When I was starting on my career, I’ve read so many articles with advises on “how to become a music photographer” that I lost the count. Even though some of them were actually helpful, I found that most of it were about technical stuff, like which camera you should have, which lenses to buy, what shutter speed/aperture/ISO you should use and a bunch of rights and wrongs about it. The truth is, when it comes to photography (or any art form) there’s really nothing extremely right or wrong… there’s a lot of things you should have on mind and worry about, of course.
So here, I would like to share with you 5 tips (that not everybody always says) about Music Photography:
01. Learn your equipment!
I know it sounds silly to say it, but you would’t believe the number of people I came across that had no idea their camera could do this or that. Of course that a better camera will eventually up your game and get you more technical quality, but do you really know why do you need new equipment and what difference is really gonna make in your work? Before answering that, spend a lot of time getting to know the camera you have right now and make the best of it!
02. Respect the others!
Another thing that should be basic, but apparently is not. When photographing on a location, specially on a place that people payed money to be there, be respectful with every single person. Be nice to the people around you, that are there to see the artist on stage, and not to see the expensive gear that you own.
03. Don’t compare yourself with other photographers!
This is a really (and almost impossible) hard one. We all have people we admire, and sometimes I catch myself browsing through others photographer’s pages. But specially if you’re just starting and photographing unknown bands, try not to compare yourself with that photographer that is touring with a famous artist and shooting from the stage. It’s nice to have goals and things we want to achieve, but when we start questioning “why he’s there and not?” or “his work is not even that great”, it can become a disease, and soon you will be spending more time judging other people’s work than improving yours.
04. Shoot local and upcoming bands!
Specially if you intent to make some money with music photography, you should start small and local. Yeah, shooting for blogs and attending cool concerts for free is pretty awesome, but that won’t pay your bills. Ok if you wanna do that occasionally, but don’t just spend every night doing it. Start attending local shows in your area. There are always small venues that won’t care if you get in with a professional camera and shoot the whole performance. When you start feeling comfortable with what you’re doing and have something interesting to offer, start reaching out to local bands. You will be surprised with the number of bands willing to pay (at least) some kind of money to get some pictures taken!
As I said at the beginning, I don’t believe there’s rights or wrongs on this. That being said, you should totally experiment a lot when photographing a show. If you’re shooting a small gig or shooting directly for the artist, you won’t have any restrictions about time and space. So my advice is: after you’re done getting the more “tradicional” angles and know you already have enough good shots, get crazy and try different stuff, even if you think the artist may not like what they see. This can be an opportunity to find your own style, your signature.
Bônus: Have fun!
Yeah, you read it right: have fun! We’re all music lovers and artists in the first place. So even if you are working, being professional and respectful, you should still be having lots of fun while photographing! When I’m enjoying the music at the same time I’m shooting, the pictures do turn out much better, because you will end up pushing yourself a little harder and creating more unique shots! Don’t be afraid!