Not everyone at your workplace is your friend. do your job. get paid. go home.

One of the things that usually makes photographers/videographers successful is their ability to connect with those they are photographing. It's vital to develop camaraderie when you have someone stop in front of your camera.

However, as creatives, we also have a fine line that needs to be drawn to decide when that familiarity is okay and when it is not.

In the sporting space, especially in professional sports, athletes show up because they have a job to do and a specific set of expectations. As a photographer in the sports space, your role isn't any different. You have a job to do and a specific set of expectations.

The one thing you aren't there to do? Find your new athlete best friend.

Don't get me wrong—sometimes you develop simple friendships along the way, but the minute you step on site, you're there to do a job—just like they are. Not too long ago, there was a viral story about a young, up-and-coming videographer who got his credentials pulled because of his actions during a game. He should have known better. His behavior was completely inappropriate and out of line. He deserved the swift action of removal from the organization.

The influx of creators from the high school to the professional spaces has created a problem. Some are talented, and some are not. Some respect boundaries, and some do not. The biggest issue comes down to needing to be taught what acceptable behavior is in a field of play, especially if it's an organization that doesn't have any parameters and rules in the first place. This isn't something to be considered; this is something that needs to be the rule. This is the one time where it's not in your best interest to hope to ask for forgiveness later. No creative should go into a job without asking and understanding the expectations relative to their access. As creatives, part of your job and contract negotiation is ensuring you know the situational aspects as much as your monetary compensation.

It's also more than just up to the creative to take that initiative; it is an essential component that distinguishes true professionals from amateurs.

Here are some standard practices you should implement if you haven't already. They help creatives in this process of media coverage and engage your staff in taking ownership of your expectations for the event.


  • Operations Manuals
  • Parameters for media on the field of play.
  • Where are you allowing access?
  • This has to be specific. A map should indicate where access is allowed and where it is not.
  • What are the processes to get that access?
  • Identify how/where you want media to access the approved areas.
  • What are the parameters of position during play?
  • Do you allow movement while the game is in play?
  • Are there restrictions to places media can/cannot be?
  • Are there levels of access?
  • Code of Conduct
  • Every event needs a code of conduct that outlines what you expect of authorized media representatives.
  • Media Policies
  • For those both inside and outside of your organization.
  • Commercial use must be addressed whenever you grant outside media access that isn't affiliated with an official news outlet.
  • Don't set policies you can't or aren't going to enforce. It is a huge discredit to any organization that says it has standards but then doesn't do anything to protect them. You either do or you don't. There is no in-between.
  • Determine if you are allowing carte blanche or restricting access based on the scope of work from those press pass applications.
  • Provide a list of protected images. Anyone, at any time, has the right to determine whether they do not want their image published.
  • Code of Conduct
  • Background Checks to be provided by anyone not affiliated with your direct company. (This is assuming you do them on your employees).


  • During contract negotiation, ask what your access parameters are. Often, this could be a determining factor in completing your required scope of work. Do not take a job if there are limitations that will prohibit you from getting the needed content. It's better to have a clear understanding ahead of time than to be frustrated while trying to work.
  • Ask if there are any students on the FERPA (this is especially relevant in the youth space). This act prohibits images released without their consent, even if it is athletics.
  • Ask for the operations manual and outside media policy in advance. This should give you all the information you need to do your job successfully. If they don't have one, you may want to consider taking the job in the first place. Any organization that doesn't have parameters in place is one you don't want to work with. Accountability and followthrough have to happen on both sides. It cannot, and should not, be the sole responsibility for rules and regulations to be identified by one party.
  • Arrive to the site early to get a walkthrough and understand the policies. If there is a situation that is not addressed, ask the operations or media lead. A great example is collegiate football. Most do not allow behind-the-bench interaction. You can walk behind the bench to change positions, but you cannot stand there and get images/videos. Ask about every possible scenario you can think of that is not addressed.
  • It is never okay to walk through the bench line, regardless of level. Most conference rules (collegiate) don't allow this, but you should assume that none of them do, especially when you are not there in an official team capacity.
  • How you conduct yourself is vital. If you're there as an accessory creative (meaning you are not an official team photographer), you are there for the content you've been hired for. You aren't there for clout. You aren't there to be seen.
  • How are you acting around athletes?
  • When you step on the field, you are there for a job. You may know an athlete outside the space, but they are not your friends.
  • Your conduct and interaction set you apart.
  • You can be friendly, but you can do so without compromising your professionalism.
  • Your job is not to celebrate with the players. Your job is to tell that story through your lens. Nothing is more unprofessional than a random media person getting in a group and hoisting up a trophy. (Sadly, this is a recent example.)
  • It's okay to be proud of the work you're doing. But selfies on the field of play should be taken prior to the start of the game or after the game ends, and they should in no way conflict with your job. I was at a recent professional soccer game, and I witnessed the social media creators, multiple times, taking pictures of themselves WHILE the game was in play. This is unacceptable.

There has been a significant increase in viral posts about creative behavior in the field of play. You don't want to be next. Do your job, get paid, go home.

Much love,