How to get started as a live music photographer
Many careers and jobs within the music industry aren’t directly related to you being a musician. Journalism and photography make up a massive part of the live music community and many jobs are related to these fields.
from DITTO MUSIC
If getting into music journalism and writing isn’t quite your bag and your strengths lie in capturing the energy of a live event through imagery, then you might want to consider a career in music photography.
How to get into music photography
As with any search for a job within the music industry, there are many different ways that you might go about getting started. Do you need to study photography or even go to university for that matter? Our guide dives into top photography advice to get your career started off on the right foot.
When starting out, it’s vital that you try and get as much experience – no matter how small – under your belt. Everyone starts somewhere and even the smallest gigs and events provide you an opportunity to showcase your photography skills and build up your professional portfolio.
Freelance at local magazines
A great way to build up your photography CV is by freelancing for local magazines and music companies. Most cities with a half decent music scene are bustling with independent music blogs you should be reading which are always offering the chance for new photographers and journalists to get involved.
You’ll also often get to attend gigs for free with your press pass! A win-win.
Grow your network
Once you’ve started to gain some experience – and confidence – within live music photography, you’ll be able to focus on growing your music network. This is a key component of being successful within the music industry, whether you’re a musician yourself or a budding industry-professional.
Utilise your social media profiles to help grow your brand name and secure new booking opportunities. Social also provides the perfect place to show off your work, so make sure you’re smashing your social marketing online.
Attend industry events
Alongside your online network, it’s important for you to also get your face out there and become well-versed in your individual music scene. Once you start going to more and more events, people will recognise you and event organisers will think of you when setting up gigs. This might also help you find a music manager to help your career.
Music industry conferences can also help you land new jobs and grow your network, so make sure to get involved wherever you can.
Becoming a music photographer
Lewis Evans has shot for some of the UK & Ireland’s biggest bands, touring Europe and beyond as official photographer for acts such as Inhaler & Blossoms, as well as working with the likes of Fontaines D.C. and Arctic Monkeys. We chatted to him about his experiences of getting started in the world of live music photography.
How did you start out in music photography?
“I’d never really had much interest in photography before I went to university, where I studied Journalism, but after I got into reviewing gigs I just felt the pay off, both physically and in terms of time, wasn’t worth the effort that was being put in.
I got my first ever photopass by pestering a photo editor for a small indie blog. They always like to bring up me sending him photos of ducks at 2am, which were the only real photography examplesat the time – somehow that actually worked!”
Have you ever studied photography?
“I’ve never studied photography, which I guess has pros and cons – I may not have the technical proficiencies of some of my peers but I’m glad that I’ve just been able to dive into it and navigate my own style.
These days there’s resources everywhere and I’ve always been fortunate to have friends to lean on if I’ve ever had any questions. And in my experience, just throwing yourself into situations and navigating them as you’re going can lead to amazing results. I’ve been lucky enough to have some great mentors, who’ve always pushed me to jump outside of my comfort zone.”
What music photography tips would you give someone just starting out?
“Prioritise showing off your best work on social media and don’t get caught up in the Instagram facade of posting just for the sake of it – I’ve always found self critique is so important and I’m still working on things all the time.
Know your camera equipment inside out, you’ll be surprised by how much you don’t know. It sounds really obvious but by reading the manual back to front, you’ll pick up a lot of info that will help you.
Know your emotional & physical limits – with current demands and the touring lifestyle, it is very easy to burnout and hit a wall. There is no shame in listening to your body and knowing what it can handle, even if it means you have to miss things. Health before wealth.
Most importantly, never be disheartened with push backs and no’s. It’s simply part of the life of a photographer, but don’t get too put off, be persistent without being that annoying person.”
What’s the best thing about being a music photographer?
“Getting to travel and do a job I enjoy is truly priceless. It can be physically and emotionally ruthless, but as long as you can balance out work and fun, it’s more than manageable.”
Music photography offers an exciting and rewarding career path to aspiring music industry professionals. If you follow the advice laid out above, then you can make a great start in building out your professional portfolio and landing more live opportunities.