In Focus: music photography with Erica Snyder


One great photo can tell an artist's life story, a raw visual accompaniment to the music complete with originality and authenticity.

In this series, we speak to Creative Commission member and photographer Erica Snyder who discusses her working life as a music photographer and offers her top tips for capturing the better artist photos.

WHAT ARE YOUR 5 BEST TIPS WHEN SHOOTING ARTISTS OR BANDS?

1. Plan ahead.

The more prepared you are with a concept, location and shot list the more you will be able to focus on the client and making them feel comfortable.

2. Learn about their music and personal preferences.

Often this will inform creative decisions and the mood of the shoot.

3. Stay open to changes and collaboration.

Artists are creative and staying open to new ideas can make the shoot stronger.

4. Gauge your subject's comfort.

Some artists love to be photographed while others take awhile to warm up to the camera. Make sure you stay patient and in tune with your subject.

5. Sounds silly but have fun!

The more enjoyable the shoot is for everyone the better the photos generally are.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY, AND DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW THAT WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?

I didn't know I wanted to do photography full time until a few years ago. I honestly couldn't imagine that I could turn this into a career.

I was only photographing landscapes and my close friends for a couple years until one of my childhood friends signed a record deal. He asked me to go on tour with him and take photos on the road. This opportunity really changed my perspective and thrust me into the music industry. I haven't looked back since. 

WHICH ARTIST(S) WOULD YOU MOST LOVE TO PHOTOGRAPH, AND WHY?

I am totally obsessed with Doja Cat, I think she is one of the coolest pop artists making music right now.

She seems open to experimental concepts and I think it would be such a fun job. Also love Caroline Polachek, Porches, SALEM and King Krule. I'm really interested in artists who aren't afraid to push boundaries.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST PHOTOGRAPHY JOB OR COMMISSION IN MUSIC?

My first job with an artist that I didn't have a personal relationship with was Nick Hakim. I met him at his Brooklyn apartment and we shot press photos around the neighbourhood

WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

Stay on your own path and don't worry too much about trends or styles that are currently popular. Keep your vision intact.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO BUDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS JUST STARTING OUT?

Shoot a lot and practice with your friends. Don't be afraid to try new things and fail at them. It's all a learning experience.