Become a music photographer

Photographer takes a shot of Funeral For A Friend. Photo: James McLaren

Last updated: 05 February 2009

One of the career paths in music journalism which is less well documented is photojournalism, writes Tim Clark. Often striking, it is frequently photographs of an event which can most effectively portray the euphoria of live music event.

Photojournalism, however, is different from other forms of journalism. Although there are courses in photography and it is technically demanding as a career choice, all it takes to make it could be a simple matter of motivation and determination, together with a degree of skill.

To start out is simple. Get a camera and go to a gig, though rather than hiding it in your pants it's normally a better idea to try and arrange a photo pass. There are many ways to do this. You could try joining local media organisations or a photography society.

Live photography in bigger venues often follows the 'first three, no flash' rule. Once you're issued with that lucky pass you find yourself in front of the masses for the first three songs only, dodging security guards and crowd surfers.

Secondly, if it is a small band or they are on an independent label, it can be effective to ask it you can be their photographer. If you already have some experience as a snapper they are more likely to respond positively - after all, you are helping them get exposure while you can start developing a portfolio.

Live photography in bigger venues often follows the 'first three, no flash' rule. Once you're issued with that lucky pass you find yourself in front of the masses for the first three songs only, dodging security guards and crowd surfers while your target either poses with the full vibe of a stage singer, or moves so fast you've got little chance of an effective shot.

Three songs later it's all over, and if you manage to get a lucky shot you can feel like king for a day when it's processed and everyone stares at your work in amazement.

To give some idea of how to make a start in photojournalism we spoke to Cardiff-based photographer David Hardacre to find out how he started his career.

"My dad was a snapper so I'd been aware of what it involved from quite an early age. I really had no interest in it, though, until I started going to gigs in the late 70s and thought it would be good to try and get some snaps.

"There were no restrictions then, just like in smaller venues today. The early efforts were pretty poor efforts but laid down the foundations for what I was to achieve later on without me knowing it at the time."


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