There are a lot more music photographers than there are music photography jobs — that’s only how it is in this corner of the industry. It’s a port of entry for many hobbyist photographers, and the issue is saturation of the marketplace. A lot of budding photographers are willing to work for costless, making the gigs that are out there even tougher to go.
When most bands are composed of young people only out of (or still in) high school, is understandable that nigh aren’t able to pay photographers much. I used to charge local bands $100 for a band promo shoot. That felt similar a fair price back then; I gained valuable experience and it was affordable for the musicians every bit well.
Simply a few years down the line when you take thousands invested in gear, $100 shoots aren’t going to comprehend your costs, not to mention your fourth dimension. When you reach that betoken, you have to figure out other means of but financially maintaining your hobby. I want to shed light on a few opportunities that I’ve institute and seen my peers succeed in, not but breaking even merely really making a living.
I’ll practice my best to provide what kind of bounty you might be able to expect from some of these methods. I desire to brand sure I disclaim that I haven’t washed all of these myself, but have friends or acquaintances who I know for a fact have found success in these opportunities.
Note: If anyone reading this has more authentic numbers for any sort of gig I list beneath, please share it with the states in the comments below.
Starting From Scratch
Skip this section if you’re already getting photo passes and shooting shows and merely looking to offset making some money.
This function isn’t a moneymaking method, just it outlines the first steps that many photographers have. Most beginner concert photographers start by shooting tiny local shows, then finding a small publication to work for to first getting photograph passes to shows. That’south the standard piece of advice to newbies, “find a small online publication to shoot for.” It volition be unpaid, but it will assist you build a portfolio and feel in shooting shows.
How do you find a publication? Search around. At that place are hundreds of people passionate near music creating small websites, web zines, and music blogs. Find minor artists you similar and see who they are doing interviews with, what small websites they’re posting links to on their social media pages. You’ll find ane in no time.
Working for a small publication will become you lot access to photo passes, which allow you lot to bring your camera into venues and shoot concerts. The gatekeepers of photo passes are publicists. Much to the credit of publicists and creative person managers in the manufacture, they’re patient and kind to photographers new to this world despite being inundated with requests from u.s.a.. It’southward a small part of what they do to benefit their artists only they’re extraordinarily respectful of us so delight be sure to return the favor.
There is an entire spectrum of the “photo pass” globe between shooting an artist in a minor bar and shooting a superstar in an arena. But this is where almost everyone begins, and it allows you to build up contacts in the manufacture and experience shooting shows.
Shooting for Larger Magazines and Publications
Larger music publications have budgets and tin hire experienced photographers to shoot for them. There are multiple types of work in this genre that photographers are hired out for. Cover shoots, editorial shoots, shooting concerts and festivals, shooting behind the scenes or day-in-the-life features — these are all gigs that are hired out. Many of these publications also seek already shot images to use for their stories and send out requests for submissions.
- Embrace Shoot: $1,000-3,000
- Editorial shoot: $200-800
- Shooting a festival/concert: $150-$300/day
- Shooting a BTS-type feature: $150-300/day
- Licensing a photo for them to use: $100-$200
How exercise you start existence considered for these jobs? Networking. Everyone’south introduction to this will be different, just hither’south one example:
- You get a photo pass to shoot a small-scale band
- They like the photos y’all took of them
- A mag asks said band for an image they can use of them for a feature
- You get continued with the magazine’s art department
Now you take a contact at the mag. Hopefully they like your piece of work. Let them know you lot’d relish working together on other jobs if they’re interested. Local festival coming up that’due south correct in their wheelhouse? Respectfully ask if they are looking to encompass said festival and let them know that it’due south in your area.
I have peers who make decent coin shooting for larger magazines. They are fantabulous studio photographers who shoot cover images for magazines very consistently. There are a handful of larger publications similar this who have budgets. Just these companies are having a tough time, budgets are getting smaller, and monetizing photo galleries, and so this work is becoming more sparse.
Band Promos and Album Artwork
Local band promos are a cornerstone of nearly budding music photographer’southward portfolios. Larger bands demand promos as well. They’ll ofttimes tap photographers they know or work with, or their label has a relationship with, to shoot these for them. Some artists, peculiarly in hip-hop and pop also use photos of themselves as anthology or EP artwork.
Expect $200-$2,500 for this type of piece of work. This is a broad range, but it depends on how many images they need delivered, how intensive and time consuming shooting the concept will be, the cost of renting a studio, props, assistants, etc… the list goes on and on.
A diverseness of work in the same vein is available too; backside the scenes photos at video shoots, or documenting a band in the studio for example. I will normally go this type of work from artists that I have a relationship with and have worked with in the past.
Bands often license photos from photographers to apply for many purposes. Usage of photos for posters, shirts, and other merchandise is very common. Sometimes the creative person will requite you lot a portion of sales of the merch particular. Having a human relationship with artists and their teams often helps with these opportunities because information technology puts y’all on their radar.
Look a minimum of $100 to license a photograph for 1 of these uses. Promise to get more than, especially if it’s for a large run of shirts or posters being sold on tour.
Companies likewise often license photos for marketing or advertizement purposes. This licensing deals will often be more lucrative than licensing to artists because of a departure in budget size. Some photographers as well build long-term relationships with companies that license music, sell instruments, or other products geared towards musicians. This type of piece of work can also net you a lot of coin and help sustain you in-between tours or other work.
Most of my successful peers’ income comes from this type of work, myself included. It’s a very rewarding and challenging gig. Being able to travel with your friends and brand coin doing and then is hard to beat.
If you start shooting small shows, you lot’ll inevitably create a network of publicists, managers of bands, and artists themselves.
A lot of bands feel that it’s important to have a photographer with them when on tour. Photographers can provide a ton of value to artists, I’ve covered this earlier if y’all want to read more about it. When hiring a photographer to bring on tour, nearly artists or their managers are looking for a few things… (ane) they similar your work and it fits their brand. (two) you are a person they enjoy being around or are vouched for by someone they trust. Because of this, one time you go the experience of one tour, you lot’re “qualified” to bout with others. Especially if you’ve expanded your network and others can speak to your quality of work and dorsum yous upwards as a good man.
What kind of pay tin can you expect as a tour photographer? It depends on a lot of factors, including how much work you’re expected to do. Some photographers on small tours are also expected to sell merch. Will yous be shooting just photos, or video too?
Because of this, actual rates are all over. But if it’s your start tour, with a small-scale artist, I would recommend asking for
at least $250/week. Providing authentic numbers for more experienced tour photographers is tough to do… it’s not an often discussed subject area. From my personal frame of reference,
$1,000-$1,500/week is not unheard of
for medium to larger bands. As yous gain experience and demand for you lot rises, your rates should quickly ascent likewise.
Tour photographers are often on the payroll of the artist directly, but I accept also heard of situations where you are working for the label and they cutting your checks. Sometimes labels will help the artist with the price of a lensman. Many situations will exist different.
Working for a Label
Some record labels have photographers and videographers as office of their creative section. They can be responsible for art management or product of music videos, promos, and bout with the label’s artists. There aren’t many of these jobs available, and they are frequently filled with some of the near talented photographers and videographers in the manufacture.
I can’t provide an accurate interpretation of how much these artists are making. I expect some are on salary, and others may be getting perpetual contract work.
Creating Music Videos
I have never created whatsoever music videos with artists, so I’ll simply speak on this i in broad terms. A lot of photographers become interested in the peripheral discipline of filmmaking. Many musicians have longstanding relationships with photographers, and they experience that their artistic vision aligns with theirs.Though there’south obvious overlap, creating a music video is an entirely different skill ready and noesis base than shooting photos. It’s a ton of work, planning, and in most cases you lot will need different gear rather than just your photo equipment. You also need a crew, location, ability to edit, color grade, etc.
Taking all of this into consideration, music video budgets are much higher than many of the photography opportunities, simply information technology’due south not something you can just “leap into” with a basic music photography portfolio like some other methods.
Again, this is some other category where I won’t give yous an gauge on coin; it’s an entirely different category than the residual. Sad!
Using a combination of these methods, it’s possible to sustain yourself equally a music lensman. It’southward absolutely not easy, but if you’re defended and go a piddling chip lucky, yous can make information technology financially viable long-term.
Photographers in this niche, and nearly others, are usually protective of their moneymaking methods, and rates are rarely shared publicly. I tried to be equally specific every bit I could based on my personal experience. At that place may exist people who read this who have had entirely dissimilar experiences with rates for different types of piece of work, or opportunities to brand money shooting music — I hope that you’ll leave a comment to provide us all with some more perspective.
Near the author: Matty Vogel is a music lensman based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You can find out more virtually him and his work through his website and his blog. This article was also published hither.
Header photograph past Matty Vogel