Trying to gain experience as an amateur concert photographer is one of the most frustrating and discouraging things ever.
Now, this is a post simply about my frustrations, getting my thoughts out and in turn, maybe receiving some advice from more knowledgable photographers. Still being a teenager, I find it very difficult to be taken seriously, in life in general, but more recently in photography. Alright, so I know that my photos aren’t the best, and I always seem to get bummed out when I compare my photos to others. Comparing them to people who are either my age, or a few years older than me; who are either working for a company/publisher with a press pass, or people who are able to bring in an DSLR camera into a show to shoot a fairly well known band really makes me wonder how they are able to do it.
Most of the photos I take at concerts are just on a digital camera that are decent enough quality for myself, and to be uploaded to the internet. Most shows I go to, I could care less about being in the photo pit because my main focus is to see the band. But with only photos shot on a small, portable digital camera- it isn’t enough to be taken seriously by anyone. To be considered by a company, publisher, etc, my “work” wouldn’t be good enough, or actually given a second thought to. The frustrating thing is that when I look at shots other people have taken, I just think that I could be able to do that and produce results given the opportunity.
To get to my question: how can you really get experience? What inspired this post mainly was that last night I went to a show in a smaller venue (a club/bar show, with a fairly well known band headlining), and brought my SLR. It wasn’t a problem at first, and a few other people had them too. As the night went on, I got threatened to be kicked out by a somewhat rude security guard (again with the age thing- I don’t think they really took me seriously, they just automatically assumed I didn’t have a press pass). It was apparently fine to take photos of the show, I just couldn’t do it with a professional camera. Now, I understand why this is, if it’s an issue of consent. I wouldn’t like my photograph to be taken without permission, and most people in the world wouldn’t either. Band members, or individuals you may classify as famous or a celebrity, are constantly being put on a pedestal. People objectify them all the time, and some fans and media will try to pry into their lives as much as possible. But what difference does it make if I take a photo at a concert on my phone, or on a camera? I suppose this brings up the second possible issue, which would be making a profit off the photos without consent. Pictures on an iPhone or cell phone are allowed because they’re not quality enough to sell, I guess.
So in short, I’ve learned that making mistakes is all part of the experience. To answer my own question, shooting in small venues with no policies about cameras is a good start. The only thing that is frustrating about that, is that the smaller the venue, the smaller the bands- and do I really want to shoot unknown bands? Are those the photos that people want to see? An argument to that is: every band does start out as unknown, and every photographer does as well. I can’t be picky, and I’d be stoked to shoot a show without the hassle of worrying about being booted out of the venue or completely destroying my camera as I try to sneak it in. I believe that if I live by that in mind, I can stay motivated. Because sometimes it is just so frustrating and makes you want to give up completely.