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How to be a Music Photographer – Part 1: Out of the Darkroom with Ruth Medjber

How to be a Music Photographer – Part 1: Out of the Darkroom with Ruth Medjber


Hello and welcome to Out of the Darkroom on AdoramaTV I’m Ruth Medjber I’m here at Castlepalooza Music and Arts
Festival. You guys have been really great sending in some amazing career related
questions for me all about how to make it as a music photographer. Today I’m going to be answering those questions and sharing some experiences with you too. AdoramaTV presents Out of the Darkroom with Ruth Medjber. Let’s have a look at these questions that you’ve all sent in. Julie Mullan, Alexander Novak, a lot of people actually have asked the
same question which is how I got hired as a music photographer. And I’ll tell you a story. It actually happened when I was in my third year in college that I
happened upon the email address of the photo editor of our local, well, national music mag
over here. I simply just sent him an email, along with a PDF version of my portfolio
And, he didn’t respond, so what I did then was I sent him another email and I was quite persistent about
it and I just very nicely said please hire me, please hire me, please hire me and after about 5 emails of this he came back to me said ok you’re quite
persistent obviously you really want this let’s meet for a cup of tea, bring in your portfolio and we’ll chat
some more. So I went in, met the photo editor of our national music magazine and
that night he gave me my first job so that’s how I got my first press pass and
my first job and then a week later I was in print media. My picture appeared in
the magazine which we call ‘Hot Press’ here, so that’s how I got hired as a music photographer. And it’s not too dissimilar. That might have been 10 years ago but you can still
apply those techniques today, all you have to do is get your PDF Portfolio
looking really nice or get a website that’s really clean and easy to read and then simply just contact people, contact the photo editors of magazines or of blogs or anywhere
else that you want to be published all you have to do is reach out and connect with
people. So, Hog 427, Cody Ash, David Great. They’ve asked similar questions which is how I get press passes. So the press pass is simply the
credentials like I’ve got here which is wristbands which allows me to get into
the photographers pit and permission to shoot the bands. It’s quite different in
all different fields. For a festival you can apply directly to the festival for
accreditation however the easiest way that you’ll find doing it is to align
yourself with a publication whether that’s an online music blog or its print
media such as like your local magazines or your local newspapers. The best thing
you can do is to have a body working with you on this so it’s difficult when
you’re starting off, but just keep trying. Pick maybe a small music blog that is local to your area, approach them say can I please shoot for you, and then get that blog editor to apply to the promoter for your own press pass. Earl Davis has asked a really great question. He says I’m particularly interested in
event photography, how is this different from music photography and how can I get a job working with you? Well, Earl, if you live in Ireland, send me an email we’ll see
what we can do about that bit, but event photography is slightly different than
music photography. I’m here at Castlepalooza this weekend. I’m the official photographer for the entire festival Now, how I got that job was not because
I concentrated solely on what’s on the stage. You’ll see me this weekend. I walk
around the entire festival taking social photographs of people you know where
they’re posed, and I take their names for the captions. I also photograph more atmospheric type of shots, so people enjoying themselves like close-ups of all the little bits and pieces, all the artwork
and stuff that people have put effort into. I tried to give this a good sense
of the entire festival as opposed to what’s just on stage. Now you’ll find if you
open up, you know, your range as a photographer if you become a little bit
more versatile, you’ll find that people, events, festival organizers will be
more inclined to hire you. They want to see your portfolio as like a vast
expansive “Oh, she can shoot this, she can shoot that, she captured the entire
event as it.is”, I can’t stress that enough. If you want to go forward as a
music photographer you really have to shoot everything. Shoot the crowd, shoot the entire venue and shoot what’s on stage. So here’s a question from Andrew asking “How does photographing a concert work? Do you get to sit front and center for the whole show?” Well, yeah, it’s the reason I kinda got
into this because I wanted to go to all of these events I wanted to go to the gig. How photographing a concert works can be, it can be different depending on the gig
and depending on the promoted, the person that’s putting on the show. Most of
the time, though, you rock up to the guest list you get your press pass sticker and then you
get brought into the front, a photographers pit, which is a barriered-off area in front of the stage. You get to shoot three songs. Over here in Ireland it’s three and in the UK it’s normally two and the rule is ‘first three-no flash’ so you’re not allowed use flash while you’re in photographers pit . So you get in, you shoot your three songs, after your three songs, you’re booted out of the photographer’s pit and
most of the time, you’re allowed just enjoy the show. Whether you wanna sneak up the front with the rest of the punters or hit the bar the back, you just go and
enjoy the show, i mean that’s why we’re doing this for a living, is because
we really want to be there at the gig. So that’s how photographing a concert works. So here’s a question from Black Raven, wanting to know how big a role would I say social
media has played in getting my work noticed and if they need to be more
assertive in charging for their services at some point. Yes, yes, yes. Always charge for your services. When you reach a certain level in your career or with
your photography skills I always say to people starting out, when you have a
fairly decent portfolio, let’s say ten to fifteen images that you are super proud of, then start charging. Now I’m not talking about
charging a local bad hundreds and hundreds of Euro or Dollars to come and photograph their show. I’m talking about what manageable. If the band has no money look for other ways in getting payment.
So maybe one of them is a web designer, maybe one of them is an accountant. See if
there’s some way of swapping services with these guys. There is ways around it
but the important thing is that you value your work. You value your time and
you value your own skills, so always charge something, just so that you have that little bit of reassurance that what you’re doing matters. Social media is key these days
to getting your work shared and noticed by people and hired again and again and
again so by all means get on the social media, get your usernames in place, get your
website up and running, get yourself a good portfolio, and then
start valuing yourself. Start charging just a little amount for
your photographs and you’ll see that people will appreciate you more, they will respect you more as
a professional photographer. Regina Mullan asks a great question: “Please
walk folks through basic ‘pit’ and ‘out of pit’ etiquette, especially how not to become the show, flash use, and share some of your shooting locations”, which is great, I mean, pit etiquette is it something that you don’t know about unless you’re thrown into the
pit. I entered my first photo pit when I was 16 and I was completely clueless and
I relied on the more experienced photographers in that pit to show me the ropes. Now, a lot of these days the pit age is a lot younger than it was when I started. Press
photographers used to be like, in their mid-forties, kind of thing, and now when you enter photo pit, everyone’s in their twenties, and pretty much no one has a clue what they’re doing so what I’m going to do Regina, I’m going to actually do an article on the Adorama Learning Center, specifically for you and I’m
going to outline exactly what to do in a photo pit, all the etiquette, all the rules,
what not to do and what to do, and how not to annoy other people that are in
the photo pit as well. So I’m going to put an article, a full article detailing everything that you can possibly imagine about a photo pit on the Adorama
Learning Center very soon. Thanks for joining me today, I hope you
enjoyed the show. Please feel free to subscribe to the channel because I’m going to be bringing back some more great videos. Also if you want to brush up on your own
photography skills, check out the Adorama Learning Center because we post some great articles, tips and
tricks. I’ll see you again soon! Do you want great looking prints at low-cost? Be sure to
visit our easy to use online printing service. Adorama Pix has
professionals to treat your images with the utmost care that you can count. For a quick turnaround on photos cards or albums, use adoramapix.com.

Comments (18)

  1. Very good video and advice, and the speaker was quite lovely.

  2. Now I'm waiting for the next video… :/

  3. Did you get paid for this first shoot ?

  4. Great video, looking forward to part 2

  5. Great advice Ruth!!

  6. She gives great simple advice.  Thoroughly enjoyed her video.

  7. Thanks Ruth for the advice!  I hope that you will feel better.  The type of photography that you described is my style of photography as well.  If I was in Ireland for a holiday for about two weeks, I will definitely shoot film photography with you.  I will be talking to you on Facebook Messenger like we did before.  Just to refresh your memory, I sent you photos of the New York City Bridges.  I know that you said that you are busy.  Sincerely, Eddie!

  8. Hi Ruth, great video.  When I was in High School I started out taking pics for the school newspaper and went to most of the rock concerts back in 1976-77 Film Days. LOL  Got shot from everybody from Ted Nugent to the old Black Sabbath. Had to pretty much sneak in my camera because the place really didn't like people shooting with 200-300mm lenses. LOL  I always managed to run to the front of the barrier so I always got very close to the stage.  Now I'm feeling like I would like to convert all the old 35mm & 120mm film stuff into digital. Which 35/120 film/slide scanner would you recommend? I can go over $1500 if I need to 🙂 But still debating between a Epson type flatbed  model where you can scan many at a time or a dedicated model where it's one at a time.  Thank's 🙂

  9. Thanks for answering my question Ruth! I love these videos!

  10. Your first advice was oh so right… Pester and pester again! In the early 1970's I had an interview for a "Rep" job at Transatlantic Records in London… nothing heard from them until I started calling asking for a decision.. yes, I got the job. It's about showing them that you WANT it!
    Great video.
    PS. Now over my Stena Line Jet Lag 🙂

  11. Spot on. Thanks a million for the great advice.

  12. Great video. Thank you.

  13. First 3 no flash (usually) in most of the Uk too.

  14. Ruth resembles the girl from 'Coupling" who is Patrick's date and mistakenly hits on Sally.

  15. This is fantastic. I have just become a fan of Ruth. So inspiring!

  16. Well done! Pragmatic answers effectively delivered, with style. Very useful info. Slainte!

  17. If only I live in Ireland , I would love to learn more about photography from Ruth

  18. Ruth is a bit hypocritical. Ruth shot my band for free in 2003. Still such a lovely girl. She hasn't changed a bit.

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