Here we are, we hit number 10. I am at 10 weeks of writing a blog consistently. Who wants to celebrate? I do. I do because I can.
You know what else I've done 10 of now?
Concert reviews for online publications.
Here's a short list with some of the bands I've covered, with links to the reviews for all the photos and words you would love to see that I can't necessarily share here, so go click those links people!
And my lastest and favorite, Haken and Arch Echo.
I've also done four album reviews too as a result of working with MyGlobalMind. These are fun and different because it really forces you to think about music differently.
This doesn't include the festivals I've worked at.
Want to know how I got into it?
I started out taking photos as concerts and events as practice, I talked to bands, I networked with bands, I kept asking the same people over and over and over for opportunities, even though at least one of them probably wanted me to buzz off more than once because I was annoying, but we've become good friends now. Many thanks to one the hardest working and most sincere people out there, Tom Jordan of 20 Watt Tombstone (pictured to the here) for your friendship and help with so many of my dumb band merch questions - by the way they have a music video out today at 10 am CST!
Beyond just taking concert photos at my local venues and asking really dumb questions to people who could've just passed me off, especially at larger venues like the Resch Center and online pubs and festivals I reached out and kept reaching out. I made over 100 calls the first month I freelanced about getting into major festivals only to find out I was doing it ALL wrong. Additionally social media was huge to connect to people who connected me to the right people, and teach me the right processes
At first, I made myself known by showing up, and giving my stuff away. Yes, you read that right, the first many years of my photographic existence were the plentiful years of free press for everyone if you were in my files. I had to do that in order to get my foot in the door with people. I needed the experience, and how else was going to get it. I was lucky to be able to do that looking back. But all the while I was establishing my brand. My look and feel. And now, I've got a band with 11,000+ followers (20 Watt Tombstone), and festival with 22,000+ followers on the socials who appreciate my work and call me up regularly, many thanks Mile of Music.
Heck, one of my shining moments was when Rock Fest (they have 175,000 followers) used a few of my images on their website banner. I have to selfishly admit that was kind of cool to see.
The ones with circles are the ones I took.
What I'm saying is make friends with the right people and truly be their friends, support their missions and before you know it you'll really be in it to win it. There was a time when I would've said "yeah, that'll never happen. And social media isn't where I'm going to find work...pssshh" But trust me, where there's a will, there's a way! Social media is a tool, not a toy, treat it as such and you'll find success.
And it's important to remember there are no dumb questions when you want to get ahead, only dumb decisions after you're in said profession that will get you called out and maybe even black listed, then whose fault is that? Ignorance can be forgiven once, more than once, you're doing it by choice now. The point is I had every intention of being a photographer dedicated to the music and music arts industry.
I knew that my goal with photography was never to be solely focused on portraits, weddings and things that are the typical questions as soon as you say "I'm a photographer." I wanted to be in the action in the mix. I wanted to be a photojournalist. And here I am. Beyond just concerts I am a journalist and a musician so it all coalesces as it should.
I shot my first concert for $40 at the Lyric Room for Alley Cat and Purrrfection (photo to the right, Alex may not have been that name yet, but he is now). Yep, and I thought that was good money because up until that point I hadn't ever gotten paid for any photo stuff. It was all a hobby. In fact I was so nervous about shooting that show I barely slept the night before. It seems so petty now. What was I worried about?
I had a shitty Canon Rebel T6i camera and I thought I was top dog getting shots I shouldn't been getting, and yet I really had no idea what I was doing so I can guarantee if I went back and looked if I still had them I'd be judgy as hell towards myself. I have since lost those images due to a drive failure, but I'll never forget how nervous I was to deliver the images. I didn't even know how to use Google Drive and I did all the edits one up in Photoshop because I didn't know how to use Lightroom. It took HOURS to edit this job. I mean like a half day to edit less than probably 50 usable photos. And you know what, he loved them, and I've since done family photos for him, and shot another show (photo is above), and we'll be doing a promo shoot at some point here. My first real customer and he's still around. Another person I can call a good friend on more levels than just music.
One my all time favorite bands to shoot is and was The Roving Scallywags. Singer and Guitarist Kevin Huss has a special place in my heart and business and my bands. He's a super dude, and he's treated me super well over the years. I don't know how we actually connected, but he's been a great friend to me since we met. He's had me on some podcasts he was hosting. He's had me on bills with his solo shows, he's hired me at least two times to shoot for photos for him, the first time I just showed up because I thought "Celtic punk...this ought to be interesting!" and I had sent him some images from the show. He must've loved them. Because we've been working together ever since.The Roving Scallywags were also the last concert I shot before COVID shut the world down. What a memory. If you're part of the music scene at all and have never met Kevin, you need to.
Little did I know this was the last band photo I took before driving home on Saturday 3/14 and thinking things would blow over in a few weeks. Also, little did I know they would be the first band I shot after venues started opening again!
At this point, I want to remind you, while there is "competition" for certain things in all paths of life, the reality is you are the competition. It's mainly in your head. Show up, be you. Do you. Shoot how you do. Don't listen to the naysayers tell you you're going to fail, that this is a hard profession. Don't kid yourself, it's not an easy profession, photography, but is any profession "easy" when you're solo trying to do it yourself? The demands are high, the timelines are quick, the expectations are hefty, and the usage of images and rights to images is a whole other ball of wax. One I am still trying to figure out and navigate properly. The truth is anything is hard if you don't have the willpower to survive no matter what. There's plenty of opportunities for you to do what you want in your desired field. There's plenty of money to go around, and plenty of openings. You just have to find the right one and it might take some time. You have to keep applying, keep talking, keep networking in the field you really want to work in, all that good stuff.
Lately a couple of the bigger wins for me include bands sharing my concert reviews and album reviews and people ACTUALLY liking them. Real, honest to goodness comments of praise about the content.
I heard a YouTube video recently where the guest said "Abundant living isn't about riches, abundant living is about a life of possibility." Enable those around you, and you'll find yourself being enabled, i.e. teach a man to fish...
I am lucky to have the people around me who took a chance on me, enabled me, and moreover engaged with me, and continue to engage.
Do I make tons of money in the music field, absolutely not. But that's because I've only been in this part of the market for a year and a half.
Now for the disclaimer.... my freelance job requires "day job" activities too. However my day job activities are things I enjoy doing for the most part -- dare I say even accounting. It's nice to know what you have coming in, and where you need to focus. I've curated my life that way by the grace of very good people who let me slide on certain things every so often. I like to think that every time I shoot and review a concert I am closer to my goal of making that my day job. To be in the music industry, working with artists, and pubs.
Aright Chickens, That's it for this week!