Episode 24 of the Filter Photography Podcast is all about three things I learnt while on tour in Europe doing music photography and how to reduce the amount of photos you give to your client.
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The main thought: Three things I learned while on tour doing concert photography
You never finish learning. I did think about three different things that I learnt from the tour doing music photography for Clowns band. These might sound a little bit straightforward too, but it’s like that question in school. There’s no such thing as a dumb question.
So here are my top three things I learned while on tour in Europe with Clowns band doing music photography.
1. Pack your bag with a bit of camera gear in one and a bit of camera gear in another packet across multiple bags
Normally I do split my gear between multiple bags when I fly. This time I did too. But it really reminded me of why you should pack your camera gear across multiple bags, because for the first time ever, my luggage had been lost because I probably had like 10 minutes to get a connecting flight in Abu Dhabi.
I made it. But my bag did not. And so if that had happened, I was like thinking if that had happened the other way, I had to like go to shoot another show in like a couple of days after I landed.
If I didn’t carry at least my camera body, my flash, and one main lens in my backpack, I would not have, I wouldn’t have been able to do that gig I had booked in. I would have, I would have lost that opportunity.
So, this is a friendly reminder to pack your photography gear across multiple bags because eventually your good luck of never losing a camera bag is going to run out.
2. Give yourself a proper day off
I didn’t do this on the first tour, so on this second tour when we had a day off and everyone else had a day off, I made sure that I had a day off too. I didn’t work on any concert photos. I didn’t spend any time on social media.
No one was like, no one was asking me, “Hey, can you, can you make sure you get me those photos?”
Because right after the show, before the day off, I made sure I got a couple of photos to them. But I didn’t do the whole suite of images because I wanted to have the next day off completely, just not taking any photos. Or not feeling obligated to take any photos and going at the pace of everyone else. I was able to join them in having that time to like just really sit down and chill.
I think that that was really helpful as well because last time I felt I should edit some photos on my day off. I always felt like I should be doing something. So plan your work a little bit in advance and at least give them a couple of photos so you can then relax.
3. Travel with a microfiber cloth
For the first, like probably five years of me shooting, I didn’t travel with a lens pen. LensPens are small cleaning utensils for cleaning your lens or your camera body quickly.
I also didn’t have a microfiber cloth. Previously I was just using my tee shirt in my early days of music photography. It doesn’t fully like wipe it away like a microfiber cloth does.
The amount of times that I had things spilled on me by a lot of people, either by being drunk or just thrown in the air, I couldn’t even count. You need to clean your stuff so you can keep taking good photos. Even in the photo pit, the spilled drinks will somehow find their way onto your camera.
You need to clean quickly when you’re shooting concerts. Every single time that a shot. I had a microfiber cloth in my pocket because it was just a bit faster than a LensPen in that scenario.
There were a few times where the humidity made the front lens fog up so much. I just like bringing a microfiber cloth out of my pocket, give the lens a quick wipe that allowed me to shoot like maybe 10 photos, then I’d probably need to wipe it again.
I have a pretty big microfiber cloth to make it as easy as possible to quickly clean in the live music environment, which is known for having very small spaces to work in like the photo pit.
So those are the three things that I learned from most recent European tour. Like I said, you never finish learning photography. Or learning anything for that matter.
These are very basic things, but they are things that, you know, make a difference.
I basically listened to your whole back catalog of your podcast today. I’m digging what you’re doing. Thank you. My question was when shooting bands, for any movement or new angle I find like a take a sequence of shots. Sometimes I can have as many as 10 great shots, all only differing very slightly with a change of facial expression or movement along the guitar neck. For example, I assume the client won’t want 10 shots of the same thing, so I usually pick my favourite of the sequence and will only pass on one. How many would you pass on in this instance?
This is a really good question because I don’t think I’m very good at this, and it’s something that I really am trying to get better at over time with music photography.
From 10 shots you could whittle that down three, right? And yeah, you’re right. The artist won’t want 10 of the same photo. They’ll probably take it, but it doesn’t really put your best foot forward in terms of the strength of your work.
What I generally do is pick my top three. Then I’ll get rid of the other seven and I’ll edit those three as I would normally. I’ll make sure that I do one colour, one black and white if I can. That immediately gives me two varieties.
So at least I’m taking like 1/5 of the total amount if I’ve done my maths correctly.
Taking a sequence of photos as a music photographer is a good thing because you don’t want to miss a special moment. So I wouldn’t feel bad about that. But you do have to push yourself to go, okay, which ones do I think they look the most professional. You have to think, which one shows that they are they exuding the, the X factor that I think this artist is about and what photo do I want to put forward?
I will immediately I’ll get rid of like, say half the amount. So five photos in your instance. If you’re being fair to yourself, You’re up for the hard thing of just picking, you know, two or three from very similar photos. I know that’s hard. But if you halve it, the process becomes a lot easier.
If you then choose three of those five, you can still get away with editing that many. It’s a lot less than 10. Worse case scenario, if you handed in three, at least you’re giving some kind of variety to the music photography client because now you’ve got two photos that look very different in style, and one that looks similar to only one of those.
Don’t be, uh, too hard on yourself about it. You don’t have to totally delete the image. One thing I always remind myself, that if the artist comes back and they go, “I don’t really like how I look there. Do you have any others that are similar to it?”
I can go, “hell yeah, man,” and pull out that third one. Pull out that fourth one and send it in. So you know, you can’t lose, it’s not like you have to totally erase the existence of the photos altogether.
Thanks for sending in that question, Sam. If you do have questions, send in, you can just do it on Instagram or you can submit it here.