As some of you may already know today is the third anniversary of when I photographed my first concert. I was only 14 when I was given the opportunity to shoot my first concert and since then so many things have changed. I went from shooting in a small club to shooting Carolina Rebellion for an international publication. Through these past three years not only have I had the chance to do incredible things, but I have also learned so much that has impacted my life in such a beautiful way. So here are just a few things I’ve learned over the past three years as a concert photographer.
You’re going to meet some pretty famous people and they’re not any different than you
As odd as this may seem, I felt it was kinda important because I feel it’s often overlooked. In the past three years I have met so many artists I really have lost count. From pop artists to rock, I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet with many talented people. One thing that I have noticed with every single one is they’re all normal people. Now I know how cliche that sounds, but honestly it’s something so many people still do not understand. Especially some people that attend music festivals.
You’re going to meet amazing people and make some awesome friends
Something I was never prepared for was the fact that shooting was going to be what lead me to meet so many amazing people. From photographers I’ve idolized to the person who is new to this whole thing, the people are what I cherish more than anything. Shooting has allowed me to make many many friends and also learn a bunch from them that I likely wouldn’t have learned otherwise . There’s a special kind of feeling when you go into a photo pit and you’re friends with others around you. It turns shooting into something that’s even more fun than normal.
Trust me it’s pretty awesome to stand in a pit next to another girl photographer who is just as excited to see Chris from Motionless In White as you are.(talking about you Sarah haha)
In some very special cases, and if you’re lucky enough to come across such a connection during a show, you may end up dating one of your fellow photographers (which means dates will likely always be concerts haha).
You’re also going to meet some not so amazing people
And of course what would it be without meeting a few FANtographers, or photographers that just cause you to have headaches. Regardless you’re likely going to run into a few of them and it’s definitely going to be an anxiety trigger. Just remember they’re giving you problems because they’re most likely intimidated by the work you do so don’t pay them any attention.
You’re going to start to go out of your comfort zone
As the very introverted and anxiety filled teenager that I am, I truthfully didn’t believe I’d ever willingly start to slowly step out of my comfort zone. Personally I’ve always struggled to talk to others and it tends to be a stressful thing. Since I’ve started shooting I have realized that I am becoming more comfortable with speaking to people I am shooting with, and that in itself is a bit of a blessing for me.
You’ll probably cry over a show approval or two
Haha! Before you judge me, hear me out on this one. I started young and was a huge fan of some of the artists I had gotten approval for the first time or two. Okay I take that back I cried when I got approval for Warped the first year and when I got Carolina Rebellion last summer. My point is that it’s likely a thing that will happen and your little fangirl heart is going to explode (yep dudes are fangirls too).
You eventually will no longer be an awkward newbie and end up being someone who knows just about everyone who gets in a pit with you
This wasn’t really a thing I noticed had started to happen until last summer. I’m no longer the young kid that knows nobody around them in the pit, but in fact the one who kinda knows everyone around. This really wasn’t something I felt start to happen until I shot a few festivals but it definitely feels good. It’s something I enjoy especially when I see someone from out of town I don’t get to shoot with much. (Lizzy, Paul and Bernard I’m talking about you two)
You’ll finally stop being nervous in a photo pit!
This one is something that took forever for me to get comfortable with. Photo pits can be intimidating at first, especially the first time you step into a crowded festival pit (I still have nightmares of some of the crowded ones I’ve been it). Eventually they will no longer be scary and you’ll soon feel pretty at home inside of them. You will even start to wonder why you were ever nervous about inside of them in the first place.
There will always be a new adventure ahead
Whether you shoot a hundred shows in a year or 20, always remember amazing things are coming your way. Shooting takes work! Sometimes, it’s easy to feel discouraged or tired but keep in mind that with every show you photograph there’s going to be something new you can learn. It could be meeting someone new or learning how to shoot differently. There’s always going to be something there and your adventure will continue. Besides things can’t get too boring in music, at least not for very long.
Hello! My name is Alexia and I am a 17 year old professional photographer based out of North Carolina and I have something called EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome)
EDS makes a lot of my joints pop in and out of place and also causes a lot of chronic pain. Because of this I have to be very careful with the gear I choose to shoot with as carrying a lot of weight for long periods of time does cause my body to hurt a lot after. Though I photograph all styles of photography, my main love is concert photography , which typically means lots of weight. So I figured I would create a list of different things that I use that make shooting with a chronic illness, and chronic pain, much easier.
1. Double Harness Camera Strap
Though a double harness seems like a lot if you only have one camera body , it works wonders with for combating shoulder and back pain. The harness distributes weight much differently than a single strap, or a neck strap, and helps to not feel the ache so relievems much of the ache you would feel later. I typically wear my harness even when I’m only shooting with one of my camera bodies and that is because it is much more comfortable for me personally.
Blackrapid Breathe Double Camera Harness: http://www.blackrapid.com/Double-Breathe
2. A Comfortable And Lightweight Camera Bag
This is one I don’t think is often times thought of : the The wrong camera bag can cause all over body pain . This is especially true for a concert photographer, or any photographer that is strapped to their gear for hours, who shoots music festivals and you’re out on the grounds all day. You typically are carrying several lenses and likely multiple bodies so having a bag that is comfortable is key. Personally I used to use a Canon backpack style bag, as I found the messenger bags tended to cause shoulder and neck pain for me. The Canon bag however was also rather painful and ended up causing pain in my entire back as well so I finally ended up upgrading to a Think Tank backpack which is much slimmer and is much more comfortable to carry in comparison to my old bags. Though I know that bookbags aren’t very comfortable for everyone there is a massive selection of both bookbag style and messenger style on amazon.
Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro V2.0 Backpack: https://www.thinktankphoto.com/collections/streetwalker-series/products/streetwalker-pro-v2
Timbuk2 ACE Hiking Daypack: https://www.timbuk2.com/products/1515-camera-sling-bag?variant=12733954719786
3. Light Weight Camera Bodies
This isn’t always the easiest or budget friendly thing , but lightweight cameras can be lifesavers for photographers that have wrist pain. I myself personally have pretty bad wrist pain in both my wrists and have to shoot with wrist braces. I shoot with a Nikon D7200 and a Nikon D3300 (both crop sensors) and I still have issues with their weight. For people with wrist issues something I have found that I myself am hoping to upgrade to eventually is an Olympus Mirrorless. Although On the more expensive side of the cameras, the Olympus mirrorless bring beautiful images to life and are also easy on the joints.
Olympus PEN F: https://www.getolympus.com/us/en/digitalcameras/pen-f.html
Olympus OMD EM 1 Mark ii: https://www.getolympus.com/us/en/digitalcameras/e-m1-mark-ii.html
Not exactly camera equipment , but specific braces can work wonders if you have issues with your wrists and such. Again, I personally shoot in at least one wrist brace, and I know from personal experience if I didn’t I would end up being in pain for several days after. I know that braces aren’t always the most appealing thing, or always comfortable , to wear to a photo session or concert, but taking care of your body is far more important than hurting yourself with your gear. Besides, I want to be able to do photography for all my years to come.
5. Comfortable Shoes
For me personally this is a very big thing for me when shooting. I have hip problems and have had double hip surgeries , so my legs and hips do tend to hurt a lot after shooting a festival or long concert . so I also have super hyper mobile, or crazy flexible feet, so I always make sure to wear comfortable shoes and custom orthotic inserts. I also have some sensory issues too, so finding good shoes that I can tolerate has been difficult .as I often times do not like how the seams in shoes feel which is where a good orthotic comes into play. Which is why I prefer Converse. Good shoe orthotic inserts can go into most any closed toed shoe usually and make them super comfortable. For me personally I personally usually wear Converse Sneakers to shoot in with the inserts and I usually don’t have any kind of pain with them.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars: https://www.nike.com/t/converse-chuck-taylor-all-star-high-top-unisex-shoe-xX439O/M9160-000
6. Bring A Helper If You Can
Now I know this isn’t always an option for some people but it is a very helpful one if you have the ability to do so. Bring someone with you to shoots as an assistant. It can be very helpful with handling all your gear and making sure you don’t over do it , especially if you shoot music festivals. I always have my dad go to festivals with me. and it He is a major help because I’m not sure how I would really handle carrying the 50 plus pounds of gear for 12 hours alone.
I hope that these tips are helpful to both photographers with chronic illnesses and those who don’t have them! I know that being a photographer with health problems or joint pain can be a very difficult task sometimes but it is absolutely not impossible. Adapt and work with yourself and make it doable as much as you can. I promise it gets easier. and your body will be healthier for it.