Earlier this summer, our friends at Columbia Records had a great idea- to invite local Lomographers to photograph the band Lo Moon during one of their East Coast tours. Here are some of the unique photographs taken along the way, as well as music photography tips from the photographers themselves.
Natalia Molina, Miami, FL:
1. Shoot artists whose music you enjoy and respect. It's totally okay to turn down artists you don't connect with, it reflects in the work and may not be the best idea for you or the artist.
2. Definitely acquaint yourself with their music, their style, and aesthetic. That familiarity will create atmosphere and dimension when shooting. I'm sure your artist will just appreciate it as well.
3. One big advantage of shooting musicians is that you're working with a fellow artist. This leaves a lot of room for collaboration. I think the best photos happen when you build trust and open up to the person you are shooting. Listening to them and being receptive to their vision will create that trust and the result is always genuine.
Sophia Ragomo, Brooklyn, NY:
4. Remember that musicians are just people like you and me. It makes shoots more comfortable when you act as though you are just shooting with friends-- even if you are nervous/excited on the inside!
5. Build a portfolio on music you believe in. My strongest photos have come from shows where I've shot my favorite bands.
6. Don't be afraid to politely ask for something you want! Whether it's asking an editor to take photos for their magazine or asking PR for portraits with an artist, ask and you may get an opportunity you never expected!
Katrina Barber, Austin, Texas
7. You Don't Need a Photo Pass to Shoot a Show! A lot of photographers think that they need a photo pass to shoot a show, and not having one stops them before they even get to the door. A giant eye roll goes out to that. Go find smaller, local bands and venues and check out their photo policy. A lot of venues allow DSLR's in the venue and don't care that you're shooting. Go to shows you're interested in at those venues and shoot your heart out. While you're there, really dig into the scene and make friends with the band members, door guys, and venue staff. People really remember who's nice and who's not, and are more likely to come to you in the future when they need photos. BONUS: This is where those friendships start that lead to you going on tour with a band or getting your dream gig in the future.
8. Play Nice with other Photographers & Fans! Make friends with the other fans and photographers who are squished up against the stage with you. Buy each other drinks, hold each others' spots when those drinks come back to haunt you (bathroom-time-spot-holding friends are the BEST), and switch spots occasionally so both of you don't get stuck with the same vantage point all set long. Not only does this make the night more pleasant, but it helps you build more relationships in the photo/music community that could help you in the long run.
9. Move Around! Granted, some pit-less shows don't allow for much of this, but if you have the chance, MOVE AROUND. Nobody needs 20 identical shots from 20 different photographers. Move. Get that unique angle no one else is paying attention to.
Sarah Feigin, New York, NY
10. Practice practice practice, go to shows even when you're not on assignment, see local bands you love and bring your camera, try new things out on lightroom and photoshop if you're shooting digital. It's really important to hone the skill and get as much experience as you can in order to shoot for bigger publications or work directly with bands.
11. Never be afraid to shoot bands outside of the music you listen to in your day to day life. Sometimes bands outside your comfort zone are the best bands to shoot, step out of your world and into others and it'll make you a stronger photographer, and make your portfolio stand out.
12. Invest in lenses that can open as wide as possible, in most situations an f/1.8 and an f/1.4 may seem pretty similar, but those extra two stops make a world of difference in a concert venue. Being able to get as much light into your camera as possible is the most important thing when it comes to concert photography.
13. Don't ever let being turned down for access stop you, if you're passionate about concert photography, just keep shooting and don't let being turned down make you stop following your dreams.
Lomography would like to say a huge thank you to Lo Moon and Columbia Records for their help in making this happen! And of course, also many thanks to the photographers: Natalia Molina, Sophia Ragomo, Katrina Barber, and Sarah Feigin.
Lomography's Don't Think, Just Shoot aesthetic lends perfectly to concert photography. Check out the Lomo'Instant Family, Lomography Art Lenses, Camera Bestsellers, and more in the Lomography Online Shop.