Talk Tuesday / An Easy Start in Concert Photography
WORDS BY PATRICK QUIRING
So, you want to try your hand at concert photography? And let me guess, you’ve always wondered “how in the world do I even get up there, past the crowd, and into the sacred photo pit where I would be a couple of feet away from one of my absolute favorite artists”?
Well, have no worry because I’m here to be your Sherpa into taking the first step for getting into concert photography!
So, I will post a short outline of what you need to do first, and then I’ll go into greater detail below just in case you’re on a time crunch.
The short version:
You need to realize that there isn’t a lot of money in this for when you first start out (It’s been a year for me, and I still have my 8 to 5 I go too if that says anything).
Find a publication (you can do this through groups on Facebook, or going to publication website).
Find artist you want to shoot.
Go to their About section on their FB page, and find the press contact person. If it’s not there then you will just Google the musician and the words press contact to find the right person. Or you will have to ask around for it.
Send the press contact a short and simple email stating you want to photograph this band on such and such date at this venue in this town, and who you shoot for.
And that’s it for the short version!
If you want more of a detailed version of the steps then here you go:
First off, you will not be making a lot of money doing this artform when you start off. It will probably take a while before you make a dime, and It’s a super hard industry to break into so it’s definitely more about the passion then the money. Just warning you before you jump into this. There’s also going to be a lot of hours you will most likely put into this. It is definitely a blast though, and it is a rush when you’re in the photo pit.
Find a publication to shoot for. This can be either an online magazine, a blog, a printed magazine, or even your own website (when I shot The Weeknd the guy next to me was just shooting for his own personal website, which was crazy to me!)
If you don’t know where to find a publication at then I recommended trying to find a concert photography Facebook group. You could also try, and find a Facebook group that centers around the music you like. Now that you’re in a group keep your eyes peeled for people posting about needing photographers, or writers for their publication. For a while I saw a lot of people posting in these groups asking these kinds of questions, and is actually how I got my start doing this kind of thing so it definitely works. Just to warn you though, you probably won’t make a lot of money doing concert photography.
So, now you have a publication you’re shooting/ writing for. Hurray! Go you!
Now, you just have to find concerts to shoot, and my favorite way to do this is to go to Pollstar.com. It’s an amazing web page that shows concerts that are coming near you, and is super easy to use. It’s also a good idea to check out your local venues websites since Pollstar misses some shows sometimes.
So, now that you have the list of all of the shows coming near you that you want to shoot you have to now find their press contacts (some publications will have a person that does this, but that isn’t the case for everyone). This can be either super easy or super hard.
So when it’s easy this is what you do- you simply just research their Facebook (FB) page, and once you get there you go to their about section. On the about section just simply scroll to the bottom, and look for press contact. And BAM, that’s it! Pretty easy for find it, right??
Well, then there’s the hard way, which is unusual at times. So, since there is no mention of a press contact on their FB page you will have to go to good ol’ Google, and search the Internet. Just put something like “Musical group or musician” press contact. This has worked for me many times. If that doesn’t work then you should ask the staff at the publication that you shoot for, and they might be able to help you out. If no one there knows then I’d recommend going to a FB concert photographer group, and asking there. Most of the time they are nice, but sometimes there are some crabby people. Just make sure you state that you checked their Facebook page.
With the press contact in hand you will now need to message this person. I’d recommend doing this about a month from the show. When you write to them you don’t have to make it super long winded, and normally just stating the basics is good enough.
So things you want to cover are things like your name, who you are shooting for, the band, the date, town, venue, and give them some examples of your work (Flickr is a great place to start your portfolio). I just looked at my recent photo pass request for Run The Jewels, and it was about four sentences so it wasn’t anything fancy. Just be polite, and cordial, and hopefully it will all work out for you. You may have to email then again a couple of days before the show if you haven’t heard anything just in case your email might have fallen through the cracks.
And that’s it for me on this topic! Hopefully this has been helpful, and if you have any question then please let me know. Hit me up on the MNSTRM socials, or on Twitter at @PQMultimedia