Archive for December, 2010

How To Get A Concert Photo Pass

Live Concert Photo Pass Press Credentials

This has happened to me on more than one occasion:

It’s that calm before the storm of waiting for a headlining act to take the stage.  Suddenly, a fan pressed up against the barrier beckons me over to ask me the big question –

“How can I land a photo pass to shoot concerts like you’re doing?”

My answer is the same every time:

“You know how to get to Carnegie Hall, dontchya? Practice!”

Now, while that’s not exactly the answer they’re looking for, it’s about as helpful of an answer I can give. The fact is, I started out several years ago taking a million photos, promoting myself as best I could, scouring the web for contact emails, trying to convince people that my photography made for great press exposure. Now, fast-forward several years to the present, and I’m still doing just that. The only thing that’s changed since then, is the quality of my portfolio of bands and concerts and festivals I’ve shot, and my Rolodex of editors, publicists, managers, and other helpful contacts to reach out to.

So, the best I can do is put together a few practical steps to help aspiring photographers on the path of practice for getting right up front and center with their cameras:


Andrew Bird ‘Gezelligheid’ @ Fourth Presbyterian Church

Andrew Bird Gezelligheid concert at Fourth Presbyterian Church Chicago (Justin Gill)

Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird played an intimate set in the sanctuary of the historic Fourth Presbyterian Church located in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Being a native to Chicago himself, it seemed no hard task to sell out all three nights of consecutive performances — a return to what he calls “Gezelligheid,” a Dutch word for “coziness” or “intimacy.”

What set this performance apart from other solo singer-songwriter performances was two things: One, is Andrew’s mastery over several instruments, including violin, guitar, mandolin, glockenspiel, and — in keeping with his name — whistling. Two, he had set up around him in the sanctuary what appeared to be giant phonograph horns, amplifying his music to add warmth to the cavernous acoustics of the vaulted church ceilings.


In David E Jackson’s Mind: A Circus.

Dave Jackson is a great music and editorial photographer that I was chums with on photographer forum boards long ago — before the days of YouTube even — and every once in a while, it’s nice to see his work still pops up during my daily interwebbery.

Along your journey as a photographer, you’ll hopefully find there’s a day when you wake up and realize you kind of know your way around an aperture, you know the pros and cons of the age-old Canon/Nikon debate, you know what different lenses to use for different scenarios, and you can even imagine how lights were set up and modified just by reverse-engineering how it looks in a photo…
But Dave sits down and explains a little behind his thinking, what rolls around in his brain — often the best piece of equipment a photographer can own.

I think the fact that it’s a circus shoot is MORE than allegorical.

Be sure to read through his exhaustively thorough Behind-The-Scenes blog post as well!