Episode 21 of the Filter Photography Podcast is here!
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The main thought
Pretty hyped to be going to Europe tomorrow with Clowns. This is a really good case study for why you should start out with small, local bands rather than aiming or the biggest band you can get.
When we first started working together, Clowns were playing free shows at 4ZZZ carpark stage, emailing me from a Windows Live email address asking for a pic to use in their vinyl sleeve from their show at Rics. If you haven’t been to Rics, the capacity for that room is around 30 people.
That’s small, but Clowns had just released a couple of singles before they even had their first album out. I was shooting Big Sound so I was going to photograph them anyway as part of the lineup. I was actually most excited to shoot them on the lineup because I had read somewhere they did a good show and I think it was their first time in Brisbane.
Stevie jumped off this really small rooftop area of the bar onto the 25 to 30 people waiting below, and the rest of the band thrashed around.
I didn’t know back then if Clowns were going to do big things, and I didn’t really care. I liked the music, I got along with them and that’s all that really mattered to me. They let me take photos of them and it was a nice, mutual exchange.
Over time they got bigger and we became friends and most importantly, we kept working together. And now I’m going to Europe.
One of the most common questions I get asked is how to shoot big bands and my answer is always the same – shoot small bands. Work with bands you understand, bands that appreciate what you do, and where you can provide value.
What’s the best action shot you’ve taken at a gig? – @ted_cusack
My personal favourite is either BC surfing on his bodyboard, or Stefan from PUP on the inflatable couch, crowd surfing. Or couch surfing – however you prefer to interpret it.
There’s a common thread there, but I guess what makes them my favourite action shot is that they’re both a little bit different to what you would normally see at a show.
I know Stefan from PUP and BC from Dune Rats like those photos, and that’s the highest compliment a photographer can get, to have the person in the photo like the photo of themselves.
Is mirrorless the future? I hope not because I’ve spent too much on DSLRs haha – @frycandyphoto
This is a really good question. I think there’s no doubt that mirrorless cameras are the future. But there is a caveat to that.
I recently moved to the Canon 5Dmkiv from the Canon 5Dmkiii. Like, super recently. As recently as last week. I was really aware of Canon’s current leading mirrorless camera, the EOS R, but in my opinion, there were a few key things missing.
Weather sealing is a big thing for the type of photography I do. Beers are always flying through the air, ducking other drinks and sweaty people falling everywhere. Mirrorless are still a little too fragile to confidently deal with that. If I change to mirrorless and find something sturdy enough to deal with that, I will let you know right here on the photography podcast.
Another thing is the range of lenses available to mirrorless cameras. It’s only just now starting to get some great lenses that offer some decent range to a photographer, but they are often missing the specialty lenses. To my knowledge, there aren’t any great macro lenses for mirrorless cameras, yet. They will come, and yeah you can use adapters to use your current lenses, but I am a firm believer that the lenses built for a certain camera body type will always be better than a third party lens or lens that wasn’t built for that camera in mind. Just my personal opinion.
I feel Nikon is further along its mirrorless product roadmap than Canon. But Canon will get there and both will go further into mirrorless cameras. The adapters will always be there to use your old lenses, so I don’t think you should worry about mirrorless camera advancement. All your stuff will still be safe and valid until it dies a natural cause.
How do you get into photographing gigs as a stable job? @emilylecole
This is a pretty open-ended question, because everyone’s journey is different. I think the days of getting paid to shoot gigs as a traditional model are decreasing.
It’s up to you as the photographer to think differently about how you want to offer value in the music industry, and measuring that value yourself. That’s the hardest bit.
What camera should I start with that is affordable – @venusandfurs
Pretty easy answer to this – the camera you should start with is the camera you can afford and the camera that feels right in your hands!
It’s unlikely you will be able to afford the most expensive camera, and you are likely to be able to afford something above the cheapest camera. I’ve owned many cameras in my time, and you just need the camera that is right for your budget and hands.
If you could photograph any place in the world, where would it be? Like Italy? Antartica? – @kodakmomentsarentdeadyet
Antartica. Definitely Antartica.
Do you ever use flash when shooting live bands? @_kalebco_
I do occasionally. Sometimes, it’s needed. I hate the whole, “real photographers don’t use flash when they photograph bands”, because it’s some elitist wankery.
One thing I do when I need to use my flash is to ask the band beforehand. If I can’t ask, then I don’t use it. I’ve always just assumed, but I could imagine that flash blinding you might impair your ability to move your fingers to where they need to be to play certain notes, or just be plain old distracting.
Artistically, I think flash can sometimes wash away some of the dynamic tones in an image of a performance, but that’s a pretty broad brush stroke to use I guess. One of the things that I love about music photography is the way you can play with the light and leverage the character it offers. Flash kind of washes that away.
You can still great images by using flash, and I guess if that was your style, then sweet. One thing is for sure though, anyone turning their nose down on photographers who use flash are not good eggs in my honest opinion. Elitist attitudes need to die.
Are publications better off paying freelance photographers vs unpaid volunteers? – @memoriesandmud
When is it appropriate for a music publication to not pay their photographers? – @memoriesandmud
Two questions! They both kind of ask the same thing, I think. So I’ll answer them both together.
I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for. What you need a total different question. Publications can get by without the best writing in town, because they’re not selling anything they are profiting from. They just get the ad revenue when the page loads, and that’s not much money.
That’s not to say that writers and photographers that contribute on a volunteer basis don’t provide quality content. It’s that I feel they would care more about the work they deliver if they were getting paid.
I care a lot more when I am being paid. If I’m not being paid, I won’t go photograph some shows because there’s no incentive. If I don’t like the music, or it’s not a friend, why would I put it on my calendar? I think the same goes for content for publications. I believe if publications paid contributors, they would receive higher quality work because the creators have an incentive to continue to provide high-quality work. Does the publication need that quality of work? Probably not. They will publish multiple articles a day, and at least one of those will appeal to someone enough to click.
I think if you’re waiting for a publication to pay you, you probably will be waiting a while. I feel you deserve to be paid for the work you deliver, but there are very few publications out there paying the bills and giving themselves a little wage to live off. A lot of advertising revenue doesn’t cover the basic bills of running the publication, so there’s just no money to pay people. If the owner isn’t getting paid, and the contributors want to contribute knowing they aren’t getting paid, that sucks, but everyone in that venture is doing it for the love of it. That’s a known outcome to not being paid.
If a publication is a fully functioning, successful business, like truly – know your worth and make a decision on whether you want to contribute. No one is forcing you to contribute, but a contributor that hopes to eventually be paid for contributing is never going to see a dollar from the publications they currently contribute to.
But it will build you a solid body of work that you otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to build. And you need that to show your worth and make a fair request for payment from more financially successful publications that don’t want to take a risk on a contributor with no portfolio of work to prove they are worth what they’re asking for.
What do you do to help get yourself out of a photography slump? I’m in one. – @maddie._.bell
The best way to get out of a slump in my opinion is to photograph something different, or constrain your creative process.
If you’re a wedding photographer, take photos of landscapes. If you’re a music photographer, take photos of bugs. Do something totally different that forces you to consider something outside your automated loop of creativity.
If you’ve tried that, sometimes I find it useful to constrain your creativity by choosing a lens and body combination and only allowing yourself to use that. Sometimes we can fall back on knowing that we can use a different lens if we need to. But what if we didn’t have that lens? Would we shoot it differently? What would we change? When you are reunited with the equipment you didn’t allow yourself to use, you might think of new ways to use that. Sometimes taking a step back is a good way to take a new step forward. Part of me getting out of a photography slump was to start this photography podcast, and try to be consistent with it. It’s hard, but it keeps me focused on photography as a wider artform rather than taking pics being the only aspect of the many things to love about photography.
What are your thoughts on camera gear snobbery a la Leica etc.? – @grindpants
Gear snobbery is the worst. It’s so pointless. Who cares what camera you have? Who cares who made it? Do you like it? Good, use it.
People act like whatever they own is the right item to own. They just put you down because they are insecure about their own choices or work.
I think Leica make an amazing camera and there’s no doubt about that. I believe they are one of the best makers of camera in the game. But I would never admire someone for having one, nor would I hate on someone for not having one. I don’t have one and I take photos. Would be fun to use one day, and if I wanted one, I would buy one.
Anyone that makes you feel your worth is relative to the worth of your gear is a loser.
Do you find musicians personas is mostly the same or different as depicted in photographs? – @thomassthill
Generally, I think their personas are the same as how they are depicted in photos. But I think that’s our job as photographers to depict them as the people they are.
The musician goes on stage, puts it all out there and it’s on us to capture it.
You look at some musicians, like Maz from WAAX. Maz is a strong woman, and I would hope she would agree with me, but I perceive her to be someone who will fight for her worth or what she feels is deserved. Maz can seem introverted off-stage, but on-stage, everything inside erupts and she pushes forward without seemingly a care in the world. If someone said to me, “Hey you made Maz look really loud, proud and brave on stage, when she is pretty quiet, eh?”, I would tell you that I captured her energy well, then, because that’s who I see her as no matter how she is emoting.
I think musicians that are honest in the work they create really give it their all on stage and it’s on us as photographers to show that personality. It’s one of my favourite things about music photography.
Did you miss the last episode?
Episode 20 of the Filter Photography Podcast we talked about the how to improve your post’s reach on Instagram.