Shooting concert photography and sporting events has always been a heavily sought after niche in the photography world. And for good reason – it’s a ton of fun, you could (hopefully) be working with famous musicians and world-star athletes.
Although obtaining media pass credentials can be hard at first, we ensure you that once you get into shooting your first couple of shows, you will find other avenues and connections to get into more events. In this blog-post, we will be teaching you the best ways, as a beginner, to get into shows and who to contact.
1.) Build a Portfolio
The number one step is to first have a platform to showcase your work. Before you even attempt to send out emails, it is best to create a collection of your best work. If you lack content to show, try to shoot public/free events or festivals, and reach out to any friends that are musicians or may know of any. Make sure your portfolio is easily accessible from both desktop and mobile platforms – if people struggle to view your content, they simply won’t take the time to view it.
Speaking from personal experience, I was able to get into my first concerts as a freelancer by showcasing my portrait photography work. For the best results, try to have experience in shooting at low-light events*.
Wix and Squarespace both offer portfolio templates designed for content creators. Need additional help building your photography portfolio? Check out this tutorial by Mason.
2.) Contact Media Outlets/Promotion Companies/Artist Managers
There are 3 main strategies for who to contact in order to obtain a press pass.
First, you can directly contact the artist’s manager through Instagram, Twitter, or email. In my opinion this is the best route. Sometimes you will be able to meet the manager at the show and get backstage access. I have also heard of others contacting the DJ performing at the show to secure a press pass.
Here is an example of an email that I would send to an artist’s manager.
“To whom this may concern,
My name is _____ and I am __ year old photographer/videographer from ________. I have previously shot for Kodie Shane, Jack Harlow, and Dua Lipa. I am asking for a press pass to shoot at X’s concert. I will send you the video recap and pictures after. My website is ________ and my Instragram is @______.Thank you, ______”
Second, you can choose to contact the media outlets that are connected to the event. These can be magazine publications, blogs, or radio stations. Keep in mind that the majority of the time if you get a press pass through a media outlet, you are only allowed to shoot the first 3 songs (with no flash) from the photo pit.
Lastly, you can try to contact the promotion company that is organizing the event. The majority of the time, the promotion company decides what media has access to what event and who is in charge of promoting it. If you are able to make a connection with a promotion company, it is a reliable entryway to shoot shows. The bigger the promotion company, the bigger the artist.
3.) Wait For a Response
This can sometimes be the most tedious step in the process. I have had to send over 100 emails just to get 10 emails back in response. Make sure you follow-up to secure your media credentials and arrive early at the show.
If the artist’s manager isn’t hitting you back… don’t be a cornball and dm them 100 times! Keep your head up, and move on to the next one.
4.) Execute & Stay in Contact!
One of the most important things after the event is to be proactive in the delivery process of the photos/videos. Try to send your work to the artist’s management as soon as possible. This may allow for more work opportunities if the artist likes your work and you may be able to use that artist’s support as a credible recommendation.
When it comes to sending photos, I have found what truly helps is sending the shots where the artist looks the most natural and has a candid expression. That is to say, in the past, I have had to choose worse shots over perfect shots due to the subject not looking their natural self. Those photos may not rank high on your own self-appraisal list, but they will most likely be the pictures that appeal to artists’ management and make it on social media.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Never pay for a media pass! In order words, it is most likely a scam.
- Not every media outlet will always have access to the event.
- If you do find a media outlet to work for, it will probably be for free.
- Most of the time, you will be notified 24 hours before the show.
- CHARGE your batteries and make sure you have enough storage!
- Contact the artist(s) that are opening for the main performer! This practice has allowed me to get access to shows I would have otherwise been denied.