“Youth is wasted on the young.”
I’ve said this time and time again, music and photography are the perfect match for each other. If I’d put them together sooner, I could have been a female, less crazy Jim Marshall. Giving it some more thought, doing rock photography probably would have made me just as crazy.
But the stories I could tell!
Older and Wiser, Regardless We’re All a Little Insecure
So now, here I am, older and wiser and getting to enjoy the benefits of that. I know that when I was young I was very insecure and would have always thought I am not good enough to do that. Oh wait, I still feel that way sometimes!
But I know now with years of photography experience and personal growth that the two have come together in my life when I was ready. Life is about the journey and had I attempted this earlier I’d have crashed and burned. Of that, I am sure. My message here in this post is, if you want to become a music photographer, try to forget your insecurities and strive for the experience. If music and photography are your passions, put them together! Don’t wait like I did.
So You Want to Become a Music Photographer…
Music photography in a big way is about access. I’ve seen some amazing images of famous musicians in intimate moments by people who were friends with them. Examples are Linda McCartney and Pattie Boyd. That is access both physical and emotional that is impossible to achieve by the masses. Sadly, the venues for live music in San Francisco are seemingly, slowly going away but I know this town will fight till the end for the arts – me included. My personal favorites include: The Warfield, The Fillmore, and the late Red Devil Lounge. RIP.
1. The right equipment.
The consumer market fails here and only professional equipment will work. In many cases there is a limit to shooting the first three songs. Lenses must be fast and camera quality top of the line as low lighting and being fast are a must. Personally, I use a Canon 6, Canon lenses 35mm 1.4, 85mm 1.2, 70-200 2.8 and 28-70 mm 2.8
2. NEVER use flash. I repeat NEVER use flash.
That needs to be repeated because first your photos suck if you use it and secondly think about how annoying it is to the band. If you really need to use it then go home, practice low light situations without it and make sure you read rule #1.
3. Respect the rules.
Some of the boys take their jobs very seriously, maybe a little too much. The “boys”, meaning the security in the pit. Stay 3 seconds past the end of the 3rdsong and you get the “look” and may not be welcomed back.
4. Don’t stop shooting.
Most venues have a 3 song limit. This keeps the band fresh in the photos and as well, it is quite distracting having people in your face hence the 3 song limit. But this is enough time if you know what you are doing and again if you followed rule #1. This is what differentiates my images from the masses with their mobiles.
5. Make the images say something.
The relationship between musicians and photographers is mutually beneficial. I will admit that typically I’m the only woman in the pit and when I put on my boots I’m 6’2” and hard to miss. Guys in the band will play to me giving me opportunities that the dudes don’t get and I work those few seconds hard.
Play around with the lights, look for the good angles, look for good expressions and the moments between songs are moments the camera should still be ready.
These people are rocking hard for the crowd and the images should show the heart and soul they are delivering on a silver platter.