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Shooting Live for "Free"

It was brought up recently in one of the publications I shoot for that a select few people were getting upset about not being paid for live photography. While it is true, when I go to a live gig, I am not being paid to be there, I do it because I genuinely love and I know I get something out of it. While it is pretty common knowledge that the shots taken can sometimes become magnetizable (selling prints etc), there are still a select few who see it as "shooting for nothing". I will start this long winded post by saying this as simply as I can, most people you see at gigs shooting photos are NOT being paid to be there, If you expect a pay check for every gig you want to shoot, you'll never shoot music, grow as a live photographer or expand your live music following. Sad fact is, if you can't do it (at least initially) for the love of it, you kinda can't do it.

When this was brought up, I funnily had an example of how you can turn a "free" live gig into paid work happen not long before. (Story time)

I recently went to a gig shooting the band 68 for one of the publications I do photos for (Overdrive Music Magazine). The show was at a venue that does not have barricades/photo pit, meaning I would have to be shooting from the crowd. As a rule of courtesy in these situations, I always speak to the first few people in the front row, let them know I might need to jump in front of them for a few seconds to do some shooting, but would be out of their way as quickly as I could (makes my job easier when the crowd is already on board with me being there).

Shots of 68

Shots of 68

Shots of 68

Shots of 68

At this show, the first two people in the front row were a couple, Chris and Amber, who were super friendly and quick to say "no problem" when I told them about jumping in front. We had a bit of a chat while we were there and then the band started playing. Mid way through the set, the front man handed Amber his guitar while he got a drink of water. Amber (a little starstruck and nervous) held the guitar like a newborn baby as it began to feedback in her hands, laughs were had by all as the frontman turned down the amp and said to Amber "Sorry, that was not your fault, I should have told you it was loaded". I quickly took a picture of her and the guitar and went back to shooting the band.

Amber and the guitar

Amber and the guitar

Cut to the end of the show, I'm having a chat with Corey, a fellow photog shooting that night. At this point, Chris and Amber came up to say hi and have a chat. After asking where they could see the shot of Amber along with all the photos of the night, Chris asked if I did press shoots and things of that nature as he is in a band himself. I said yes and sent him to my website to have a look at my work, which he seemed to really like. The next day, I had a message on my business page with questions about pricing of not only press shots, but other things I offer through my business.

Chris' band, The Avenue Project and I recently did our first shoot together. They're a great group of dudes with some rad tunes under their belt who I can now call a client. I would not have met these guys or gotten these jobs if I had not been sent to that gig and shot it for "free".

The Avenue Project (Left to Right: Jordan, Tim, Chris, David, Al, Bob)

The Avenue Project (Left to Right: Jordan, Tim, Chris, David, Al, Bob)

I've worked for quite a few band in my career as a photographer/designer, and I'd say easily 90% of them, I either shot live before, or shot someone they knew before. Not to mention, the following my business has encountered and the fact a very large majority of my close friends these days I have met because I was shooting a "free" live gig. I will be heading to interstate, going on tour, shooting music videos and press shots for/with bands in the very soon, all of which stemmed from shooting live bands for "free".

Below are just a few more examples of the shoots/videos and the work that stemmed from shooting live music for "free" . Enjoy shooting live music, you never know what will come of it.

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Music Promotional Shoot Competition T&C

Thank you for your interest in the Competition

The Prize is a 2 Hour shoot in studio or at a location of your choosing and 3 final fully edited photos to be used for promotional purposes.*

* Competition allows for a Location within 1 hour's travel of Victoria's Yarra Valley & editing does not include CGI or overly Conceptual (a cost will incur if you wish to travel further or have specific CGI, conceptual or editing preferences)

To Enter you MUST be in a music act (Band, Solo Musician etc)

You may enter as a single member or as an entire band

You may enter a total of 4 times for one act

Prize is not transferable for any other service

Prize cannot be transferred for cash

Prize is valid for the year of 2017 ONLY

 

Competition entry closes Thursday 19th January 2017
A winner will be drawn on Friday 20th January

To see some of Electrum Photography's music promotional work, visit the Music Promotional page in the Portfolio menu item

BEST OF LUCK
 

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A Run Through

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A Run Through

I had a conversation with someone recently about creative careers and the work that goes into each. It's been a topic that has come up a few times recently and as most people know, for photography, it is more than just Point, Shoot, Deliver. So I thought I'd show off one of my pics and what goes into making it.

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Representing Me through My Work

This is not a rant, this is more of a reminder. There are a few people guilty of this and if you are one of them, please don't feel like I'm singling you out or attacking you, that is not what this is about. This is just my way of explaining why it affects my work.

While there are a few steps involved making one of my photos, one of the main steps is editing. In my opinion, each photographer has their own editing style and a way of making a photo their own. This part of the process that can be both enjoyable and tedious, but it is one that is necessary. Once a photo is completed, it is then a representation of the photographer and their skill. Once the photo is given to the client, we would hope that that is how it will be used. However this is not always the case.

I love having my photos shared over multiple mediums, but as soon as an additional filter or edit is done to the image, it is no longer a representation of my work.
This is usually how it happens to me:
I've completed the shoot, I then go and edit the final image(s) and send a preview onto the client, once they're happy I send them a High Res image and the job is done. I later go onto social media and see the final image I've sent to them with an additional filter applied via facebook or instagram saying "photo by Electrum Photography".

As I said, the client will get a preview of the work before they get the final... I do this so if they are not happy with how the final has been edited, they have the chance to say "this is what I'd like done". In addition to this, when they put my name on an image with a free instagram filter applied to it, this sends the message that "this is how Electrum Photography edits their photos". The fact of the matter is, I've spent a lot of time and money on learning, gear, software and hardware to make my photos the way they are and it can be a real kick in the teeth when people think that a way to make them better is through cheep/free editing.

Last thing I want to add is that I love using social media and I love having my work shared by a happy client that is keen to show off their image. I take great pride in seeing someone enjoy my work and this is the point I am trying to make. Once a final image is adjusted, it is no longer my work. To the client I say: Please, do share the images we've done together, but please be mindful of the work I've done to get it to that point.

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My Interview with I Probably Hate Your Band

I was recently asked to do an interview talking about my part in the music industry. Being completely flattered, I did my best to answer each question seriously (I think i did ok). So here it is, my first ever interview about being a photographer.

Industry Profile #2 – Andrew Basso

Name: Andrew Basso
Age: 25
City: Melbourne
Industry Job: Photographer/Designer
Artists You’ve Worked With: Conjurer, Pandorum, Overdrum, Toxicon, Pride Only Hurts, Tyler Wilford, Dario & Elise, Down Royale, Humality, Circles, Reline, Amaronix, No Stairway, Cal Browne, House Vs Hurricane, Pantallica, Dreamcoat

1. In the current musical climate, what do you think are the most important things a band/artist can do to catch your attention?
I think a mixture of a great sound, good live presence, good “image” and something that separates them from every other local band who is trying to get you to their shows. There are stacks of bands that I’ve tried to get into (to support the local scene) that have a Facebook page with a shitty iPhone photo of the band looking angry or away from the camera, a Microsoft Paint logo and low quality recordings they’ve done themselves in their garage. Now, I’m not saying that all these acts are terrible. In fact, some are really talented, but when you see these poorly made “first points of contact”, it does not reflect well on the great artist they may be. I understand money is always an issue with bands, especially starting out, but I think to be taken seriously and have a better chance of people taking an interest, the material should appeal to the audience right off the bat. Furthermore, the band should be able to back up their invitation to a gig with the ability to put on a good show. Whether that’s being a really well rehearsed or tight band, putting on a massive lighting and effects display, being funny on stage, being an exceptional musician or some mixture of all. The point of a gig is to show the audience what you can do and leave them with the desire for more. It does not matter if they are friends, WAG’s or the bar staff. The point of live music at the base of it all is entertain. So entertain them. Last thing I think a lot of local bands should learn is attitude. I get that you may play aggressive music or have many opinions of yourself and your talent which is fine, but when you address the audience, there should always be a sense of gratitude because like you or hate you, these people are listening to you when they could just walk away. Acting pretentious, aggressive or in any type of negative way toward the audience will not fare well for you no matter how good you can strum six strings.

2. What exactly does your job involve?
I’m a photographer so I make pretty pictures for a living. I also do the odd spot of designing but photos are better. Within the music industry however, I take live shots, help with promo/media kit photographs, logo design, album design, album photos and I’ve even started to delve into the music video side of things.

3. Have there ever been any moments where you were close to giving up but you decided to push on?
Many early on. Any art industry is a tough one to crack unless you’re extremely talented, very lucky or both. I don’t know if I have cracked it yet but I’m having fun trying. At the start of my photographic career there were many occasions where I felt I wasn’t as good as the next person or this is too hard or people don’t appreciate what I’m doing so why bother? But there were a couple of times where things turned out well for me and they outweighed those bad situations. I enjoy what I do and I work hard to continue doing it so why stop now?

4. What are the “Do’s and Don’ts” in the music industry from your perspective?
There are probably more Don’ts than Do’s. I’d say a big Don’t is bad mouthing other acts. In the music industry (especially within a specific genre) everyone one knows everyone. If you say to the lead singer of a band that another band is shit and ugly, there’s a good chance that the two might know each other and then neither one wants to work with you. It’s fine to have your own opinions about a band or artist, but you need to know when to keep them to yourself.

A big do I think is just to be a friendly, thankful or genuine person and that’s the same in any industry really. Most cases, people will want to work with someone who they like. That being said, don’t be fake and pretend to be friends with people because you think they might give you something in return, most people will see right through that. For example, I’ve become friends with quite a few bands since I started, most of them now will come to me before anyone else for things related to my field. Following that Do is another Don’t tho. Don’t get caught with freeloaders or people undeserving of your talents. For example, a lot of my live shots I do for free and there are a lot of bands that will offer to pay me, pay for my entry or buy me drinks which shows they appreciate what I’m doing for them. However, there have been 1 or 2 in the mix that see me as a free medium and expected more and more without so much as a thank you and they are the ones I don’t help anymore.

5. How long have you been doing what you do?
I’ve been taking photos of music artists for about 5 years now. I’ve been taking photos in general for about 6 or 7 years, taking it more seriously and starting a business just under 2 years ago. Design I’ve been doing since I was 17.

6. List some of your favourite artists, both local and international
International: A day to remember, Van Halen, Of Mice and Men, Asking Alexandria, Angels and Airwaves, All Time Low, Anberlin, The Gaslight Anthem, Boyce Avenue, Bring me the Horizon, Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Hands Like Houses, Jack’s Mannequin, Jimmy Eat World, Killswitch Engage, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Passenger, Peter Bradley Adams, Rise Against, Sick Puppies, Sixx AM, Skillet, Slipknot, Steel Panther, Stone Sour, We Are Harlot, We the Kings, Wovenwar, You Me at Six, Young Guns, Zac Brown Band, 360, Drake, Katy Perry, Cassadee Pope
Local: Conjurer, Toxicon, Amaronix, Pride Only Hurts, Overdrum, Tyler Wilford, Shaun Smith, Circles, Down Royale, Humality, Copia, No Stairway

7. Have you performed in bands or as an artist in the past?
I was in a band in high school, started out as the Blues Club run by this crazy arts teacher and we turned it into a band called Aerial Hopscotch (or Targeting the Diaphragm depending on who you ask). Play battle of the bands and my 18th… then the other members all went on to start their own bands and I went the behind the scenes route.

8. How did you get into this line of work
Happy accident.
I was in tafe learning to be a designer, our timetable was messed up and we ended up only having 1 and a half days of tafe each week for about a semester. So to kill time, I bought a DSLR started taking random shots of my friends that I thought I’d use as stock images for my design… then I found iStockPhoto and realised my stuff was shit but I still enjoyed it so I kept at it. I shot a couple of my high school friend’s bands for funzies but I started taking the music side of it more seriously when I was invited to a highschool friend’s boyfriend(at the time)’s band’s gig. It was the first gig I’d ever shot without previously knowing the band 7 years in advance, it went well (I think) and I continued taking photos of them for ages and taking photos of other bands as well.

9. Do you believe that the Australian music industry has something special that makes it unique?
I think it has untapped potential.
I don’t know if this is the same everywhere else but the amount of talent waiting in the wings is phenomenal. However, I think the larger majority of people have become lazy to an extent when it comes to seeking out new music. A lot of people will only listen to whatever the radio feels like showing them. I’m not saying that those artists on the radio don’t deserve to be there (there are some who defiantly shouldn’t but if people like them so be it) but there are so many talented musicians who’s genre doesn’t have a game show to create their image and get them out to the masses. There are groups of people who will only ever know the Justin Biebers, Niki Minajs and Kanye Wests of the world because that is what the media decides to spoon feed them. I could easily name 5 other artists who deserve that spot light, all of which are local Australian bands.

10. You are about to retire but you only get to give one piece of advice to your successor. What is it?
Always back up your photos! I’d say,the best way to make it in any industry is to be someone people want to work with. Be kind, funny, friendly, helpful and genuine and sooner or later it is rewarded… in other words, don’t be a dick!

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Influences

I saw somewhere recently on the interwebs that someone had made a list of their favorite photographers and why they looked up to them. I think this is awesome, to show the people who make you the photographer, artist, musician etc that you are and giving them recognition for inspiring your work. So, I figured I'd do the same. In no particular order, these are some of my fav photographers.

Jared Polin (Fro Knows Photo)
I first found his work looking into low light photography, seen as I shoot bands frequently, I wanted to learn how to shoot better quality photos when light is limited. When I first started shooting, I shot with a VERY high ISO (because I didn't know what it was I just knew I could take photos with a fast shutter speed). Once I'd learnt the value of a low ISO, I never wanted to go higher... however, after finding Fro Knows Photo on Youtube I was taught not to be sacred of the higher ISO. His photos focus more on telling the story of what is being shot, whether he's taking photos of a hockey game, a live band or personal projects. One of his most touching (and heart breaking) photo stories is the one revolved around his mother's last few weeks dealing with the illness that would end up claiming her life. I've learnt a lot from him and his team about the technical side of a camera as well as what makes a good shoot. I SHOOT RAW!
Fav Shot(s): His Mom's story
Website: http://jaredpolin.com
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/JaredPolin

Ross Halfin
the first photographer I ever looked up to. Ross is a well known and respected photographer in the music world, touring with such bands as Metallica, Guns N Roses, Van Halen and much more. My love of music came before my love of photography, and looking at live shots of Van Halen, I found a shot that now hangs on my wall. I wanted to know more about who took it and hence found Ross' work. He's best works (in my opinion) are those coming from a time before digital, I know how hard it can be to get a great shot using digital so to see his work on film is a real inspiration.
Fav shot: Eddie Van Halen Guitar solo at The Rainbow Theatre
Website: http://www.rosshalfin.com/

Adam Elmakias
Essentially a young Ross Halfin and arguable the most famous music photographer today. His main "job" is to travel the world with bands such as A Day To Remember, Peirce The Veil, All Time Low and many more taking live and candid shots. I've been a keen admirer of his work since stumbling across his work with A Day To Remember's promo photos in 2011ish. I've since learned a lot from his behind the scenes videos, on the road videos and his DVD and was even lucky enough to meet him briefly at an A Day To Remember show in Melbourne.
Fav Shot: A Day To Remember Side of the road
Website: http://adamelmakias.com

Aaron Nace
the guy who's always happy and teaching me something. I found his work when looking up tutorials on Youtube and stumbled across Phlearn. Aaron's work is very much on the conceptual side, some with a great deal of post editing work. While I do enjoy watching his pro tutorials about the editing side, I learned my most valuable lessons from his earlier studio lighting tutorials on Youtube. This was an area where I had zero experience when I decided to buy my first lighting gear and his videos helped me through.
Fav Shot: Self Portrait with the panda
Website: http://aaron-nace.com
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/PhlearnLLC

KTB
this one is a little different because KTB is someone I actually know. I was shooting my friend's band at a gig where they were they and 2 other bands were supporting the band Circles. I'd gotten in contact with the other bands to see if I could shoot them and ended up shooting the entire show. While I was their, I noticed that one of the bands had a girl hanging out with them holding a camera and I hoped I was not about to get in her way. After the gig, she approached me and asked to see the shots, which she seemed to like. We became facebook friends (as you do) and I started checking out her work... amazing to say the least, from her band promos to her creative portraiture and everything else in between. As well as being an awesome photographer, she's a thoughtful person, working with her campaign "Zebralution" using her art to bring awareness to cruelty-free cosmetics. Highly recommend checking out!
Fav shot: Zebralution Allure Shoot
Website: http://ktbdesign.net/

Grayson Lauffenburger
the funny guy who takes sick shots and has the hardest name to spell on this list. I found his work through Adam Elmakias when Grayson took a portrait of him. Beside the fact that he was taking shots of one of my favorite photographers, I thought the shot was amazing and the funny thing was, it was so simple. I wanted to know how he made these photos looks so... crisp and interesting... so I annoyed him via email. This is not the first time I've sent an email to someone asking them how they do what they do... but this is the first time someone has responded. He was more than helpful and I have a great deal of gratitude towards him. While he has taken photos of some great music acts including A Day To Remember and Piece The Veil, his "People" shots are amazing and in a style all his own.
Fav Shot(s): People & Kevin Skaff
Website: http://www.graysonl.com

Karl Taylor
The master of pretty much every style of photography and the guy with the gear I'd most likely steal if I had the chance. I found Karl while looking into new studio lights and while I didn't end up getting the gear, I did start learning from his videos. Karl's online tutorials are awesome! I began watching his online lessons before I looked into his work, both of which are amazing. Karl's photography spans from product to fashion, from conceptual to commercial. His wealth of knowledge with both the technical and practical side of photography is staggering and his shots are brilliant because of it. His lessons are some that I still re-watch today for shoots... even if his gear does make me jealous.
Fav shot(s): The Hawk & The Parrot and it's Owner
Website: http://www.karltaylor.co.uk/

So there's some of my favorite photographers, go check them out!

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Bad Days... Everyone Has Them

Hey Everyone,

This is a little bit of a lesson for any photographers who are just starting out…

So yesterday I organized a shoot with a friend of mine. This shoot was planed as a Glamour/Fashion shoot, lots of nice dresses, simple backgrounds, nice lighting set up and a prop or two. Nothing majorly difficult right?

Yeah i thought so too.

So my day started at 8.30am, the shoot was scheduled for 11.30am so i gave myself plenty of time to set up and test everything so the shoot would be quick and easy. When I shoot in a studio setup, i usually use my dad’s shed which is a large area split into three. I usually take the center area, which is the biggest and mostly only has a lawnmower to move out of the way. At the moment the center area is being used… no worries, I’ll just move our jet skis out of the way and use the right side. The right side is a more compressed area, making some of the lighting a little trickier than usual but hey, it worked.

Once the skis were out of the way i began setting up… the shed, as you’d assume, is made of tin. Yesterday got to just shy of 40degrees… in a shed that sucks! (Put it this way, I left an ice cold bottle of water in my car, by the end of the shoot I could have made coffee with it). Needless to say, this made moving lights, the props (a chaise lounge, a lamp and side table) and jet skis around was pretty exhausting… but hey, eat some concrete and harden up right? haha

The background (a grey paper and standard background stand) was all set up and my little helper (my dog Rocky) decides this is where he’d like to sit. He does this almost every time I do a studio shoot, and usually, on a fabric background, I don’t care. But this is a brand new background, literally just taken out of the box and I’ve got a chocolate lab with dirty paws making tracks on it. So I call him off… not realizing that he was walking on the corner between the ground and the stand. *TEAR*

To recap, it’s 40degrees outside, I’m in a tin shed with a torn background, lights still in their cases waiting to be set up, and a crying dog… and this is only about 30 minutes into set up. So I gave Rocky a hug and told him “it’s ok mate, but you’re not allowed in here for the rest of the day”, used the magic tool (duct tape) to “fix” the background, got a fan going and pressed on.

Just off to the side of my newly set up background area, my dad’s cherry red Ducati motor bike was just poking in. At the moment, the bike has a battery charger plugged into it, so I couldn’t move it too far away from the power supply. I’m moving it, being careful not to drop the charger… not really noticing that the cord for it has gone under the bike and knocked the kickstand out from under it. As I let the bike down, it got away from me and fell onto the table right next to it… yay. Luckily, only a small scratch and some grazing but still a fun time ahead calling dad to tell him while he’s away.

After a quick phone call to the parents to say “hi, hows the gold coast? by the way… i dropped your bike” I started setting up the my lighting. Now before you try and get ahead of my story, no, the lights did not fall and break… i mean, they didn’t fall AND break. At one point, one of the stands gave way and had a small fall, but luckily nothing was broken.

Next up was setting up my trigger system, this is not a hard thing to do… until one of your transceivers decides to die… not the batteries, the actual transceiver. The one that decided not to work was meant to fire a speed light inside a lamp, so luckily (a word a seem to us alot to describe this shoot) it was not firing a main light. After some playing around with an LED light, I made a substitution and, once again, pressed on.

Now, all set up, my friend and her husband arrive ready to shoot. Thankfully, aside from the uncomfortable heat, there were no real issues with the shoot. The only thing made difficult was moving certain lights around in the more confined space. After a “fun” morning of set up, the shoot took around an hour and half and we got some shots that I’m Pretty happy with.

So what is the lesson I mentioned before?

Always give yourself time to set up.
I understand that sometimes this is easier said than done but where possible, always plan to set up with more time than you need. This is due to the simple fact that things can, and will go wrong and the more time you have, the better the odds that you can make adjustments and fix any issues that you have.

Cheers

Andrew

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