The 5 do’s and 5 don’ts of being a music photographer

October 16, 2017
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I got into music photography by chance.

Ryan Watanabe
[Photo by: Alyson Coletta]

I was a student at a music college, I had a starter DSLR, and as a result, all of my classmates needed photos for gigs, promos and live videos. I didn’t take an intro course in photography or the business of it. Most music photographers haven’t, and that’s totally fine! The most common question asked is, “Do you have any tips to be a music photographer?” and honestly, the most important ones have very little to do with taking pictures.

Read more: 11 ways to completely destroy your music career


Be nice

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This might seem unnecessary, but it’s the most important rule. Simply be nice to people. It’s not hard to do. This is a complex industry with a lot of different parts going on at once. Be kind to the band members, management, venue security, other photographers, audio techs—everyone! We are all working together as one unit. Although at times it can be tough, you’d be surprised how far a positive attitude and outlook can take you.

Be professional

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It’s fair to say everyone who works in the industry is in it because we were (and still are) fans of the music. It can be a lot to process that first time you get to work with someone you admire, but you want them, most of all, to respect you as a professional. If you want to work in this industry, you need to treat it like a job; be calm and collected, and use your passion for the music to move you forward.

Be flexible

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Like I said, there is a lot is going on at once, and new tasks and challenges can be sprung upon you at any moment. Whether it’s changes in lighting, crowds, barricades or security, it’s not worth it to complain. Instead, find solutions and creative ways to overcome problems, because that’s what you are, a creative.

Be patient

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Things take time: approvals, connections, your skill set and more. Some months are really long and it can be hard to find work; but be patient, be proactive and improve your skills when you have down time. You never know when opportunities will come.

Be ready…

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…for literally anything—for jobs you never thought you’d take and ones that may take you places you’ve never been. Capture everything.


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