Music Photography for beginners - 5 top tips
Are you a budding music photographer? Here's our 5 top tips to get into shooting shows!
5 important tips for music photographers
Here's 5 helpful tips to help start your career in music photography, there are many do's and don'ts involved in starting out in photography in general, but these can guide you to shoot your show and start building portfolio to help you land some bigger shows. I shot this image of Ed Sheeran at a really small festival in Wales when he was relatively unknown - he's gone on to be one of the most recognised musicians in the world. Access to small and unknown acts is where it begins for most music photographers - it just so happened Ed Sheeran went on to be named as Artist of the Decade!
1. Small shows
Nearly every music photographer starts with small shows, and sometimes these small shows can be the most fun, you can shoot intimately with the band but lighting can be more of a challenge, if you like shooting with flash, sometimes small venues allow this so it can work to your advantage - make sure you get pre-approval from the band and venue though. There are other advantages to shooting small shows too, such as going backstage - you can create incredibly intimate imagery backstage, there's usually a lot going on and if you're close to the band, they'll act naturally around you which is vital. If you don't know the band, make them feel comfortable in your presence.
IDLES performing in a pub, in Glastonbury. © Will Fahy
2. Build your network
Building your own network is crucial - start by reaching out to local bands, venues and publications to see if they'll let you cover their shows, the good thing about email is that it's free and you have nothing to lose. Be prepared that you may not hear back from everyone or anyone at all, the people you want to connect with are usually very busy people, so make your communication clear and to the point - you don't want to waste their time. It's also very likely that you'll need to build a portfolio before you'll be able to start shooting bigger bands and shows, it's also likely you won't be able to charge whilst you're starting out.
Hot Chip, Bristol O2 Academy, Bristol. © Will Fahy
3. Know your kit
If you don't know your kit, stop right reading this, go and pick up your camera and learn how to use it properly. You can learn absolutely anything on YouTube these days - there are some great photography channels out there. Music photography is fast, with constantly changing conditions you'll need to know how to adjust settings in the blink of an eye, so keep practising until it becomes second nature. If you like changing and updating your camera, stick to a certain brand as you'll get familiar with the menu systems and button layouts much quicker.
4. Practise, practise, practise.
Practice is key to building your confidence. If you've been out shooting shows for a while and you're not realy getting the results you're after - stop and ask yourself why. Is it your kit? Your technique? Your camera settings? These are all things you can improve on with practise. As soon as you find that key to creating stunning music photography, you won't look back. Use social media to your advantage - join music photography groups and follow the top music photographers to see what they're shooting. There's nothing wrong with asking others what their approach is, take inspiration and build your own style that suits your way of shooting.
Portfolios are a massive part of landing bigger jobs - people you're speaking to will want to know what you can do and what you've done previously, this is why starting small is good for you - generally, these shows are easier to gain access - if you can get results from a poorly lit and unglamorous back room in a pub, you'll have no problem going into a properly lit and dedicated music venue. Going back to the previous point on building your own style is crucial here too, potential employers will want to see a style running through your portfolio, and they would want to see that consistency in any future work you may produce for them - they've seen the style of your work and that's what they will expect from you.
By Will Fahy