Have you ever been scrolling through Instagram or flipping through the pages of a magazine when you're stopped in your tracks by a photograph? Not just any photograph, either, a perfectly timed portrait of live music. A snapshot that captures not only the artist, but the entire energy of the moment- a freeze frame of the excitement and adrenaline of being at a concert. Just me? I hope not!
What used to be be a simple captivation with music photography turned into a full time passion, so I'm here to share my story of how I got started with concert photography in the alt rock scene, and give you some inspiration and a how to so you can do it too!
Step One: Once you've realized that you want to pursue music photography, learn more! Reach out to people who are doing what you want to do and ask them about it. I knew a friend from high school who was photographing local bands and doing short tours, so I hit him up asking tons of "basic" questions: what camera he used, how he gets in touch with bands, how he gets photo pass, etc. Which leads me to my next point...
Step Two: Let go of the fear of asking "dumb" questions! This is a big one! The music photography community is SO kind, helpful, and made up of people who want to watch you succeed! Don't be shy and learn the ropes one question at a time.
Step Three: Absorb as much knowledge as you can and practice, practice, practice! Being a good music photographer entails learning as much as you can about all types of photography. At home? Schedule fun little photoshoots with your friends to practice your portrait skills or check out the photo community on YouTube for tutorials on everything from shooting to editing. Some photographers I recommend watching include Adam Elmakias, Peter McKinnion, Jared Polin, and Dieter Unrath! Also, if you have the opportunity, check out photography workshops in your area for a chance to get hands-on teaching from industry professionals.
Step Four: Find people that inspire you on a larger scale. When I was first starting out, I reached out to bigger photographers in the scene I looked up to. A short DM along the lines of "Hey, I'm an aspiring photographer in the music scene and I really love your work, thanks for inspiring me, keep killing it!" can go a long way. Yising Kao, Kelly Fox, Ashley Osborn, and Adam Elmakias have been huge helpers in my photo journey Some things I owe to them: teaching me how to use Lightroom, showing me some of the inner workings of music PR, hosting workshops and events to help me network, and even setting me up with a photography agency. Take the first step, say hello, and who knows? Your biggest inspirations may end up being some of your most supportive friends.
Step Five: Take lots of pictures, create a portfolio, and start applying for photo passes for shows! Don't know where to start with your portfolio? Grab your camera and shoot pictures for local bands (think your older brother's show at the local coffee shop or small acts playing at the House of Blues), or email smaller artists in the area asking if you can photograph them. Start small, be ambitious, master the art of cold emailing, and soon enough you'll be getting approved to photograph your favorite band from the pit.
Step Six (the most important one): Never stop working and always think outside the box! There's no linear path to becoming a successful music photographer, and there's no finish line either. You always have room to grow and improve. Try out new shooting techniques, different lenses or cameras, learn how to use a new editing software... the possibilities are endless! As long as you keep moving, you can't really go wrong.
Final overarching advice? Apart from practicing and taking pictures where and whenever you can is to just put yourself out there and meet new people and try to absorb knowledge from everywhere like a little sponge of untapped potential!
And hey, if you're still reading this, always feel free to shoot me a message. I'm here to help!
Lexy Bouras is a music photographer and journalist who thinks it's funny to write her own end bios in third person. To check out more of Lexy's work, visit lexybouras.portfoliobox.net.
Photo by Yising Kao