Music Photographer: The best tips to become one

music photographer, Matthias Hombauer

I spent years as a frustrated Ph.D. student in a research lab, until I discovered my passion for music photography. I was working 60+ hours a week, including weekends. I had no time to do the things I really loved and Monday was the day of the week I dreaded the most. I thought that’s what life is before I became a music photographer.

When I started my career as a researcher, I dreamed of winning the Nobel prize and was motivated like hell. However, this motivation dropped every year to almost zero. At this time, I was about 28 years old and I purchased my first DSLR camera. It was a Canon 40D with a 17-85mm f4.0-5.6 lens and I got quite interested in photography. I started taking pictures of landscapes, people, flowers (but not really) and anything else I found interesting, but I didn´t have any plans as to what to do with my newfound hobby.

Then, one morning, as I was cycling to work, something happened that changed my life. I have no idea where it came from, but I suddenly thought of combining my love for music with photography. I have always been a music lover. The first concert I went to was Guns N Roses. I was 13 and I started to play guitar in a death metal band. My fellow band members were older than me and they took me to see many metal concerts. I loved seeing bands play live. So, 15 years after seeing my first concert, I gained another skill, photography, that I could add to my „things I love“ list. As soon as I arrived at work that day, I started to google ‘music photographer’. I found concert photos and portraits of famous bands and immediately knew that I wanted to become a music photographer. I started to work as a freelance photographer at a small internet magazine, FM5 and experienced my first concert photography shoots.

Over the last six years, I’ve shot more than 300 bands and taken more than 50,000 pictures as a self-taught music photographer. I have worked exclusively with bands such as Iggy Pop and The Prodigy. My pictures have been featured on album covers, tour posters and magazine publications. My last adventure as the tour photographer for Shantel took me to Mexico, London, Paris, Antwerp, Athens and Vienna.

Iggy Pop Nikon D800 185mm @f2.8 1/200sec ISO6400, music photographer

Iggy Pop Nikon D800 185mm@f2.8 1/200sec ISO6400

So why I am telling you my story?

I want to be honest with you from the beginning; You’ll need a ton of expensive equipment and you’ll get paid less than a professional photographer working in other fields when first starting out. Your working hours will start at 8pm and end at 2am. After the concert, you’ll get home, run post-production on your photos and upload them to your blog or magazine. Your working environment has a sound level similar to sitting on a bulldozer, and it’s darker than an Abercrombie and Fitch shop. “So why the hell should I do this?”, you might ask. Well, that’s a question you´ll have to find the answer to for yourself, but if I can hazard a guess I would say it’s called Passion. Wikipedia gives the definition of passion as an intense emotion compelling, enthusiasm, or desire for anything. I´m sure you have heard of passion before and you all recognize this feeling. You´ll feel motivation for your projects you´ve never felt before and your passion will drive you to create quality work that matters. I worked 10 hours a day at my day job and went to shoot concerts afterwards. Even though they were hard years whilst working as a Ph.D., taking photos at concerts never felt like work and it still doesn´t. I think this is what passion feels like and the following quote from Steve Jobs hits the nail on the head: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Do you love what you do right now?

music photographer, Fink

Fink Nikon D700 14mm@f2.8 1/160sec ISO3200

Following your passion as music photographer is not an easy thing to do and I therefore want to share the 10 steps I consider most important once you start to work on the things that you love.

Music Photographer: Start living your passion!

1. Start your project now

Don’t wait until you’ve retired, which is what some people might suggest. You’re living in the present so you’ll never know if you still want to shoot bands in 30 or 40 years. If you make the decision to become a Rockstar photographer, take the opportunity now!

2. Start from scratch

You can’t immediately be a superstar at what you’re doing like the Red Hot Chili Peppers are with their music. They also started out small. Recently I read that Rammstein, for example, played their first concert in front of 15(!) people. They didn´t start out playing in big stadiums and burning the whole stage down (if you don´t know what I’m talking about, visit the next Rammstein concert in your city. Even if you don´t like their music, the stage performance is rad!). It takes time to evolve your ideas and get comfortable with your new situation. So you don´t need the most expensive camera gear when you’re just starting out. A crop sensor camera with the right lenses is enough to get the job done at your first concert.

3.Know your direction

It´s important that you know where you’re heading. Find your niche and stick to it. If you decide to become a Rockstar Photographer, stick to it. Let people know that you’re the guy who shoots concerts. It´s always better to be a specialist in one field than to do everything, so you’ll be considered an expert and not as someone who just does an average job. Sure, you can experiment in other fields of photography as well, but finding your direction and communicating it to your audience is a crucial point.

4. Leave your comfort zone

This means doing something you’re normally afraid of. This will help you overcome fear and let your personality grow. Have you ever been in front of a stage and taken photos of your idols or your favorite band? This will freak you out at first as concert photographer. You have to think about so many new things such as camera settings, composition, where to place yourself, how to deal with the audience and security guards, how to behave in front of the stage and so on. But guess what? If you never leave your comfort zone you´ll never learn from your mistakes. So the best thing you can do is get out there and overcome your fear.

5. Deliver the best quality

You have to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. It doesn´t matter what kind of work you’re doing, but there are a lot of folks around who do similar work, especially as music photographer. You´ll notice that there are always a bunch of guys hanging around at concerts with their camera equipment to take photos of the bands. Music photography is a very competitive field and you´d better have kick-ass work, otherwise you’ll never make it to the top as music photographer.

music photographer, Skunk Anansie NikonD700 86mm@f3.5 1/500sec ISO1600

Skunk Anansie NikonD700 86mm@f3.5 1/500sec ISO1600

6. Networking

I always thought doing a project on my own would get the best results and quality, but I was wrong. There are so many people out there who have their own special skills. The best way is to find them and start working with them. Your project will gain so much more value. If you’re not good at web development, for example for your homepage, hire someone. If you don´t know how your camera works when you first start out, visit a workshop or read a book about it. The best way is to talk to other concert photographers and learn from them.

7. Get the barriers out of your head

A lot of people will tell you that you won´t succeed. Get over it and don´t listen to nonsense from others. They’re probably just too worried to try it for themselves and are jealous of you, because you’re trying to do something different. Have you ever heard people say to you “Come on, this is just a hobby, get a real job. Music photographer? Ha!”. The funny thing is that most of the people who give you their advice have never done this job nor do they know someone who’s working in this field. Don´t get me wrong, advice from other people is always helpful, if you get it from the right ones. Ignore all the others and you’re on your way.

8. Do not take yourself too seriously

There are already too many people out there who are arrogant and believe that they‘re the best. Nobody wants to work with those kinds of people for a long time. Be funny and have a good time doing what you love, because that’s what it’s all about.

9. Don´t panic

If things don’t go exactly as planned. I can guarantee you that your path in this business won’t be a straight one. It will be more like an obstacle course, where you’ll constantly have to tweak your direction. There will be times when you get frustrated with your work. There will be times when you can´t see your goal clearly. There will be times when you panic, because nothing works out as it should. But there will also be times when you see all your hard work sent back to you in one way or another and you will immediately know that all of the struggles were worth it. I once waited 6 hours for The Prodigy and got a portrait session of exactly 2 photos, seconds before they went on stage. Did I panic? Hell, yes. But it turned out to be a great experience and it was totally worth it.

10. Be yourself

I find this last point to be the most important one. You don´t have to pretend to be someone else. Be authentic, be real and people will appreciate you for who you are and your work. It´s good to have a look at what other photographers are up to and it´s great to seek some inspiration from them. But you have to find your own way. I believe that everyone has her/his own voice. Find it and you will be able to communicate your vision to others. Take these 10 points as a toolkit to use on your journey to becoming a music photographer. They’ve worked for me, so they’ll probably work for you too. This blog post should show you the right attitude about passion when starting out as a beginner in concert photography. What are your experiences and questions about this topic? Post in the comment section below.

Read what equipment you need to start out here

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  • What are your key points that can be useful when starting out living your passion?

  • What are your key points that can be useful when starting out living your passion?

  • Lōlu Photography

    Just … thank you.
    I’m 28 and basically, your path is the same as mine (even though I’m not a researcher, but still). These are the things which went through my mind since last November … and I got free of everything when I got rid of my fears, left my comfort zone and stopped listenning to what people thought it was best for me.
    Now I know this is only the beginning, but I’m full of passion and hopes, I won’t let it go ! 🙂
    So thank you for writing that, I know now that I was right !

    • Thank you Lolu Photography for your comment. I am glad that you made it through the smoke of illusions that some people might tell you. Believe me you´re on the right track. I know from my experience that it´s not always easy to let go all your concerns and doubts. But, as you wrote, once you get over it things start to flow. Thanks again for your words and good luck for you in the future.

  • Lōlu Photography

    Just … thank you.
    I’m 28 and basically, your path is the same as mine (even though I’m not a researcher, but still). These are the things which went through my mind since last November … and I got free of everything when I got rid of my fears, left my comfort zone and stopped listenning to what people thought it was best for me.
    Now I know this is only the beginning, but I’m full of passion and hopes, I won’t let it go ! 🙂
    So thank you for writing that, I know now that I was right !

    • Thank you Lolu Photography for your comment. I am glad that you made it through the smoke of illusions that some people might tell you. Believe me you´re on the right track. I know from my experience that it´s not always easy to let go all your concerns and doubts. But, as you wrote, once you get over it things start to flow. Thanks again for your words and good luck for you in the future.

  • Tilman Jentzsch

    Nice post! Good starting points for all the newcomers out there, but even useful for the experienced ones. Keep on rocking!

  • Tilman Jentzsch

    Nice post! Good starting points for all the newcomers out there, but even useful for the experienced ones. Keep on rocking!

  • William Richards

    As has been said before some great tips for experts and beginners alike Matthias! And, what’s even nicer – the tips ring true for everything, not just for budding Rockstar Photographers! Rock On!

    • Thanks William! Yep, I would say these a general advices for any field of work. Once you follow your passion you will be confronted with one or another of these points. good luck!

  • William Richards

    As has been said before some great tips for experts and beginners alike Matthias! And, what’s even nicer – the tips ring true for everything, not just for budding Rockstar Photographers! Rock On!

    • Thanks William! Yep, I would say these a general advices for any field of work. Once you follow your passion you will be confronted with one or another of these points. good luck!

  • Mark Turner Images

    Nice one Matthias. Some very sage words in there.
    If I were to add one thing (which is touched on anyway in your blog) is beware of opinions. You will get people who gush all over your work. “OMG! That’s AMAZING!!!” etc etc Thank them, appreciate the good vibe and move on. If possible find out why they liked a particular photo so much but don’t take the feedback too much to heart.
    Alternatively, don’t take the whingers and nay-sayers too seriously either. Take on board what helps and again, move on.
    Best to have a circle of friends who know their stuff to give you honest feedback and be honest with yourself.
    Looking forward to the next blog. Cheers

    • Hi Mark! Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you on your point to be aware of others opinions. I think most of the people in social networks will like your pics, because they are your friends what is definitely a good thing. But there will be also people out there who don´t like your pics for whatsoever reason. Like you said, don´t take these comments too serious and don´t wast your time arguing with these guys who just want to feel important. No need for this and this is definitely a time killer. Find your own style and stick to it.

  • Mark Turner Images

    Nice one Matthias. Some very sage words in there.
    If I were to add one thing (which is touched on anyway in your blog) is beware of opinions. You will get people who gush all over your work. “OMG! That’s AMAZING!!!” etc etc Thank them, appreciate the good vibe and move on. If possible find out why they liked a particular photo so much but don’t take the feedback too much to heart.
    Alternatively, don’t take the whingers and nay-sayers too seriously either. Take on board what helps and again, move on.
    Best to have a circle of friends who know their stuff to give you honest feedback and be honest with yourself.
    Looking forward to the next blog. Cheers

    • Hi Mark! Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you on your point to be aware of others opinions. I think most of the people in social networks will like your pics, because they are your friends what is definitely a good thing. But there will be also people out there who don´t like your pics for whatsoever reason. Like you said, don´t take these comments too serious and don´t wast your time arguing with these guys who just want to feel important. No need for this and this is definitely a time killer. Find your own style and stick to it.

  • Nici Eberl

    nice post! it’s really good to hear that you started actually “quite late” as i am just 23 . I am into photography since years but always thought that it’s too risky to become a professional photographer…but since I moved to London I really realized that’s what I wanna do. I am just getting started but I already get quite good feedback what motivates me even more. Think I am my biggest critic… ^^ I totally agree with your 10 steps. Networking is everything! And never think you are not good enough for a job! No risk no fun! 😉

    • Mark Turner Images

      Nici, I got my first DSLR on my 40th birthday. Three and a half years later and I’ve shot over 200 acts and loved every minute of it. 🙂 Good luck in London.

      • Wow Mark! That´s awesome! It seems you found your true passion 😉

    • Thanks Nici. I totally agree with you. When you don´t leave your comfort zone you won´t be able to grab the right opportunities in life. Great that you start your career already in London. I was thinking sometimes if I should leave Vienna and move to a cool city like London or Los Angeles. I decided to stay and operate my business from Austria. Let me know how it works out for you. cheers and good luck

  • Nici Eberl

    nice post! it’s really good to hear that you started actually “quite late” as i am just 23 . I am into photography since years but always thought that it’s too risky to become a professional photographer…but since I moved to London I really realized that’s what I wanna do. I am just getting started but I already get quite good feedback what motivates me even more. Think I am my biggest critic… ^^ I totally agree with your 10 steps. Networking is everything! And never think you are not good enough for a job! No risk no fun! 😉

    • Mark Turner Images

      Nici, I got my first DSLR on my 40th birthday. Three and a half years later and I’ve shot over 200 acts and loved every minute of it. 🙂 Good luck in London.

      • Wow Mark! That´s awesome! It seems you found your true passion 😉

    • Thanks Nici. I totally agree with you. When you don´t leave your comfort zone you won´t be able to grab the right opportunities in life. Great that you start your career already in London. I was thinking sometimes if I should leave Vienna and move to a cool city like London or Los Angeles. I decided to stay and operate my business from Austria. Let me know how it works out for you. cheers and good luck

  • kaisa

    Really nice post and like some others have said – good rules for anyone really, not only aspiring rockstar photographers!

    Gotta ask – have you shot your favourite band?

    • Thanks Kaisa. These are some points that I have experienced for myself as music photographer, but I think they can be also seen as some general rules for anyone starting out.
      I had the opportunity to shoot exclusively some of my favorite bands such as The Prodigy and Portugal. The Man. But for sure, there are a lot more to come 😉

      • kaisa

        The great thing about music is that there’s always something interesting and new and it never gets boring. Endless amount of awesome artists and inspiration.

        Ps. Whenever someone mentions Portugal. The Man I always first think of Portugal and then after a brief moment of confusion it hits me. 🙂

        • haha, I also was thinking of Portugal in the beginning as I heard the band name

  • kaisa

    Really nice post and like some others have said – good rules for anyone really, not only aspiring rockstar photographers!

    Gotta ask – have you shot your favourite band?

    • Thanks Kaisa. These are some points that I have experienced for myself as music photographer, but I think they can be also seen as some general rules for anyone starting out.
      I had the opportunity to shoot exclusively some of my favorite bands such as The Prodigy and Portugal. The Man. But for sure, there are a lot more to come 😉

      • kaisa

        The great thing about music is that there’s always something interesting and new and it never gets boring. Endless amount of awesome artists and inspiration.

        Ps. Whenever someone mentions Portugal. The Man I always first think of Portugal and then after a brief moment of confusion it hits me. 🙂

        • haha, I also was thinking of Portugal in the beginning as I heard the band name

  • Mariam

    Loved this post. I’m a begginner in this field and i’m always looking for tips and new things to learn and practice. I agree with every step and it’s nice to know your story so we know we are not alone. I was studying something i didn’t really like, i found photography and fell in love with it. Music is my other passion too, so to have the posibility to combine the two things we love the most it’s awesome. Your work is amazing, so I’m glad you found it, and i’m glad I found it too.

    • Thanks Mariam! And I am glad that you found your true passion.I think finding what you really love is the key to success. If you are passionate about your work, you´ll be more likely to succeed in it. Music photography is for sure not an easy field in photography, but totally worth it to dig into it.

  • Mariam

    Loved this post. I’m a begginner in this field and i’m always looking for tips and new things to learn and practice. I agree with every step and it’s nice to know your story so we know we are not alone. I was studying something i didn’t really like, i found photography and fell in love with it. Music is my other passion too, so to have the posibility to combine the two things we love the most it’s awesome. Your work is amazing, so I’m glad you found it, and i’m glad I found it too.

    • Thanks Mariam! And I am glad that you found your true passion.I think finding what you really love is the key to success. If you are passionate about your work, you´ll be more likely to succeed in it. Music photography is for sure not an easy field in photography, but totally worth it to dig into it.

  • disqus_Isrxcg0LVX

    Great post, really helpful . There are definitely a few tips that i’m going to use in my photography.

  • disqus_Isrxcg0LVX

    Great post, really helpful . There are definitely a few tips that i’m going to use in my photography.

  • Hendy Winartha

    This article is very interesting and useful.
    Especially your book “Guide To Rockstar Concert Photography”

    I wish I could be like you..haha.. 😉

    • thanks Hendy! haha, you can definitely be like me. You are already on the right track! 😉

  • Hendy Winartha

    This article is very interesting and useful.
    Especially your book “Guide To Rockstar Concert Photography”

    I wish I could be like you..haha.. 😉

    • thanks Hendy! haha, you can definitely be like me. You are already on the right track! 😉

  • I’m on the right track! I do not have a good camera, for now I have no means to buy a better camera, but my passion for photography of music does not fall, continues to grow! and what interests me and what I love about this art is to convey emotions beyond the niditez image, I try to convey emotion in each of them, because I feel when I look.

    “Photography for me is not looking, but feeling. If you can not feel what you’re watching, you’ll never get that others feel when watching your pictures”

    Don McCulling.

    PS: I apologize if there are grammatical errors, not English! I’m using Google translator! jeje kisses!

    • Hi Daniela! thanks for your comment and time to actually translate it ;). I totally agree with you. You need to transfer emotions in your photos, otherwise it´s just a technical perfect picture without any feelings.

  • I’m on the right track! I do not have a good camera, for now I have no means to buy a better camera, but my passion for photography of music does not fall, continues to grow! and what interests me and what I love about this art is to convey emotions beyond the niditez image, I try to convey emotion in each of them, because I feel when I look.

    “Photography for me is not looking, but feeling. If you can not feel what you’re watching, you’ll never get that others feel when watching your pictures”

    Don McCulling.

    PS: I apologize if there are grammatical errors, not English! I’m using Google translator! jeje kisses!

    • Hi Daniela! thanks for your comment and time to actually translate it ;). I totally agree with you. You need to transfer emotions in your photos, otherwise it´s just a technical perfect picture without any feelings.

  • Anja Ivanovic

    I have been shooting concerts for 3 years now. Slowly developing my own style. What frustrates me is when i nail a shot, share it via tumblr, blog, twitter, facebook… i get no response or whatever. Not even from band, not even from small amount of followers, not even from friends 🙁 I guess i suck pretty badly at networking. And I am doing all this out of love and passion, investing every cent into gear and photography books and never getting paid back. Here in Slovenia almost no one pays photographers, and when some unsigned band approaches me if they can use photos on their page i really don’t have a heart to tell them any price. They can’t live out of music (they often get money only for travel expences) so how can I then expect to be paid for shooting concerts.
    So right now i am working from 8 to 4 to get just enough to get through month and at night i do what i love.
    You can see some of my work here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anjaivanovic/

    • Hi Anja! Thanks for your comment. Your concert photos are pretty awesome. Congrats! What you describe is the situation for most of the people who are into concert photography. There are too many people who want to be a concert photographer and there are a lot of them who shoot for free. Result is that bands don´t want to pay for photos anymore, because if you want to sell your pics the guy next to you might give it for free and the band will take the free ones. That´s a how it is and you have to find a way that works for you. Your thinking is now: unsigned bands don´t earn money, so I can not charge them, right? But who is paying your equipment and your rent? Why give them your most valuable work (your pictures) for free? Do they give their music for free? It would be like someone enters the supermarket and says; “I have no money but I want something to eat”. Do you think they will give him free food? That´s simple not how it works. A lot of photographers think, just because it´s there hobby they can not ask for money. Fact is, this is how 99% of concert photographers approaching this business and I can guarantee you that´s not the way how to make a living out of it. First you have to value your own work, then other people will recognize that you do quality work. My tip would be: it´s ok to give your photos (with you logo on it) for online use like FB, Instagram, Twitter for free, but NEVER give them high RES files for promo or press usage. Once you do this, they will never pay you anymore. Hope that helps.

      • Steve M.

        Hej Matthias,
        I understand what you mean with charging for my work (photos). But how do I get people to actually pay for my photos when, like you say the next guy is willing to give it out for free? Any good advice?
        I mean, like you saying people are willing to do my work for free so what can i do? Or how do you do it?

        • Steve, if you are giving your work for free, then you are in the same boat as everyone else who get their pics out there. First, this won´t set you apart from all other photographers who give it for free. Second you won´t get seen as a serious photographer. I guess there is no professional work out there that is for free. I know, this is the hard way to go, but try to find bands that appreciate your work and are willing to pay. And these people still exist. Don´t undervalue your work in exchange for a free credit on a press picture that nobody will see and care of. Good luck

  • Anja Ivanovic

    I have been shooting concerts for 3 years now. Slowly developing my own style. What frustrates me is when i nail a shot, share it via tumblr, blog, twitter, facebook… i get no response or whatever. Not even from band, not even from small amount of followers, not even from friends 🙁 I guess i suck pretty badly at networking. And I am doing all this out of love and passion, investing every cent into gear and photography books and never getting paid back. Here in Slovenia almost no one pays photographers, and when some unsigned band approaches me if they can use photos on their page i really don’t have a heart to tell them any price. They can’t live out of music (they often get money only for travel expences) so how can I then expect to be paid for shooting concerts.
    So right now i am working from 8 to 4 to get just enough to get through month and at night i do what i love.
    You can see some of my work here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anjaivanovic/

    • Hi Anja! Thanks for your comment. Your concert photos are pretty awesome. Congrats! What you describe is the situation for most of the people who are into concert photography. There are too many people who want to be a concert photographer and there are a lot of them who shoot for free. Result is that bands don´t want to pay for photos anymore, because if you want to sell your pics the guy next to you might give it for free and the band will take the free ones. That´s a how it is and you have to find a way that works for you. Your thinking is now: unsigned bands don´t earn money, so I can not charge them, right? But who is paying your equipment and your rent? Why give them your most valuable work (your pictures) for free? Do they give their music for free? It would be like someone enters the supermarket and says; “I have no money but I want something to eat”. Do you think they will give him free food? That´s simple not how it works. A lot of photographers think, just because it´s there hobby they can not ask for money. Fact is, this is how 99% of concert photographers approaching this business and I can guarantee you that´s not the way how to make a living out of it. First you have to value your own work, then other people will recognize that you do quality work. My tip would be: it´s ok to give your photos (with you logo on it) for online use like FB, Instagram, Twitter for free, but NEVER give them high RES files for promo or press usage. Once you do this, they will never pay you anymore. Hope that helps.

      • Steve M.

        Hej Matthias,
        I understand what you mean with charging for my work (photos). But how do I get people to actually pay for my photos when, like you say the next guy is willing to give it out for free? Any good advice?
        I mean, like you saying people are willing to do my work for free so what can i do? Or how do you do it?

        • Steve, if you are giving your work for free, then you are in the same boat as everyone else who get their pics out there. First, this won´t set you apart from all other photographers who give it for free. Second you won´t get seen as a serious photographer. I guess there is no professional work out there that is for free. I know, this is the hard way to go, but try to find bands that appreciate your work and are willing to pay. And these people still exist. Don´t undervalue your work in exchange for a free credit on a press picture that nobody will see and care of. Good luck

  • Jim

    “rockstar” photographer? Are you more interested in being famous or getting great images?

    • Hi Jim! “rockstar ” photographer, because I take pictures of Rockstar, like a wedding photographer takes photos of a wedding. I am not interested in being famous, but help people to get to the next level with concert photography

  • Jim

    “rockstar” photographer? Are you more interested in being famous or getting great images?

    • Hi Jim! “rockstar ” photographer, because I take pictures of Rockstar, like a wedding photographer takes photos of a wedding. I am not interested in being famous, but help people to get to the next level with concert photography

  • Liv

    Hi. I am a 15 year old girl. And I know what you make think, ‘oh she is way too young to get into this’. But the thought of capturing those perfect shots where the band/musician is in their moment sounds absolutely awesome to me. I currently study photography at GCSE but I want to take it further. What’s holding me back though is, I have no experience, I have no idea how to start gaining this experience and worried that it will completely fail. I am extremely interested in doing this but circumstances make me question as to whether I should continue my passion of photography when im older. Also, am I too young to be starting to think about this? It’s something I’ve only just thought of these past few months, more specifically from seeing Greg Nolan’s work with Bastille, but ever since I first pictured myself doing it, I can’t stop thinking about it! Am I just obsessing over the fact it would be a sweet job and amazing working with bands or am I actually genuinely interested in starting in this field of work? Thank you for reading, please reply, I’d really like some answers!!

    • Hi Liv! Thanks for your comment. I think you are not too young to start taking concert photos. I guess you are in the US (what is GCSE?) and I don´t know exactly if you can enter clubs with your age. However you can absolutely start to take photos of friends and their bands. I would suggest to try things out first and see if this is really the kind of photography you want to take to another level. I wrote an article on how to start out here: http://howtobecomearockstarphotographer.com/concert-photography-for-starters-on-a-budget/ Hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions

      • Liv

        Nope, English! I am year 11 so final exams! Thank you for replying so quickly, (sorry I sent you an email because I thought you wouldn’t reply)!! Thank you again for your help, I will try and start out doing a few bits and bobs. I found your email I think so if I do get to do some shoots I can send you some. Thank you so much!

  • Liv

    Hi. I am a 15 year old girl. And I know what you make think, ‘oh she is way too young to get into this’. But the thought of capturing those perfect shots where the band/musician is in their moment sounds absolutely awesome to me. I currently study photography at GCSE but I want to take it further. What’s holding me back though is, I have no experience, I have no idea how to start gaining this experience and worried that it will completely fail. I am extremely interested in doing this but circumstances make me question as to whether I should continue my passion of photography when im older. Also, am I too young to be starting to think about this? It’s something I’ve only just thought of these past few months, more specifically from seeing Greg Nolan’s work with Bastille, but ever since I first pictured myself doing it, I can’t stop thinking about it! Am I just obsessing over the fact it would be a sweet job and amazing working with bands or am I actually genuinely interested in starting in this field of work? Thank you for reading, please reply, I’d really like some answers!!

    • Hi Liv! Thanks for your comment. I think you are not too young to start taking concert photos. I guess you are in the US (what is GCSE?) and I don´t know exactly if you can enter clubs with your age. However you can absolutely start to take photos of friends and their bands. I would suggest to try things out first and see if this is really the kind of photography you want to take to another level. I wrote an article on how to start out here: http://howtobecomearockstarphotographer.com/concert-photography-for-starters-on-a-budget/ Hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions

      • Liv

        Nope, English! I am year 11 so final exams! Thank you for replying so quickly, (sorry I sent you an email because I thought you wouldn’t reply)!! Thank you again for your help, I will try and start out doing a few bits and bobs. I found your email I think so if I do get to do some shoots I can send you some. Thank you so much!

  • Elinor Hayward

    If the freelancer has used anyone else’s intellectual property, such as stock music or images, the freelancer has obtained all permissions and licenses necessary to permit you to use them.

    ApproveMe

  • Elinor Hayward

    If the freelancer has used anyone else’s intellectual property, such as stock music or images, the freelancer has obtained all permissions and licenses necessary to permit you to use them.

    ApproveMe

  • Kate

    Just found this post, and I just had to comment because it struck such a chord with me.. right down to the research part ;-). I’m an endocrine researcher but I do concert photography on the side because music and photography are my passions. I’m really motivated about my research life too, so I work a crazy 6am- 3pm work week and then 2x a month shoot a show from 9pm-2am 😉 It’s inspiring to read how you worked up to the amazing shoots you do! Thanks for writing!

    • Hi Kate, thanks for your comment. I can totally understand your situation you´re into and congrats on doing both of your jobs with joy.

  • Kate

    Just found this post, and I just had to comment because it struck such a chord with me.. right down to the research part ;-). I’m an endocrine researcher but I do concert photography on the side because music and photography are my passions. I’m really motivated about my research life too, so I work a crazy 6am- 3pm work week and then 2x a month shoot a show from 9pm-2am 😉 It’s inspiring to read how you worked up to the amazing shoots you do! Thanks for writing!

    • Hi Kate, thanks for your comment. I can totally understand your situation you´re into and congrats on doing both of your jobs with joy.

  • Guest

    I really appreciate this! Been working a lot on my portfolio and just built a video to show it around. Any good tips on what is your most effective network? I absolutely believe my can stand on its own so is this just a matter of getting someone to look in the right direction? youtu.be/w_pthSRG13I

  • Guest

    I really appreciate this! Been working a lot on my portfolio and just built a video to show it around. Any good tips on what is your most effective network? I absolutely believe my can stand on its own so is this just a matter of getting someone to look in the right direction? youtu.be/w_pthSRG13I

  • J William Taylor Hott

    I really appreciate this! Been working a lot on my portfolio and just built a video to show it around. Any good tips on what is your most effective network? I absolutely believe my photography can stand on its own so is this just a matter of getting someone to look in the right direction? youtu.be/w_pthSRG13I

  • J William Taylor Hott

    I really appreciate this! Been working a lot on my portfolio and just built a video to show it around. Any good tips on what is your most effective network? I absolutely believe my photography can stand on its own so is this just a matter of getting someone to look in the right direction? youtu.be/w_pthSRG13I

    • Hi William! What a great idea to show your portfolio in a video! Nicely done and awesome concert photos! For me Facebook and Twitter are my most used social media networks I am using.

  • Kayce Taylor

    I really liked this article! I know it’s not the newest one, but I wanted to comment anyways. I’m turning 28 next week, so the timing just seems perfect! I went to a concert last night and had a blast! I took a ton of pictures (as usual) on my iPhone, and edited some of them on one of my photoediting apps. I made a collage and sent it to one of the bands, and they loved it! They used it on their Instagram account, being nice enough to give me credit! This is the second band who has used one of my pictures (the first didn’t even let me know, they just posted it with no credit. Disheartening, but I did put it on social media, so I know that essentially gives everyone free access to it.). What I realized while looking back at them is that I really enjoy trying to get those amazing shots of the musicians doing what they love! One of the bands last night had their own photographer, and it made me start thinking about that path. I was told over the weekend by a friend that I should do photography because of the pictures I take while out with friends. I can’t imagine anything being more rewarding and enjoyable, even though I’ve never really been “into” photography (aside from typical social media picture-taking).

    My question is this: do you still get to rock out and enjoy the concerts while photographing them, or is it all business and getting the “perfect” shot?

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for your comment Kayce and great question: I do enjoy the shooting experience after all the years. One reason for it is, that I just work with bands that I really like.I go on tour with bands that I listen to in my private time and I enjoy hanging out with them, cause most of them are great people. I started out to shoot every concert I could get. In the beginning it´s a great thing, because you can build your portfolio really fast. On the other hand you have to find the right balance. If you go to a concert every night, you´ll get bored fast. Hope that answers your question.

  • Kayce Taylor

    I really liked this article! I know it’s not the newest one, but I wanted to comment anyways. I’m turning 28 next week, so the timing just seems perfect! I went to a concert last night and had a blast! I took a ton of pictures (as usual) on my iPhone, and edited some of them on one of my photoediting apps. I made a collage and sent it to one of the bands, and they loved it! They used it on their Instagram account, being nice enough to give me credit! This is the second band who has used one of my pictures (the first didn’t even let me know, they just posted it with no credit. Disheartening, but I did put it on social media, so I know that essentially gives everyone free access to it.). What I realized while looking back at them is that I really enjoy trying to get those amazing shots of the musicians doing what they love! One of the bands last night had their own photographer, and it made me start thinking about that path. I was told over the weekend by a friend that I should do photography because of the pictures I take while out with friends. I can’t imagine anything being more rewarding and enjoyable, even though I’ve never really been “into” photography (aside from typical social media picture-taking).

    My question is this: do you still get to rock out and enjoy the concerts while photographing them, or is it all business and getting the “perfect” shot?

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for your comment Kayce and great question: I do enjoy the shooting experience after all the years. One reason for it is, that I just work with bands that I really like.I go on tour with bands that I listen to in my private time and I enjoy hanging out with them, cause most of them are great people. I started out to shoot every concert I could get. In the beginning it´s a great thing, because you can build your portfolio really fast. On the other hand you have to find the right balance. If you go to a concert every night, you´ll get bored fast. Hope that answers your question.

  • Ashley Lee

    So I’m brand new to concert photography. I have a page on Facebook called rock tonic. I’ve been taking pictures mostly with my phone and a camera I used to have. I had a few questions I was hoping you could answer for me. First question is when you’re wanting to make this a career would it be wise to have any kind of degree or does college not really matter in this field? Second question, other than my Facebook page would I do well to have a separate blog for my photography or is my page enough? Thanks so much and I love your page! So much helpful information here. I’m so glad you’re doing this for us beginners.

    • Hi Ashley! Thanks for commenting. I am a self taught photographer and from my experience you don´t have to have a degree in photography to become a music photographer. Sure, it might help you with the technical side, but if you are motivated to learn it by yourself it shouldn´t be a big problem. To your second questions. Yes, you want to have your own blog/homepage. The reason is, that you have no control over your FB page. Maybe the delete your page the next day, than you have a problem. In addition it looks more professional when you have your own page than sending a music manager to your Facebook Fan page. Hope that helps and good luck for your future!

  • Ashley Lee

    So I’m brand new to concert photography. I have a page on Facebook called rock tonic. I’ve been taking pictures mostly with my phone and a camera I used to have. I had a few questions I was hoping you could answer for me. First question is when you’re wanting to make this a career would it be wise to have any kind of degree or does college not really matter in this field? Second question, other than my Facebook page would I do well to have a separate blog for my photography or is my page enough? Thanks so much and I love your page! So much helpful information here. I’m so glad you’re doing this for us beginners.

    • Hi Ashley! Thanks for commenting. I am a self taught photographer and from my experience you don´t have to have a degree in photography to become a music photographer. Sure, it might help you with the technical side, but if you are motivated to learn it by yourself it shouldn´t be a big problem. To your second questions. Yes, you want to have your own blog/homepage. The reason is, that you have no control over your FB page. Maybe the delete your page the next day, than you have a problem. In addition it looks more professional when you have your own page than sending a music manager to your Facebook Fan page. Hope that helps and good luck for your future!

  • Norrun

    Hi, i have been taking photographs for a few years but i have only recently become intrested in music photography. i work with mainly film cameras. Could you give me some advice regarding my photographs? Thank you.https://www.flickr.com/photos/42320162@N07/16733256532/ Also, if you have any advice on finding bands to photograph.

  • Norrun

    Hi, i have been taking photographs for a few years but i have only recently become intrested in music photography. i work with mainly film cameras. Could you give me some advice regarding my photographs? Thank you.https://www.flickr.com/photos/42320162@N07/16733256532/ Also, if you have any advice on finding bands to photograph.

  • Kevin Kelly

    How did you get your foot into the door of concert photography? did you ever shoot shows for free to build your portfolio? then over time start charging? or did you start charging right from the begining. Also would you recommend putting a big water mark on images if they are free, and then charging them for un watermarked images. Or would this make you look unprofessional? I know what you mean there is always someone out there willing to do it for free. i personally love photography and could shoot everyday of my life for free, but its about time to get paid for my work and my time. What do you recommend as a first step to start charging as well as a set price?

    Thanks

    Shootervisionphotography.com

  • Kevin Kelly

    How did you get your foot into the door of concert photography? did you ever shoot shows for free to build your portfolio? then over time start charging? or did you start charging right from the begining. Also would you recommend putting a big water mark on images if they are free, and then charging them for un watermarked images. Or would this make you look unprofessional? I know what you mean there is always someone out there willing to do it for free. i personally love photography and could shoot everyday of my life for free, but its about time to get paid for my work and my time. What do you recommend as a first step to start charging as well as a set price?

    Thanks

    Shootervisionphotography.com

  • Some pretty good steps here, and nice photos to match. Being good at networking is definitely important.

    I wrote an article sometime ago with steps on how to land a concert photo pass here: http://www.justingillphoto.com/blog/how-to-get-concert-photo-pass

  • Some pretty good steps here, and nice photos to match. Being good at networking is definitely important.

    I wrote an article sometime ago with steps on how to land a concert photo pass here: http://www.justingillphoto.com/blog/how-to-get-concert-photo-pass

  • Evie Star

    I have been shooting concert, band & festival photography as well as interviewing bands for several years now and I have built up quite an impressive resume of Photography and Interviews. I am receiving recognition via social media from the bands as well as festivals such as Welcome to Rockville. My question now is, where do I go from here and start drawing an income doing these things full time? Should I start looking into companies such as Monster Energy who pay photographers to travel the country and do exactly the same thing I do? And/or what’s my next step? I feel I have established my value in the industry and would love nothing more than to succeed in profiting in this industry. Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to hearing your response. Sincerely, Evie Star —Evie Star Music

  • Evie Star

    I have been shooting concert, band & festival photography as well as interviewing bands for several years now and I have built up quite an impressive resume of Photography and Interviews. I am receiving recognition via social media from the bands as well as festivals such as Welcome to Rockville. My question now is, where do I go from here and start drawing an income doing these things full time? Should I start looking into companies such as Monster Energy who pay photographers to travel the country and do exactly the same thing I do? And/or what’s my next step? I feel I have established my value in the industry and would love nothing more than to succeed in profiting in this industry. Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to hearing your response. Sincerely, Evie Star —Evie Star Music

  • Rebekkah Hotze

    My passion has been both music and photography since I was a preteen spending my extra money on disposable cameras and concert tickets. I’ve recently begun shooting shows in smaller clubs in the DFW area (the last 6 months) and most recently was able to get a press pass to Warped Tour using my portfolio. I’ve used photography in exchange for access to shows as a way to build my portfolio without having to shell out the cash. My first paying gig was about a week ago for a promo shoot. My biggest hurdle is that the local promoters all have girlfriends that are “photographers” (read: have cameras and hang out with bands to take pictures)… Do you have any suggestions on how to overcome this sort of thing? I’ve been contacting bands directly, but sometimes they can’t say yes or no based on what the Promoter is doing. I certainly appreciate any advice you can provide. Here’s a link to some of my work: http://www.500px.com/firstgirlphotography

  • Rebekkah Hotze

    My passion has been both music and photography since I was a preteen spending my extra money on disposable cameras and concert tickets. I’ve recently begun shooting shows in smaller clubs in the DFW area (the last 6 months) and most recently was able to get a press pass to Warped Tour using my portfolio. I’ve used photography in exchange for access to shows as a way to build my portfolio without having to shell out the cash. My first paying gig was about a week ago for a promo shoot. My biggest hurdle is that the local promoters all have girlfriends that are “photographers” (read: have cameras and hang out with bands to take pictures)… Do you have any suggestions on how to overcome this sort of thing? I’ve been contacting bands directly, but sometimes they can’t say yes or no based on what the Promoter is doing. I certainly appreciate any advice you can provide. Here’s a link to some of my work: http://www.500px.com/firstgirlphotography

  • Megan Elliott

    Hii, i am 14 and i have just started to get into photography kindof. Not concert ones but just things like flowers, when i am older i would like to be a concert photographer though…would you give any tips on what app or camera i would need for the best outcome?

  • Megan Elliott

    Hii, i am 14 and i have just started to get into photography kindof. Not concert ones but just things like flowers, when i am older i would like to be a concert photographer though…would you give any tips on what app or camera i would need for the best outcome?

    • Megan Elliott

      Check them out on my instagram- x.m.e.g.a.n.x

  • Beth Ann

    Hey there, first off – excellent read. Definitely a new interest of mine so all of this was very informative. When you’re starting out how do you get permission to photograph? Especially the slightly bigger venues? Or who did you learn to communicate with to get you where you needed to be to photograph shows?

  • Beth Ann

    Hey there, first off – excellent read. Definitely a new interest of mine so all of this was very informative. When you’re starting out how do you get permission to photograph? Especially the slightly bigger venues? Or who did you learn to communicate with to get you where you needed to be to photograph shows?

  • Jessica Graham

    I started doing live concert photography as just a hobby & blogger and while most of that was not paid I still met and got some great future work out of that. I am doing what I can and just putting myself out there, hoping a true winning gig could happen for me! I did learn, however, do not post to FB, run and pay for your own .com

    • Hi Jessica, welcome to the world of concert photography! I agree that you should have your blog/website on your own domain and this is exactly what I am suggesting to people who´re starting out. However posting on social media in addition is key to get your work out there. It´s much easier to get a like on Facebook or Instagram than people commenting on your blog. I would say both strategies are vital to build your brand.

  • ThePrincessFusion

    Loved this article! Kick question though- when you go on tour with artists like Shantel how did you figure out about the job? Did you learn about the job via word of mouth or can you find job openings online (and where if so)?

    Thanks!

    -Sabrina

    You can visit my page at http://www.SabrinaKennellyPhotography.com

    • Thanks for your comment Sabrina! From my experience it goes like this: work with a band – win their trust and build relationship – go on tour. I was working for years with bands before I was touring with them, because nobody takes a stranger on tour. It´ll be same as you invite a stranger to your holiday trip. So, most likely this things happen when the chemistry between you and a band is the right one.

  • Mineui Kim

    This article is a big help! I’m currently 16 and interested in this field. However, I am totally clueless of where to start since I can’t drive or am not able to attend as much concerts due to school and the ticket fees. I know this is a late comment and not sure if you’ll exactly read this but if you are reading this, can you please help me? Just like a little guide on how I should start. I’ve been to several concerts but have never been able to take cameras since they were such big events and didn’t allow photography. I’ve always watched the people from press and blogs taking pictures of the concert and wanted to do the same myself. Do you know exactly how I can like ask these people since my emails seem to not be read…Thank you!

    • Thanks Mineui! I know it can be hard in the beginning and therefore I started my blog. The best way is to sign up for my newsletter where you get all information on how to start out. I also have a premium video course http://www.shootingtherockstars.com/

  • Jocelyn moody

    Trying to start out in this field, this is exactly the article I needed. Still young and amature but this gave me so much motivation!!!

    • Hi Jocelyn! Thanks so much for you comment and great to hear that my article could motivate you to move on with your passion

  • If you shoot what you love, it will show in the images. Even if you’re just shooting shows on the barricade with a point & shoot at first, passion for one’s subjects always translates into better images. Moreover, dig into the scene. Immersing yourself in the concert culture of your city will build connections with venues, fans and bands that will strengthen you as a music photographer.

  • Jenn S

    Thank you so much for this post! I have my very first gig next weekend, and it’s a pretty big one. Began by emailing a ton of magazines, sticking the line out and see who bites, expecting nothing to come of it. Lo and behold, I got the job, got the credentials, and now I’m starting to panic. I never expected to be tossed in so quickly, and I know I’m letting my fear overtake my passion. But these tips have helped a lot. I’m going to just do my absolute best and leave knowing I tried my hardest and the experience alone was completely worth it!

  • James Loudoun

    Great article man! definitely inspired me. I’ve just started out about a year ago but managed to get some good gigs due to knowing various promotors etc through my work as a Concert Manager. My question is – when I contact magazines / blogs etc stating i’m interested in photographing a certain show and would they be interested in using my photos. Should I mention money in that first contact? I keep getting people agreeing to use my photos and put them in magazines and websites etc which is great, but they kind of assume i’ll do it for free. Which i was quite happy with at first but now i’m aiming to get paid! Any advice would be really appreciated. Check out my latest work on my new website if you have a spare 5 minutes!

    http://www.jamesloudoun.com

    Thanks man!

  • Cynthia Ravetto

    Do you have any suggestions on what internet magazines to start with? I recently applied for Alt.Press but that has a slim chance of happening as a beginner. Do you have any suggestions to help me out?

  • Michelle Olaya

    Some weeks ago You liked some of my photos on Instagram (@michelleolaya:disqus ), then I checked out your FB page and I liked what you share and your projects, mainly that exhibition you are doing abroad. Now finally I could seat and read your blog posts, and with this one I have found myself identified. Though I am more focus in hc and punk music and DIY shows, this posts is encouraging me to “leave my comfort zone”. Thanks for sharing your experience and encourage others! You’re great!

  • jack

    Hey thanks for the tips! do you think a canon t5i rebel would do the job for my first concert? I am borrowing it from my school.