This is an old article I am sharing here again.
A lot of people asked me about how it is to work with bands, how I got there, why I do this, if I can live from it and so many other more or less important questions. I answered a lot before but let me just explain my photographic eye a bitbetter.
I started music photography in 2001, that means I am old (yes) but also a bit experienced in what I do. I started with film and the good thing about it is that when you start with an expensive film roll where you only have a limited amount of shots and you know exactly it will be expensive to buy more rolls (the iso 1600 film rolls were expensive) and will have to spend some money to develop these films properly, means that you will go to an experienced photo studio who knows what they are doing, you start to really think about framing, exposure and composition. You will not just click away and hope to maybe get one good shot in 1000. Of course the digital age has its advantages and will take away a lot of limitations. But it is a good exercise to remember this sometimes, to always keep the focus on composition, lights and the special moment even in a packed photopit where everyone will be stressed and maybe even push you, even in a situation where the band is moving fast and the lights might be bad. Yes, take the challenge and let this inspire you to grow and make the best out of it. See every shot as something special, every event as something unique. When you lose the fun in doing this, just don't do it. Of course we all have had bad days and I had more than enough gigs in all these years where I just thought "no, this is not fun today" and it happens but over all, never lose the passion and this thought to catch one special moment! Be aware of things, what happens on stage and what happens behind you even (you never know who will crowd surf on your head at some gigs). inspiration, passion, respect and happiness and of course the technical knowledge of your camera and the basic rules of picture composition… this is a good formula to get a good picture, even in hard conditions. I usually have 3 conditions where I know things will just go well: 1) I like the band: that means no matter how the lights will be, I can work just fine and get good results because music is my main source of inspiration. 2) I like the posing, stage presence and/ or show: if a band has a special show, special make up, a strong stage presence with a lot of posing then this is easy, a lot of fun and a good source of inspiration to get something special. 3) The lights: of course, we all work with this, we all need the lights to get a decent picture and yes I had to work with flash in very small clubs but over all, I don't like to use it. But there are some light technicians where I know their light shows are perfect and will always inspire me to create something special with it (and they know).
Now, a lot of people asked me how to start. Just let me put this straight, don't have the illusion that you will get rich with this, you will most likely not make a living from only gig photography in the start and even later. But this should not scare you from doing what you like and as you can read on many other blogs and books, I also experienced that the best way to start shooting is to take pictures of local bands that you know so you will build up a portfolio and a name and also start to work for local magazines and write reports with it. And you will have to get used to that these days, there are A LOT of photographers doing this, it makes it even more of a challenge to stand out from the mass. So just do your thing, create your own style and don't just go on a copycat trail. Of course getting inspired is nothing wrong but you will need to leave your own foot prints in the world of music photography and never let yourself talk down by people around you but also never deny constructive feedback and critique from photographers who are more experienced or just try to help you. Don't let others destroy your dreams.