Working With Artists

There is a difference between working with artists and working for artists and it separates the different types of photographers. When an artist works with another artist, it’s a collaborative effort. Both parties contribute to the final product and when that happens, the result is amazing. 


Photographers thrive on collaborations. If the artist has an idea of what they want, the photographer adapts to the situation and tries to create something out of the ordinary. The collaborative effort is unfiltered in this kind of communication, meaning it does not go through the management, which is not something that is usually done. And when artists work directly together, creativity works the best.

Artists can be finicky and working with them can be a challenge. Nevertheless, you need to be aware of the fact that they are hiring you to do a job for them. It’s their band, not yours. So, you have to convey what they are asking for. You need to be easy to deal with and be expendable at a certain point – that goes a long way. Openness and flexibility, from the beginning, are the things that carry you throughout your career.

An artist needs to convey the photos from their show and because of that, a photographer’s job is very important in the music world. And being a photographer can be a quite personal job. If you can’t live with someone and you are not versatile, it’s not going to happen. How you’re dressing, how you’re acting and what direction you’re taking from the artist, and whether or not you’re going with the flow by reading the room are all significant aspects apart from taking photos. Don’t get it wrong, working on your photography is highly important, but how you interact with people you work with on a daily basis is also important.

How to Start Touring with Artists

There are a few different ways when it comes to go from going to shows and shooting for free to conveying that you are a good hang and start touring with artists. First of all, and as you well know by now, networking is the key. Yet just because you meet someone, and they have a job opening does not mean that you’re going to get the job. You need to vibe with them and give them something that they didn’t know they needed. This way, they will find a way to keep you around. You can also photograph someone’s show and if they happen to like photos you can do it again and then you can ask to go on tour. Mind you that even though your photos get an artist’s attention, who you are is what really gets you the gig. Another thing is, if you put something out and it’s on the artist’s page and someone likes it, they can hire you. You also have your own feed to post your work, then again, you get someone’s attention and get offered a job. Essentially, you have two portfolios that are working for you which could potentially get you jobs. It’s like double promoting yourself. 

Shooting for Free vs. Getting Paid

It might be hard to pitch yourself and then convince people to pay for what you’re offering as a photographer when there are people that do it for free. And you might do it for free – however, if an artist like your photos, give them your contact info, and if they hit you up then you can give your price. In this kind of scenario, you have the bargaining power. How much should you charge depends on how big the artist is because the larger the artist, the more impact the photos have. Therefore, they are worth more money and they can afford to pay that money. The pay rate is a variable factor for the creatives in the music industry because sometimes you get paid less and sometimes more. That does not mean that one’s more important than the other, it’s just the pay scale and it is often irrelevant to the job you are doing. As mentioned, it depends on how big the artist is.

Photography & Videography & Social Media Combined on Tour

If you have multiple skill sets that you’re able to perform on the road (photo, video, social media) and the artist wants you to do them all, they’re going to get less of each. The quality of your work should stay the same, but the quantity changes. Your goal should be giving consistently good-quality footage. However, it might be challenging to wrap your brain around doing two-three things at once especially when it’s a live show. You have to be very organized, and it might take the fun out of it. Yet of course when you are photographing and videoing the same set every night of the tour, you have plenty of time to get every footage you need.

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