Who are you? My name is Shaun M. Neary, I’m a freelance photographer based in Dublin, Ireland. I started taking photographs in the audience at concerts after queuing for hours ensuring I would get a place up the front.
A few years back, a musician friend of mine suggested I should get in touch with promoters and try and do it on a professional level. I shrugged it off thinking I’d be aiming my sights too high until another friend of mine urged me to do the same thing last year. And off to the races I went.
How did you get started? Slowly! I had been playing around with point and shoots for quite a while, as I mentioned earlier, I was very keen to get as many photos in the audience at gigs I attended, strictly as a souvenir of the night. I’d heard Rush were playing Dublin and immediately ran out and bought a bridge camera, I didn’t know that it was a glorified point and shoot, and while I loved the additional zoom, I knew I needed something more. So I bit the bullet and bought a Nikon D3000. Before I knew it, I was saving up and buying different lenses for different scenarios. I was hooked.
What’s in the bag? For concerts, very little to be honest. I work light. Zooms have let me down in the past, so I swap between a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 and a Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 attached to a Nikon D5100 at present. I’m fairly new to concert photography as far as pit access goes so my equipment is bare bones for want of a better term. Plus it’s easier to wade around the pit when you’ve a lot less baggage.
Your top 3 tips for music photographers? I’m really only in my first year, but these are three things I would advise to anyone breaking into music photography.
- Persevere! You will get turned away or ignored by promoters and artists at first because they don’t know you. Start off small, local bands, small venues and build up a portfolio that you can show to when you’re ready to take it to the next level.
- Be respectful. If you’re good to the artists and promoters, they’ll be good to you in kind. Same with fellow photographers in the pit, don’t get in the way of their shots constantly. They will remember you and they won’t give you any leeway if you share a pit with them in future. A little politeness goes a long way. It’s not always about a free pass to the gig.
- Spend a little. If you’re in a small enough venue, invest in a couple of prime lenses rather than a zoom. If you can switch between two small prime lenses in about six seconds between songs, you’ll see a noticeable difference in the quality of your work.
My favourite shot is? I’m not really sure I have taken it yet! Out of what I have already, I’d have to say the one of Jonne Järvelä and Jarkko Aaltonen of Korpiklaani at the Button Factory in Dublin, Ireland in February this year. It was a rare enough gig because Jonne is usually stuck behind a guitar for his sets unless he’s injured. But without the guitar restricting him, he was really able to turn the whole frontman dial up to 11 at that gig.
How can we find out more about you and find more of your work?