7 Things Learned After A Photography Dream Is Denied

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Sports Photography Dream


One of my goals this year is to have credentialed access to a professional or collegiate level sporting event – actually stand on the field and shoot.

Being a freelance photographer and blog author, my status in the possible credential world feels more than challenging. That world is small. The security is tight. I’m just me – and really, who is gonna give a pass to ‘me.’

Last Monday I was searching the Internet and found out that the USA Rugby 7s World Series was taking place this weekend in Las Vegas. In the rugby world, that is the “big one”. Over 150 teams from the US and around the world would be there. In addition to that, there were fan fests and press conferences – all incredible photographic opportunities.

I noticed a button for “media requests” – so without a lot of thought, I clicked on it.

I assumed that the application process for something as big as this would be challenging – or at the very least, lengthy. I was surprised to find a very simple form, a request for a few pieces of ID, and a 4 page itinerary for the day.

I filled out their short application by hand, got together all of the ID requirements, wrote up my bio and faxed it out. The deadline for requests was that Friday at 5pm.

You know the saying, “a watched pot never boils” ? Well, a watched in-box for ‘that’ email never arrives either!

On Monday afternoon I got this:

Thank you for your interest in covering the 2011 USA Sevens. Unfortunately, due to limited space at the venue, we are unable to approve your request for credentials. Priority is given to major news outlets and wire services, many of which applied for credentials to this year’s event, a positive indication about the growth of the game.

It wasn’t a huge blow, but I was disappointed that i didn’t make the cut.

7 things I learned after a photography dream is denied-

1. The information is out there.
The internet has made researching these kinds of opportunities incredibly easy. I find that sometimes its even a bit overwhelming – I cant just search for “sporting events” – I have to Google something like “professional rugby tournaments California” in order to get closer to what I’m looking for. But don’t let the information get in your way of success.

2. The media department doesn’t really care about your preparation time-line.
The applications for credentials were due on a Friday. They released their list of approved photographers just 6 days before the events were to start. I personally like a bit more time to make arrangements but they don’t care about that. It’s their time-line. Adjust or bust.

3. Your application needs to be complete.
In getting your packet together make sure you include everything they list for verification purposes. I almost forgot the letter of recommendation from our 8 Women Dream blog editor Catherine Hughes. It may feel like a lot to pull together, but again – it’s their process.

4. If they ask if you can ride a horse, you say yes.
That’s the strategy that alot of actors take when auditioning for roles they want. If the role is for a cowboy and they ask you if you can actually ride a horse, you say yes – no hesitation. And then go learn to ride a horse if you get the role.

When asked by the Media Organizer of USA Rugby “do you meet the requirements for a credential
I said yes without hesitation. But in my gut I didn’t feel like I’m in the same category as other potential photographers. I don’t give myself enough credit when it comes to my experience and abilities. But then I thought, My work has been published, I have a great eye for what makes a good image, and I love doing it! So I realized, YES – Of course I meet the requirements. (And yes I can actually ride a horse)

5. Saying it out loud makes it easy for people get behind you.
I hesitated to tell anyone about applying for the credential – and looking back I am not sure why I did that. But once I told my parents, they helped me work through some possible logistics issues and even offered to loan me their gas card for the weekend. Don’t keep your dreams tucked away where no on can see them. Say them out loud – you may be surprised to find out who hears you.

6. Being turned down is not personal.
Well it felt personal, yes, but their decision making process was totally subjective. I called the Media Organizer and asked him why I was denied. He told me that demand was high, and the media center (where we’d all go to upload our images and interview players) was unfortunately uncharacteristically small. They had to approve larger media outlets first, and fill in behind with people like me. There just wasn’t enough space.

7. There is always a next time.
I hate cliches’ – but applying for this photo credential was a great learning experience for me. I learned it’s not so challenging – I have lots of options and plenty of time. I WILL reach my photography dream goal this year, so be on the lookout for that.

When it comes to your dreams, where have you been denied progress? How did you work through it?

Until next photo,


Remy’s dream is creating opportunities for photography showings and public displays of her work.

  • Lisa

    Hi Remy, awesome post, lots to respond to here… First of all, bravo for your gutsiness in simply GOING FOR IT and putting yourself out there… I’m so proud of you that you tossed your hat in the ring!

    Second, I love the important reminder that “being turned down is not personal.” Omigod, yes, yes, yes… and we ALL need this reminder whether we are applying for jobs, sending out manuscripts, going on dates… ;) Honestly! So important!

    Finally I love it that you had the courage to follow up with the organizers as well to find out why you weren’t admitted, so you can up your odds of being selected next time (and just to understand the whole picture!). I wish I had done that years ago when I got turned down by a graduate writing program ~ was too chicken to ask “why” and then time goes by… Luckily I am pursuing my writing dreams again now.

    Lotsa love to you girl! Keep going for it!


    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      Thanks lisa! I am going for it! xox Rem

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  • I loved that you tried this – it reminds me of going to that Ignite event and speaking in front of all those people while being filmed. Or, doing the Bay to Breakers last year. I got more out of the experience of pushing myself beyond what I thought I was capable of doing than the actual experience.

    I love what Les Brown says, “When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up. Let your reason get you back up.”

    Congratulations on putting it out there!

    You go girl.


    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      thanks for the 11th hour inspiration “why dont you talk about what happened” – duh! xox Rem

  • Katie

    I love this post!
    So honest and so fearless in your actions. Thank you for sharing the news and the seven things you learned. I’m sorry it wasn’t what you wanted to hear, but trust that there is something better out there. Spring training, perhaps? I’d pay good money for a Lincecum shot ;)

    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      I am going to spring training as a matter of fact. And I do have a very cool lincecum shot already..I’ll send it along to you…from a few years ago, with shorter hair but still the pitching stud!
      Thanks for your comments…and we still have to chat on the phone! I let that slip, sorry.xoxo Rem

  • Stan

    8. Look for the opportunity to throw a Hail Mary (football lingo for a very long forward pass made in desperation with only a small chance of success).

    “Priority is given to major news outlets and wire services, many of which applied for credentials to this year’s event, a positive indication about the growth of the game.”

    Major media at the event is a positive indication?

    I wonder if Mr. Media Organizer would be interested in some excellent photos of the major media covering their event? Explain to him how he will benefit from you being at the event because of these great photos you will providing him. (The old “whats in it for me” approach.)

    You already have a no, why not try a Hail Mary? (next time)

    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      Stan, you are right on! I will tuck #8 in for next time, I promise. You are right, there is really nothing to lose! Thank you Rem

  • Rod

    “I called the Media Organizer and asked him why I was denied.”

    Remy, this was huge, 1) It gave you and understanding of why; 2) It made a subjective decision by the media department personal, they now know you; 3) If I know my friend Remy they will remember you the next time. Nice job.

    Every step across the pond toward your dream is either a lily pad or a stone, dry off Remy and take another step~!

    By the way, can I have your autograph now, before you start charging for it. :>)

    • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

      thank you Rod! You always have such great insights – and is that your pond quote? So wise for so early! xxoo Rem