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All Access

Lesson 7 from: Getting Started in Music Photography with Red Bull Photographer Todd Owyoung

Todd Owyoung

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Lesson Info

7. All Access

Lesson Info

All Access

All right, now let's dive into shooting all access. This is in contrast to shooting for an editorial client when you might be shooting for the promoter, or the band, or their management. The highest level of credentials for a concert or tour is AAA, access all areas. And if you're shooting for the band, whatever, this is the access you want. Not just a working pass, not a production pass, but access all areas because this is gonna let you go everywhere in a venue from the stage, to the pit, to the upper deck of an arena. Now, the basic approach to shooting with all access is really not that different from how you would approach a normal concert. It really builds on the fundamentals as if you were just shooting for the first three songs. Now, there are a couple different options. Now, obviously, with all access you're gonna have more access than just the photo pit for three songs. So there are backstage opportunities with AAA. You can photograph the green room, or the lounge, the tour b...

us, there's often movement of the artist. Like a lot of times if I'm shooting a tour I'm kind of waiting around. Waiting, you know, for an artist to come around a corner or for that kind of walking shot going to stage. There's the meet and greet, there are pre-show rituals. And this might be something like a pep talk before the show, or taking a shot, or whatever it might be but that the band might do regularly before a performance, before they walk onto stage. And, of course, also if you have access you might have portrait opportunities. These are instances where it could be something as casual as an informal non-lit portrait in the back lounge or something where you're bringing, you know, a speedlight and a small modifier or whatever it might be to do something more formal that is in the setting of the venue, or the tour bus, or something from the road. In terms of concert opportunities things that might stand out when you have all access include first of all more time. Instead of three songs you have the whole set, which can be this massive, massive boon when there are limited opportunities otherwise in music photography. A big one for me is shooting on stage. So if you can do that getting a reverse shot, shooting from on stage with the band in front of you and the crowd in the background. That's something that's always pretty unique. What I love shooting is the drummer, getting drummer shots. Because, again, if you're shooting editorially you might not have access to the drummer in the same way. You're gonna be shooting from the pit or worse, from front of house where the drummer is the farthest possible person from your lens. And if you have all access shooting on stage and photo of the drummer is one of my main priorities because you're going to have the most opportunity to make the most compelling shots with that access. In addition, production shots. These are shots that show the lighting, the effects, and the full stage really. And these might be important for the management because they want to capture, you know, what the show looks like. And it kind of relates to crowd shots to a certain extent where they want to show what a sold out venue looks like, what a sold out arena looks like. So those kind of production shots that show off the stay of the lighting or the size of the crowd are important. And to that end, the venue and the crowd are something that I love photographing with all access. Because if you're shooting at a larger venue and you're escorted in and out of the photo pit you might not have that opportunity to capture crowd shots or to go up into the upper deck of an arena for example and shoot those kind of defining and establishing shots of what it's like to be a regular fan, paying for your ticket that isn't front row but kind of farther back in the arena. In addition, one thing I love doing when I'm shooting all access is lifestyle photography and capturing the fan experience. These are things that are especially important if you're shooting for a brand like Red Bull, or a promoter, or the festival organizer, where they're not necessarily interested in the performance as much. Because at a festival the performers might change year to year, they're going to change year to year. But what's gonna sell tickets for the next year, for example, is the particular experience fans will have at that event. Whether it's at Coachella where people are dressing up, or Burning Man, or any festival or experience that has a very particular feel, it's important to capture those images that establish that. Lifestyle, the fan experience, fashion, if people are dressing from a certain way, or if there's body paint, glitter, whatever. But, in addition, you can make images of vendors selling merchandise, jewelry, T-shirts, or even the food. I mean, these are all things that may be important to the promoter, or the brand, or the sponsor in kind of connecting themselves with live music and these events. I'm just gonna run through some backstage or BTS examples from tour photography. This is Jason Aldean going on tour with them, and this is a shot from Atlantic City. This is during soundcheck, and not a lot of action is happening, but it's an opportunity to show the scale of these venues and kind of what it's like to be on tour and kind of what goes into the show. This is a shot of Jason Aldean. This is at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia. And Jason's a huge Atlanta Braves fan, so playing this show was really special for him. And, you know, it's kinda cool to see an artist get excited about a venue. He plays, you know, what, around an hour and 50 shows a year, and earlier in his career played a lot more. So for someone to get excited at a venue, the energy for the show itself is heightened. But, also, it's cool to see someone be like, oh, I want to capture this just on my phone. So capturing these little moments is something that I would do shooting all access. And even for the elements of tour that aren't the moneymakers. This is Brian, he's a guitar tech for the Aldean crew. And just capturing these little moments of him setting up. From tuning the guitars, changing strings, that's something that's really cool to me. These are the people that put on the show. They make this kind of traveling circus happen. Because it is not just the band who's going into these tours, but it's a crew, a small city of 30, 40, 50 people who are all putting it on. They're building the stage, they're doing the rigging, and the lighting, and everything else. So for me it's really fun to capture these kinds of backstage moments. And this is Jason, sometimes you get these little funny moments where you're getting photobombed by the talent. I think I was waiting for him to actually just get in the car, just one of these like kind of movement traveling shots, and he's kind of goofing around with me. This is another shot from that SunTrust Bank Park. This is my brother, Chris, in the foreground. And this is shot with a fisheye, this is the Nikon eight to 50 millimeter. And, again, there's not action happening in this shot, but it's kind of an establishing shot of what it's like to go up to that upper deck and to see the stadium. This is another kind of quiet moment on tour where this is either before or after meet and greet. You know, Jason and the band are just going out in the elevator. And it's kind of like a little moment of contemplation. This is a little bit where Jason's about to go on for a VIP experience, play a couple songs acoustically. And he's talking with his guitar tech Allen here. He's one of my friends. And this is a moment where this is lit entirely by his flashlight, I was shooting at ISO 12800. But just, you know, a little detail from the tour. And this is a shot of Jason going right on stage with the crew the moment before he comes on a stage. And this is an instance of me kind of hiding and waiting in an area kind of waiting for him to pop out and just capture that movement. Again, another shot where it's lit entirely, pretty much all of the key light, he's lit by a flashlight. In an instance where we're shooting mirrorless you can have that real-time view in the EVF that makes exposure really easy for this. This is Chris Steven who's Jason's kind of front of house audio engineer. And this is showing kind of, again, the people who make the show happen, not just the band but the people, the techs, the crew who put it all on. And giving an opportunity to kind of document their experience and show a little behind the scenes. This is the band for Darius Rucker. This is after the first night of their tour last year. And this is Jeff Marino, he's the band leader for Darius. And they're just making a few setlist changes. You know, moving songs up, changing the order based on how the crowd reacted that night, and just kind of a little bit of documentation for that. This is the group the The Knocks. They're performing at Governor's Ball in New York City, and this is side stage. This is an opportunity right before they went on, and capturing a little bit of that feeling right before you go on stage. They're putting their ears in, and kind of just getting ready to rock. This is Oli Sykes of Bring Me the Horizon. This is the Leeds Festival. And this is an opportunity where the band was doing a signing at the NME tent, and just capturing a little fan interaction. This is Disclosure, this was photographed for Q Magazine at Lollapalooza. An opportunity where the guys were just riding in this little like golf cart kind of in-between a signing and going back to their trailer. And it's kind of a cool opportunity to capture a little bit of the skyline of Chicago in the background. All the guys are enjoying a little ride. This is Skrillex and Dillon Francis backstage at I think this was The Rave in Milwaukee. And it's an opportunity, catch some friends chatting. And there, this is Jason Aldean. Again, this is kind of a quiet moment on tour where he's getting ready to do an interview. And he's taking a moment to compose himself. All right, we're looking at all access examples with tour or concert photography. For the show, again, it's really a special privilege and kind of opportunity for me whenever I shoot on a tour. I have all access to shoot on stage. As a more quiet introverted person I don't like to be in the spotlight, and I don't want to be part of the show. But it's my job to get out there and to be right up there. I'm probably, you know, maybe four or five feet back from Jason in this shot shot wide angle. This is probably the Nikon 14 to 24. And getting kinda right up there is all part of the experience. And if you're friends with a band, and if you've worked with them, and kind of built a rapport things like this are gonna happen, where you're shooting and you're trying to do a more candid conventional shot. And this is Kurt Allison, Jason Aldean's guitarist. And he's kind of getting up in my face. This is shot with the Nikon 14 to 24 as well at 14 millimeters to keep them all in frame. Just kind of some of the funny stuff that happens on stage. This is shooting from on stage, but again it's capturing the fan experience, and from an angle that might be you can't get when you're in the pit. These fans are right up to the thrust, that little section of the stage that comes out into the crowd. And photographing from on stage provides a great opportunity to capture moments like this. Here's another instance, this is Jack and Tully from Jason Aldean's band. And I love capturing opportunities where the band looks like they're having fun. They're enjoying themselves, they're smiling. They're having a little bit of just rapport back and forth. You know, just having a good time on stage. That's always something that's really fun to do as a music photographer. Here's another instance of that reverse shot with Jason. There's one particular song in his set, Dirt Road Anthem, where he's kind of doing a hand wave. It happens every night of the set. And I always make an effort to go out on the thrust and capture this. Because this is a great opportunity of showing that kind of artist-fan interaction where he's waving his hand in the air, and the whole crowd does it back to him. And it's always still a moment when I kind of get nervous because it only happens for a few seconds. And I have to go from the kind of down stage to up stage in a hurry, navigate around a mic stand. I'm either shooting overhead with a camera, kind of shooting blind, or maybe with a tilt screen. Or maybe shooting with the camera on a monopod and shooting a little bit more or less blind. And kind of capturing that hoping that the camera is leveled, hoping that the composition is right, the exposure's bang on. But it's always a really rewarding shot and a fun shot to do as well. This is Rich Redmond, Jason's drummer. Another instance of just making the drummer a priority. When you have all the access, when you have stage access getting up there and making high impact images that you would never be able to do if you were just an editorial photographer. But at the same time, sometimes the all compelling shot's gonna be the farthest away you can get from the stage, is going into the crowd, and showing the scale and the scope of that show. I just want to show you a few kind of end-use examples from shooting with all access and doing tour photography. Now, a lot of the photography that my brother Chris and I do when we work together as a tour photography duo or team is essentially commercial in use almost. It's promotional, where our artist might not necessarily need the day-to-day of social media images, you know, for Instagram or Twitter. But they're looking to produce images that they can use to market themselves, to promote themselves, or even have on T-shirts as merchandise. This is what I call the boot shot of Jason. This was shot a couple years ago. And this is an instance of taking a risk. I had the camera on a monopod and had a remote trigger. And for the most part Jason doesn't interact with me at all when I'm photographing him. He just kind of does his thing, he's a very cool customer. For this particular show I put the camera up on a monopod. I knew he was gonna be out on a thrust for this song. Had the camera up, and figured at best I would get a shot of him, the crowd, and the stage from a little bit higher vantage point with the fisheye lens. And for whatever reason Jason decided, you know, he saw the camera, and I actually have a sequence of events where you can see him look at the camera, and then put his boot up kind of in like stop motion. And then this was the frame that kind of, thankfully it's in focus, the boot's not covering his face. And it just kind of all worked out compositionally. And it was used like this on the next year's tour. This is the truck wrap for his tour, and kind of an instance of how that shot was used as a live music shot more commercially as part of his official promo images. This is a shot of Jason, I think this was in MetLife Stadium, and a kind of unconventional music shot because it's much more subdued. It's not an action shot, which is what you might kind of think that most live music might gravitate towards. And in particular, it's kind of rare because Jason hates having his back to the audience. And for the most part if he's walking back on the thrust from a song they usually kill the lights. So he wouldn't normally be lit up here. But maybe the lighting tech just was a second late on the lights, didn't kill them in time, and was able to capture this one little more quiet moment of Jason just coming back after a song on the thrust. And it was used again the next year on the truck wrap for his tour. And this is Jason's band in the foreground playing pickleball, which is kind of just more of a lifestyle kind of behind the scenes shot that I did, where they try to keep active on tour. They're all super competitive and like playing this game. This is a shot of Rascal Flatts, this was shot in Vegas. An instance where the management, they really wanted a shot of all three Flatts as they're called together. And this is kind of a challenge because it only happens a couple times during the set. And they wanted it in-camera, so the lighting would be the same, focus, et cetera. So the next year for their Vegas residency it was used like this. Again, kind of as this admat material for promoting the current residency. Finally, here's another shot of Jason. This was a couple years ago. This is a more kind of conventional action shot. And it was used by management like this. This is Brittany, this Jason's wife. And she had that, a T-shirt, it was a baseball T originally. And she had it kind of worked up into this denim jacket which I thought was pretty cool. And it's an instance of how a live music shot might be used for merchandise.

Ratings and Reviews

Alexandra U

I highly reccomend this class for any one who would like to get started or dip their toes in the concert photography scene. This class has many useful tips and trick for any level of photographer, not just beginners. I have been in the music scene for over 10 years and I was able to gather so much information in every chapter. Watching this video boosted up my confidence as a photographer because it validated that I am already succeeding in my concert career. Thank you for this amazing stream. It sparked my creative soul once again.

Kris Comer

Wow, this was awesome! I have been a concert photographer for almost 3 years now and I still learned some great tips! I loved that he covered different ideas for promo shots which is one of my weaknesses. Any beginner should definitely check out this course! It is straight and to the point with all of the most important steps.

Mark Balmer

This is a really great course! I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in this type of photography. It is presented in an easy to understand way. Todd gives clear and informative tips and shows how to set up lights, poses etc! I found it very helpful, and will definitely put what i've learned to work. Thanks, Mark

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