos have problems accessing events, why the hell doesn’t the paper just issue their own standardised passes?

Why are they relying on their journos to craft up their own cards?

How can they ever be sure someone else doesn’t stunt up a card without their permission, if the cards are all hand-made and different?

Because of the approval stamp? How the hell can we know the stamp hasn’t been made at home as well if the passes are all different and hand made?

Lithuania is in the EU, so if the paper needs a recognised card, the papers editor could simply send a letter from its editor to the IFJ requesting standardised IFJ cards for its members.

What does the ‘Registration number’ on your card refer to? Where can it be cross referenced?

Shouldn’t the number be ‘00000000001’? As your card is ahem…‘original’.

Who authorised the time limit of 01/01/2012? You, or the paper?

I’m assuming that validity means the card can be revoked if you say, commit a crime while working, or bring the reputation of paper into disrepute…riiight?

Then what? Just break out the photocopier and make a different press pass?

I mean, why not? Its no more legit than the one you have now.

by [former member] | 08 May 2009 05:05 | Singapore, Singapore | | Report spam→
“Of course I accuse Nepalese officials of accepting bribes as that is the system, thats how life is organized here”

And I’m oh so sure those officials are more than happy to have that publicly acknowledged.

“people that pay bribes are victims of misuse of power and that must be told, I just did that here”

So perhaps you’d like to continue that moral and journalistic crusade, and hand your presscard back in?

As for Mark…it’s not even 8.00am UK time and your bile is flowing. You are nothing if not reliable.

Desk job? Hmmm…news to me mate. But of course you’d know exactly what my job description is, as the voices in your head would have informed you.

I suppose you scan and process your pictures standing up?

BTW…in the speedboat, I wasn’t acting as a journalist, so left the presscard at home, ya see. Concerned citizen and all that.

I’d say reckless is relying on strangers to look after your negs.

Oh yeah, thanks for the ‘crawl’ suggestion, not the first time you’ve mocked the afflicted on here Mark, so good to see you’re still on your usual less than pleasant form. I would warn you about ruining your reputation, but you’ve managed to do that on LS multiple times.

I do however have two pieces of good news for you. The first is the leg is completely healed. The second is that in a couple of weeks I’ll be visiting the UK.

Perhaps you’d like to see if you can shut my mouth for me then?

In the meantime, now Mark has had his baby rusks for brekkie, one of you Gonzoids could perhaps address the points I’ve made without leaving spittle all over your computer screens?

by [former member] | 08 May 2009 07:05 | Singapore, Singapore | | Report spam→
The times freelanced for the AP, EPA and other I only had a very outdated press pass. I never got beaten up by the police or had problems getting through police lines. The expiration date is printed quite large on my pass.

by Richard Lui | 08 May 2009 07:05 | Chaiyi, Taiwan | | Report spam→
How many times must I say this?

It’s not whether some cop/goon/immigration official/Govt officer wants or needs to check the presspass. You show it and if they decide not to look at it, that’s their problem. And obviously a UK or Lithuanian presspass is worthless out of the UK or Lithuania.

Neither do you need a presspass to engage in journalism. If you spend 6 months in UK Companies House researching corporate fraud and then sell the article to a paper, or shoot a story on a US family getting their mortgage foreclosed, and get a double truck in Time, it’s journalism, but you don’t need a presspass. No chickens or eggs needed.

The point is the legitimacy of what pass you have, in your country of residency, if you have one, and if it IS checked. The NUJ is more legitimate than some dipstick stunting up a shonky pass in their bedroom because its:

1/ A recognised professional authority by dint of its size, scope and membership.

2/ Is part of the UK Presscard Authority which is the umbrella org for most if not all presscard issues in the UK.

3/ Has a PIN number / password system to prevent unattributed use and also for people to check the bona fides of the holder.

4/ Has legal backup as well as a code of conduct that means members are accountable for abuses of the card and have nomional legal protection if and when things get iffy.

Like I said, you DONT need to be a member of the NUJ and DONT a card to be a journalist. But if you DO need one (for example if you need access to Govt buildings for press conferences etc), there are plenty of reputable places to get one.

Or you can carry some shonky homemade pass, then talk about it, thus adding to the growing perception that we’re all liars. If that perception gains ground – and it is – we’re all screwed. Roxana Saberi is doing 8 years in jail, partially because somebody challenged the legitimacy of her press credentials.

When someone ends up challenging your presspass – legitimate or not – on the grounds that you’re a liar and a spy, and starts banging on about ‘fauxtography’, Danish Photoshop-bending and how you’re in league with Hizbollah/the CIA/Take Your Pick…

…then shows you an internet thread with ‘journalists’ boasting about how they faked credentials, are you gonna lighten up then?

I think not.

by [former member] | 08 May 2009 08:05 | Singapore, Singapore | | Report spam→
Not quite sure what the history is here, but I am rather stunned by Mark’s seemingly unprovoked attack on Sion. Sion is quite capable of defending himself, but nevertheless, having met him, listened to him and seen his work develop over several years, I am confident that while he could be accused of being many things (not least being highly – justifiably – opinionated) “desk knob” is not one of them.

We would all benefit from leaving the vitriol out of our posts – either say something, interesting or constructive, or keep your thoughts to yourself.

For the purposes of clarity, my use of the word “credibility” in my earlier post was in absolutely no way whatsoever intended to suggest that a fake or created ID would confer such. I was using the word to indicate that a person’s demeanour, their professionalism, seriousness and approach to their work as a photographer can still enable them to access things that a genuine press card and lack of “credibility” would not. Just for context, I was once in the company of some senior UK civil servants from the FCO when news broke of a major event in some part of the world. One of them asked who “our man” (head of diplomatic mission) was in that region, and whether he or she had the “credibility” to deal with the fall out from the event.

Sion is quite right to point out that journalists have no more rights than anyone else, and the fact of having ID, legitimate or otherwise, does not mean that anyone is obliged to offer the bearer information or access to anything at all. There is more to credible and responsible journalism than having an ID.

I referred to Terry Fincher’s activities openly because he was quite open about them, and his history is well known amongst people who knew and admired him. Similarly I could have recalled some of the ruses used to gain access by Grace Roberston from Picture Post, who was equally open about her exploits, and is long out of the game. There is a world of difference between recalling things that happened decades ago to people who are dead or retired, and bragging about underhand methods in use now that could get people into a lot of trouble.

Sion’s concerns about “loose tongues” on posts are extremely valid. Just because we are taking photographs rather than writing, does not mean that the same need for discretion, checking, double checking, and triple checking of facts, protecting sources, and considering the effect of publishing (and yes, writing a post on LS is publishing) information and documents does not apply to us. Emil, I have no idea how they do things in Vilnius, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are acting honorably, but it is remarkably shortsighted of you to publish said ID card on this site. If it is “valid” you have opened it up to forgery.

by Michael Cockerham | 08 May 2009 09:05 (ed. May 8 2009) | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
I’d like to second Michael’s sentiments. Sion is about as far as away from a “desk knob” as one can get!

(Not that he needs me to defend him)

by Dave Walsh | 08 May 2009 09:05 (ed. May 8 2009) | Amsterdam, Netherlands | | Report spam→
…so Mark, your answer to me taking issue about faking press credentials is what exactly? Or have you just copied and pasted your last message?

Calling people who fake credentials ‘dumb’ and ‘dickheads’ is professional abuse, not personal…ooooh…see what I did there? Not crawling anymore mate, I’m bobbing ‘n’ weaving now.

Stunting up press credentials, or boasting about it increases the chances of dropping your professional peers in the shit.

Not smart.

Neither am I telling people what to do. Do what ya like. It’s simply my opinion – boasting about faking press credentials is idiotic and assists the fucking over of your peers.

I’ll leave the personal references on LS threads to you Mark, like my recent accident, or your derogatory references to another female LS members disabling injury, and of course your absolutely classic admission on another thread a while back about masturbating over the images of another female LS member….I laughed so hard I fell off the crutches. TMI!

I hesitate to say there’s a pattern emerging mate, but umm…maybe you should talk to someone.

As for idle threats? If you an find any threats of violence by me on here, please flag them up…we’ll make an exception this once, and assume they’re not faked like your press passes.

Any thread I contribute to which includes you inevitably seems to end up with you giving me shit. Fair enough, I give it back. I think you’re a one trick pony hack with severe anger management issues, you think I’m a washed up blowhard.

So far, so predictable, so what. It’s become entertainment for me. Pull the pin on the Seager grenade and sit back for the show.

But it recently always ends up one way. You make some reference to my accident, usually in the form of some bad taste ‘cripple’ quip, then order me to shut up or go away like I’m some kind of child.

Presumably like your other nasty personal jibes to LS members, because it’s online, you figure you can get away with the kind of talk that would deserve a smack in the mouth face to face, so I guess that makes you a coward as well as a loudmouth.

Gotta crawl back under my rock to the desk job (‘desk knob’! Such wit!), so people can get back to talking about what press cards they’ve faked if they like – but Mark, do feel free to send me some more lovely private mails calling me a cunt. It’s always nice to get those.

Be lucky! And if you can’t be lucky…just fake it mate! It’s got you this far!

by [former member] | 08 May 2009 09:05 | Singapore, Singapore | | Report spam→
Heavens Mark. I never accused you of anything! Talk about sensitive…

by Dave Walsh | 08 May 2009 11:05 | Amsterdam, Netherlands | | Report spam→
Mark, I was not “accusing” you of being vitriolic – you were being vitriolic. And my suggestion that it be left out of threads was no different to the same suggestion I have made in rather too many threads on LS over the last couple of years. I had already read Sion’s post, and yes it is forthright as he tends to be (and he will himself acknowledge). And while it may have been critical, justifiably for the most part, and it would certainly have been uncomfortable reading for those it was aimed at, it was manifestly NOT personal.

I do not know what your problem is with Sion, and I don’t much care, but this is not the forum to air your grievances and get personal.

Finally, if you “don’t care much [for other peoples’] opinions”, why should you expect anyone to care for yours?

by Michael Cockerham | 08 May 2009 11:05 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Apologies, Mark. I was under the impression that you did not care for mine or Dave’s opinion – for which I read “anyone who does not support your point of view”. The fact that you became defensive rather suggests that actually you do care.

I have just reread Sion’s original post three times. It strikes me as being measured and fair. The only point where it might deviate from that is where he writes: “We’re not fucking Marines, OK?” Taken immediately after that, the following line might be construed as being aggressive, but if you leave out “We’re not fucking Marines, OK?”, the following line is a fair comment. Whether you agree with it or not is another matter, and that is fair enough. But I don’t think he was spoiling for a fight, as you put it. In fact, I did not read anyone spoiling for a fight until “desk knob” and “crawl back under that little stone and shut your mouth” appeared.

by Michael Cockerham | 08 May 2009 12:05 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Well, I weigh in here with some trepidation, but for the benefit (hopefully) of all, I will do so nonetheless

I think the much greater risk to any of those photographers who engage in personal attacks on Lightstalkers (whether they started them or not), is the impression their words and conduct give to potential clients. I know that many photo editors read what is posted here (rarely posting anything) as part of their efforts to stay abreast of the goings-on in the the world of photojournalism (yes, LS is viewed as a significant forum by many in that world). I also know from talking with them personally that they form impressions of photographers’ likely behavior from what they say in postings and how they say it. More than one has said to me that their willingness to hire someone has been influenced by that person’s behavior on Lightstalkers. IMHO this is a much more likely peril than whether some hostile foreign security bureaucrat reads a posting by a photographer here (though, as I have said before, that risk should also be considered by everyone when they make a posting here)

I support the free-wheeling nature of this forum and oppose it being “moderated.”. But I can only say that, if your posting dissolves into calling fellow photographers dickheads, or assholes, or the like, that may hurt Lightstalkers a bit, but it is much more likely to damage the photographer doing it. Maybe people posting such remarks have enough work already (and are sure they always will) and just want to cultivate a bad-boy/bad-girl image for some psychiatric reason. But when people behave like that I can promise you that, although they may never see the impact personally, they are nevertheless paying a price personally for the conduct.

by [former member] | 08 May 2009 14:05 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
One thing I have never been able to figure out, is how you are supposed to receive the bulk of your income and be published to get a credentials from IFJ, if you increasingly need credentials to get into events to photograph, get published and make money. A little “chicken or the egg”-ish to me.

by Brian C Frank | 09 May 2009 15:05 | Des Moines, Iowa, United States | | Report spam→
Brian, a press card is not a prerequisite for either access or paid work, it’s simply a verifiable form of ID that can occasionally make your life easier. If a photographer is struggling to get work then it’s unlikely the lack of a press card – either legitimate or fake – is the underlying problem.

There are better reasons than the lure of a press card to join a journalists association. Firstly, you’re showing solidarity with your colleagues and potentially gaining some collective bargaining power, secondly you’re likely to gain legal advice and support in the event of any problems. And you will encounter problems. When I was based in the UK the NUJ helped me out with numerous copyright/payment disputes; hired lawyers to pursue two personal injury claims (against John’s earlier mentioned bonebreaking Brit coppers – it’s not a new phenomenon); took action to recover film confiscated by the security forces in Northern Ireland; offered financial support when I was recovering from serious injuries incurred whilst working; and engaged a legal team to defend me against a contempt of court charge for not complying with a court order to hand over negatives to police (the IFJ also gave help and support in this case). Maybe I’m accident-prone, but it’s rare for a photographer never to need to engage a lawyer, and the expense for an individual can be crushing.

Moral of the story: join your local press association, but view the press card as nothing more than a bonus to all the other benefits.

by Andrew Moore | 10 May 2009 01:05 | Hong Kong, Afghanistan | | Report spam→
There is no law that says just because you have a press pass around your neck that you can have access where no one else can. In fact if you live in the United States there is no such thing as a license or registration for any media organization to apply for with the government that says “we are official”.

A journalist is sanctioned by a media organization to gather news and represent them much like a pastor/priest is ordained by a congregation and until a church hires him or her that person is just a theology student.

I am a freelancer and after a lot of work to get my shots, act in a responsible, professional and ethical manner at all times, I have a press pass from my newspaper. I only use it on assignments for them and I am very careful when I come across spot news and putting on that press pass. I represent the paper when I wear it and it’s a very hard line of what can be done and not done. I have not had any special treatment from using the pass other than as a result of my association with the newspaper and getting access to get my work done. Its not my only tool but an essential tool to get my shots; along with dressing professionaly, arriving on time, being safe and showing respect and consideration for my subject at all times. The only solid tool in my bag is the camera and all the rest is rather subjective, which is why we are reading this thread I guess.

Mr. Moore touched on it in his post but for me it goes beyond that somewhat(also great advice on getting into an association). I am not sure about the UK or the rest of the world but in the US, there has been the idea that a reporter, in allowing him/her, to get their job done, does not have to reveal sources and can act in the public trust and be the guarantor of “the public’s right to know”. There is no law that prescribes this privilege although the US Congress is almost through detailing the final points on what will be the basis for “shield” laws to protect journalists.

If you think about it, it’s a heavy duty privilege that isn’t really on the books and it’s because of a journalists affiliation to an acknowledged media organization. The custom for shielding journalists is so strong that is applies to school newspapers and now in the state of California, it applies to journalism instructors as well. This is important because the affiliation is just “air”; there is no get out of jail card and its just that the daily says “he’s with us”. The press pass is just as ephemeral and textureless and after all its just a laminated card that anyone could make. Its simple to see that its what backs it up as the important part after the dust settles.

In the middle of the battle it’s the only thing the public, authorities, security and emergency personnel have, to make a fast generalized decision to allow access to someone that is doing the job of informing the public and can be depended on to act safely, responsibly and with consideration for everyone else that has their job to do as well.

Mr. Frank makes a good point about how is one to get access when you are freelance and un-affiliated and without “credentials”? It seems to me that the fineline of what journalism and the press pass is about or at least when it works best is when the content has an easy and presentable avenue to the public it seeks to inform. Its when the gathered content has no real market that the effort to gain it, turns rotten and corrupted; with or without a press pass.

I will bet that James Natchway does not have a press pass but when he goes to get a shot he knows he has a market and place for his shots to go. He is his own authority and he has worked his ass off to get it. Mr. Touhig and Mr. Seager obviously have history but both make good points and as Mr. Jackson has pointed out, have perhaps erred in presenting their ideas. Their original points of view just show how elusive and “airy” the idea of a press pass and what it represents, actually is.

by David Bro | 10 May 2009 03:05 (ed. May 10 2009) | orange county, california, United States | | Report spam→
If the company you are shooting for will officially endorse your homemade card for work in your local market, why would it be considered “faking it”??

On working internationally … my two-cents would be to do your research for each country you plan to visit! Some countries require journalists to pre-register themselves prior to doing “journalistic” work, others don’t. Being responsible and professional is knowing where you are going and what to expect (reasonably so) when you get there. I would consider that asking on LS about what constitutes ‘flexing’ or ‘breaking’ the rules in country X on LS would be a legit use of this resource, but the point of being careful about specifics is well taken.

I have not been around LS for that long, but I know that there are 2 subjects that will always get interesting in the discussion threads, questions about press credentials and body armor!!

Best of luck

by David Mark Erickson | 10 May 2009 08:05 | Budapest, Hungary | | Report spam→
As an aside to the discussion on US and UK (and Nepalese) attitudes to press cards, in France there really is an official press card. It’s recognised by the state, and bureaucratically complex to get your hands on, but it does confer real benefits. Unfortunately, these benefits aren’t really to do with journalism.
You can, however, use it when filling out your annual income tax form in order to increase your personal tax free allowance by around 7,000 euros (the equivalent of around a 2,000 euro a year pay rise), and you get into some museums and national monuments free, plus the zoo, although I’ve never had the cheek to try that. (“Yes, I’m here to … err … interview the giraffe.” “Is she expecting you? Have you talked to her press officer?” “Out of my way, you impertinent bureaucrat, I’m on official press business”)
I think the theory of the tax break is that journalists spend a lot on work-related but everyday stuff (newspapers, Internet access, pens, film or memory cards … umm … notebooks, scarves, multi-pocketed action waistcoats) that it would be too much hassle to get receipts for and add up at the end of the financial year. In reality, it seems to be an ongoing anomaly that no political party that ever wants another hack to turn up to cover one of its rallies would ever dare abolish.
Aside from the cash, does the card offer any real benefits for working journalists? Well, not really. Day to day it’s the same as with any of the other cards discussed here — you (rightly, in my view) have no more freedoms than an ordinary citizen (tax and zoos aside) and cops and receptionists can choose to cooperate with you or not. A couple of my colleagues had their cards taken from their cameras and were roughly handled by cops at a recent demo despite having official cards (there are the same new daft “anti-terror” rules as in the UK, plus a much abused right to privacy law).
In short, the money aside, it’s a terrible thing. The journalists lucky enough to get their hands on one don’t really get much use out of it, and pettifogging officials have another excuse to persecute or frustrate those who have been refused one or haven’t bothered to apply.

by Dave Clark | 10 May 2009 20:05 | Paris, France | | Report spam→
I have not been around LS for that long, but I know that there are 2 subjects that will always get interesting in the discussion threads, questions about press credentials and body armor!!

Don’t forget Leicas and camera bags.

As an aside there was mention of the good doctor Hunter Thompson. Remember what he said was the “ultimate” press pass? Yes, a 357 Magnum.
[Disclaimer: I’m not promoting or supporting this concept. I’m simply passing it along has an historical literary reference.]

by John Robert Fulton Jr. | 11 May 2009 12:05 | Fort Worth, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
I think you can always depend on a good "which boots to wear " thread and warm your body over the steam of the open wounds on the dead lightstalkers that surround it.

by David Bro | 11 May 2009 16:05 | orange county, california, United States | | Report spam→
…this is amazing and very pertinent, on the release of the American-Iranian BBC journalist Saberi:


From the article:

“Ms. Saberi, 32, has lived in Iran since 2003 and worked as a freelance journalist for National Public Radio and the BBC. She was arrested in late January for buying a bottle of wine, which is illegal in Iran. But the charges against her escalated to working without a press card and then spying for Washington. Her press card had been revoked in 2006.”

I would bet they are talking about an official press card from the Iranian government and not one from the BBC. She most likely applied and for it and for whatever reason they denied it or were just delaying the issue for whatever reasons. Blah blah blah blah…

by David Bro | 11 May 2009 17:05 | orange county, california, United States | | Report spam→
charges against her escalated to working without a press card … Her press card had been revoked in 2006.”

This is exactly what I was thinking of when I noted in my previous post to do some homework before you land in a country you have never worked in before. Ounce of prevention, no? Or is that too much finger wagging??

Well, I think we can get down right roasting hot standing over all the bodies:
– Body armor
– press passes
– boots
– camera bags
– Leicas

What else we got??

by David Mark Erickson | 11 May 2009 17:05 | Budapest, Hungary | | Report spam→
other popular thread discussions:

-film vs. digital
-israeli-palestinian conflict
-photo workshops
-photo festivals
-photo books + exhibitions
-portfolio review ("look at my new website…)

question: has anyone successfully hooked up thanks to Lightstalkers? I talked about this with Teru and Shinji long ago, that there should be a singles section, but they felt that we were awash in enough moral turpitude as it was :)

by [former member] | 11 May 2009 18:05 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→

(I second the singles section, fyi)

by Christopher Guess | 11 May 2009 18:05 | Madison, Wisconsin, United States | | Report spam→
Alan … so what you are really saying is that the LS discussion boards are no different than any other internet discussion boards? D’oh! [slaps head] And I thought we were something special here!

I can’t help but think that the singles threads would just lead us down the road of the: what my camera/lens combo is.

God, how could I forget the scarf debate?!?! [I should be booted from this forum immediately!]

by David Mark Erickson | 11 May 2009 18:05 | Budapest, Hungary | | Report spam→
I would bet that back in the day, blood would flow over kodak tr-x 400 and ilford delta…and if swords were drawn over that then it would escalate to rigged car explosives if you threw tmax into it

by David Bro | 11 May 2009 18:05 | orange county, california, United States | | Report spam→
Say, another good discussion always revolves around somebody looking to hire a free intern. (Right behind this is the poor editor who wanders in looking for free photos.)

by John Robert Fulton Jr. | 11 May 2009 19:05 | Fort Worth, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
yay, singles section! though it seems that would mean 20 argumentative guys for every girl, so that could be fun (maybe not for the women, though). Maybe LS Discussion groups are no different than any others, but you guys are great with language; “testosterical” and “desk knob”. Ha, ha.

by John Louis Lassen Perry | 11 May 2009 19:05 | New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→
i have worked for 17 years with out a “official press pass” i do have one with a photo agency desk number on it and i do contribute images to the agency. i have needed the official press pass once!

for the rest of the time, what does count is attitude, i let the card show when i work as a means of letting people kinda know why i am there…

as for design use press in bold also use a number of languages and make sure that an editor is on the other side of the phone number and that he she will vouch for you… j

by John Robinson | 12 May 2009 11:05 | kwazulu-natal, South Africa | | Report spam→
mark s

…and the one time i needed it i used one my buddy made for me!


by John Robinson | 12 May 2009 12:05 | kwazulu-natal, South Africa | | Report spam→
I gotta agree with some of the above posts. I worked for years for small outfits that didn’t even issue employee ID cards yet alone press passes and never had a problem. In reality, all the press pass ever did for me was attract the locals who want a picture of little Bobby yo appear in the paper. Then again on a few protests in DC, all the damn card ever did was make me stand out to get yelled at by protesters.

by Aaron J. Heiner | 28 May 2009 23:05 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
If you use a fake press pass, all the pj’s around you at an event will know its fake because they have real ones, and they all know each other. Its not a big community in any country. You’ll get hell from all of them and they will kick you out of a venue, let alone the authorities.
Join your local union, get the IPP. But without a pass from a local agency or main newspaper etc, forget it.

by Stephen Asprey | 03 Jun 2009 07:06 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
Keeping mind not confuse a Presspass for an “employee” or “photographer’s ID” either, also note, that for a new or aspiring photographer, joining a local union not going to be an easy task especially with the major media agencies gearing down. A lot of local unions won’t take a freelancer in if they are not staff for a local media outlet. Over the past twenty years, I’ve learned it’s a lot easier to say to a new photographer to join something than it actually is for that photographer to get in.

by Aaron J. Heiner | 06 Jun 2009 02:06 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
“For any press credentials to be taken seriously abroad, then it needs to come from a recognised authority.”

Not really. All it has to do is look good.

At the “leaving” ceremony for Interior Minister (and Presidential candidate) Sarkozy in 2007 members of the media had to present, and surrender for the duration of their stay, a piece of ID. When offered the choice between a passport and a self-produced press ID the guard at the gate took the press ID and allowed the person to enter.

True story.

by James Colburn | 29 Oct 2009 20:10 | McAllen, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
To hopefully add some useful pieces of advice:

Many times the entire issue of a press card can be irrelevant if you get something else:

A letter from a newspaper, magazine, or agency editor, stating who you are and what you’re working on.

You don’t have to actually be on assignment. Many editors, if they like your work and want to help you, but can’t give you an assignment, might be able to write you a letter. The language can be vague enough so that it doesn’t get them into any legal or financial responsibility should anything bad happen to you, but the mere fact that they know who you are and trust you as a professional, that will often get you in the door.

It can be as general as : “Mr./Ms. XXX is a photographer working on a long-term project covering the effects of toilet paper on the healthcare industry. Please render whatever assistance you can.” Or whatever.

This way you are not lying, the editor helping you out is not lying, everything is straight up, explanatory, and above board. Of course the people you show the letter to may simply glance at it and assume you’re actually on assignment when you’re not, but that’s their misconception, not yours, and if they ask more specific questions you should answer them honestly.

Especially with agencies, if they distribute your photos, there’s no assignment anyway.

And if you legally and truthfully incorporate yourself as a business, then you have every right to print up business cards with your own company logo, write letters for yourself, give yourself an employee ID. But again, I would only do this if you really and actually have turned yourself into a taxable, legitimate business.

(You may want to do this anyway for tax purposes depending on where you live. I am looking it into myself. It’s not that hard or expensive, but does require some time and energy, of which of course I always feel can be more usefully directed towards other things.)

by [former member] | 30 Oct 2009 03:10 | Peiping, China | | Report spam→

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