Strategies for Covering Concerts

Backstage passes are granted to a very select few. It is a great honor and should be treated accordingly.

As with any other professional organization, concert promoters are always checking and double-checking the credentials of photographers and reporters. The promoters will generally require that you are on assignment  for a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast news service before issuing you a press pass for admission or a backstage pass. When covering  a celebrity or entertainment function, you also need to follow the general Press Code of Ethics.

Research the event beforehand. A particular benefit may require that you wear formal attire to enter whereas a rock concert might dictate jeans and a T-shirt. Certain celebrities work well with the press while others shun or even attack the press for attempting to do their job. Being prepared is key to success.

At all concerts, it is necessary for you to follow their guidelines for photographers and journalists. To avoid disappointment, inquire well in advance about press guidelines and  how to obtain them. Be aware that if you gain access, that does not mean for the duration of the concert. It is usually only for 10 – 15 minutes at the foot of the stage when the concert begins. Security will then escort all members of the press out. If you expect to enjoy the full concert, buy a ticket.

When shooting a concert, the best rule to keep in mind is, “Get as close as possible and have your equipment ready.” Get to the location early and try to get near the front. Remember to maintain a friendly and professional air while accomplishing this. Working well with other press members is an integral part of the profession.

It’s also important for you to have your equipment ready for shooting before the event begins. You will have little room to maneuver during the actual show. Nothing could cause more frustration than realizing you’d have a great shot—if only you could squat down and retrieve a piece of equipment while you’re surrounded by people on all sides.

As with any other professional organization, concert promoters are always checking and double-checking the credentials of photographers and reporters. This concern for security is well-founded.

If you are asked to verify your assignment, don’t worry. The link on the back of your press cards works 24/7 to verify that you are on assignment. Today’s Photographer International magazine editors are always there to provide you with any other necessary confirmation.

Again, to cover major events, you may need to start the application process thirty days in advance. And do not breach the ethical standards by asking for admission.  Do NOT ask for autographs. This is a serious breach of press ethics. Uphold the ethics of the press and represent your editor well. Never invite guests to attend with you on a press assignment. This action may forfeit your ability to gain access to the current event and later passes.

Backstage passes are granted to a very select few. They are a great honor and should be used accordingly. While backstage, you must conduct yourself as a professional. Politely ask your subject to pose for your picture and then move on. Many performers, seeing your professionalism, will in all likelihood be very friendly towards you.

A general rule of thumb is to offer a few free copies of the pictures to the members of the performing company. You can never tell – if they like them, you might end up with a shooting assignment for some of their concerts and even for their publicity pictures.

Bring all the necessary credentials and be prepared to show them to the appropriate officials. This will ease your access and help you move through quickly and avoid unnecessary harassment. Do your homework and alway be prepared.