I was bemoaning with a media comrade the common misconception that being a music photographer is oh-so-glamorous. So let’s walk through a day of shooting, as there are several lessons to be learned in getting through a shoot.
I emailed the venue two days before the show (after not reaching them by phone) to let them know I was shooting promos of Devildriver at 6pm on show day, and asked them if I could come early to scope the place out and set up lights, so I could whip through the 15 minute photo shoot with the band. I also let them know I had never shot there before and to let me know if there were any special procedures or entrances I needed to utilize.
LESSON: If you are shooting in a venue or location and you need to set up, try to arrange early arrival. These bands are VERY busy, and you will be lucky to get 15 minutes of shooting time. And trust me, that ain’t much time when you are trying to wrangle 3-6 strangers into a pose where they all look good at once. Also, by asking the club about procedures, you are showing you respect their rules and don’t want to be a pain in the ass.
I emailed my media contact the day of the show to confirm shooting promos for Devildriver
at 6pm at the venue. Typically, you get no response on that short of notice as they are busy people. Fortunately, she had already provided me with the road manager’s name and number to contact to round up the band when I was ready.
LESSON: Always get the road manager’s contact info if possible. I don’t care who gave you permission to shoot, they control the band’s schedule. God himself could set up a shoot or photo pass, but if the road manager says “no,” then you are not shooting.
About 3-4 miles from the venue I called the road manager to make sure we were on schedule and make sure I could get in the venue as doors had not opened. Left message with road manager’s voice mail.
LESSON: Road managers rarely answer the phone, but hopefully screen calls.
Fortunately, I had the venue phone number. Called them and told them I was coming and confirmed I was booked for promo shoot. They asked what I looked like so they could watch out for me. I informed them I was a “fat middle-aged woman with a shitload of camera gear. I so do not look rock and roll, but then neither does Annie Leibovitz.”
LESSON: Have the venue number as well. Self-effacing jokes can be effective with staff.
I arrived at the venue one hour before scheduled shoot, and the stage door was wide open. I gathered up my gear, and as I was entering the side door, the road manager came out. It was apparent the staff had passed on my little joke as he sort of laughed and said, “you must be my photographer!” and shook my hand. He told me he was glad I was early, as the band now had an interview at the time I was supposed to shoot and wanted to bump up our photos to 5:45pm. “No problem!” I told him, and thanked him for help with promos.
LESSON: Be there early to also adapt to any scheduling changes. Thank road manager profusely, which, along with self effacing jokes, now has him firmly on your side.
I dragged my lights in and sure enough, there were no outlets within reach. But that was okay, because I brought my power pack like a good Girl Scout and that would save me. So I thought.
LESSON: Prepare for no electric. Make sure to have a Plan B.
Despite testing said power pack before leaving, for some reason I was getting no juice to my light. Nada. I played with it and realized I was going to have to come up with Plan B. I nonchalantly laughed along with the South Park episode the staff were all watching to hide the panic rising in me. Must. Act. Calm. I looked around and there on the post near me was an outlet. Cord reached it. I was saved.
Or so I thought.
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