A major challenge for many independent sports photographers is getting access to sidelines. Understandably, high-school athletic directors and youth sports leagues are careful who is on-field during games. At the very least, there are liability concerns. With everything else going before a sporting event, providing access passes to photographers is not a priority.
That’s one reason why GFCrew, the new photography-as-a-service spinoff from Glossy Finish, has created a media credential for its members. The credential is another in a series of tools offered to GF Crew members to reduce the friction in acquiring customers and gaining access to the sidelines.
According to Haim Ariav, GFCrew co-founder, explained the credential has two requirements: The recipient must be a GFCrew member using the Capturelife Events app as part of the GFCrew system and they must pass a federal background check and sex-offender screening. There is a $35 fee. In return, the GFCrew member receives the media credential lanyard shown at right (of course, with their own picture, not Jeff Allen‘s).
Ariav notes there are no shortcuts to this process: “There’s no ifs, ands or buts to this criteria. You have to pass the background check.”
Ariav’s business partner, Matt Winer, adds the nominal fee just covers the costs; like all GFCrew support items – “event photographer” bib, app, rubber bands for athletes – are there to support the photographer’s business.
“Everything we do is to help and support the photographer,” says Winer. “The media credential is not mandatory to use the program, but it can help you get access. You will look more professional.”
As part of the media credential launch, Ariav announced a partnership with Babe Ruth League baseball and softball, which now officially recognizes the GFCrew media tag, as of the Spring 2020 season. Every GFCrew member with a media credential will be able to access fields for the nearly half-a-million Babe Ruth games across the country.
Babe Ruth League is the only organization GFCrew currently has this arrangement with, but it will still be a valuable tool for photographers looking to shoot Friday Night Lights or the weekend soccer tournament, says Ariav. In these venues, access to the field is still controlled.
“You won’t be able to walk in, with this media credential, into a professional football game on Sunday,” he explains. “You have to be approved by the league office and so on. This is not for that.
“GFCrew photographers shoot for parents who are their clients and this pass is about getting access for them,” he continues. “For example, at Babe Ruth League, a nonvolunteer can’t get on the field who is not screened, due to child safety. This media credential makes the photographer look more legitimate; if an athletic director doesn’t want anyone on the field, you have to accept that. But for 95% of what GFCrew members do, the people in charge just want to know a photographer on the sideline is going to be professional, courteous and polite. This helps with that.”
How GF Crew works
As previously reported, Glossy Finish is working with longtime partner CaptureLife to offer a mobile workflow for members. With the Capturelife Events app, photographers can have customers (parents, coaches, etc.) swipe their payment card onsite, where an online account is automatically created. Payment is collected upfront and the photographer only shoots those players who have registered and paid for photos. After the competition, the photographer goes home, edits the photos and then uploads them to the online portal. Once all the photos are uploaded the customer receives a text link to their private gallery. They can click, share and enjoy and the photographer gets paid via direct deposit.
The media credential is one of several new updates to the program. Legendary Sports Illustrated photographer Peter Read Miller is now advising the company and provides monthly critiques of GFCrew members’ photographs via YouTube. Since the June 2019 launch, Ariav says more than 250 photographers have signed up for the program and are active. The group boasts a very active private Facebook Group with more than 1,000 members.