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My Journey Into Concert Photography

One question I always get asked when it comes to any kind of photography is how did I get into it? My answer for wedding photography is simple as I found something I loved doing and it turned out I was quite good at it - so I pursued it and continue to try to grow my wedding photography business every day. When it comes to concert photography the story is similar as I love doing it (you have to love doing it as there isn't very much money to be made unless your one of the top concert photographers) but how I got into it all started with a wedding.

 

Picture the scene, I was a relatively new inexperienced photographer, I'd spent about £1000 on some basic photography equipment, a canon camera and a couple of lenses, and was working in my spare time trying to develop myself as any kind of photographer I could - landscape photography, family photography, events and party photography. On one particular occasion I was photographing a wedding as a 2nd shooter/assistant with a friend for the experience and we happened to end up working with a videographer who was local to us. Throughout the day we had the occasional chat about our careers and I discovered he did quite a bit of concert photography/videography and reviews with a friend of his. I remember thinking how cool that must be as he named singers and bands that he'd interviewed and reviewed, but never thought I'd be good enough to add concert photographer to my list of growing photography branches I was building.

 

Fast forward almost a year and that same videographer got back in touch with me to ask me to help him and his friend photograph a wedding. At this point i'd started to build up a decent portfolio of wedding and studio work and had upgraded my basic equipment to about £4000 worth of top quality canon camera gear and lenses. I worked my backside off helping these guys photograph that particular wedding and the results (the photos) paid off. They were both impressed with how I had conducted myself and the work I had produced. They talked about getting me on board to do more work with them including branching out into concert photography (I didn't think much of it at the time as I was still fairly inexperienced and didn't think I would be good enough).

 

On that particular job I joked about them both getting me into photograph big bands like the Foo Fighters, Korn, Slipknot, Steel Panther etc. instead of them paying me to work for them. Little did I know that they weren't joking and they were both confident enough in my ability to give me the opportunity 6 months down the line to photograph my first concert. I was brought into the HEAVY team and told to look out for any upcoming gigs in Manchester that I would like to have a go at photographing. At this point I needed someone to help me write the live reviews, I was already at full capacity juggling my full time job with trying to build my photography business and to be fair writing wasn't my strong point. It just so happened one of my best friends had been dabbling in a bit of sports blogging and after he impressed the HEAVY team with his first album review he became my concert photography partner. (The HeavyLads on Facebook)

 

Our first ever gig was Papa Roach at the Manchester Apollo! So not a small band that nobody had heard of for practice first. We dived straight in at the deep end... Arriving at our first concert we went to the box office to collect our tickets and press passes, both feeling like we were 15 again and going to our first ever concert. Nerves building in anticipation of what waited for us on the other side of the doors. I'd spent hours researching, concert photography, camera settings and photography pit etiquette, I met a few other photographers that were clearly seasoned pros and explained it was my first gig. I'd heard it could be a bit of a dog eat dog environment in the concert photography world, but the photographers I met at this first gig put my mind at ease as soon as we'd photographed the support act.

 

As I was stood waiting for the curtain to drop for Papa Roach I could feel the buzz in the pit, I was about to capture my first concert with absolutely no idea of whether my photos would be any good. It turned out that my friend and I produced a good set of photos and a gig review  and have continued to photograph rock concerts for HEAVY for the past 2 years. My original jokes about photographing some of my favourite bands if I worked for free became a reality. Except I didn't have to do the working for free part as we became good friends and continue to help each others business grow outside of concert photography. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be stood a few feet away from my all time favourite actor Johnny Depp performing with his band the Hollywood Vampires!

 

Thanks for reading about my journey into concert photography.

Joe
SJPhotographers

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