Music Photography Blog

by Adam Elmakias

How do I become A Music Photographer?

You start small and you start local. Sometimes people are very talented/ experienced photographers and they navigate to the music industry laterally from another career, but this is the minority. However there isn’t a wrong way to do it – find what works for you and make it happen. There is not a wrong path. Check out my full write up here in blog form.

How do I get a press pass?

A press pass is what credentials a photographer to photograph a show. It is usually given to people who have a purpose to be at the show photographing it. It is quite hard to get one without a purpose. So your best bet is to work for a publication, the artist themselves, or maybe the record label.  Watch this video if you want a step by step –

Do I need to go to college to be a Music Photographer? 

You do not need to do anything to become a music photographer – well you need to do a lot – but there are all different paths. College is a great one, it allows you to be formally trained in areas you might have a hard time teaching yourself. However over the 15 years I have been doing this, no one has asked me (not even once) where I went to school. So if you go, make sure it is for you – and not for the people you want to hire you. 

What is the hardest part about your job? 

I would say the hardest part about being a music photographer is balance. This job involves a lot of moving parts – on the road or at home, you have a lot to do. It’s important to work but also just as important to make sure you take care of yourself. In any career based on networking, you always need to be 100% when you interact with your clients. 

What is the best starting camera for a Music Photographer?

The best starting camera for a music photographer is whichever one they can afford. For real though, music photography demands low light capabilities, fast focus, and a durably camera. Almost all of these things get better the more expensive the camera gets. That means that yes, most the time if you spend more money – it will make your job easier. But how easy does it really need to be? For more info check out this blog.

Why are my concert images blurry?

 Your photos are blurry because Your shutter speed is too slow, or you are moving too much, or both. Either way a basic understanding of how your camera uses ISO, Shutter, and Aperture work together to create an image will go along way. It took me awhile to understand it.

What do I do about red lights?

Red lights at concerts seem to be everybody’s biggest fear. But it’s an easy fix – just switch your images to black and white and don’t worry about it. You can’t control the concert, but you can control how you shoot and edit. So take advantage of what you have control over and enjoy the experience of everything else. 

Tips and tricks for becoming a Music Photographer?

I get this question a lot, and its really hard to answer… or really easy? The tips and tricks of being a music photographer are basically everything I know. That being said, if I could give you one that I think is the most important – start shooting. You need to just get out there and start shooting, and then don’t stop. 

How did you get started?

I started by going to a lot of concerts while I was in high school in Madison, Wisconsin. I eventually became friends with all the people involved in running the shows – and eventually the bands. When the bands would come through I would let them stay at my house and then I would skip school and do a photo shoot the next day. From there it was all networking and  working constantly. For a more in depth look check out my kinda outdated, but still relevant – How I Got Started Videos Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Why can’t I use flash during live photography?

You can not use flash during a live concert because, well – it’s distracting. Sure one flash here or there might not be that bad. But if there are even just 5 photographers in the photo pit all using flash, it ruins the show. For the band , and most important for the fans. I used a lot of flash when I was starting out and all the shows were at warehouses, teen centers, and legions halls. But for the most part, you won’t be able to use them. 

Do I need to know the band to shoot a show?

You do not need to know an artist in order to photograph your show. In fact sometimes I shoot shows of artists I have never even listened to before. There are all different kinds of people photographing concerts for a variety of purposes. At minimum I would say one of the photographers at each show probably does know the band and is on tour with them.