16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu: Blog https://www.16imaging.com/blog en-us (C)2009-2024 16IMAGING★Fine Art Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu | All Rights Reserved (16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:30:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:30:00 GMT https://www.16imaging.com/img/s/v-12/u568377193-o493464405-50.jpg 16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu: Blog https://www.16imaging.com/blog 120 96 7 Lightroom Tips for Concert Photography Editing https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2018/8/7-lightroom-tips-for-concert-photography-editing Here are my concert photography editing tips and workflow when post-processing in Adobe Lightroom’s Develop Module.

I liken post-processing images in photography to cooking. We all prefer to season our food to appeal to our differing tastes. So there is no “best way” to post-process live concert photos, or any photography genre for that matter.

My first recommendation is that you process images to the extent that YOU like them. You need to experiment and develop your own unique style after you learn the basics.

These tips will help you get started but after that it’s up to you to hone your skills.

diptych photos of a close up of a singers face before and after concert photography editing in lightroom

1. How to Choose Which Photos to Process

Before processing an image, be sure you are only spending time on your very best photos. Take your time scrutinising and objectively selecting your most compelling shots when importing into your Lightroom catalog’s folders and collections.

Choose images that capture the most interesting moments. Unique moments that only you captured perhaps. Sometimes, I ask others for feedback when I’m undecided. Great post-processing of mediocre moments, still only yields mediocre photos.

Diptych photos of a guitarist onstage before and after concert photography editing in lightroom

2. Make Lens Correction Adjustments

Lightroom’s Lens Correction Panel in the Develop Module contains adjustments used to correct a variety of optical issues seen with most camera lenses.

First, select the Remove Chromatic Aberration box. This corrects any “colour fringing” that can make an image look blurred or appear to contain noticeable coloured edges.

Next, within this same panel, select the Enable Profile Corrections box. This selection adjusts your image’s perspective by enabling automatic corrections based on the type of lens you’ve used.

I usually use the Default selection, though there are Auto and Custom options also. From there I may further adjust the Distortion and Vignetting sliders to achieve the look I want for an image.

Diptych photos of a guitarist onstage before and after concert photography editing in lightroom

3. Use the Crop Overlay Tool to Balance Your Photos

Your photos should be “balanced” horizontally and/or vertically. While there are always artistic exceptions, doing so makes them most appealing to the eye.

Always attempt to properly compose your images in-camera while shooting. Inevitably, sometimes this doesn’t happen. This is where cropping comes in handy.

Find the primary horizontal and vertical planes within your image and align to 90 or 180 degree angles by adjusting the handles of the image frame.

Another consideration is to choose the correct aspect ratio when cropping. This will also depend on whether an image was shot horizontally or vertically. The needs of the image and your personal preferences also dictate how to handle this.

I typically choose “As Shot” or “8×10” aspect ratios when working to align my images. These aspect ratios work best for printing and framing purposes later.

Diptych photos of a drumset onstage before and after concert photography editing in lightroom

4. Experiment in the Basic and Tone Curve Panels

Lightroom’s Basic and Tone Curve panels contain the meat and potatoes of your post-processing power. I spend the majority of my time here getting images to “look” the way I want them to look.

Often, this is a trial and error process. Play with the sliders. Push them up and down to the extremes to see what effects they produce. You need to understand the options and limits you have within each area.

This will help you make decisions as you learn what you like and don’t like for your images.

Basic Panel: Highlights/Contrast/Clarity/Vibrance/Saturation

I choose to significantly reduce the Highlights within most of my concert photography images. I then push contrast and Clarity sliders up. How much depends on the image, and your original exposure in-camera.

For concert photos, this combination gives me edgy, darker, yet more defined looking images that I enjoy.

Depending on the artist, I tend to create desaturated looks for concert photography. This pairs well with pulled down highlights and pushed up contrast and clarity. I pull the vibrance and/or saturation sliders down to achieve this.

Diptych photos of a guitarist onstage before and after concert photography editing in lightroom

Tone Curve Panel: Highlights/Lights/Darks/Shadows

I pull up the regional Highlights, and pull down the Lights within the Tone Curve panel. This compensates for and complements the pulled down Highlights in the Basic Panel.

I then adjust Shadows and Darks up or down as necessary to further fine-tune the image to taste.

Finally, I use some amount of Post-Crop Vignetting on my photos 95% of the time. I do this because it pulls the eye to the most important area of the photo. I use low-profile, squared vignette styles with vertical images to produce a better framing effect.

After making these global adjustments, I decide to continue as either a colour or black and white image.

Diptych photos of a blonde singer onstage before and after concert photography editing in lightroom

5. Convert to Black and White for More Impact

This is a big question to answer when post-processing concert photography. My basic rule of thumb is to process as black and white for, 1) underexposed images or 2) images with lots of reds or blues.

Pushing Exposure, Highlights, Lights, and Whites to improve exposure will produce image noise. Noise is fine, especially within concert photography. But noisy images typically look best processed in black and white.

Light technicians working concerts love using lots of red and blue lights. But this produces lots of red and blue saturated images that quite frankly, don’t look good.

Red and blue lights produce “soft” images that aren’t as crisply focused. Go black and white in these instances for the best results.

Important: When processing as a black and white image, choose the B&W selection within the HSL/Color/B&W panel. This allows you to fine-tune the desaturated tonality of the entire image by adjusting each color fader separately. Do not select B&W in the Basic panel as this gives you less flexibility.

Diptych photos of a long haired pianist onstage before and after concert photography editing in lightroom

6. Use Selective Color (Sparingly)

At times, I choose to use the Selective Color processing technique with concert photography. Color select processing is when the majority of a photo is converted to black and white, but select parts are deliberately left in colour for effect.

Doing this in moderation can give images a unique look, and take a cool moment to another level to stand out.

There are many selective colour presets out there that allow you to pull out only red, blue, green, yellow, etc. In the image below, I only wanted the guitar red. But parts of the hands and face still had red tinting showing up.

I fixed this by doing additional fine-tune editing using the adjustment brush tool. Pulling the saturation all the way down, I painted over the areas where colour was still appearing. This made the image black and white everywhere except for the guitar.

You want to use this option sparingly though. Too much of any single processing technique gets old quick. Variety within your portfolio is your best bet.

Diptych photos of a guitarist onstage before and after concert photography editing in lightroom

7. Collect Lightroom Presets to Use as a Reference

I recommend having some quantity of presets saved within your Lightroom program. Presets are “pre-selected” positions of faders that you install within Lightroom’s Develop Module. They are post-processing treatments that can save photographers tons of time.

There are countless free and purchasable options out there for all types of photography. I have a large collection of presets I’ve accumulated through the years that I sometimes use as a starting point when post-processing.

I particularly enjoy many of Matt Kloskowski’s presets and use them fairly often.

Presets can jump start your creative process when attempting to get different looks for a collection of images. You should almost always do further adjustments from there to fine tune your images to your satisfaction.

Eventually, you may want to create and use your own presets.

Diptych photos of a singer live onstage before and after concert photography editing in lightroom


Post-processing images is a subjective undertaking. The outline of steps above will give you a good head start creating powerful live music photography that will stand out.

Be aware that ongoing software updates to Adobe Lightroom will also affect your process somewhat. I recommend always using the latest version of Lightroom. Any changes to your workflow are worth it.

You have expanded editing options available to you as Lightroom’s processing power continues to improve. Good luck!

Looking for a photo editing alternative? Check out our post on Capture One vs. Lightroom.

(All Images by Tom Leu)


Tom Leu is a published photographer, radio host, author, & speaker in the Clearwater, FL area. From shooting many of the world's biggest music artists, to serendipitous street photography, travel landscapes, & portraits... Tom believes capturing the psychology behind the photography is what makes images great. Tom's “seeing things” philosophy seeks to uncover extraordinary images & insights literally through lenses; figuratively despite filters. >> Connect with Tom on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and at 16IMAGING.com

Originally published: https://expertphotography.com/concert-photography-editing/

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Expert Photography Articles https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2018/8/7-lightroom-tips-for-concert-photography-editing Wed, 01 Aug 2018 15:30:00 GMT
Getting Started with Live Music Photography: 7 Quick Tips https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2018/7/getting-started-with-live-music-photography-7-quick-tips Live music photography is one of the most exhilarating and exciting genres of photography out there. It’s also one of the, if not THE, most challenging in my opinion.

Concert photography comes with low-light situations, quick movement, unpredictability, and limited shooting time. These elements make getting quality images tough, but not impossible.

Concert photography is a fun, fast-paced thrill ride of action from start to finish. Then, to stand out from the competition, it’s even more hard work post-processing images.

If this sounds appealing to you, here are some insights I’ve learned shooting shows. We’ll go through everything from gear to post-processing so you can start strong with concert photography.

A black and white live music photography shot of a band onstage

1. Understand How to Get the Biggest Shows

With concert photography, you want to shoot the biggest shows and eventually get paid to do so. You do that by having a portfolio that can’t be refused. And you get that by saying ‘yes’ to as many shows as you can in the beginning.

The majority of these shows will be for little-to-no-money at first. That’s just the way it is. The alternative is to say ‘no’ to all non-paying gigs. And if you do that, you won’t be shooting many shows at all.

Shoot as many shows, as often as you can. Small shows lead to bigger shows that lead to even bigger shows. And if your images really stand out, paying opportunities will begin to come your way.

A black and white live music photography shot of KISS onstage


2. Get the Best Camera Gear You Can Afford

The “best” photography gear, is whatever you have with you at any given moment. These days, great photos are possible with cell phones.

When I first started shooting, I knew very little about camera gear. I thought a 24-70mm lens that cost $300 couldn’t be that bad compared to the $1,500 model. I was wrong, and this cost me in the form of inadequate images and lost shots.

And also cost me in the form of having to buy some lenses twice because I didn’t know better the first time.

Now I’m NOT a gear junkie. And I don’t recommend you be either. I do the research, ask the necessary questions, and educate myself. But I don’t spend tons of time obsessing about cameras, lenses, or accessories.

I know enough to know what’s good, what I need for my shooting purposes, and what I prefer to use. I’m more interested in using gear vs. analysing it.

Too many photographers spend too much time writing and talking about gear. They end up spending too little time out shooting. Gear doesn’t make you good. Hours spent shooting do.

That said, you do need to know the basics about the different kinds, and quality of gear out there. Spend a reasonable amount of time on photography blogs and YouTube to get started. I also recommend reading non-sponsored product reviews to see what people are saying about various cameras and lenses.

Determine what you can afford, but start out modest and move your way up as your skill increases. Fast lenses are the best investment you can make when shooting concerts. Give me a mediocre camera body, but a fast and quality lens, and I can do a lot with that.

A concert photography shot of a female singer onstage

3. Connect With Local Artists

The truth is, I didn’t choose concert photography. I got started shooting shows because a friend knew I had a “decent” camera, and asked me to shoot his band at a bar. Being a musician and playing in bands for many years, I hadn’t ever considered shooting bands myself.

When starting out in live music photography, you need to learn at the local level. This is where you will make the mistakes you cannot afford to make when shooting bigger acts later.

Oftentimes, you have only seconds, or even fractions of seconds, to get the shots that can last a lifetime. You cannot afford to be figuring out exposure, and focusingtechniques in the moment, when the stakes are high.

Inquire with local artists, and go out and shoot lots of shows in your area. 99% of the time bands will be glad to have you there. They want and need quality photos for their promotion and social media use.

Connect with local music newspapers, magazines, websites, events, and radio stations to know who is playing when and where. Send them emails and instant messages on social media.

Tell them who you are and what you do. Send links to your sites featuring your work. Ask to shoot gigs and events. If you get ignored (it happens often), go ahead and show up and ask to shoot. The worst thing they can say is no. Very often you’ll get in and get access to shoot the show.

Again, say ‘yes’ to shooting as many shows as possible in the beginning. Connect with online music magazines to take your access and shooting to the next level. Being able to write well helps. Through these outlets, you will be able to get access to bigger shows and national acts to shoot.

The longer your list of artists and bands you’ve shot, the more options you’ll have to shoot more shows, with bigger artists in the future.

A concert photography shot of the music stage setup

4. Be the Best “Pro” in the “Pit”

Whether a venue has an actual “pit” or not, you will often be working right next to and near other concert photographers. Being a professional in this context is crucial to your long-term success. This is an all-important area that can get you gigs, or cost you big time.

Photography “professional etiquette” is claimed by many, but not often demonstrated in my experience. It’s obvious when it’s present. And obvious when it’s not.

Being a “pro in the pit” means you do not deliberately get in others’ way while shooting. It means you’re generally pleasant and easygoing. It means you’re courteous and share the limited space you have with other shooters doing the same job. You need to be assertive, but not aggressive when shooting shows.

You’re sharing small spaces for a short period of time, under pressure. People can get weird in these situations. Don’t be one of them.

Your professional etiquette also needs to extend to event organisers, sound, light, and other crew people. Many times, you will see these people again. You want and need to have a good rapport with these folks.

I’ve gotten into many shows over the years on the recommendation of crew people whom I’ve developed good relationships with.

A music photography live shot of a drummer playing onstage

5. Always Shoot in RAW

Shooting in RAW format (regardless of camera brand) is imperative if you’re serious about concert photography. The fast-paced and low-light situations you face with concert photography require you to have as much post-processing flexibility as possible.

Shooting in JPG has its advantages, and is adequate for some photography genres, but not for live music photography. I made the mistake of shooting in JPG when I first started doing concerts because I didn’t know any better.

Don’t believe me? Do an experiment. Shoot an identical scene in both JPG and RAW (doesn’t have to be a concert). Then pull both images up in your post-processing software. I use Adobe LightroomPhotoshop, and a few other programs in my workflow.

Now experiment by moving faders and adjustment settings on each image. You’ll quickly see how much additional “room” you have to process your images in the uncompressed RAW format. This will help you make otherwise unusable shots (due to exposure needs), usable.

Even the best shooters out there sometimes capture great moments that are a bit over, or underexposed. Post-processing in RAW can quickly and easily remedy this.

A music photography live shot of a guitarist playing

6. Exposure, Focus, and Moments. In That Order

There are three key areas to zero in on for all genres of photography, but especially in live music photography. Attend to these three areas in the following order of importance:


Without proper exposure, you may never achieve clear focus of your subject(s). When it’s dark in concert photography (and it often is), you must set your camera to compensate.

Better gear gives you more options here (see #2). But even the best cameras and lenses will struggle to focus if the scene isn’t exposed properly. It’s critical to understand the nuances of exposure.

Achieving the perfect combination of shutter speedaperture, and ISO in live music settings is the first step to capturing memorable concert photos.


This is everything in photography. Without a focused image, no matter how perfectly exposed or composed, the image is unusable. Over/underexposed, imperfect composition, etc. is fixable in post. Out of focus shots are not.

Understanding your camera’s auto-focus modes and how manual focus works is crucial before you shoot your first show.

I didn’t fully understand this with my gear early on. The results were several properly exposed images of decent moments that were useless because they weren’t in-focus.

A live music photography live shot of a guitarist and bass player playing


Because it’s discussed in more detail HERE and HERE, I’m including the concept of “composition” into this section because it’s correlated. The greatest photos capture the greatest moments. This is true for any photography genre.

You need to be able to anticipate moments to become great at concert photography.

I define “moments” as those split-second shots that few, if any others, have captured. Great moments can be some combination of facial expressions, body posture, proximity to other people, places, or things. Or they might contain interesting lighting, or expressed emotion for example.

You also need to pay attention to your shooting angles, and perspective. Are you low enough? Wide enough? Close enough? What’s your relative position in-relation to the shot in front of you? Can you get a more interesting moment by moving where or how your camera is positioned? Can you elicit interest from your subject to engage with you while getting a one-of-a-kind shot?

Think about where you need to be for the next moment. You know you captured a great live music moment when other photographers ask if your image is “composited.” (This is a post-processing technique that combines two or more images to make a single picture).

One key point to remember: You’re not going to get every shot. Move on. There will be many more opportunities provided you’re ready for them.

A black and white concert photography live shot of a Keith Urban onstage

Keith Urban

Also, about moments: “chimp” as much as you need to, especially early on. This is controversial, and exactly why I’ve included it here. Especially as a beginner, you need to see and understand what kind of images you are getting in the moment. From your camera settings to the moments you’re capturing, you need to know if you’re in the ball park.

Note specific settings that are working. Or that you successfully got a particular moment (say a good guitar solo shot) so you can move on to other shots. Chimping teaches you this because you get immediate feedback on how you’re doing. It’s an advantage of digital photography.

You’ll get better as time goes on, and you’ll need to do this less and less.

Finally, study videos of artist performances on YouTube before shooting the artist live. This helps you get a feel for how they move, and better understand their stage dynamics, patterns, and set-flow.

You want to know when the lead singer jumps off the drum riser so you can grab that mid-air shot!

A black and white concert photography live shot of a singer onstage, the crowd are reflected in clour in his sunglasses

7. Post-Process to Make the Most of Your Shots

Commit to spending a good amount of time post-processing your best and most memorable moments to make them stand out from the competition. This requires skill and discipline.


Know how to use your chosen software programs well. Regardless of what software you choose, invest time in learning what your program can and can not do. Spend time watching video tutorials (but not too much).

When I first got serious about photography, I attended several post-processing seminars led by expert photographers. These trainings taught me how to pull the best qualities out of the images I worked so hard to capture in the first place.

I see many beginning, as well as seasoned photographers, rush images out. They capture these great moments that end up looking average. Now there’s nothing wrong with good. But strive to be great by learning how to post-process like a champ.


Mastering post-processing requires patience, which requires discipline. Work on your images for some amount of time, and then walk away. Come back to them with fresh eyes. Don’t process images when you’re tired if you can help it. You’ll cut corners and produce mediocre work.

Often while processing images, I can feel when I’m not quite done with a particular shot. But I start to feel impatient. I want to get it done and move on. This is where discipline comes in. You need to have the presence of mind to come back to it later.

Most times when I do finally return, I suddenly “see” the changes I wanted to make earlier that eluded me. These are the nuances that really make the image pop and define your style.

Finally, only publish your very best shots. The fewer the better. Few people want to see 30, 40, 50 or more images of the same artist. Even if you love the band, that’s overkill.

My rule of thumb: 15-25 images or so is plenty depending on your assignment.

A black and white concert photography live shot of a singer onstage


Great live music photography is very popular with people across all genres of music. Armed with adequate camera gear, and a few local options to shoot, you’ll be on your way to developing a solid resume as a concert photographer.

The only way to get good at this challenging photography niche is to do it…a lot. Articles or video tutorials alone cannot replace actually getting out there and attacking it yourself.

You need lots of experience shooting shows, and making the mistakes that we all make, to get better. And you will get better with time. Concert photography can be incredibly rewarding once you start seeing the results of your hard work. Good luck!

(All images by Tom Leu)


Tom Leu is a published photographer, radio host, author, & speaker in the Clearwater, FL area. From shooting many of the world's biggest music artists, to serendipitous street photography, travel landscapes, & portraits... Tom believes capturing the psychology behind the photography is what makes images great. Tom's “seeing things” philosophy seeks to uncover extraordinary images & insights literally through lenses; figuratively despite filters. >> Connect with Tom on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and at 16IMAGING.com

Originally published: https://expertphotography.com/live-music-photography-7-tips/

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Expert Photography Articles https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2018/7/getting-started-with-live-music-photography-7-quick-tips Sun, 01 Jul 2018 15:12:00 GMT
16 Tips for the Budding Freelance Photographer https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2018/6/16-tips-for-the-budding-freelance-photographer These 16 tips for the budding freelance photographer were written with beginners in mind. From what freelance really means to challenging yourself and always learning to how to survive the stress of freelance photography, this article will give you the tools you need to start out as a freelancer.

Disclaimer: Good “how-to” articles should contain some amount of debatable content. Useful tips may go against the grain and challenge your preconceived notions. Effective advice pushes your boundaries, and forces you to examine your own individuality. This is how you grow and get better as a photographer. Consensus is rarely a good thing.

Let’s go…

Concert photo of Godsmack on stage - tips for freelance photography


1. What Is Freelance Photography?

According to BusinessDictionary.com, Freelancing is: “Working on a contract basis for a variety of companies, as opposed to working as an employee for a single company. Freelancers are often considered to be self-employed, and have the freedom to pick and choose their projects and companies they would like to be associated with.”

I’m freelancing now writing this article. I’m self-employed both as a writer and photographer. As a freelance photographer, sooner or later you’ll need to get yourself set up as a legal business entity.

Whether as a corporation, LLC, or a sole proprietorship is determined by your particular business needs now and in the future. Don’t get too hung up on this at first. Understand it by doing the research, and handle it when the time is right, but sooner rather than later. You’ll also need contracts.

In the meantime, get out and shoot.

A portrairt of a man standing on the edge of a cliff at sunset - tips for starting in Freelance photography

2. The Three F’s of Freelance Photography

When I get asked how to be a successful and in-demand freelance photographer, here’s where I start:

Flexible – You need to be willing and able to work days, nights, weekends, holidays. Being flexible means being available anytime a client needs you. Often, the person who gets the gig, is the person who says yes and shows up first.

Free – Understand that you will likely choose to work for free, at some point to further your photography career. Especially in your early days. This allows you to build a solid and professional portfolio when you’ve yet to establish yourself. And it builds relationships that can turn into paying gigs later on.

Fortitude – Some call this grit. You need to have thick skin, a strong work ethic, and an even stronger drive to succeed. This desire must transcend how you may feel at any given moment. Ongoing perseverance, passion, and productivity are requirements to be successful in any field.

In the meantime, get out and shoot.

Street photography of a girl walking down a road on a sunny day - V

3. Be Seen as an Expert Within Your Niche

What’s your speciality? Your niche?

I know many photographers who think they can shoot most anything, but would you really want to? Don’t become a “wedding photographer” because you believe that’s the only way to make money as a photographer. Or because you shot a friend’s wedding once.

Choose a photography niche or two that you’re passionate about, and then master them. Ensure that your work demonstrates that you are the go-to person for the best quality within that niche. Doing so will mean people come to you for your expertise.

For example, I am considered one of the top choices for concert photography and artist portrait shoots where I live and work. My name consistently comes up in conversation, and on social media, when artists are looking for a photographer. Not boasting. Just the facts. This happened after hundreds and hundreds of hours of shooting and processing images.

I developed a reputation for high quality work that stands out. It continues to afford me opportunities to this day. Whatever niche you choose, be exceptional, and stand out.

In the meantime, get out and shoot.

Concert portrait of Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue &amp - tips for freelance photography

Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue & Sixx:A.M.

4. Ensure That You and Your Work Stand Out

There are many very good photographers out there. A select few are great. If your images are good, but look like everyone else’s, you will not stand out. As a result, “success” (whatever that means for you), is going to take much longer.

Again, as a concert photographer, I’m one of many. Sometimes at big festivals, there are forty or even fifty shooters in the pit. Numerous shots of the same artists, taken at the exact same time, are posted.

So how do you separate yourself out from the rest? First, get great moments (see #6). Force yourself to “see things” differently. Second, spend extra time in post to make your images pop (see #8). This takes time and practice to achieve.

When I shoot concerts, I take my time before posting them online. I don’t choose to work for outlets that need them the next day, so I don’t have to rush. The wait has always been worth it. Patience is a key virtue to become an in-demand freelance photographer.

In the meantime, get out and shoot.

A tattoo shop taken in evening light with a fisheye lens - tips for freelance photography

5. Challenge Yourself Right Away

Undertake a project, and push yourself immediately. I committed to one of those photo-a-day challenges within my first month of shooting. I didn’t finish it, I only got through about 250 days or so. It didn’t matter.

The project forced me to begin looking at the world in a different way. I learnt how to use my camera creatively. I went to places I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise to get shots. In short, I started thinking like a photographer. It was an invaluable experience that I look back on fondly.

I’m planning to take on another project again to challenge myself further, and strongly suggest you to do the same.

A brown dog looking up at thye camera - freelance photography jobs.

6. Focus on Getting Great Moments

The best photos are the ones that have captured the best moments. The “best” of anything is subjective, but that’s why photography is an art form. Great moments need to be great to you first. They don’t always have to be grandiose. Compelling moments are often subtle. Understated. They’re those images that cause you to pause and look longer. It can be a sporting eventconcertweddingsunsetportrait, or street photography.

Skilled shooters are always looking for interesting postures and facial expressions. They are considering the placement of objects within a frame. They are looking for interesting lighting and any unusual elements present, etc.

The best moments don’t require the best gear. The best moments require the right photographer to recognise them and capture them.

black and white photo of a freelance photographer shooting a concert

7. Study Techniques

Want to learn how to take great long exposure images? Want to get good at pet photography? Want to become the go-to wedding photographer in your area?

Then commit to learning as much as you can about those styles and techniques of shooting. Read articles and books. Like these here. Watch videos. Work one-on-one with a photographer who has demonstrated skill within these areas. Then spend 10x more time taking photos to apply what you’ve learned.

Too many photographers spend too much time inside studying, instead of outside shooting. Studying techniques is good and needed. Actually applying what you’ve learned is best and necessary.

A couple holding hands at sunset - freelance photography job

8. Spend More Time in Post

I know, I know… there’s a whole contingent out there preaching speed with post-processing. And I agree, to a point. Efficiency is always necessary and smart. Time is finite, and time is money right? Begin by understanding some of the tools available here. BUT remember, if your images don’t stand out, YOU won’t stand out.

And if you don’t stand out, you don’t stand a chance at succeeding as a freelance photographer. Why? Because there’s too much competition.

Don’t rush your images. You need to find that elusive balance between quality and quantity. Unfortunately, a lot of photographers err on the side of speed. This is a mistake. Taking longer in post creating great images that last will ensure you last as a freelance photographer.

A porttrait of a rusty car hubcap - freelance photography shot

9. Be a Great Communicator

Becoming a great communicator is the number one business tip for a budding freelance photographer. You have to be effective in all different kinds of situations, with all different kinds of people.

Commit to communicating well with your subjects, prospects, and clients. Be the kind of person and professional you’d want to hire. This is THE most important skill any person, in any field, can have. This is counter-intuitive because most people think they’re already competent communicators. A few quick clicks around social media tells us otherwise.

So what does this have to do with photography? Everything. Talented photographers with questionable communication skills are prevalent. I run into them all the time. It takes seconds to notice. Many are standoffish, aloof, and/or downright rude. Remember: first impressions count, and first impressions last.

Getting the job often comes down to one person making a strong connection with a decision-maker over another person. Less experienced photographers get opportunities at times because they’re easier to work with than the pompous pro. Even if you become the greatest photographer in the world, if you’re hard to work with, it will cost you.

Take an interpersonal communication course. Enrol in a webinar. Polish your skills in this area. It will pay you back in spades.

A black and white freelance photography portrait of musician Mickey Joe on a bridge

Mickey Joe

10. Follow the ABCD’s to Get Freelance Photography Jobs

To land freelance photography jobs, and make money as a freelance photographer, follow the following ABCD’s:

Ask – Ask for the job. As simple as it sounds, this step is often skipped. Make a phone call. Send an email. Message a contact. Inquire about opportunities you’d like to take on. Ask the question.

Back It Up – Experience and social proof are the most powerful persuasion techniques available to everyone. Especially in photography, often few words are necessary to “prove” how good you are. Your portfolio of images will do most of the talking for you. After asking for the job, direct prospects to samples of your work. Link to your website. Provide testimonials.

Correspond – Be in continual contact with your prospects throughout your working relationship with them (see #9). Be proactive, not reactive. Follow-up frequently. “Top of Mind” is where you want to be with your prospects and customers. Review all their information pertinent to the job at hand. Ask clarifying questions. Be thorough. Respond to their inquiries in a timely manner. They need to know you’re a professional photographer, as well as a business professional.

Deliver – The most important part. Produce the top quality work and results that you promised. Results that your customer wants and needs. Over-deliver to ensure any repeat business comes back to you. Delivering excellence is how you achieve ongoing success as a freelance photographer. And also how you will make money.

Colourful beach photography shot

11. Develop Key Relationships to Make Money With Freelance Photography

Do photographers actually make money? Absolutely! But… likely not at first (there are always exceptions). Or at least not consistently at first. To begin cashing checks, you have to first show that you are worth the cash. You have to be visible to get paid. This is where strategic networking comes into play.

Consider every new contact you make a valuable network connection for potential future use. Nurture and develop relationships with people inside and outside of the photography field. You must come across as professional, competent, and easy to work with during every interaction. Doing so will make you more memorable, and someone easier to say yes to when the time comes to ask for the job.

I’ve known many very talented photographers who are their own worst enemies. Despite their skills behind the camera, their off-putting personalities make them hard to work with in front of the camera.

There are many other talented shooters out there who have pleasant personalities who also produce top-level work. Quality being equal, who would you rather work with?

Black and white photo of Lzzy Hale of Halestorm - freelance photography shoot.

Lzzy Hale of Halestorm

12. Be Strategic Online and On Social Media

Commit to being an active and smart internet and social media user. Sure, most of us are on some quantity of social media these days, but mainly surfing and scrolling timelines with light engagement here and there. To be successful as a freelance photographer you have to get your name out there and connect with people.

You need a strong photography website, and have a smart and active social media presence. A key distinction that I’ve had to learn and get better at myself over the years. Smart online activity and social media use is not a passive activity. It’s daily, it’s focused, it’s consistent, and it’s oftentimes a grinding exercise.

Sometimes the use of outside services to help small businesses expand their reach farther and faster can help. Many photographers pay for ads, sponsor posts and pages, etc., to promote themselves. Done right, it can pay big dividends.

Beyond social media, the internet in general is your friend when it comes to searching out freelance photography jobs. But you have to be discerning when using it to get the most benefit. Here are a few places to start your search for freelance photography jobs:

There’s a world of potential opportunities available for the earnest and driven freelancer. Is any of this easy, or come without ongoing hard work? Not by a long shot. But to those who say there aren’t any freelance photography jobs out there, I call B.S.

They’re there. You just have to go look and work for them (review #2).

A freelance photography shot of a cafe in black and white

13. Don’t Crumble Under the Compare-Itis Pressure

We all do it. We compare ourselves and our work to others. It’s normal, to a point.

Should you follow other photographers? Sure, in moderation. Getting inspired by others’ work can be beneficial. Getting creative ideas from other photographers to expand upon and make your own can be very helpful. But, paying too much attention to how and what others are doing will start to suck the life out of you. Pace yourself. And dare to be different.

Don’t get lost in the styles and preferences of others lest you lose your originality. Learn from others, yes. Emulate, but don’t copy. Take what you like, and leave the rest. Develop your own unique style and voice to inject into your works and into the world.

Also, limit your time in online photography groups consuming other photographers’ work. These groups can be educational, but can also be counter-productive if overused. Some photography groups are notorious for being full of members who are full of themselves. Some of these blow-hards’ intentions are toxic.

Many come off as rigid know-it-alls, and their delivery to newcomers is more harmful than helpful. Speaking from experience, comparison moderation is key for your mental health.

A colourful school corridor - freelance photography shot

14. Be Honest With Yourself

Have confidence, but don’t delude yourself into thinking you are better or worse than you are. If you’re not sure, ask for feedback (see #15). An accurate assessment of where you’re at on the talent and skill continuum can help you immensely. You can stifle your progress by both over and underestimating your talent and skill.

Pompous and puffed-up photographers are a dime-a-dozen that nobody likes to be around. Keep your ego in check. Be someone you’d like to be around.

I’ve also come across very talented shooters who don’t realise how good they are. Again, objective feedback is very important. Seek it only from those you trust and whose opinion you value.

A black and white portrait of an elderly woman in glasses

15. Listen to Feedback, but Not Too Much

We all need honest, constructive critiques of our work to become the best we can be. Human beings suffer from cognitive biases at times that prevent us from being objective about ourselves and our work. This is where feedback from trusted others comes in.

Seek the opinions and experience from those you value and know have your best interests at heart. Be prepared to hear things you may not want to hear. Don’t get defensive. Remember, you asked for feedback. Take it, and think about it awhile before deciding to keep it or chuck it. Time is your ally when it comes to constructive feedback.

But, too much feedback can be counter-productive, and water us down. Too much feedback can paralyze us into inaction. Take feedback, and apply what you believe to be truly helpful. But also take feedback and others’ opinions with a grain of salt.

At the end of the day, listen to yourself. You know what’s best for you.

a street photography shot of a doorway with graffiti above

16. Get a Photography Coach

It’s never been easier to connect with people for personal or business purposes with technology today. Quality photography coaching is available with a little research and a few key strokes. Investing in one-on-one photography coaching could advance your skills fast. It can be the best money you will ever spend.

Reading books and articles about photography is one thing. Watching videos is another. But, nothing replaces talking with someone who’s been there, and done that which you aspire to do. First, you need to find someone whose work you like and respect. Next, you also need to connect with someone you feel comfortable, and can work with on an ongoing basis.

This may take a little trial and error, and that’s OK. If the first person or two doesn’t work out, keep trying. You’ll eventually find what you’re looking for and what you need. A good photography coach can cut your learning curve down big time by cutting to the chase to get you the know-how you need to improve fast.

A freelance photography shot of a full Def Leppard concert

Def Leppard


Any “tips for success” are subjective of course, and their value is up to the end-user should they decide to put them into practice. Reading about, and doing, are two different things completely.

Apply these tips to start strong, and build a balanced foundation both as a freelance photographer and business person who stands out from the competition. Good luck!

Now check our articles on stock photography

(All images by Tom Leu)


Tom Leu is a published photographer, radio host, author, & speaker in the Clearwater, FL area. From shooting many of the world's biggest music artists, to serendipitous street photography, travel landscapes, & portraits... Tom believes capturing the psychology behind the photography is what makes images great. Tom's “seeing things” philosophy seeks to uncover extraordinary images & insights literally through lenses; figuratively despite filters. >> Connect with Tom on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and at 16IMAGING.com

Originally published: https://expertphotography.com/15-tips-beginning-freelance-photography/

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Expert Photography Articles https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2018/6/16-tips-for-the-budding-freelance-photographer Fri, 01 Jun 2018 15:00:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #24 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2016/5/maui-hi-2014 Kaanapali, Maui HIKaanapali, Maui HI

Maui, HI... June, 2014 >> Sometimes, a relatively quick panorama shot with an iPhone does the trick and best captures what's being seen. This shot was taken from the balcony of our hotel room on Maui on a perfect summer day. Pretty sure this is the best view, from any hotel room, I've ever had, past or present...


(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2016/5/maui-hi-2014 Wed, 04 May 2016 15:34:11 GMT
Behind the Shot #23 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/11/behind-the-shot-23 HatsHats  Las Vegas, NV... June 2014 >> The night after a speaking engagement at a conference, I was doing the "tourist thing" walking around Las Vegas Blvd. taking it all in. Now I've been to Vegas multiple times over the years, but like other great cities, I knew there's always something to see beyond the obvious when you're really looking. This seemingly ordinary hat store became extraordinary to me when viewed as a whole scene, from just inside the door. I knew a regular focal length wouldn't cut it. So to do what I was seeing the proper justice, I quickly threw on the wide-angle lens to grab this "hat trick." I like how the store clerk is also wearing a hat, presumably from this exact store, but I won't ever know because I left right after clicking the shutter... Total time spent there: >30 seconds.

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/11/behind-the-shot-23 Sun, 29 Nov 2015 21:30:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #22 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/10/behind-the-shot-22 Sarasota BaySarasota Bay Sarasota Bay, FL... October 2015 >> I only had a few opportunities to slip away during a work trip to Western Florida in late October. This night, if you look closely, the Longboat Key peninsula off in the distance is visible against the burnt-orange and smoky-blue sky that called me to pull over, trespass (just a little bit), and take the time necessary to grab this shot. I also wanted to get some of the worn texture of the old and rustic dock that stood out against the remarkable sunset. The dock is a compelling part of the image that gives it some subtle contrast in my opinion. What do you think?

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/10/behind-the-shot-22 Fri, 30 Oct 2015 05:59:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #21 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/10/behind-the-shot-21 Kentucky PlainsKentucky Plains

Rural Kentucky... April 2013 >> My travels as a seminar speaker took me to multiple cities and states across the country. I've mentioned before that after a while, everything started to look the same. And it really, really does... The hotels, the highways, the cities, etc. But once in a while, certain scenes and landscapes stood out and grabbed my attention. This was one of them. I was out for a short drive after arriving at my destination and stopped here at sunset. I really love the sparseness and simplicity of this, as well as various layers represented from the fence to the sky. It just moved me, hope it does you too... 

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/10/behind-the-shot-21 Wed, 30 Sep 2015 21:15:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #20 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/9/behind-the-shot-20 Eric Turner of WarrantEric Turner of Warrant

Erik Turner of Warrant... July 2012>> One of my first "national" acts to shoot, and I was admittedly intimidated in the beginning. I took the requisite shots, but then started looking at the band differently. I wondered how I might capture something that would stand out. Something that would give the viewer a different perspective; something unique. I noticed the mirror shades, and knew there was an interesting reflection there, though I couldn't fully see it from down in the pit where I was shooting. Using my 70-200mm lens, I cranked it all the way and grabbed this shot mid-guitar solo. What I enjoy most about his image is being able to see the world through the eyes of the player, if only for a moment...

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/9/behind-the-shot-20 Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:00:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #19 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/8/behind-the-shot-19 Judy C.5Judy C. Judy C... July 2014 >> I didn't know this amazing young lady until I randomly met her in a shopping center parking lot. I saw her, was intrigued by the energy she was exuding simply from how she walked, and decided I had to know her. I approached her and told her she looked amazing. I nervously asked if she be interested in doing a portrait photo shoot and interview. The first thing out of her mouth was "I don't do nudes." After reassuring that was not what I was after, she agreed to give me her phone number. I called her the next day, and set-up a meeting for the following week. I didn't exactly know what the outcome was going to be. I had no real idea of what I was in for, but the whole experience changed me for the better. View the photo gallery HERE. Watch the video excerpt HERE.

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/8/behind-the-shot-19 Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:45:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #18 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/6/behind-the-shot-158 Dick Van Dyke-2aDick Van Dyke-2a

Rockford, IL... June 2012 >> As my "Wheels" gallery on this site indicates, I enjoy shooting classic cars. A lot. This beauty was at one of many car shows I've attended with the sole purpose of capturing these amazing machines for my own enjoyment #1, and others' enjoyment #2. This was one of the first shots that I used HDR processing to get that "pop" effect. I have other versions of this shot straight, and in black and white, but I like this one the best. I call it "Dick Van Dyke" for no other reason except that it reminded me of a car from that era that Rob Petrie himself may have had in his driveway... 

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/6/behind-the-shot-158 Sun, 28 Jun 2015 14:04:50 GMT
Behind the Shot #17 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/5/behind-the-shot-17 Riley (life of...)Riley (life of...) Maui, Hawaii... June 2014 >> Walking back to the rental car after shooting this beach, I stopped to get a better look at this rather carefree looking, drifter-type dude chilling with his dog under the shade of a palm tree. This entire beach was filled with surfers and other assorted islanders just hanging out, enjoying the water, the waves, and the tropical paradise which is Maui. This guy struck me because he appeared so at ease with his existence. He was simply enjoying the leisure, the sun, his dog, and his technology simultaneously. As I drove away, I envied him just a little; and then a lot... 

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/5/behind-the-shot-17 Wed, 27 May 2015 19:38:58 GMT
Behind the Shot #16 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/4/behind-the-shot-16 Lake ErieLake Erie Lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park, Erie, PA... June 2013 >> I was on the road travelling between seminar dates, and ended up on this beach overlooking this great lake... alone... on Father's Day. I was missing my kids, and feeling a little sorry for myself when I saw this Dad and his daughter enjoying the spectacular sunset together. I envied this man in the moment, but then settled into the magnificent scene in front of me. The cloud formation that unfolded before our eyes complemented the setting sun in such a way that it looked like a mountain range to me. This kind of serendipity always serves to remind me why photograhpy is such a positive and powerful force in my life.

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/4/behind-the-shot-16 Sun, 26 Apr 2015 20:28:34 GMT
Behind the Shot #15 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/3/behind-the-shot-15 San Francisco, CA 2010San Francisco, CA 2010

Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, CA… August 2010 >> I was taking in some of the feel and true sense of the streets in this historic part of San Francisco when I found this guy on a busy corner. I shot him from a few different angles but felt this one between the posts was the most compelling by combining the color-select within the composition. He couldn't have cared less about the commotion happening all around him. Directly behind me while snapping this shot, my wife was being hassled by a street dweller we had by passed earlier. My time with the sleeper was cut short in favor of whisking my wife away to safety. I do my street photography alone these days...

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/3/behind-the-shot-15 Sun, 15 Mar 2015 12:28:24 GMT
Behind the Shot #14 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/2/behind-the-shot-14 dUg PinnickdUg Pinnick

dUg Pinnick of King's X... June 2013 >> These guys have been one of my favorite bands for a long, long time. So when I got the opportunity to shoot them, I jumped at it of course. The coolest part though wasn't the actual gig itself (it WAS badass by the way), but the moments just before the show started while I was standing side-stage left waiting for the band. Here comes dUg right up behind me, bass on, smiling ear-to-ear, saying "hey man, how's it going?" In a rare fanboy moment, I seized the opportunity to ask for a quick iPhone shot of the two of us. So here I am with $6k of cameras and lenses hanging off of me taking a quick low-light and grainy selfie of me and dUg. Maybe not my best moment, but he was very cool about it. I think I was able to redeem myself later on by getting some "proper" pics of dUg and the guys such as the one here...

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/2/behind-the-shot-14 Sat, 14 Feb 2015 21:00:20 GMT
Behind the Shot #13 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/1/behind-the-shot-13 Cinnamon & BennieCinnamon & Bennie

Doggie dissension… January 2010 >> What you don't see here is the slice of hot pizza on the coffee table just below Cinnamon (on the left) and Bennie (on the right). I happened to have my camera in my lap during this moment when Cinnamon was letting Bennie know in no uncertain terms that the pizza was not his… Love my Viszlas!


(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2015/1/behind-the-shot-13 Sat, 24 Jan 2015 17:45:52 GMT
Behind the Shot #12 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/12/behind-the-shot-12 Midway Village Woods, 2013Midway Village Woods, 2013

Forest through the trees... May 2013 >> There's a 1.5 mile bike path near my house that my wife and I frequent during the spring, summer, and fall each year to walk/run. It used to be to run/walk, but things change ya know? Anyway, I've passed by this spot literally hundreds of times over the years, but decided to stop one day when I really noticed this scene. This was one of my first times using HDR processing. I use it sparingly, but feel it's a worthwhile enhancement for some applications within some shots. This was one of them. Something rather ordinary, but with some extra effort and vision, may just become extra ordinary... 

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/12/behind-the-shot-12 Wed, 17 Dec 2014 22:51:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #11 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/11/behind-the-shot-11 Igz Kincaid of HesslerIgz Kincaid of Hessler

Igz Kincaid of Hessler.. July 2012 >> I was shooting a two-day music festival that featured several relatively unknown area bands, as well as a few well-known headlining national acts. About halfway through day one, a band appeared in the 90+ degree weather decked-out in full-on 80's hard rock regalia complete with humidity-defying hair, leathers, and enough eye-liner to give the best of their shock-rock brethren a run for their money. Despite dealing with blown-up and burning amps, Hessler didn't miss a beat delivering their brand of infectious and anthemic metal. Guitarist and founder, Igz Kincaid was a non-stop blur of head-banging and stage theatrics who wasn't shy about offering up photo-ops if you were paying attention. Armed with my 70-200mm lens, I grabbed a moment of cool eye-contact that Igz liked so much, he asked me for a large print which now hangs in his house. Igz later told me he rarely puts up pics of himself (this coming from a guy and a very photogenic band that is shot A LOT). I'll take that...

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/11/behind-the-shot-11 Wed, 19 Nov 2014 14:39:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #10 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/10/behind-the-shot-10 DC BusDC Bus

DC blue... April 2011 >> While out on a walking tour of the Nation's capital, I was (as usual), lagging a bit behind everyone else. While crossing the street, I spotted this city bus parked at a red light, minus a driver. It was just interesting enough, unique enough, at that moment, to make me pause, look, and shoot. The seats were bright blue and really stood out in the night light. I immediately saw a black and white, blue color select, post-processed image to really capture the moment, in that moment. So, here it is...

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/10/behind-the-shot-10 Tue, 14 Oct 2014 22:53:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #9 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/9/behind-the-shot-9 Escape From RockfordEscape From Rockford

Escape from Rockford October 2009 >>  It was rainy, cold, and windy on this night. Not an ideal situation for shooting obviously. Nevertheless, I'd always had my eye on this abandoned gas station; drove by it countless times over the years. And then one day, I parked, set-up, waited, and started shooting. Honestly, I over-shot it. I was there nearly two hours if memory serves, shooting from before sunset until it was completely dark. Traffic got heavier as the sun went down, and people were driving home from work. The later it got, the harder the rain came down. My fingers turned white and were numb. But I persevered. I'm glad I did. Today, this is just an empty lot. I'm sure something else will get built there, but it's unlikely it will look like this...

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/9/behind-the-shot-9 Thu, 11 Sep 2014 19:29:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #8 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/8/behind-the-shot-8 Dynamic 88Dynamic 88

Dynamic 88... October 2012 >> Driving through town on a rainy Fall day, I spotted this rare relic. She wasn't in the best of shape (I've never been exactly sure why men always assign a female gender to cars...), and the color is polarizing, but there was just something there. I stopped. I stared. I shot in and out of my car to get my shots despite the rain. I left. I came back. I snapped a few more. Went home. Came back yet again. And "she" was gone. Such is life. All I have left are the memories of her. Here's one...

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/8/behind-the-shot-8 Mon, 18 Aug 2014 16:36:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #7 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/7/behind-the-shot-7 RIPT-2011RIPT-2011

This is your brain on rock and roll... July 2011 >> As a long-time musician myself, I really enjoy shooting live concerts (big and small) of artists and groups I dig. For me, one of the biggest challenges of concert photography (and there are many), is getting unique shots from unique perspectives. This is often very hard to do with limited amounts of time and space, especially when shooting the bigger, national acts. The guys in RIPT from my hometown of Rockford, IL reunited for a benefit show in 2012, and I was able to roam. I've been a fan of these guys since the 80's, and not only are they a great band, but they're a great bunch of guys as well personally. This shot is one of my favorites of them because of the energy and enthusiasm I see and feel from both audience AND band. It's real, trust me... 

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/7/behind-the-shot-7 Sat, 05 Jul 2014 13:53:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #6 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/6/behind-the-shot-6 Motley-A-Go-GoMotley-A-Go-Go

Take me to the top... October 2009 >> Literally racing out into the middle of Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, CA during a busy afternoon of traffic to take pictures is not advisable. I had to repeatedly wait for an opening to zip out into the street to get the straight-ahead angle and frame I wanted for this shot. This picture is of the famous Whiskey-A-Go-Go live music venue. The reason it's special to me is the addition of the billboard on top showing one the club's most famous alumni. Back in 1981-1982, the Crue were on top of the Hollywood music scene headlining this club. On this day, they were back "on top" at the Whiskey yet again...

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/6/behind-the-shot-6 Tue, 10 Jun 2014 16:58:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #5 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/5/behind-the-shot-5 I'm Looking Through You...

I'm looking through you... February 2011 >> I also like to call this one "Done with Mirrors" because that's also an underrated Aerosmith album, and I like shit like that. This is one that I keep in my "Serendipity" portfolio because it truly was on this day in Lake Geneva, WI. I deliberately seek shots that aren't always self-evident. Who's the subject and who is looking at whom here? I'd tell you, but that would spoil the interest of it. "See" if you can figure out how this shot came to be on your own.

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/5/behind-the-shot-5 Mon, 26 May 2014 14:58:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #4 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/4/behind-the-shot-4 A Door, Man...

A door, man... August 2010 >> I used to see him almost everyday. He was stationed near the front door of the school where I worked. He came across as a very quiet, seemingly unassuming guy. He was pleasant enough. He smiled; I smiled; and we exchanged the requisite “good morning” greetings as I walked through the doors most days. “Who is this person?” I often asked myself. He was hard to read. He was rather quiet and to himself. He didn’t offer up much information in our brief daily exchanges, but then again, neither did I. This day, as I was leaving, I saw the sunlight through the doors, and shadows on the walls as he was noticing me leaving (as was his job). I asked him if he minded if take a couple of shots. He hesitated, and had that familiar, semi-confused look on his face that photographers often field that says "why do you want a picture of me, here, and now?" "There's nothing to see here…" Oh, but there was. As I sat down on the floor to shoot upward, he asked me what I wanted him to do. I said, "whatever you normally do." He stoically looked down and began pretending to write; I clicked the shutter, got up and thanked him, and then left. I only saw him a handful of times after that day. I'm glad I stopped. I know he was more than a doorman...

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/4/behind-the-shot-4 Sat, 19 Apr 2014 02:20:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #3 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/3/behind-the-shot-3 Iowa 80/6

Iowa 80/6... February 2013 >> It was about 5 degrees when I pulled over and shot this somewhere in Western Iowa. I was on my way to the next city on my speaking itinerary when I contracted with a national seminar company. The sign shows I'm near I80 and Highway 6; almost to Nebraska if memory serves. After awhile, the highways and byways all started to look the same. I'm very glad I got to grab a variety of different shots of most of the places I travelled through during my "road warrior" days. It was a whirlwind national tour travelling to approximately 35 cities in 16 states in a little over 7 months time.

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/3/behind-the-shot-3 Sun, 16 Mar 2014 00:39:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #2 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/2/behind-the-shot-2 Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust

Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust...  July 2012 >> I nearly got into a fight with Sevendust's road manager at this show. I'm roaming around the grounds at this outdoor show getting different shots from different spots around the stage. I'm using my 70-200mm 2.8L lens on my 5DII minding my own business, and enjoying the show. I was always far enough away to be unobtrusive to concert-goers. I didn't think there was any harm in getting a long shot or two from various vantage points, and no big deal. Apparently not according to this little prick with a Napoleon complex who came over no fewer than three times to tell me to stop shooting and leave. I'm blocking no one, bothering no one, bolted out of the pit after 3 songs on cue, and this is how I get treated? Who knew that concert photography could be such a dangerous undertaking?

(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/2/behind-the-shot-2 Mon, 10 Feb 2014 16:10:00 GMT
Behind the Shot #1 https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/1/behind-the-shot-1 Nova SS

The nostalgia of the Nova... October 2012 >> Chevy Nova's hold a special place in my heart. My very first car was a 1968 Nova. It was a few years older than this one, and had the rear wheel wells cut out to accommodate the bad-ass Cragar rims I insisted on putting on it. It was an ugly piss green that my buddies and I spray-painted (that's right, SPRAY-PAINTED) red. But ALL Nova's are amazing looking cars, regardless of the color in my opinion! Any chance I get to shoot a classic Nova, I take it. This was one such day.


(16IMAGING★Photography & Moving Pictures by Tom Leu) Behind the Shot https://www.16imaging.com/blog/2014/1/behind-the-shot-1 Thu, 16 Jan 2014 06:08:00 GMT