Top 10 Signs Someone Should Take Away Your Photo Pass

Photo passes

There are no hard and fast rules to live music photography – after all, rules are made to be broken. However, there are some general indications that you might not be on the right path in your career as a music photographer.

In fact, there are some punishable offenses that probably mean that your photo pass should be taken away. Here are 10 signs you're probably doing music photography the wrong way.

Someone Should Take Away Your Photo Pass if…

1) Your camera is held over your head more than it's held up to your eye.

Everyone does a hail mary once in a while, but if hoisting your camera into the air is your modus operandi, everyone behind you probably wants to take a baseball bat to your kneecaps.

2) You don't have a camera.

This should be self explanatory.

3) You're shooting “on assignment” for your Flickr or Tumblr stream.

This may come as a surprise to some, but photo passes are for photographers shooting for publications that will generate legitimate press for a band. Your Flickr stream doesn't count.

4) You're not wearing earplugs.

With speaker stacks lining most stage fronts producing vibrations that will help you digest your dinner, your audiologist is silently weeping at the thought of you exposed to eardrum-crushing noise levels. But you're going to help him make his boat payment. No one else really cares, but unless you want to get a lot of practice saying “What?” you should probably just wear earplugs for your own good.

5) Your camera could be mistaken for a Happy Meal toy.

Also applies if your camera is any color but black and maybe silver. People who say gear doesn't matter don't shoot live music photography.

6) You don't stow your huge camera bag under the barricade.

Fact: If the photo pit is crowded and you still insist on wearing a huge photo backpack, it not only slows you down, it's getting in everyone else's way. Also: everyone hates you.

7) You chimp after every single shot.

We all check exposure while shooting. But chimping after every shot to see if you “got it” only means you're “missing it” on stage.

8) Security roll their eyes when they see you coming.

Security guards will be your best friends in the pit. Respect them doing their job and you'll gain an ally. If you're a nuisance, everyone's job gets harder, including your own.

9) You're using your pop-up flash or your AF assist light.

The AF assist light is ruining everyone else's photos, the band hates you, and your pop-up flash is going to look horrible. In that order.

10) You're using an iPad as your camera.

Every time you press the touch-screen shutter release on your iPad at a show, an angel in heaven kicks Jim Marshall in the family jewels.

Any Signs I Missed?

Is there anything I missed? What are your pet peeves? Let me know in the comments.

End Notes

Please note, this is all in good fun and no real offense is intended if any readers happen to fit any of the above. We've all done at least one of these 10 faux pas. I mean, not me personally, of course. But someone I know.

The only real requirements for music photography are that you love music and that you have a camera. Even if it's your iPad. But if any of the above hit a little too close to home, think of this as an opportunity for growth. Your colleagues will thank you for it.

My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon Z 7:
I use two Nikon Z 7 for my live music photography. A true do-it-all mirrorless camera with amazing AF, great speed and fantastic resolution.


Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8S:
The 24-70mm is my go-to lens. The range is ideal for stage front photography and the image quality is superb.


Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.


Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.

See My Full Kit for Concert Photography

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