How To Become A Concert Photographer

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I recently talked to my friend Nancy from Midlife Mixtape on her podcast about my route to concert photography, and it brought me back to this post. I have been keeping notes for a long fourth dimension, compiling them – because people often ask, “how can I become a music photographer?”

Who Will You Photograph For?

The showtime affair to consider is who you lot want to shoot for. Plainly, in my case, I photograph for my own site, Greeblehaus. Another route is to photograph for established media outlets and sites. At that place are pros and cons to each way, and you accept to determine which is best for y’all.

For case, I had to build upwards my site’southward traffic to be granted photograph passes myself versus nether the wing of say, local media like Westword, 303 Magazine or The Know. But, I also reply to myself and generally don’t have the same difficult deadlines that photographers who work for others practise.

Making Money Every bit A Concert Photographer

Making money in concert photography is a complicated question. For me personally, it’s wrapped up in the benefits I get from this blog, which is both tangible cash and the intangibles – like fun events, travel, etc. But please understand that usually, music photography is a passion project and it’southward woefully underrated in terms of budget.

Most people earn the best living by working their way up in media outlets or going on tour with bands (while helping with other things like merch). Selling photos (on a mass calibration, at least) is generally non an option due to copyright laws, which is a whole ‘nother mail in itself (but meet more info beneath).

I wouldn’t have information technology whatever other way, though. I have been shooting concerts for a long time now and it’s ane of the nearly fulfilling things in my life.

Below are simply some general tips that I take learned over the years. Hope you find them helpful too.

Header photograph by Mark Tepsic. This mail by and large applies to photographing in the Us.

Tips for Becoming A Concert Photographer

Know The Rules

Showtime, you lot generally demand a photo pass (beneath) to photograph nigh
band. That could come in the form of simply beingness on the list, or really receiving a pass or wristband you must habiliment. You also demand professional photography equipment, meaning a DSLR. Some photographers have a mirrorless as a second photographic camera, merely phone cameras are nixed, except for maybe a quick shot or two for social media. The aureate rule is “three songs, no flash.”

That means yous will be allowed to photograph the first three songs, either from the pit upward front, or front of firm (FOH) – which is really near the soundboard in the back. Confusing, I know. At bigger shows, you lot are escorted in by the media contact and escorted out subsequently – and may non be able to stay for the rest of the evidence. (Heck, at to the lowest degree it’south an early on evening then, right?)

How To Get A Photo Pass

Generally, to become a pass, you demand permission from the ring, their PR, or the promoter of the evidence. Who you ask is something you acquire from feel, but usually: a small show is the band, a medium prove is the PR, a large show is the promoter. Google is your friend hither, merely as you gain a reputation, bands and PR professionals will offset reaching out and asking you to cover shows.

Request your photo laissez passer 2-3 weeks before the show and follow upwards, although yous may not go your answer until the 24-hour interval of (sometimes only hours earlier the show). An accompanying ticket may or may not be included and may or may not exist necessary depending on the size of the venue. This again, sadly, is merely something you lot learn with experience.

Tip: Don’t photograph your photo pass and share it online. That makes it prone for copying in other cities, could be a security risk, and makes PR people mad at you.

Shoot Local Bands and Free Shows

Here in Denver, we have a bang-up music scene, so in that location are a plethora of great bands to photograph. This is how I started, requesting to photograph locals, building my portfolio and learning the ropes. I was then able to show PR people my work and asking bigger and bigger shows. Also, complimentary outdoor concerts such as Denver Mean solar day of Rock are a wonderful opportunity to practice and likewise photograph bands on bigger stages from the audition without needing a laissez passer.

Get to Know Other Photographers, Staff and Security

Afterward a while, the photographers in a scene get to know each other, likewise as nationally touring ones. Here is a post of Denver concert photographers on Instagram. The benefits of this are many. Plainly, it’s dainty to exist friends with the people you see all the time, just also you may need an extra photo card in an emergency or some earplugs.

Sometimes I am in the zone when I step into the pit, but I really practice try to say how-do-you-do to people I don’t know when I can. Aforementioned goes for security and staff. In the case of security, they are at that place to protect the fans – and us. So, sometimes they may yell at us to get out of the way, simply it’s usually because someone is crowd surfing up and about to kick you in the head!

Acquire Pit Etiquette

Here are some general points that about photographers I know appreciate:

  • Put your camera bag down out of the style – don’t habiliment information technology around the pit where it bangs into everyone. (Unless the staff specifically asks you to proceed it on for security purposes.)
  • Keep an eye out for other photographers. Move around in the pit to allow everyone to get their shots.
  • Move cautiously back and forth. Moving very fast can cause collisions.
  • Duck under other lenses every bit you walk in front end of other photographers.
  • Don’t lean in far onto the stage as it obstructs other photographers also as interferes with the band.
  • Don’t hold your camera over your head to photograph, especially in front of someone else.
  • If you are tall (like me), permit the shorter photographers work in front of you lot.
  • Elbows
    while shooting.
  • Only bring a stride ladder to large shows where y’all have been placed at the soundboard.
  • Count the songs in your head and promptly exit the pit equally the third one ends.
  • Be mindful of the fans backside you.
  • Have fun! This is supposed to be fun, right?

Go The Shots

This kind of goes without proverb, but concert photography is different than portraiture, wedding ceremony and other photography avenues. You lot have low lights, downright bad lights, moving objects and limited time. Call back about what kind of music the band plays; their personality should exist reflected in the photos. Acquire your equipment inside and out. Get for lens quality over bodies at showtime – the glass is most of import. Finesse your editing style and streamline your process in professional person software like Lightroom or Photoshop. Kill your darlings and put your all-time photos forward.


I always send the link of my post back to the person who approved me. This shows reliability, builds the human relationship and when appropriate, I ask for them to share the link to my blog too. I share on my social networks and try and get the event the best exposure I tin. This concluding step actually helps brand every show a stepping stone for the next one I would similar to photograph. What social networks you focus on will depend on your goals, only plain, Instagram is a vital photography platform.

Tip: Go all members of the band, especially the drummer who is usually forgotten!

Protect Yourself

Sometimes before photographing a show, y’all will exist asked to sign a release. Normally, these are benign, asking you to adhere to the general rules I mentioned above. Sometimes they will inquire for copyright release for the photos, which bluntly, I
exercise. This issue has been in the news with high profile acts similar Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande, but my feeling is there is
band big enough for me to hand over copyright without additional bounty. This also requires yous to sympathise copyright to begin with, which is legal stuff and complicated – but boils down to this…

You click a shutter, no matter what camera, you own the photograph. If you have a photo pass, you have permission to use that photograph in an editorial sense (like a newspaper, mag or blog). You do
have license to sell that photo – you need a release from the band to practise so (the exception to this generally being gallery shows). Also, technically, the ring does
have the right to use your photos in
way, although there has been a general sense of agreement that sharing photos (individually, separate of the posts)

with credit

is OK. However, every bit with this example, information technology can get catchy. Re-read that paragraph a couple times; it’south complicated.

Point being, learn the law, follow it, and be prepared in accelerate for what you are willing to share with bands and publicity folks.

Have Fun

Whew. That was a lot of exercise’s and don’ts, huh? I hope y’all found it helpful and not discouraging. As I mentioned, photographing concerts has inverse my life dramatically for the better. I accept seen so many bands I would never have and met some of the best people in the globe. Information technology’s a total blast.

Hope to encounter you in the pit one-time soon!

How To Become A Concert Photographer - Tips for Music Photography