DJs: hire photographers for your gigs

A few thoughts on the pictures from DJs’ gigs and advice based on my own failure

First of all, the most obvious: photos are a good thing. They’re personal memories that feel good to revisit and share with others. Who doesn’t love pictures?

Now the slightly less obvious: Pictures of DJs’ gigs are your work assets. If a DJ has good pictures from his gigs, it’s easier for promoters to work with him: to run an advertising campaign for the upcoming event, to sell tickets. Also, photos from performances help to remove fears of potential promoters: when you see a DJ behind the club gear in front of live people, you know that at least he has such experience, which means less chance that he will screw up (remember that decent DJs are pretty rare). And, of course, photos are great content for visual communication for your blogs and social media.

Read what about social media John Fleming and Ace Ventura

Finally, something that would seem unobvious or even wrong to many at first glance: making sure that a DJ gets photos of the gigs is the DJ’s own job. I’m not talking about how to get those gigs (that’s a big separate topic), but about the photos from them.

It’s the DJ’s job to get pictures of his gigs

When I was young and inexperienced, I used to think something like this: “Since the organizer is doing the event, he most likely hires a photographer. And since there’s going to be a photographer at the event, that means I, as the DJ, will have some great shots from there, especially when I’m an international artist in the lineup. Right?”.

With these thoughts in mind, I flew to my first international gigs in Switzerland in 2014, then to Hungary in 2015, then to Switzerland again in 2017, and soon to Greece. Events in different countries with big lineups of international artists; big clubs and festivals. Guess how many pictures of me are from there? The answer is zero. None. At least I’ve kept the posters, or else it was like there were none. Wonder how that’s possible?

See all my posts about the shows: posters, photos, mixes and other snippets from the tour

Well, the thing is, when organizers hire photographers, they do this for a very different reason. For the organizer, the main goal of the photos is to make people want to come to their next events. To do that, they usually try to show a good mood, people, vibe, location, deco, and all that that typically catches people’s eyes. And that’s not necessarily DJs at all.

For example, this is what one of such shots can look like:

Shankra Festival, Lostallo, Switzerland, 2017. The photo is cool, but not about me

I ended up having great gigs, but there’s not a single shot of me from there to use as my asset. Don’t be like me.

After realizing it was a complete failure, I’ve since made it a rule to hire photographers myself — not for the entire events, but specifically for my sets.

When you hire a photographer, you can explain to him what angles to shoot and from what not to; he certainly will not be late for your set; you probably won’t have to wait for the photos for weeks; the files will be in high resolution and thus they can be used even for posters, or anywhere. With this approach, I now have several hundred good pictures that I use for promotional needs, social media, podcast covers, and other uses.

I add the best shots in high resolution to a special page for promoters and press

Of course, I’m not the first to think of this. I remember in 2018 noticing that Boris Brejcha is touring the world, yet almost all the photos on his Instagram are signed by only a few photographers. In other words, Brejcha doesn’t rely on local photographers from the organizers (who, of course, are certainly present and take photos of Brejcha anyway), but he flies with his own, trusted guys.

Boris Brejcha on Instagram

Boris Brejcha in Moscow, 2018. Photo: Ruben Schmitz. The pictures like this “sell” well very

At the time, I thought it was a great idea and started doing the same thing. As an artist, I don’t gather stadiums of people like Brejcha, but even if there are only a hundred people on the dance floor, you can still ask the photographer to take at least a few close-up shots of the DJ — shots like that are useful and important too.

Me at a gig at Gorod Club, Moscow, 2018. Photo: Pavel Tzimisce. A nice, working shot even without the stadium of people

All in all, DJs, a word of advice: don’t rely on the luck of the draw, but hire photographers yourself. These investments are worth it.

 773   2021   Advice   Gigs   Marketing   Music Industry

Since 2015, I’ve run an advice section giving my experience and answering readers’ questions on music production, DJing, performing, marketing, management, and other aspects of the music industry. The purpose of the series is to spread knowledge and cultivate professionalism in the music industry. The advice series works simply: you send me your questions, and I answer them with a blog post when I have something relevant to say. Send me your questions via the form.

I perform as a DJ in clubs and festivals worldwide, and I’m available for booking requests. If you would like to book me for your event, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Also, check out recorded DJ sets and photos from my gigs. Hi-res pictures, logos, and biog are available in the press section.

© Daniel Sokolovskiy, 2024
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