Concert Photography: The Photo Pass

with No Comments

Getting A Photo Pass:

After practicing in local venues without photo restrictions, it’s time to up your photo game with a photo pass. If you believe that you’re ready for this, the easiest way to get your hands on that holy piece of fabric and get yourself in front of the barricade is to work for a publication. There’s really no reason for any act to give you a photo pass unless you’re giving them something in return—press. It can be online, print, or a blog as long as it’s a reliable publication. That way you as a photographer are legitimate and the publicist approving your request will sleep well at night knowing you will (hopefully) be able to do your job and deliver. Just to put it out there, I primarily shoot for myself so I’m being approved on Hopeless Thunder’s credibility.

It’s also important to remember that what you’re doing is a job. You’re not only representing whoever hired you but also whoever approved you access to the pit. They believed that you have the ability to capture the essence of an artist’s show in less three songs or less. This isn’t time to dilly-dally and mess about. Have some pride and go into the pit confident in your abilities as a photographer but most importantly, be professional. This is not a portfolio filler. This is a job and a career for most of the other people in the pit. Don’t turn it into a farce and devalue the art form because you want to fan girl over the act.

Once You’ve Been Approved For A Pass:

Now that you’ve gotten the go ahead and have a photo pass for the show, it’s important to know that there is a three song limit. This should be standard for most shows but be ready to anticipate being cut off before the three songs are up. This can and will likely happen at some point in your concert photography career so make sure you have shots to work with in the event you are rushed out of the pit before time’s up.

ALSO: Sometimes you will need a ticket to the show as well. Some venues won’t let you in without a ticket and some will escort you out after the first three songs without a ticket. Check with whoever is approving your credentials that you’re hooked up so you can do your job.

Get To The Photo Pit Early

Just because you have a piece of fabric, it doesn’t mean you should stroll in minutes before whomever you were hired to photograph starts playing. That’s not only unprofessional but it sets you up for possible disaster. Get there early for some reassurance that when the artist begins to play, you have the best possible position for some great shots.

Not only does getting to the photo pit early give you first picks of where to plant yourself in front of the stage, it also allows you the chance to meet other photographers and schmooze. It’s important to be friendly to other photographers because you will most likely be needing to switch spots with them, especially if the photo pit is small. No one wants to trade spaces with a rude person.

Go to the next article in our Concert Photography Series: Shooting The Show
Follow Nancy Hoang:

Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (Basically, she's a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.

Latest posts from