All Access: the ultimate how-to book in concert photography

What if you were a beginning concert photographer who wanted some information on getting started?  Previously you had to rely on blog posts, asking people over social media (which only started lately) or other photographers, randomly figuring it out yourself, or if you had the chance and the money, attending the Concert Precon at Photoshop World (note: still attend this if you have the chance even after reading the book - there's no substitute for live training and being able to ask questions as needed).

That's all changed with the release of the new book, All Access: Your Backstage Pass to Concert Photography by Alan Hess.

I've talked about Alan being my mentor before in this blog, and it's for good reason. With over 20 years of concert photography experience, and shooting bands like the Grateful Dead, Anthrax, guitarist Billy Morrison, and even teen pop idols like Justin Bieber, you can definitely say he's been through it all, the good and the bad.

When I say this book covers everything, it really covers everything. It starts off with how you get credentials for any type of show.  Who you need to ask, what your chances are of getting them, if you're just starting out what you should do.  Then it gets into the rules of the pit, the gear you should have, and basic exposure information.

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Still not enough?  How about information on getting shots of each instrument or band member, the basics of shooting at different types of venues (starting from the small local bar, and going all the way up to the 20,000 and greater person venue), festivals, the different types of bands you'll encounter, and what to do if you happen to be able to get backstage.

And if your brain isn't going to explode at that point, there's an entire section on post-processing the images you got.

Besides all the fantastic information, Alan has a great and easy to read writing style. The first part of the book is like the opening band.  You don't necessarily want to see it since you've come for the headliner, but once you do, you're pleasantly surprised by how good it is, and it gets you excited for the rest of the concert.  The photos included in the book all have a purpose besides "hey look at me, I'm a cool concert photo," and you want to keep turning pages to see what's going to happen next.

Aside from all of that, Alan contacted several professionals for some of their expertise.  From photographers, to guitarists, to managers, and even a lighting engineer, their insight will help you start formulating your own plan.

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I sat down with the book intending to read it over a matter of days, but it sucked me in and I finished it very quickly before I realized how long I'd been reading.  That's the beauty (and maybe the curse) of this book, and Alan's writing style. :)

Do I recommend this book if you're at all interested in concert photography? Definitely.  Do I recommend this book even if you've been doing concert photography for awhile?  Most definitely.  As photographers we're always learning, I don't care who you are. Everybody will be able to gleen something new they didn't know before. 

Book excerpts reprinted courtesy of Alan Hess.