My friend Emily is a photojournalist who has had a pretty badass freelancing career so far, shooting and writing for prominent publications like the Village Voice. She often shoots concerts and music festivals and has sat down for interviews with famous music personalities like Jared Leto from Thirty Seconds to Mars (or as he is forever burned in my brain…Jordan Catalano).
Emily and I recently had a chance to have a cup of coffee together and she had her gear in tow. She was shooting a big concert just a few hours later at Madison Square Garden.
I had often heard Emily refer to the photographers’ pit in concerts. It seemed to me that there are a lot of unspoken rules in there, sort of like the secret handshake amongst photographers who have probably spent years shooting together in such a confined space. It would probably be difficult for a new photographer to catch on. I asked her what was some valuable advice for newcomers shooting in the pit.
“Since we only have about 15-20 (if we’re lucky) minutes to shoot each band at a show, there’s a lot of movement going on. So just a basic respect for your fellow photographers and know that just because you may get shoved a bit along the way, don’t take it too personally. We’ve all been there. ” – Emily
Here’s a closer look at the Alexander Wang bag she uses to carry gear for concert shooting. The studs on the bottom of her purse are heavy but reassuring since it can be used as a shield to fend off flailing limbs when things get a little out of hand….although she would rather take a blow to the ribs than risk damage to gear.
“…I was shooting the DJ onstage, a girl who was dancing in front of me was flailing and essentially pushed me off the stage…my ribs ended up hitting the edge of the stage before falling flat on my butt. That definitely hurt for a few weeks but no broken bones!” – Emily
I couldn’t believe how much gear she could fit in what was seemingly a small bag. The woman packs like a pro. She had snugly packed a camera body, 2 lenses, a flash unit, rechargeable batteries, keys, a sunglasses case, cords, lip gloss, and of course ear plugs.
“When I first started shooting concerts, there weren’t too many females in the photo pit. So getting the credibility to be there took a bit of time. It’s definitely much better now. But you’ll still get the occasional fan who’ll think you’re some groupie who’s just trying to get with one of the band members. And at that point all I do is roll my eyes, put my earplugs in and get ready to shoot. ” – Emily
left to right // 1. pins on her camera strap // 2. the wide angle lens she usually uses to shoot the crowds at festivals // 3. the European plug below is for the gear she got in the United Kingdom where she had lived for a bit // 4.photo she took of Sydney Sierota, the lead singer of Echosmith.
Since I feel like I’m always shooting on ladders, benches, and anything I can basically climb to get a good shot…well, I had to get shot of Emily on her step stool which she uses when shooting festivals. I love that she chose a step stool with some character. Thanks so much Emily for sharing!! -xo, CM