Top Ten "Bits of kit" for the Music Photographer

You can have "great" gigs and "rubbish" gigs... but it doesn't matter WHAT your gig is like, without gear you "ain't got no gig" and yeah, blah blah "It's not the Camera it's the photographer" ...Tell me that when you have the choice to shoot, in the dark, backlit with red light, at the Islington Academy... Yeah, it's the gear and then, if you know how to work it - you get the photos!... (Note to yourselves.. I'm right, don't argue..haha) Warning! This post is littered with links that lead you to amazing places that have lovely stuff that you WILL want to buy - If you go broke, not my fault. Get out of my bag...

10. Picture this! You're at the front of the crowd, only a thin rail seperates you and 25 THOUSAND screaming fans! There's screaming and cheering and whooping (you should get that looked at! what the hell is whooping anyway?) and you're about to take photos with your new 5DMk2 / D3s / 30D / 10D / Ixus / GRIII - errr, you see where I'm going... the lights drop! the music comes up! and a HALF FILLED BOTTLE OF WEE lands on your camera!!... destroyed... finished!... WEE O'Clock! ...Now, that's to say that it's only happened to me once, and the wee was on me, not my camera - BUT - to be less dramatic, I've shot in the rain at a festival and a good WATERPROOF cover is a great buy at ..well, very cheap! Or you can use supermarket bags!..I use the OpTech 18 version..

9. After my rant on memory cards (Sorry aData, you copped it!) I feel that it is important to use quality memory cards for photography - no question. Picture this, Lenny Kravitz has run onto the stage and started to strip while he sings a Stevie Wonder song... The crowd have all but fainted and you're the only one there with a camera - BUT - your memory card has hit its buffer wall and you keep on pushing it, and for some reason it tries to suck it all down and FAILS... Your card corrupts, you can't get your photos back and the editor of the daily whatsit is offering a squillion for shots of Lenny, nude, mounting the foldback wedge... (And so are the police) So, I mainly use SanDisk 4 GB Extreme III but recently have switched up, thanks to to the SanDisk Extreme IV 16 GB Fast, Bum proof (Don't ask) and digitally robust!

8. There is one (o.k. many..) lens that I don't have that I "need"...But what I DO have is as follows... Canon ef 100-400 L f4.5-5.7IS | Canon ef 50mm f1.4 | Canon ef 24-70 L f2.8 But the lens I don't have that I "NEED" is the Canon ef 70-200 L f2.8IS - I would say that the 24-70 and the 70-200 are "must have" bits of kit for the avid music photographer.

7. You've got all your pricey kit, you've got your muesli bars and your powerade... Now, how the HELL are you going to carry it around that seven football pitch sized festival? YES - That's RIGHT! you need a ROLLER... All the cool kids have them. AND guess what!.. I think I can get you a freebie (If you buy through THIS link and mention the code AP-223) directly with the guys at thinkTANK Photo in the US or through the guys at SnapperStuff in the UK There is NOTHING like rolling up to a gig... I was at a gig the other night and there were FOUR people with the thinkTANK rollers!

6. Cleaning stuff. If, like me, at some point, you're covered in beer, you WILL need to clean some part if not ALL parts of your camera during the event. Take a Large Giottos Rocket Blaster maybe you should pack some Microfiber Screen Cleaning Cloths and a LensPEN ...also, it may be nice for you to take a soft furry baby goat that you can wipe your hands on during the gig?.. Just a thought...

5. WHAT!?... WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN'T HEAR ME!... Unless you only ever shoot soft jazz... take EARPLUGS! no, seriously... Alternatively, I keep my iPod headphones (Sennheiser CX300's) in and listen to something nice when I'm shooting a ghastly cover band!

4. I once put a SanDisk ExtremeIII 4GB CF card in my pocket... It's now bent - sure, it sitll works, but it's bent! Imagine if I'd taken the best shots of my life and then BENT the darn CF card... How dark would you be? I have found that getting a lanyard and hanging a thinkTANK PixelPocket V2.0 off the end of it is the way forward... No questions, SD and CF versions available - the best memory card carrying and storage device available in the world, as we know it...Don't get bent... 

Stuff your cards in, not up

3. You don't need the best camera in the world, but it helps to have one that has spot metering and a decent lower light performance... I don't subscribe totally to the fact that it's the photographer and never the gear that screws up a shot... This isn't jazz, it's not a "chord choice" it's out of tune - I'm talking "John and Edward" out of tune... If your camera can not handle a low light situation, you may save yourself by always converting to black and white and calling them "arty" but sometimes, some people want color shots. I use two cameras, a Canon 30D and a Canon 5D Mark II.. The latter is amazing in the dark, the 30D however, leaves a little to be desired. A good camera isn't neccesary, you can take shots with a phone and luck out on something nice, BUT it does help.

2. TAKE A GREAT SMILE! You would be surprised what "Being Nice" can do for you... Seriously, It helps SO MUCH sometimes... Take a smile! Here's a SPARE one for you...

Test Shot - Ricoh GRIII // Catchlights?

1. The most important thing that you, as a music photographer, should take to ANY musical occassion is your hearing, your open mind and your "enjoyment" factor. You love music (Or you're a press photographer on the clock and don't give a toss) and you're there to involve yourself and engage yourself with the music. You can't take a portrait of someone and capture emotion if your heart's not in it... It's the same with music - Don't get carried away - I have, I've danced and sang and missed shots - well, sometimes you MUST have a sing and you must stop shooting and just soak up the amazingness!.. You're there, right in front of potentially the "best singer in your world" If you've got your shot - chill out, relax, suck in those tunes and live it up a little.

That's it for "Bits of Kit" I hope you get something out of this post.. It's the last in the "Top Ten" series before next week... As I now have a gig tonight, Shalamar at Indigo2, the newsletter will be coming out tomorrow or Sunday!

Peace Out! and have a top weekend.... (I'll have some birthday cake for you)


"Top Ten" Music Photography "Issues"

A little series here, a little series there - Today we start the "Top Ten - Music Photography" series.

The theme today is "the Top Ten issues you could run into that might ruin your shoot if you let them" (And, in true X Factor form... the Top Ten issues, in no particular order are....)

10. Gear Failure! I recently shot a fella named Nate James for Blues & Soul magazine - Most of the images on THIS aData memory card that I used came out "in half" - You can read about it here

9. Shooting rock gods IS amazingly fun - I mean, you're feet away from your "hero" he's singing for you... and then, a plastic beer bottle half filled with WEE hits you in the back of the head, drips down your shirt collar and goes on your camera.. Not fun!

8. Red Light, Blue Light! - Here... Let me illustrate! ...Nothing kills a good shot like badly placed Red and Blue (And purple and green) lights... Badly placed, no whites... Color is good, sometimes!

Movement, Power, Blue, Red

7. Security! Sometimes they're amazing and helpful and chatty and approachable. Sometimes they're complete low life, jobsworth, hard headed "I'm the god of this place" scum...

These guys were the good guys...

6. There's RED, BLUE and GREEN and then there's "Not Seen!" - Recent gig, Hilltop Hoods and there was NO front light whatsoever... The lighting guy decided that he'd stick some par cans on the side of the stage, facing forwards, and some white strobes from the back, again firing forwards... Not conducive to good images - even with the Canon 5DMk2 and its wonderful high iso button...

5. A "pit" full of photographers is nice, fun... You make contacts and friends... But sometimes there's one or two that are WAY better than everyone else - maybe in their head - and they roll in like they own the place, step all over you and rock back out... How to make friends and influence people... #namingnamesisbad

4. Security at the entrance of the o2 - Nuff said... Worst in London so far as JobsWorth goes - once you're inside, then that's OK... but if you even LOOK like you're going to skip out on that BLOODY metal detector, you're dead! "What's in the bag?" - "Cameras" - "Why" - "Because I'm a photographer, here's my pass and my act is on stage in three minutes" - "Who hired you?" - NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!... Grrr..haha, I made myself angry thinking about those guys!!... (Yes, I realise WHY security is in place, but you go through there with a camera bag and the wrong look on your face THEN come talk to me!)

3. Evil PR people! While some PR agencies and people n the industry are stunning, helpful and lovely (You know who you are!) there are some that are almost the most unhelpful people you will EVER meet. "You can't get a pass because I give out the passes and I don't like you, and you can't do anything for me and I'm smart and funny and you're a Canon user and I'm not wearing any underwear" - Yeah, really*

Boring Crowds!

2. With most music photography, you only get three songs and you're out... If the band are down and don't give you a good three songs, you can sometimes hate the photos you take and get demotivated - I think crowd reaction in part, along with how the crowd are treated and built up pre-show is key, but if the crowd are dead boring (like the lot above were) then, you're stuffed... Aside from Aworan, My brother from another mother there in the pit looking all smart like!

and LAST but not least!!

1. Enjoying amazing music but having to leave the second the third song is finished! Having to run out while Alice in Chains are playing your favorite track EVER - Out you get, you're finished! your WORK here is done.

So, that's "fun list" number one - Ten things that could potentially stuff up your music photography gig!

Nice one.