Technical & Gear
What gear do you use? I use the following gear: Nikon D7100, Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8, Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8, Nikon sb600 and, Nikon N5005. For most concerts you can catch me with my 16-80mm f/2.8 attached to my D7100 because that lens gives me a great zoom range while performing well in low light environments. For smaller venues that allow flash photography I will also bring along an external flash. I have accumulated all my gear over the course of 3+ years, slowly purchasing new items as I need them. Gear does NOT define a photographer.
Flash Vs No Flash? I am 100% for the use of external flashes when necessary in venues that allow it. Speed lights do an exceptional job of freezing motion in dark venues without having you raise your ISO to the limit. Chances are that the venues that don't have a no flash policy, have exceptionally poor lighting or just a lack of. I frequently use a flash to prevent strong blue or red lights from making an image nearly impossible to salvage. Yes, flash can often save the day, but it isn't always necessary. For example, the two photos below were taken at the same exact venue. The photo on the left did not use flash while the one of the right did. Since there was less motion that needed to be frozen during the photo on the left and Linden (the lead singer) had his face illuminated, flash was not necessary. Meanwhile flash was needed to freeze the motion of of the hair in the photo on the right.
Lastly, I must mention the importance of being familiar with the venue and artist's policy on flash. Larger shows that often have a 3 song limit on photography, also ban the use of flash. In addition, there will be occasions in which the smaller venues won't allow flash by request of the artist. In both cases DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT USING FLASH. Breaking a simple rule like that is a quick way to leave a bad impression with musicians and venues.
How did you get to photograph larger musicians? This has to be one of the most frequently asked questions relating to music photography. I wish I could share some secret tip to help you get the gigs that you are dreaming of, but it just comes down to hard work, paying your dues, and who you know.
How to reach out to publications? Working for legitimate and quality publications will help you shoot better shows more frequently. When reaching out to a publication about working with them, try checking their contact page for a contributor submission form. If you can't find a form try sending them an email using the information on their contact page. When doing so include the following information: Your Name, links to your portfolio and social media, gear, experience, and availability to cover events. It is very important to keep your emails short and to the point. Yes publications want to know that you're a good fit for them, but they don't want to hear your life story.
Have you ever hit a rough patch with your photography? When pursuing any sort of art, I believe that the very first thing that should be mentioned in the job description is that there will be no shortage of rough patches. Rough patches are frequent in my photography although I have yet to hit one in 2016 (knock on wood). While it is easy to become discouraged when I don't get approved for a show or get a job that I want, its just a humble reminder that I am not where I want to be with my photography yet and that is okay. Plenty of times I kick myself for not getting the results that I want. The thing is that I have never questioned how badly I want to succeed in this industry.
How do you overcome a rough patch? I overcome rough patches by taking a moment to evaluate where I am and where I would like to be. I also pride myself in surrounding myself with incredibly supportive and creative individuals.
Advice for someone who isn't happy with their work? I encourage every photographer to not ever be fully happy with their work. You don't want to have met the peak of your work 6 months, 2 years, or 10 years into your career. However for the photographer that isn't seeing the results that they want or growth in their work I advise you to take a breather. Taking a small break to evaluate what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong is essential to keep yourself on a path towards your goals. You don't want to burn yourself out so taking small breaks every few months to evaluate where you're at can help you focused and refreshed. After returning from your break it is imperative that you don't keep doing things exactly how you used to. Make changes and experiment with new techniques.
How do you keep challenging yourself and your work fresh? While picking up large shows with huge lighting packages makes shooting super easy, it doesn't really challenge me. So on shoots that are a little bit "easier" in terms of working with lighting, I like to take more time to compose my shots with great framing.
To keep my work fresh, I am constantly trying to improve my photographic style to best reflect my personality and preferences. That being said, if the photos I am taking don't fit my editing style, I don't hesitate to switch it up and try an more unique approach to editing. I have been primarily using Lightroom for the past few years but have recently picked up using Photoshop. Branching out to use new software has done so much to help me expand my style and skill set. In addition to just tinkering around, I have also started watching more editing tutorials online to sharpen my skills. If you love learning and are looking to take your work to the next level, I highly suggest that you check out some Youtube tutorials to help you in areas you wish to improve.
What do you enjoy the most about photography? I could write page upon page answering this. The simple answer is that being able to capture people and their passion is incredibly rewarding. I adore photographing concerts because being able to capture the energy and sense of community at a concert is truly amazing. To many people concerts are more than just a few people on stage playing music to strangers, but instead concerts are home to some of their favorite memories. Portrait photography is also one of my passions because I think having a set of images that make you feel confident in yourself is important. Everyone has and immense amount of internal and external beauty and I am incredibly lucky to get to document that.
Thank you so much for reading and supporting me. If you have any further questions feel free to use the form below.