I’m typically advised that being knowledgeable live performance photographer is the good job on the planet. With the intention to dispel some myths surrounding what I do and likewise help others who need to get into the career, I’m going to peel again the curtain of all the course of from preparation to enhancing.
Concert photography is a really cool style to be concerned in. I get to see a whole lot of bands play reside yearly whereas hanging out within the photograph pit all night. Proper?
That might be fairly enjoyable if solely that have been the fact of the job. It’s notoriously troublesome to get accredited for photograph credentials, and that issue solely will increase as the recognition of the artist rises.
This issue scale means a month or extra of sending emails to shops, editors, publicity individuals, and tour managers, any of whom can pull the plug and kill your protection at any time.
The Very First Step
The primary order of enterprise is to discover a live performance. Relying in your availability and funds, this is perhaps an area present or anyplace on the planet. For instance, I’ve traveled to a number of areas — comparable to Grand Cayman — to cowl reveals.
Discovering a live performance, whereas not precisely troublesome, does require lots of time sorting by databases of occasions. Anticipate to sift by live performance itemizing websites, music websites, information websites, and anyplace else that lists upcoming or canceled reveals. For myself, I constructed a spreadsheet of concert events, dates, areas, and different pertinent data that I exploit to assist preserve straight the a whole lot of doable reveals I’m excited by. Constructing and sustaining this checklist can happen as much as a yr earlier than the live performance: my database at the moment lists reveals reaching all the way in which into 2022.
Now that you simply’ve achieved the enjoyable a part of seeing who’s taking part in the place and when, the tedious and boring work actually begins. Until you shoot for a wire or a significant music outlet, the one manner you’re going to get into present areas with a press go shall be to achieve out to photograph editors to pitch your protection of the occasion for them.
I’m fortunate: I’ve a go-to outlet and an editor that just about by no means turns down my pitch. For most individuals, getting entry means discovering shops that is perhaps , figuring out who the photograph editor is and find out how to contact them, after which sending out e-mail pitches. This isn’t simple, and it’s even a bit extra difficult than it might sound on the floor. The Supply doesn’t need protection of Sepultura and Steel Hammer doesn’t need your pictures of Travis Scott. It’s a must to decide who would possibly need protection of an occasion and pitch accordingly, and getting this proper is without doubt one of the most important steps of the method.
Even after you have discovered an outlet and the editor, you continue to have to promote your self. You want to reply this query: “Why ought to they belief that you’re going to fulfill your obligation of getting them the outcomes that they need?” Make sure that to focus on what about your background, your expertise, your portfolio, and your beforehand printed works makes you a match. All that data must be in your pitch.
Convincing The Gatekeepers
When you handle to persuade an editor that you are able to do the job, you then must persuade the keeper of the credentials. This particular person varies from artist to artist and could be a public relations particular person, a tour supervisor, the venue’s media particular person, or somebody within the band.
This a part of the method is troublesome and in my expertise by no means will get simpler: after ten-plus years of taking pictures concert events, I nonetheless do that each day.
I’ll search artist web sites for contact data. I’ll seek for an artist’s publicist. I’ll even attain out on social media if that’s my solely possibility. Typically my finest supply is my colleagues within the area — I’m not above asking different photographers if they’ve a contact particular person.
All of us do it and all of us share if we will.
Now that you’ve got a contact particular person, you begin the pitch another time however this time be certain to say that you’ve got an outlet prepared to publish your photos. Keep in mind: there are solely a restricted variety of photograph credentials for every present, so that you must give attention to promoting your self and the outlet.
Ask your self, “How am I going to get the artist into the highlight?” Be inventive: supply to do a live performance preview or supply to share your photos on Instagram or different platforms. The extra publicity you may generate, the higher.
Capturing The Present
As soon as I get accredited to shoot a live performance, I begin the preparation. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to skip over all the photograph launch problem as releases range an excessive amount of and every photographer and outlet has their very own concepts about what they’ll signal and what they gained’t.
Capturing a live performance entails extra than simply displaying up. Whereas actually not as intensive as style shoots, there’s some prep that can get you higher outcomes.
The very first thing I do is watch as many movies of reveals from the tour that I’ll be protecting as I can. I’m attempting to reply just a few questions in my thoughts in preparation for the occasion:
What’s the lighting like for the primary three songs (that’s all you’re sometimes going to be allowed to shoot)? Do the singer and guitarist transfer round or simply stand nonetheless behind a mic stand? Is there smoke or fog?
All this stuff and different elements decide the place I’m going to place myself in the course of the shoot. There may be additionally the likelihood that there is no such thing as a photograph pit and I’ll be taking pictures from a soundboard which may be fifty ft away or fifty yards away relying on the venue and the artist. The place I shoot from determines what gear I carry to the venue. For a photograph pit present, a 28-70mm and a 70-200mm shall be excellent whereas a soundboard present would require 150-500mm and a monopod.
If you happen to’ve by no means been shut sufficient to see a photograph pit, let me fill you in: They aren’t glamorous.
Photograph pits are slender areas just a few ft from the stage which might be often crammed filled with photographers, safety guards, and lined in cables and gaffer’s tape. Photographers are as a rule jostling for pictures, leaning on one another and elbowing each other out of the way in which. Getting the pictures I would like at all times requires a mix of ability, luck, and the artwork of skilfully forcing my manner into place.
So the primary three songs are over and you’ve got a number of hundred photos to kind after you take pleasure in the remainder of the present, proper?
Most shops will need the pictures very first thing within the morning and artists will need their photos as early as doable to allow them to put up them to their social networks. As such, if you wish to achieve success you simply don’t have time to spend hanging out on the present after your session concludes. You’re going to need to instantly head again to the media tent, lodge, or house if it’s shut by so you may get began in your edits.
I gained’t bore you with my workflow however, mainly, I eradicate the dangerous pictures and spend my time in search of the pictures which might be distinctive, the place they is perhaps angles no person else has. Some shops will specify which sort of photos they need, so I’m positive to ship these in addition to my very own selections. As soon as that is all achieved and despatched off, then and solely then will I head to mattress or extra possible, the breakfast buffet.
Now you understand what actually goes into live performance images. It’s hours of analysis, infinite emails, twelve minutes within the photograph pit, and extra hours in enhancing. Personally, I wouldn’t commerce it for every other job. It’s, in any case, the good job on the planet.
Concerning the writer: Geoffrey Clowes is a live performance photographer based mostly in South Florida. His work is routinely featured in QRO Magazine.You’ll be able to see extra of Geoff’s work on his website or Instagram.