You may have been to a concert before and seen photographers shooting concert photos into a concert hall photo pit. As a fan, you might have taken photos with your phone before and wondered how to take the next step and get started on the journey. concert photography.

I am concert photographer for over a decade and have taken concert photos of some of the biggest names in music along the way.

Here are some tips for making concert photo, from shooting in small rooms to obtaining a photo pass for zeniths or festivals.


Start concert photography with small venues

My best advice to become music photographer is to start local in smaller music venues, photograph groups locals and small artists on tour. The reason is simple: you will get much better access.

There are small music rooms in every city that have no restrictions on how to use the camera for video. concert photographywhether it's your compact camera or a full or mirrorless DSLR camera.

Concert photography: the big trap concerts

Bigger gigs can have big name glamor, but they also have huge restrictions: often limited to 3 songs or worse, shooting from restricted positions, and no guarantee of approval for one. photo pass which is often required by groups and their managers.


Concert photography - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Photo credit Eric CANTO


Benefits of starting small for concert photography

With smaller locations, you'll be able to shoot the entire show, giving you the opportunity to learn how to deal with the most extreme conditions in music photography. Low light, limited production, limited angles, etc.

The truth is that if you can shoot in small rooms, big concerts will be easy.

That's why I always tell new music photographers to start shooting in small venues, because the lessons you learn in small clubs will come in handy every step of the way on your photographic journey as a concert photographer. Plus, photographing smaller groups will give you the experience to build a portfolio.

You're much more likely to be able to connect with groups before or after, and this type of networking can be crucial in growing as a concert photographer. Connect with bands from your local scene and you'll be rewarded with access to portraits, behind-the-scenes walks, studio time, and plenty of other opportunities to build a comprehensive portfolio.


Concert photography - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Concert photography - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Concert photography: do you have to shoot everything?

Don't know what kind of music you would like to photograph? Even if you listen to hip-hop, shoot indie rock. If you like pop, shoot some metal. You should definitely dig into your scene and the music you love, but photographing all kinds of music will not only give you access to gigs you might not have dreamed of photographing, but it will expand your experiences, your horizons. skills and your work as a music photographer.

You will come out of it more versatile, knowledgeable and experienced, which will serve as your music photographer in the future.

Concert photography: The photo pass - how to get it?

After teething in places that don't have photo restrictions, you're probably looking forward to shooting in bigger venues and bigger groups.

To do this, you must obtain a photo pass. A photo pass is approved by the group's management and is intended for press photographers - photographers covering a concert for editorial coverage in a publication.


A few points about the photo pass

Photo passes are generally limited. A manager will usually only approve a certain number of photographers for a given performance. For large cities, the competition will be fiercer than a smaller city.

Photo passes can be validated a few days before the concert or on the same day. A manager will always want to make sure that he can provide the best coverage for his artist or group, so he will prioritize the most important posts for a given market.

Rather than validating a photo pass at the start, many managers will wait until the last moment to be able to take all requests into account. Your best bet to get a photo pass is to take photos for a post.

Not all groups will be strict, but generally photo passes are for photographers who shoot for a publication.

If you are building your portfolio, you need to understand that there is simply no reason for a manager to give you access to their artist. Images are of no use to an artist on your portfolio website.


 - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Miley Cirus - photo credit Eric CANTO


The standard rules for a photo pass are “first three, no flash”.

In other words, you can photograph the first three songs of the set and the flash is prohibited. For larger artists, it is becoming more and more common to add restrictions on photographers such as shooting from the mixer instead of the photo pit (adding around 100 meters of distance between you and the artist) or limiting photography to less than 3 songs.

Concert photography : Bring "proof" when you are accredited.

Mistakes happen and sometimes approvals are not always communicated. There are countless times when I got a little confused when trying to get a photo pass, and the solution is to simply have a copy of your correspondence with the manager, including the phone number. tour manager as additional security.


concert photo - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Limp Bizkit - Concert photography - Photo credit Eric CANTO


Work for a post - or create your own

If you've conquered your local clubs and other small venues, it's time to go shoot with a post photo pass.

Support from a publication is essential for photographing larger shows, where groups and their representatives expect editorial coverage in exchange for access (ie a photo pass). The reason is that from a group perspective, photography can be a handicap.

The Concert photography can distract artists and fans, and control where images are posted and who is credited is in the artist's best interest. The good news is that there are posts of all skill levels, and likely posts that match your situation in your concert photography journey.


Lenny Kravitz- Photo credit Eric CANTO

Lenny Kravitz- Photo credit Eric CANTO


Concert photography: Local publications

A post might seem intimidating, but locally it can be as simple as a blog covering the local music scene.

From there, most cities will include daily or weekly newspapers, arts and entertainment websites and magazines, all covering music and featuring concert photography. The contact you will need to connect with for small to medium-sized posts might be the music publisher.

This is the same access request role for authors reviewing shows. If a post has a dedicated photo editor that handles photo assignments, then this is your best bet as a contact. Some publications may have dedicated editors to work on the web or in print, so keep that in mind when looking for the right contacts.

After doing your research, approach those publishers with the portfolio you've assembled by photographing smaller artists without a photo pass, showing them samples of work that match the type of photography and genres covered by their publication. It will always be beneficial to familiarize yourself with a post and its perspective, so that you can demonstrate that you understand the type of photography that will work best for its publication.



Concert photography: National publications

National posts may not be drastically different from a local post, and you're probably dealing with a montage with a photo editor.

Again, do your research on the genres of music covered by each post, who the appropriate contact is, and show them that you think this fits their editorial line.

Often, national publications will focus on coverage of large cities, and the headlines show that they often take priority. That said, if you are in a small market, a national publication may need photographers there, but not as regularly. Tours often begin in smaller towns as production and performances are put together, and these are perfect occasions to set foot in the door for larger national publications.

Introduce yourself and your job is like any proposition in life - you'll have to try and take a lot of rejections… it's the game before you get a yes, especially for larger posts.


Create your own concert photo post

If in doubt, start your own post. Even a blog that posts concert reviews and concert photo galleries can be useful to managers. Starting your own post might seem like a daunting task, but it can give you the best platform to consistently get photo passes if you're up to the task.


Concert photography - Elton John - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Concert photography - Elton John - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Show your concert photographs

If you want to be a music photographer, find a place where you can show off your work and introduce yourself as a music photographer. Create a separate Instagram account or create a photography website dedicated to your concert photography.
Showcasing your work will give you a clear way to showcase your music photography and start connecting with other music photographers and, more importantly, musicians and decision makers who can give you access or even hire you.

Use Instagram and social media at first, but maybe you should look for a dedicated photography portfolio website that you can use to showcase your work.


Update your portfolio regularly

When you start out as a live music photographer, your skills are likely to improve dramatically.
When I started out as a concert photographer my goal was always to create a portfolio-worthy image for every band I photographed. A noble goal certainly, but one that was possible, especially when I was building a portfolio of concert photography.

When you are new to photography, you should aim to constantly update your portfolio and post new work so that your photographer image is as current as your last photo. Be vigilant about updating your portfolio and posting new work on Instagram.


Don't just do concert photography

Being a music photographer is not just about shooting concerts. Photographing live music is undoubtedly amazing, but you will diversify your portfolio and what you can offer musicians and publications if you also extend your work to shooting behind the scenes, backstages and portraits of artists.

This will give you a skill set and portfolio that will set you apart from other music photographers by focusing only on concerts. If the lighting is intimidating with portrait photography, start using natural light and take photos on the spot before you start learning studio photography.


Concert photography - Elton John - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Concert photography - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Concert photography:  Find your photo style

As a photographer, you should strive to find your style and what defines you. This is especially true as a music photographer, where at concerts you will find yourself neck and neck with people and compete for the same angles and moments to capture.

If you can define your style, it will be that much easier to start to stand out from your peers, which will be a competitive advantage for filming publications, working with artists, etc.

Be "THE" Concert Photographer

Wherever you are, make sure you are recognized as a music photographer in your scene, city, region. And ideally, not just a music photographer, but the music photographer for the type of music you love the most.

Building that reputation - through the quality of your work, networking with groups, building your portfolio to specifically introduce yourself as a music photographer - means you are building a brand that will open you up to new opportunities.


Concert photography - Elton John - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Concert photography - Iggy Pop - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Concert photography: Do not fear failure ...

Concert photography is technically difficult - especially in small venues, where light levels can be extremely low.
You have limited access, limited time, and no overruns, and all of these things present huge challenges.
And you know what? You will fail. You will miss shots and be wrong. Plus, you have to be prepared to deal with a lot of rejection as a concert photographer. Being a music photographer is difficult.

Competition is intense, opportunities are very limited and access is a constant challenge. The important thing to consider here is that every music photographer has been in the same position of small failures. Most importantly, every failure is an opportunity to learn and improve with the next shoot or gig. Whenever you are struggling, it is a chance to learn and improve.

Most important: Have fun!

It is important. For all the technical challenges and access frustrations, concert photography is fun. There are much easier ways to make money with a camera, but none (at least in my opinion) that has the same electrifying thrill as photographing concerts.

The excitement and energy of concert photography is the reason that all concert photographers fall in love with the stage, this is something you should always keep in mind.


orelsan Concert photography - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Concert photography - Photo credit Eric CANTO

Start concert photography now

Beyond concerts, which are a fairly natural entry into the world of musical photography, there is much more to musical photography. Documentary and reportage photography will help you with touring photography and editorial functionality.

There's the artist portrait, both in backstage portraits, to full-fledged studio treatments that require largely technical lighting. In short, countless possibilities to seize in order to begin this journey into the world of music. Here's a bonus tip for all music fans who dream of being a music photographer: start now.

In virtually every small town and village, there are probably places where you can see live music every night. They might not be big names, but you can start right now as a concert photographer.

Whether it's a range of local indie bands or a jazz club, there is live music all around you where you can start as a concert photographer. These are the kind of opportunities you can take advantage of without special access and without needing to jump through hoops to get credentials like a photo pass. If you want to become a music photographer, start now .


concert photography - Photo credit Eric CANTO

concert photography - Photo credit Eric CANTO



Eric CANTO Photographer: Concert photos, portraits, album covers.


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