When asked about the state of editorial photography and advice for aspirants he offered,
“…you don’t shoot editorial to make money, you shoot editorial to feed your ego… It helps if you are young and beautiful and have a cool blog, but mainly, you need a SINGULAR vision. Find a style and stick with it. Focus on subjects you care about. Pick a theme like humor or irony or debauchery, something that suits your personality. If a photo editor can recognize your photo without reading the credit, you know you’re on the right track.”
It rings true - the cynicism, but also the advice on how to make your mark.
Wow, that was quick! Thanks Dan! Basically, at the moment I shoot photos for a website called Voltage Media, I'm a volunteer so my "payment" is essentially free entry to all gigs (which I'm not complaining about!). I gues what I want to know is what's the best way, or the general process, of expanding to other, bigger sites. Is there a set way ot application, or do you just email a letter of introduction/CV/portfolio? What about magazines, either freelance or permanent staff?
Make sure you have an online portfolio of good pictures that’s easy to browse and begin introducing yourself by email to bigger websites or street press.
A facebook page (not your personal facebook), tumblr (that only has your photos) or flickr site could be perfectly adequate.
Your photos should be equal to or better than the quality you already see published in the publication you’re approaching. They should also be of similar subject material to what the publication already runs.
Quality over quantity.
Every time you make contact with someone make it personal to them. Do your research. Don’t write a form letter. Keep it brief and to the point.
Demonstrate that you like and understand the sort of work that they publish. Say you’d love to contribute and show that you’re up to scratch by providing a link to your work.
Sometimes people will ignore your email. The people you’re approaching probably get lots of people like you getting in touch every day/week. If you get no reply, then follow up a couple of weeks later. If still no reply then move on. Keep shooting and improve your portfolio.
On a related note, here’s a previous question i answered about pursuing a career in music photography.
How do you get your subjects to relax in front of the camera?
Like a dentist or doctor, a photographer must have an excellent bedside manner. You have to instill confidence in your subject. If you’re having a tooth pulled, you want your dentist to act as if this is a really normal procedure that he’s done thousands of times before. It’s the same with taking a portrait. Talk to your subject about what’s going to happen, ask them questions about how they’re feeling, explain that this should be a collaborative and enjoyable experience. Use positive reinforcement. Some people are natural in front of the camera, but most people aren’t, so allow them time to warm up and realise that getting their picture taken really isn’t as bad as having a tooth pulled. And if all that fails, get them drunk.
Trying to pursue a music photography career, what's one thing that can help set you above other photographers trying to do the same? It is the way you approach publications? Or the way you display your photos? Connections? Obviously you need to have a good portfolio to start with. TJ
First i think you have to define what you expect from a “music photography career”. Shooting live shows? Publicity photos? For a job? For a hobby?
If you want to do it for a job i think you have to adjust your goals as i know very few people in the world who only shoot music and make a living from it. I certainly don’t. I think maybe Kane does? And people like Danny North?
But it’s not like it’s a job. It’s a hustle. Every single day. Even if you’re the best in the business.
So my answer is going to sound clichéd and trite, but i think the main thing that can set you on your way is passion. That means doing it because you love it, not for the money, not for the acclaim, not for the free tickets, not for the facebook likes. Doing it because you couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Because you’re compelled to do it.
That means having a day job and working like a dog all week so you can afford a camera and some decent lenses.
It means shooting after work and on your weekends. It means not waiting to be asked to photograph something, but going out of your way to make photos happen.
If you’re into music then it means paying for tickets to shows and taking in your camera and shooting as much as you can from the crowd.
It means critically editing your pictures each time and sharing them with others. It means wanting to one up yourself every time you take a picture. Be your own worst critic.
It means sharing your passion with the world. Showing your pictures. Talking about your pictures. Publishing your pictures everywhere you can. Hello internet.
Keep your cynicism and negativity in check and treat photography as a joy.
Personally i never intended to be a photographer. It was an accident. I took pictures because i loved to do it. I’d do it if i was paid to or not. I had another career for many years before my photography got to the point where it paid the bills. Some days i wish i didn’t do it as a “career” because it makes it harder to treat as a joy.
So there you go, no easy answers, lots a vague clichéd advice. But it’s what i believe.
He has a tendency to shoot band photos with the lead singer out of focus in the foreground.
Depeche Mode NME cover
G Star Raw ad
No doubt there’s more examples if you keep looking.
You know what they say - if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best. In my case that’s Anton, in his, it’s himself.
Jason lamented on twitter that he didn’t find any inspiring work on Flickr.
While it’s true that much of the early enthusiasm and community spirit has diminished, there’s still many inspiring photographers there who are active and sharing their work.
I did a very quick trawl of recent photos from my Flickr contacts to come up with this list.
They’re producing inspiring work for all manner of different reasons. And there’s so many more to discover on Flickr if you keep looking.
I worked out some time ago that shooting live music photos is no way to make a living. Concert photos are a dime a dozen. Most shows have at least ten accredited photographers shooting them, not to mention the dozens of people photographing from the crowd.
Everyone is getting very similar photos. We all use pretty much the same cameras and lenses. The show we shoot tours around the country with the same staging night after night. Every week hundreds and thousands of adequately professional photos of an artists performance are produced.
There’s lots of supply but where’s the demand?