What is a Tour Photographer?
A tour photographer is a person on tour that is responsible for photographing the artist throughout the day and during the show. Many different routes can be taken to get involved as a tour photographer. It’s possible for photographers to be house photographers hired by the venue, freelance photographers that received a photo pass to shoot a show, or someone hired directly by the artist to tour with them and photograph them every day.
Skills Required to Be a Tour Photographer
Having a solid understanding of photography is a must, and it’s necessary to have a good eye for it. The ability to use editing software and have the proper equipment to do the job is equally important. It’s critical to have all equipment in working order, having backups for backups on things like hard drives and batteries, and ensuring that it’s possible to produce the content the artist wants on time. There are usually hard deadlines for when photos must be submitted by, so staying organized is vital to success. It’s not uncommon for a photographer to end the day with a thousand or more photos, and it is their responsibility to sort through them and select the best images for the artist. After identifying the best images, they edit and deliver them to the artist and/or management in a timely manner to be used for social media or promotions.
There’s a lot more than just taking photos that goes into being a touring photographer. If the artist expects their creative to be responsible for their social media content creation, it’s part of the creative’s job to help set up activities in downtime or on off days to help curate that content. This in and of itself can be a difficult task to accomplish depending on the artist’s willingness to participate. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the creative would also be expected to post these photos on social media for the artist, so being timely with editing to upload content daily is important.
Daily Tasks as a Tour Photographer
As a tour photographer, the number one goal is content creation for the artist. Daily responsibilities include documenting the day for the artist, photographing the show, and editing all the photos taken. Because the nature of touring is so hectic, this is one of those jobs that never really stops. Always having a camera in hand ready to shoot is a great way to make sure no potentially great content is missed. During soundcheck is a great time to spend in the space checking out the lighting for the show, planning out routes and angles for shots later on, and making a note of specific things to be documented for the artist.
Once the show starts, so does the busiest part of the day for shooting. It’s essential to get as many shots from as many places as possible for the artist. Tour photographers are given greater access to the venue than freelance or house photographers would be, so they have more opportunities to shoot from more unique locations. If shooting for a band or group, it’s also important to consider how many shots of each member of the act are getting photographed. When the show is over, it’s time to start editing to do the whole thing again the next day.
Tour Photographer Tips
- Always have your camera in your hand so you never miss a shot
- Use your artist’s downtime (sleeping) for editing
- Never stop moving to get all the angles possible (and make sure you’re staying out of people’s way)
- The drummer is the hardest person to photograph so try your best to incorporate them
- Use soundcheck to help you figure out good angles for shooting during the show and routes on how to get from place to place
- Don’t say no because you never know where an opportunity might take you
- Pay close attention to what the lighting designer is doing because your job is heavily affected by the lighting