Music Photographer or Music Photographer?

A couple of articles in the UK’s ‘Digital Photographer’ made me think long and hard about what I really classify ‘music photography’ to be.

The first article was in Issue 59, and was a bit of a How-To article featuring interviews with UK-based photographer Jenny Potter and Aussie Leigh Wilkins. The photos published as examples of top notch music photography aren’t really much chop. But to give the photographers credit, when visiting their online folios, there are much better examples of what they can do. Apparently you can’t even trust the editor of a photography magazine to publish your best stuff. Anyway, after reading the article, it left a slightly bad taste in my mouth. It was just so scientific, so media-pit oriented. Very ‘you need to do this to get to this point professionally.’

 Enter Digital Photographer Issue 63, and it’s feature on London-based photog Jill Furmanovsky. There were less images than in the other article, but they all spoke to me so much more. A candid, smiling Amy Winehouse in her dressing room, Noel Gallagher walking onstage at Maine Road in 1996, arms spread, in front of tens of thousands of people. They weren’t just random snapshot photos, they were real moments. She went on tour with bands, she shot from the crowd when pit access was denied, she LIVED IT. Her journey was organic, spurred by luck and being at the right place at the right time.

When I look at my folio ten years down the track, I know who’s work I’d prefer it to resemble. Do I want to be the person who’s technically flawless, is driven and career-focused, but producing bland editorial tripe, or do I want to be the person who kind of fell into the whole thing by accident but can more accurately capture what’s going on around them because they’re genuinely living it, not just turning up for three songs?

As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a job, it’s not a hobby….it’s a lifestyle. Gotta have soul to be a soldier.


Jeff Buckley, London, 1994. Jill Furmanovsky.


3 Responses to “Music Photographer or Music Photographer?”

  1. 2 Ari
    October 5, 2007 at 8:29 am

    Awesome post. Totally agree. Photography in general, music photography in particular, is so much more art than science.

    I guess thats why i’m not getting paid yet (if ever) for this gig. I definitely am not a competitive person, and while i would love getting paid to take photos of people making music, i am more concerned with photography than money, with capturing a moment rather than shooting 3 gigs a night,and am happy for it to stay that way.

  2. October 6, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    I agree with Ari, I love the photography I love trying to grab an artistic shot that I know will be one for my favourites pile.

    With so many of us out there it’s hard to make a living based purely on music photography, unless you are in LA I guess.

    I’m happy doing what I do right now, getting myself together so I can present myself more professionally to publications and potential clients.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: