The Social: Commissioning Music Photography: Dan Wilton and Ben Weaver

10_ Press Image l Dan W#200

Dan Wilton, Mikaiha Cannot Swim, From the series STOB EHT, 2012 © Dan Wilton. Courtesy of the artist

The Social is a regular and lively evening event run by The Photographers’ Gallery that aims to provide practical information for artists and photographers in a social environment.

Advice given by photographers and industry specialists is beneficial for people at all stages of their career, from the newly graduated to the seasoned professional. At The Social, the audience is encouraged to enjoy a drink, discuss, and most of all, socialise.

On Thursday 30 July, this regular bar night for photographers brought two professionals in photography together to give their perspectives and tips on a theme. The topic for the evening was getting and delivering music commissions. It was part of a programme of talks and events during We Want More and was presented in collaboration with The Wire. The Social is free to all, with booking essential.

The Social: Commissioning Music Photography

Key advice from We Want More exhibiting photographer Dan Wilton:

  • Don’t wait for someone to commission you. Not only does personal work help in producing commissions but more importantly it’ll help you find your own style and approach.

  • Exhibiting or self publishing zines is a great way to get your work out there. In my opinion it’s much more powerful than a portfolio. Producing project based work helps to clearly show your vision and also your commitment and focus. Plus it’s great fun, I’m happiest when I’m working on personal projects.

  • Saying all that, a portfolio is still important. Try to develop a balanced one of both commissioned and personal work.

  • If you only get five minutes with an artist, be prepared (and try to remember to take the lens cap off!)

Key advice from Ben Weaver, Art Director with The Wire:

  • Think about finding connections between photographers and musicians (eg. if they know or are fans of one another’s work)

  • Be sensitive to how musicians want to be photographed, or how ‘visible’ they want to be

  • Art Directors – take risks, but if you know it’s going to be a difficult shoot, work with someone you can trust to get something good the first time around

  • Be prepared to admit when it hasn’t worked

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