I have a camera, where’s the best place to start?

At venues that don’t require photo passes/don’t have photo pits. Best way to practice.

– Rachel Zyzda

 

Definitely go to smaller venues in the city or local pubs. Always check venue camera policies. Smaller clubs usually don’t have one, but always figure that out before heading into a place. Practice there. Understanding lighting is key to getting shots. Smaller venues tend to be more difficult, but once you’re able to get through those situations, it’ll make everything way easier when going to bigger venues with better light shows.

– Jen Machuca

 

Local shows! Find your local scene and just start attending shows and taking photos of everyone. If you’re tight on cash, hit up a band and offer to trade pictures for a ticket. This is a time to start learning how to shoot concerts, because it’s not exactly easy. At the same time, you can start building connections with bands that may want to work with you as time goes on.

– Dieter Unrath

 

Find your style! Figure out what you like to shoot and then work on making your perspective unique and interesting.

– Tim Nagle

What’s a good starting price for work? How much should I charge? What variables should I consider?

I think a good starting price for work would be $60

If it’s for a touring artist/band consider flat fees of $150 +  which includes 30-40 photos.

If your portfolio is not as thorough, consider lowering it to $110

The deliverables affect the pricing, but definitely charge 60$ +

**Always make sure that you know exactly what your deliverables are. Keep it to just social media postings. If it’s anything that’s for promotional purposes (things that the artists will make money off of), then the price should be increased.

– Jen Machuca

 

In my opinion, a good starting price is $0.

People won’t want to pay much for your work if you have no portfolio or experience to show for. When starting out, you should be shooting as much as you can at every opportunity you can get. This is the time to better your skills and develop a style rather than worry about how much you’re making.

– Dieter Unrath

 

You should factor in the cost and expenses it will take take to do the shoot:

– Transportation fees,

– Cost of rentals if you don’t own the correct gear for the shoot,

– If you are shooting on film; the price of the film, development and scanning.

– Then factor in the time it will take to prep, do the shoot and edit the photos.

Usually you will be working within a budget so you should ask what the budget is and figure out if it make sense.

– Tim Nagle

What’s a good way to approach bands who might be looking for tour photographers?

I would say establish a genuine relationship and be willing to attend as many shows of theirs as possible to demonstrate your dedication to both your craft and the art you’re producing for them.

– Jen Machuca

 

You don’t approach bands strictly for this reason. It rarely works out like that. All the bands that I’ve toured with, I developed relationships with for years before they took me on tour and never did I even think about touring with these people while those friendships were built. I became friends with many of these bands when they were just starting to play shows. I shot photos of them before anyone knew who they were. The first time I met and shot Sleep On It was in a pizza shop where they played to six people. I met Capstan at a show in their living room. The key is to start building genuine relationships with smaller artists that will want to work with you for years to come.

– Dieter Unrath

 

Every tour I’ve been on so far has come about from a friendship and/or a previous working relationship with an artist. It is possible to get a touring gig through a label or production company, but most of the time the artists choose who they bring on tour. Being a photographer who can turn around quality photos fast is a key part of a job, but it is almost just as important to have a comfortable relationship with the artist because you will be spending extended periods of time in the van and on the road with them.

– Tim Nagle

Every venue seems to be different. How do I know where I’m allowed to take photos?

You could call the venue and ask or look at their website. Sometimes it’s the band that dictates it (i.e Lincoln Hall sometimes doesn’t care but other times they are asked to crack down on security based on the artist). Best thing to do is call and ask about the specific show the day of. General rule of thumb is no photo pit= no photo pass required. Empty Bottle, Schubas, Sleeping Village are all examples of places in Chicago with no photo pits that usually don’t care about cameras.

– Rachel Zyzda

 

Bigger venues have photo pits (the small area between the barricade and the stage).

If a venue doesn’t have a barricade, then you’re stuck with trying to find a spot amongst the crowd. It’s completely doable but be nice to concertgoers! This way no one “accidentally”  hits your gear. If there’s a balcony ask if you’re allowed to photograph up there. Personally, I think it’s always best to ask questions to the venue before you begin shooting.

– Jen Machuca

 

This one can be tricky and is definitely a venue by venue basis. You should contact the venue directly if you have questions. Typically, if you have a photo pass, you are allowed to shoot for the first three songs in the photo pit in front of the stage. Some venues without a stage may let you shoot on the side stage with a pass. Some may limit you to shooting from the crowd. Some bands even have different policies regardless of what the venue says so you’ll have to feel it out at the show or ask someone in charge.

– Dieter Unrath

 

The general rule for photo pits at shows is shoot photos for the first 3 songs and get out. If you have the permission of the band performing you can stay longer, but it is usually good to let the head security in the pit know that. I usually go talk with them before the show starts because it is easier to communicate.

If you can’t stay past the first 3 songs then look for interesting angles from the crowd or balcony, There are tons of great nooks and unique vantage points to find at venues.

– Tim Nagle

What’s the best way to approach a venue or PR firm to get a photo pass for a show or festival?

You should have a publication you’re shooting for. Email the artist’s publicist and send examples of your work from the publication’s website requesting a photo pass. Festivals usually have press applications to fill out that you can find on their website.

– Rachel Zyzda

 

I think the best way is to email these firms and politely request for a pass. Send links to your professional portfolio. You have to ask the PR firms that represent the artist you want to shoot. You have to search for the artist’s PR info on your own. A downside is that those contacts tend to change frequently and some artists have multiple contacts.

– Jen Machuca

 

Hit them up through email, be short and to the point. Publicists get a million emails every day so they want to know what you’re requesting quickly. There’s no need to sell yourself or convince or whatever. Just shoot and the management can make a decision based on what they see. Something like this is:

Hi (person you’re emailing),

My name is Dieter and I shoot photos for (insert publication here). I was wondering what the photo policy is on the upcoming (insert band here) tour. Would you be able to accommodate a ticket and a photo pass on (date) at (venue and city) for a photo gallery to be featured on our website?

(link to your publication)

(link to your portfolio)

Thanks for your time,

– Dieter Unrath

What are my rights when it comes to selling prints?

That totally depends. Did you sign an artist waiver? If not, ask the publication you’re shooting for. If you are shooting on your own/for your own publication you own the photos. But if a band is paying you for the photos, check with them.

– Rachel Zyzda

 

Your rights are completely up to you. When agreeing to sell something, explain to the purchaser exactly what they can do with the photo.  If an artist wants it for promo purposes, lay-out how long they can use it fo or negotiate a contract with them and make sure you are paid a fair amount (depending on the artist).

– Jen Machuca

 

As far as I’m concerned, the photos I take are my work and property so if I want to sell prints of them I should be able to, unless of course you’ve signed a contract agreeing not to. I think as long as you’re not selling massive quantities of photos, you should be fine. I’ve sold prints in the past of many bands and never had any problems. However, if you want to play it safe, contacting management is probably the route to clear what you’re planning to sell.

– Dieter Unrath

 

Generally speaking, if you took the photo then you own the rights to sales, but there can be conditions if there is any branded or copyrighted materials in the photos. If you know anyone with a legal background, it might help to run it by them first.

If you are selling a photo of a specific artist or band it is good practice to let them know and make sure they are okay with you doing that. It is not required, but it will likely keep a good standing relationship with them.

– Tim Nagle

 

Thank you to the photographers that contributed!

@tim.nagle

@dieterunrath

@jen_machuca

@rachelzyzda