Episode 9 of the Filter photography podcast is here! Let’s talk about photography jobs this time. But first, it’s been a long four weeks. If you’re wondering where I was, there are two answers. First – a lot of mojitos. Second – DZ Deathrays tour and Violent Soho and Dune Rats at Big Pineapple. Those two are connected. I think it was Bacardi…
This episode is all about photography work, how to get it and how to get more of it. How to increase your chances of getting it. Concert photography jobs seem few and far between. Music photography can sometimes feel a little seasonal in that when it rains, it pours.
Tip number 1: Go it solo
A job is a perception of ongoing employment. Most people perceive a job to be something that you do on a regular basis. A place to go, or something to do in exchange for money. Some people even think a job is something that negatively impacts your life, but you need it because it pays the bills. This all sounds a bit negative, right?
Even dictionary.com talks down on jobs:
a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price:
Then it goes even further by describing it as:
anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty; responsibility:
It all sounds like a little bit of a downer. That’s why step number one is to go it solo. When you’re a freelancer that doesn’t answer to someone else, you have all the choice in the world.
A few of my friends travelled down the route of being wedding photographers. They did it because they were chasing the money because they heard it was big. And it was big. Just like the risk was. Then they realised what they were up against – wedding photographers who were spending thousands in digital advertising to dominate the search engine rankings for all keywords related to wedding photography. They got frustrated and sought out an agent of sorts to assign them to photography work that their agency had been asked to deliver on. They thought they had it made. They were given work regularly, and the agency took a cut off the fee and gave the rest to the photographer. They thought it was a win-win scenario, until after a few months, they started to get bored and lose their passion for photography. They had lost their control and had no choice but to take whatever work they had been assigned, regardless of whether the wedding and environment felt like a natural fit with their photography style or not.
Concert photography jobs are no different. There’s so few of them out there because the client wants someone who visually portrays the artist in a similar way to their music. A paint by numbers, agency-style would breed passionless photographers that only reduce the quality of the outcome for the client.
Build a connection
It’s not just your concert photography work that lands you the job. The best music photographer can not land work if they are punishing or difficult to work with.
Some clients would rather work with a good person who fits their team’s culture over the best photographer that has ever lived but is difficult to work with. You need to know when is the time to take photos, and when is the time to keep your camera on the table and let your ears and mouth do some work.
Target repeat business
One of the main reasons people want a job in music photography is because of the certainty of future work. There is no certainty in the future of work, no matter what your profession is. Repeat business is one of the key differences in a concert photography job and concert photography jobs – with an emphasis on the ’s’. If you want to do more work than the one-off concert photography job, then you’ll need repeat business. There just isn’t enough bands out there to be able to afford to do only one shoot for per band. I’m a big believer that repeat business is more than just business – it makes you more comfortable and knowledgeable about the subject (being the band) and that gets the band better photos. It’s a win-win situation.
Ask for feedback
I’m not talking about feedback on your photography skills. I’m saying you should ask for feedback on how the photos met the brief the client outlined. Just because you feel it nails the request of the client, doesn’t mean the client feels the same way. Art is subjective so we need to accept that sometimes there will be a difference of opinion or interpretation of the brief. Sometimes simply asking if the client liked the photos a few days after delivery can get you more concert photography work. “Yeah, we did. Next time, do you think you could get a photo where the guys are…” Instantly, you’ve got a lead for more work, you got a boost in confidence, and you know /exactly/ what the client wants from it. “Sure! When are they playing next?”
Get your search engine rankings in check
When I started putting this together, I thought about all of the times I photographed an international musician that originated from a cold-call. Cat Stevens was the most recent. The client Google’d music photographer Brisbane or Brisbane concert photographer and looked at the results on the first page. I ranked somewhere in those initial 15 results, and so was immediately on their shortlist and had my portfolio reviewed to see if I was suitable for the job. If an international artist is looking for someone to photograph them, chances are they won’t know where to start and will just turn to Google. So your search engine rankings are crucial.
Ask for work
If you haven’t heard from a regular client in some time, drop them an email and check in. Providing you’re not doing it too often; you could jolt someone’s memory to look into photography work for their new artist. Lives are insanely busy – especially if you’re a publicist – so touch base with them if things have gone quiet and ask if there’s any upcoming music photography work you could lend your skills to. Even if they don’t have any work at that time, all it takes is a quick recommendation to one of their colleagues to land a new photography job.
So is there such a thing as a concert photography job?
Here’s what I recommend – don’t land one of the few concert photography jobs out there. Work for you. Create your concert photography jobs on a freelance basis, and as the old saying goes, you’ll never work a day in your life.
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