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By: Evan J. Thomas
Is it wrong that I want to be the greatest? Is it wrong that I want to be known for what I do? I have aspirations and goals that I have set for myself that may not ever be met but I will never give up trying. I have met many of my professional goals as a photographer like photographing a game at Wrigley Field as well as having photos published in a major magazine (Vanity Fair in 2007), and getting my work published in newspapers (New York Times, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune). I put 110% into everything I do because I want it to be perfect. I am always learning and I am always willing to help new comers out in ways that others won’t. I still do things for free just to get my name and face out there and I am hoping all of my hard work will eventually pay off.
Today I am going to change it up a little and give you all a little insight about what I actually go through on a usual day being a concert photographer. You may think what I do is glamorous and sometimes it is, but it is also a job and people only expect the best out of what I do. Friends of mine think that I get to meet and hang out with the rock stars all the time at the shows and that is far from the truth anymore. Yes, I have met and hung out with my fair share of bands but it’s not like it used to be. So this is a day in the life of me, professional photographer (and sometimes writer) Evan J. Thomas.
Publicists for musicians are notorious for waiting until the last minute to hand out credentials for the show. I usually find out the day of a show whether or not I will be covering the concert or not. Having a schedule like that can and has totally ruined my personal life since I hardly ever make plans in advance in hopes to photograph the event.
Obviously if I get the email stating I was approved to cover the show then I start getting into the mindset of what is needed for the evening. Are my batteries charged? Do I have enough memory cards? There has been numerous times where I received the email at noon stating that “sorry, you haven’t been approved”. Since I didn’t make other plans for the evening I scramble to find things to do which is a real pain in the ass since most friends already had made plans.
Once I get to the venue then it is all about waiting. The credentialed photographers for the evening patiently wait outside the venue conversing with one another on various topics and making small talk. We are walked into the photo pit usually 10 minutes prior to the performers taking the stage where again we wait patiently for the lights to dim.
Concert photographers usually are only allowed to photograph the first three songs of a performer’s set list and sometimes it can be less. For instance at last year’s Rockstar Mayhem Fest, Marilyn Manson only allowed us to photograph the first song. We had to wait an additional 45 seconds into that song as the large drape that was preventing the crowd from seeing the stage had to be removed before we were allowed to scurry into the photographer’s pit and take what we can get. Let me just say that it was a complete mess.
During those three or so songs I am continuously shooting away as I am fighting for the perfect position to shoot, hustling around other photographers or videographers inside the four foot wide path, sometimes dodging crowd surfers or objects that are being hurled from the audience and fighting against time.
Once those three songs are finished we are whisked outside either to wait for the next act (if there is one) or we have to leave the building completely. I have received tickets to see the remainder of the show a handful times but it is few and far between. So I gather my equipment and take off to my car usually an hour or so before the concert is officially over. I can hear the music off in the background as I head home.
Once I get home its all about post production. Editing and posting the best of the best images taken from the gig. It’s never ending; I could sit at home every day and just edit photos until my fingers fall off. I could be up for hours correcting lighting, resizing and adding my logo to photos or sending them to various media outlets.
I am passionate about photography and I love what I do. If I had the chance to do it again I would go this route. Now I just need to find a full time photo gig so I can quit my 9 to 5.