Delving Into the Music Industry
An abundance of female photographers are available for tour. So why do men keep taking our jobs?
Jan. 23, 2019 - In today’s media-heavy world, it is extremely common for most touring musicians to have a photographer out on tour with them. Realistically, it’s the smart thing to do to keep social media platforms consistent and interactive.
Commonly, and probably unsurprisingly to most, a lot of tour photographers are men, despite there being a ton of talented women in the industry. Your favorite artists - Shawn Mendes, Panic! At The Disco, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Niall Horan, 5 Seconds of Summer, Camila Cabello - all have photographers out on the road with them, and they’re all men.
In general, the ratio of male to female touring photographers is pretty steep. Some of the content put out by these guys, that have consistent jobs, is lazy and uninteresting. But, because they’re men, they get the job, no questions asked. It isn’t uncommon for a woman to present her resume and get denied for the job because “the role of the job is not suitable for a female” due to its “complex nature” of work. This still happens when their resumes are extensive and borderline overqualified.
In my opinion, as a concert photographer myself, there are too many men doing photo work that get full time touring jobs, when their work is mild to mediocre, at best. Personally, I know a plethora of women in the field that create incredible work and have impeccable work ethic, and they go unnoticed because of their gender. What’s even crazier is that majority of women don’t even get paid for their photos, when it’s consistent and beautifully done. Every aspect of society is gendered for no good reason. Anybody of any gender, any identification, is capable of doing any job to full expectation.
Delving into my personal life for insight, I’ve been a concert photographer for nearly seven years. But because I’m a young woman, I’m not worthy of a touring job. I’ve never been offered a touring job. It took me five years to start getting paid for music photography work, and I’m just now starting to peak. I had to earn respect in the music industry locally, and it took a long time for me to not receive the “she doesn’t belong here ” look.
Not only is sexism alive in the music industry, but ageism is also a problem. Young men get a touring gig and they’re “amazing, deserving, and killing the game.” A young woman gets a touring job, and she “must’ve slept with someone” or “must be sleeping with the singer” to be there. It’s insulting, outdated, and ridiculous for women to consistently be doubted and stripped of their qualifications because of their gender.
Women and non-binary artists that need to be on your radar in 2019.
Jan. 23, 2019 - For me, constantly expanding my horizons and discovering new artists is a must. It’s refreshing, inspiring, and creates the inclusive community that we strive to be.
I love conducting research and discovering new artists, and I love asking my friends and social media followers whose art they are loving at the moment. Using those two factors, I compiled a list of women and non-binary people that are breaking the norm in the art field, creating jaw-dropping content that deserves to be seen.
How To Start Photographing Music
February 6, 2019 - Being a music photographer isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. You don’t meet the bands or the artists, you don’t have backstage access, and you most likely aren’t getting paid to do it. Those three things are the common misconceptions that music photographers are asked frequently, and are usually why people want to know how to start. If you’re okay with those three facts, keep reading to learn how to get started.
First and foremost, it’s important to have a camera that has manual exposure control. You don’t need a top of the line DSLR to start out shooting - especially because you won’t know if you like photographing music until you try it. There are plenty of great entry level DSLR cameras out there by Canon, Nikon, and Sony. Start out with one of those.
The best way to dive in to music photography is to start local. Local shows at small venues, that are usually bars, are a great place to start. It helps you deal with some of the toughest lighting, no photo pit, and it gives you an idea of how people move on stage. Plus, there usually isn’t a camera policy for the venue or the artist. But, always double check and see if there is one, it can vary by artist.
By photographing local shows, you build relationships and your portfolio at the same time. Relationships are just as important as anything else, so act professional and polite. You’ll never know who you’ll meet. If there are other photographers around, try to network. Personally, I’ve always had an issue with networking because I’m shy. But, over the years I’ve learned how important it is, because it can and will open doors for you. Just don’t rush it, and don’t use people. Be genuine 100% of the time, others will pick up on it if you’re doing anything less.
Basic tips, otherwise known as “pit etiquette,” are extremely important. Be respectful, don’t use flash, obey the first three songs in the pit rule (unless you’re given permission to photograph anywhere else in the building after the first three), move around / don’t stand in one spot too long, and don’t hold your camera up above your head, ESPECIALLY in front of other photographers. Breaking any or all of those rules will make everyone around you upset, even the fans. Always remember that there are fans behind you that paid to be there. Don’t ruin it for them, and don’t make them hate us.
It’s great to be a sharp writer. Having good writing skills will do nothing but benefit you, because some artist’s management will deny photo pass requests if you aren’t planning on writing a review of the show. Always remember that you also miss all of the shots that you don’t take. Always try, and don’t sweat it if you don’t succeed or get denied. Have fun and don’t let it consume you.
Once you have a substantial portfolio, start reaching out to publications. They can be local or national. Apply to a few, don’t wait on just one to get back to you. You won’t be accepted into every single publication, so don’t get discouraged. Once you have a publication under your belt, you’ll be able to start requesting bigger shows at bigger venues. Always respect the publicist and management, especially if you get denied for a show. The list isn’t big and they don’t have to cater to the media. Once you finish up your coverage and get it posted, always send the link to the publicist that approved you.
That’s pretty much it! It’s a lot to digest, but it’s a lot of fun if it’s something you’re into.
My Favorite Photo Transformations of 2018
February 6, 2019 - When I’m editing, I love to stay consistent with my editing while delivering what the show’s production was about. With that, I strive to keep skin tones pure, and to avoid any blowouts or banding from stage lights. What I do is more of a creative aspect of concert photography, and it’s heavily frowned upon by photojournalists. But… I’m not a photojournalist. I respect their craft, but I don’t want my work to fall into the cracks of regular, plain Jane photos that are head on with no creative twist. Here are my favorite photos that I transformed last year, that most people would consider “throw away” photos. Enjoy
We The Kings performing at Florida Atlantic University on September 7, 2018
I had the opportunity to photograph the Bonfire last year for FAU’s Program Board & the University Press. The downside of student-ran concerts is that the lighting usually isn’t that good. During We The Kings’ set, there were a bunch of red and purple lights. Luckily, I have experience with color correcting and I was able to save the photo below.
Rae Sremmurd performing at SunFest on May 5, 2018
This photo was a little overexposed because of the strobe lighting. Overexposing can be tough to fix but with this one, I was only over by a little bit, making it an easy fix.
Halsey performing at Okeechobee Music Festival on March 2, 2018
This was one of the most difficult sets I’ve ever photographed. Halsey doesn’t allow anybody to photograph her from the photo pit for some reason, so it was a soundboard shoot (~300 feet away from the stage). There was no way that I was going to photograph her from that far away, so I braved the crowd and made it as close as I possibly could. With that came flags, totem poles, phones, arms, and so much more in the way. This photo was incredibly tough to fix but is one of my favorite photos of all time.
Panic! At The Disco performing at Riptide Music Festival on December 1, 2018
One of the biggest rules of being a concert photographer is to shoot in RAW. Shooting in RAW will give you the most control over your image when you go to edit. I rented a camera for this festival and I didn’t think to check the image settings… and I shot the entire day of Riptide in JPEG, making editing a nightmare. Luckily, I was still able to pull this off.
Steve Aoki at iHeartRadio Festival Latina on November 3, 2018
I photographed a red carpet before this one, but I wasn’t fully prepared with a flash because I wasn’t expecting to have time to photograph both the live show and the carpet. This show was overwhelming and anxiety inducing but I pulled it off. This before & after is nothing special, but just shows how I put my style into every photo I publish, while maintaining proper skin tone.
Self Doubt Is Normal
February 13, 2019 - As an artist, self doubt is incredibly normal and I deal with it probably once a week. It’s something that most of my creative friends go through regularly, and social media doesn’t help those feelings. Between worrying about your posts doing good with numbers, your follower count, and comparing yourself to other artists, it’s very easy to feel down about yourself. What makes it even harder is that, as a photographer, my entire career relies on social media, so it feels impossible to ever step away from it. That’s where I was wrong. I’ve come up with a list of ways to cope with feeling down about your art, and I hope it helps someone out there.
1 - Always remember that there are so many different opinions on what art is, and recognize that there is no benefit on stressing over whether or not you as creative or equal to other photographers. Everyone creates some form of art and it shouldn’t be compared.
2 - If you need it, take a break from social media. Everything will be the same when you return. For your sanity, it is perfectly ok to step back for as much time as you need. If you’re worried about losing followers, deactivate your accounts while you’re gone. It’s okay to be invisible and collect yourself.
3 - Create what YOU want your art to be. Don’t worry about what’s “hot” in the art world and what’s getting traction and numbers. If you’re not into it, chances are others won’t be, either. Be proud of your work.
4 - Remember that what you make doesn’t define you, and that my identity as a person isn’t found in your art. It’s easier said than done sometimes, but it’s a really freeing thing to believe.
5 - Get out of your own headspace. You're your own worst enemy in these situations. That's for doubt. Stress? Care less about failure. That's how we learn and grow. Dead ends? Give yourself personal projects and challenges. Force yourself to think and be more creative.
My Thoughts On the Current State of the Music Photography Community
February 13, 2019 - This is a tough one to write, but it needs to be said. The community isn’t as supportive as people say, which is why I have distanced myself.
Limiting my involvement in the community and social media network aspect of it is the best thing I did for myself at the end of last year. I unfollowed toxic creators, kept my true friends close, and have stayed in my own lane. I don’t care if people think I’m an asshole for it because it’s what is best for me, and that’s all that matters. If I’m not happy with where I am, why bother? I had to fix it for myself. I wasted so much time trying to be liked by people who never cared about anything except for being likable and getting likes and comments on their photos.
It’s toxic, inauthentic, and competitive for the wrong reasons. People only support you if you’re supporting them first - and even then, sometimes they still don’t interact with you. No one critiques each other and constructive criticism is obsolete, and even if someone gets some feedback that they don’t like, they lash out and take it too personally. People care too much about losing a fake, meaningless connection. It’s become a cesspool of artists who care so little about the actual art and so much about the popularity contest.
I stopped calling it a community when I saw people’s true colors, and when I found that there’s nothing genuine keeping me, or anyone for that matter, together in it. I’ve met some great people along the way, and I’ve met some real egotistical assholes. I’m not here to act like I’m above everyone, but more that I’m not interested in being involved in something so fake and meaningless.
PHOTOS: My First III Points Experience
February 20, 2019 - Covering a festival is always a different ball game than a regular concert. Throw it in the middle of Wynwood and that makes it even weirder. III Points was a festival that I had always said I was going to cover, but I never put the initiative forward, and therefore never went. That changed this year, and I’m so glad I made the decision to go. I got to hang out with new and old friends that I hadn’t seen in awhile, all night long, and I got to photograph some amazing artists. It was worthwhile getting home at 4am every night.
Favorite Creators :: February Edition
February 20, 2019 - I’m going to make this one short and sweet! Below are links to my favorite creators of February. Click their name and it’ll take you to their Instagram.
The Josh Madden Situation
February 27, 2019 - Chances are you have no idea who this person, which means you don’t know what this “situation” is. Here is some brief background information:
Josh Madden is the brother of Joel and Benji Madden, professionally known as Good Charlotte. Good Charlotte has an awful rights grab contract for photographers to sign if they want to photograph their show from the soundboard. This means they no longer own their art, and that the band can do whatever they want with said photos without having to pay the photographer. Peachy. This article was published, which fueled Josh Madden to tweet the following:
Needless to say, he pissed off a lot of people. Myself included. Not only is he wrong, but he didn’t own up to his mistake. Instead of apologizing, he posted a sorry attempt at damage control, after deleting the tweets above, listing his favorite photographers. Here’s where it gets better! He works for MDDN, a management company for a clientele of bands. EVERY. SINGLE. PHOTOGRAPHER. On his list is associated in SOME WAY with MDDN. Therefore, those included in the list did not hold him accountable and instead sided with him, or stayed silent, because they don’t want to risk losing their job. Even though what he did was insult an entire community of people who all started in the same place at some point. Cool guys. Cool. Just going to forget where you started?
You Don’t Need Expensive Equipment to Be a “Good” Photographer
March 20, 2019 - Camera equipment is expensive. You don’t need top of the line cameras and lenses to be successful or “good” at your craft. I outsourced to my Instagram followers to prove this very point.