“I only get the first three songs? Really?!?”
That’s what goes through your mind when you decide to become a music photographer and you hear how long you get to shoot a concert and get all of the images you want out of the allotted time.
Think about it: you’re so excited to shoot your first concert and you find out what the industry standard is for media photographers… the first three songs, with only three to four minutes per song. That’s it. You are supposed to jump directly into creative mode, in the middle of a photo pit filled with other photographers, and within a small window get the most amazing shots you can for the media outlet you are shooting for.
Now, there are two ways you can go with your thinking; be frustrated you have a limit in time, or allow this pressure to refine your skills and build your God-given gift into the best it can be. You can become a professional. Don’t allow the enemy to set you up to feel contained. If you get into a “limited” way of thinking, that is how you will shoot, and that is what will develop.
I’ve been in love with photography ever since I was a little girl. I asked for cameras for Christmas and birthdays. Were my images any good? Probably not. Even when I first started taking on clients and photographing families (I will be the first to tell you) they weren’t great. I loved photography for so long and wanted to do it, but I needed more than passion to kick it up a notch. I needed time, study, determination, and experience.
I started shooting professionally a little over 10 years ago. Then I decided, after shooting for my church, Elevation Church, to drive my professional career into the music industry. Your church is a GREAT way to start. I watched an interview with Justin Timberlake when he was on a late-night show. He talked about how he started off singing in his church’s choir, and that was the best way to get started as a singer. Well, it’s true for music photographers as well. Aside from all of the spiritual guidance you receive for your life, the experience to photograph life change, events, and worship experiences on and off stage, guides your creative eye in a way you can’t get anywhere else because you are using that gift to give back to serve God.
To start moving forward in this direction, here are some pointers…
1. Start by being intentional, only posting on your social media specifically music driven photos. Tag the artist, the venue, and even the record label, and use the right hashtags.
2. Look online at concert venues in your area and make a list of concerts you would like to shoot.
3. Reach out to different media outlets and see if you are able to get photo passes to shoot a variety of concerts.
4. Do your research on the band you are about to shoot. Watch their latest YouTube videos to study the lighting for the concert you will cover. You will then know the cadence of the music you are shooting and how the lighting correlates to the music.
5. Photo passes are usually picked up at the box office, and sometimes, for bigger venues, you will be escorted into the photo pit for the first three songs, and then escorted out. Unless you are the house photographer or tour photographer, or if you have an all access pass from a brand you are shooting for, you won’t be allowed to go out into the crowd or venue to shoot. So, make it count!
6. Turn around the photos immediately. After the concert, go somewhere close with Wi-Fi, and edit your best top photos and send them to your contact person within the hour so they can post to their social media sites in real time and keep it current. They will appreciate this more than you know.
7. Always communicate with whoever you are working with to see if you have permission to post the photos to your own social media accounts! If so, tag those outlets in your post to help promote them.
Like with most things, know going in what your limits are. For this specifically, it’s the first three songs. But don’t see those boundaries as something limiting or something bad. Don’t be robbed of a creative moment because you go into it discouraged. You have an incredible opportunity to photograph something amazing in a small amount of time.
And you can do it.
Above all else remember, project The Story and don’t stop shooting!