News, Images, Reviews, and Articles about the Ladies of Metal and Rock.
Shutterspeed: Catching Up With Female Rock Photographers
Shannon Wilk | January 4, 2021
There is something a bit different in store for today’s article, our writer and photographer, Shannon, wanted to highlight the work of some amazing female concert photographers. Interviewees include Anabel DFlux, Jenn Devereaux, Boston Schulz, and Shannon herself. Read the following interviews to learn about sexism, misconceptions about being a female music photographer, and other topics.
Photographers featured in this article..
Hi! Could you please give a brief introduction of who you are and what you do?
Hey there, thank you for having me! My name is Anabel DFlux, I am a professional photographer and SIGMA ambassador in Los Angeles, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. I have been involved in the music industry as a music and commercial photographer for about eleven years now, having started at the spry age of 15. I capture bands in all of their needs- whether it be concert photography, promotional shots, album artwork, social media content, and tour documentation.
My name is Jenn Devereaux and I am a music photographer based out of the New Orleans market. I have been shooting officially for 12 years now but I got my first taste of music photography sneaking my digital camera into shows by putting it in empty disposable camera boxes and gluing them shut. I am currently the house photographer for The Fillmore New Orleans.
Hello! I’m Boston Schulz, a music photographer based in Los Angeles. I focus on live music and rock n’ roll inspired portraits. I work with a few publications, capturing live music around the SoCal area, as well as, working directly with local artists to help them with their creative needs. I also started my own YouTube channel in hopes to share knowledge about music photography, and I also run a podcast where I interview other music photographers to have them share their knowledge & promote their work.
Hello! I’m Shannon Wilk, a concert photographer and music journalist based in the Connecticut area. I write/shoot for my own publication, Rockin’ Interviews, in addition to FemMetal and Amplified Edge. I host a podcast (Rockin’ Interviews) where I interview musicians and industry professionals from rock, metal, and indie bands. I have been in the industry for over 2 years shooting concerts, promotional band photos, and doing interviews. I was also a member of the media team on the 2020 Monsters of Rock Cruise.
Have you experienced sexism in the music industry as a concert photographer? How would you suggest someone handle that?
I have definitely dealt with my fair share of sexism in the music industry. It’s completely unnerving to hear someone make a comment alluding to the reason you have photo credentials is because “you must be a girlfriend” of one of the male band members, as if the $10,000+ worth of equipment hanging off my shoulders was just accessories and not to do a job.
Sadly, yes. When I first started, the shows that I was photographing seemed to have a ‘boys club’ mentality, where I was never welcomed, often ignored if I asked a question or tried to have a conversation with those around me, I was often pushed or moved out of the way, and I had people blatantly stand in front of me to shoot, blocking my shot. I’ve heard the “you’re only invited to shoot because they probably think you’re hot” or the assumptions that I’m sleeping with the band to get my press pass. Since then, I’ve made a lot of friends in the industry and have continued trying to be kind to everyone I meet. I haven’t had most of these issues for a while, but I know it still exists in the industry. What worked for me is learning how to stand up for yourself to confront any problematic behavior, as well as, not giving them the time of day. First, you can’t change everyone’s mind, and life is too short to argue with sexist jerks with attitude problems. So, be nice to those that you meet, and if someone is rude, move on because karma is coming for them anyway. But if someone is causing you harm, it’s really important to stand up for yourself; call them out on their actions or tell your contact (PR, manager, the band, etc) what this person was doing and let them handle it. No one deserves to be treated like shit, so, stand up for yourself and make a mental note to never talk to, be near or work with that person again.
My situation is unique seeing that I am a 14 year old female concert photographer. Personally, I can only think of a handful of situations I’ve experienced and often it’s the combination of ageism and sexism. The best advice I can give is to not let it get to you. I think it’s really important to rise above that and show what you are capable of through your work and professionalism.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about female music photographers?
This is a tough one- I suppose the biggest misconception that plagues female music photographers would be the one that plagues females in the entertainment industry as a whole: that creating art is not the motive for pursuing the career of choice. The stereotype circles around the incentive being access to the musicians or some ulterior romantic motive. Which, in my case and the case of my associates in the industry, creating artwork is the motive.
I would say that the biggest misconception about female music photographers is that we don’t know how to use our gear. We do not need unsolicited advice on how to use our gear.
I often hear the assumption that the ‘pretty female photographer is only there because she’s having sex with someone in the band’ or she’s ‘trying to’. When most of our work is booked based on word-of-mouth, this can be incredibly harmful for our reputation & ability to get future work. It’s also horribly discrediting to any talent any female photographer has. I think as more and more females fill the pit, we’ll hear less of this assumption, but for now, it’s still pretty prevalent.
From my experience, I’ve noticed people assume women can only get into the industry by starting out with existing connections instead of starting from scratch and building connections. However this typically isn’t the case. The majority of female photographers I know started out from the bottom – no connections or leg up from others starting out.
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to young girls who want to have a career in the music industry?
My biggest pieces of advice, that to this day have not changed, are the following: First, put your most professional foot forward, because that will make or break your opportunity. Yes, the music industry isn’t known for always being the most proficient workplace, but that doesn’t mean that you should base your behavior around the conduct of others. Trust me, being the reliable one in the room will impact you in a significantly positive way. Secondly, ambition speaks volumes, and actions will speak louder than your words. Let your determination and ambition lead. Third, kindness is still important. This is an industry built on relationships. Be kind, be polite, be honest, and be genuine. That will get you so far in this industry, and in life as a whole. Finally, never stop learning. Dedicated 100% of yourself to always improving your abilities, growing as an artist, and advancing your skill sets. There is always a way to progress. The quality of your work will determine whether your career has longevity or not.
My biggest piece of advice for you girls starting out in this industry is stick together. Champion other females and empower them. Do not let it be a competition because we are our biggest allies and we can all grow and learn from each other. Another piece of advice would be to know your worth and don’t be afraid to give pushback if someone is wanting to give you less than what you think is acceptable.
It’s never too late to apologize & make sure you stick up for yourself. We all make mistakes. You will make mistakes throughout your career, but knowing when to come back or reach out to apologize makes a huge difference. Often a burning bridge can be mended if you own up to your faults. Now, don’t apologize for simply existing or sticking up for yourself. This piece of advice is only about actual mistakes and wrongdoings you did. Secondly, I think everyone needs to find their voice to stick up for yourself. As I said, never apologize for existing. You, everyone deserves a chance and a place in this industry. If you’re treated unfairly, tell someone. You have the right to be treated well, so make sure you stand up when something bad is happening to you or others.
Always be respectful towards every colleague and client. I also think it’s very important to stay humble. As for industry tips – MAKE CONNECTIONS! It’s crucial when trying to build your career that you connect with other people in the industry whether that be through social media or in-person. Through this you can gain lasting business relationships and contacts. Overall, stay true to yourself and go for it!
What is your favorite memory as a concert photographer?
Now this is always a difficult question to answer! There are so many amazing moments that it’s difficult to choose just one. I suppose the story I should tell is one I like to use as an example in my music photography classes. Years ago I was photographing metal act, Behemoth, in Southern California. I had photographed this artist four times prior but the fifth time, something new happened. The front man appeared on stage carrying small torches, a lighting situation that I had not prepared for due to a bit of complacency from having photographed them so many times. I improvised and adapted. The resulting photographs went on to be fairly viral, having been additionally picked up by magazines and the band themselves. Experience helps you learn to adapt, but keep in mind that something unexpected might happen and do what you can for yourself to prepare for it.
My favorite memory as a concert photographer was being able to shoot for iHeartRadio at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas. That was #1 on my bucket list. I really hope when we are able to get back to concerts safely, that I will be able to photograph that festival again. I had so much fun and all the people who work for iHeartRadio are just amazingly creative and fun.
I’m a huge Tom Petty fan, and when I got the chance to shoot a festival where I could photograph Petty, I was ecstatic. I was thrilled just to be in the pit for this iconic artist, and during the second song of the set, I couldn’t help myself…I started really jamming out and dancing in the pit. At that moment, Petty was at the same side of the stage as I was and he looked down to scan the audience in front of him. I was the only one that happened to be right there and I looked like an absolute fool dancing with my camera up. He started cracking up upon seeing me, and I was able to capture that moment. I have a poster print from that show on my bedroom wall and seeing it makes all those long festival days so worth it.
I would say there are two that stick out in my head. My first time shooting in an arena was really incredible. It was in the summer of 2019 and the bands were Godsmack and New Years Day. That was a pretty magical day for me because as I was shooting I could feel the electric energy of thousands of screaming fans behind me and it felt incredible being able to capture moments that were enjoyed by that many people. The second memory that comes to mind is the whole experience of being on the media team for the Monsters of Rock Cruise. I was the youngest member to be part of the team and everyone treated me so respectfully and looked out for me. I made so many amazing memories with artists, friends, and colleagues during the trip and I cannot wait to do it again. It was the best experience I’ve had thus far as a photographer.
If you could only do one, would you rather go on tour as a band’s photographer, shoot a huge festival, or do band promo photos?
Haha, that’s a tough one! I’d pick touring- it’s a clever mix of promotional images and festival photography. Lots of candids, portrait opportunities, live show excitement, and photograph-worthy shenanigans.
That is a really hard one to choose. On one hand, I’ve never done tour photography but I really want to. I also want to do more portraits of bands which is actually one of my goals when we get towards some sort of normalcy. But I think I have found my niche in festivals, I’m very comfortable in that setting and what I like most about festivals is that you get to photograph so many artists. It’s really fun when you shoot a band or artist that hasn’t really made a name for themselves yet and they are on the early stage at the festival but then later down the road, they become a huge hit and are headlining a festival.
Only shoot festivals, 100%!
I would definitely be a tour photographer. That’s one of my biggest goals. I recently accomplished my goal of starting to work with bands for promo photos and I love that so much, but ultimately touring is a huge dream of mine.
Where can people find you on social media?
You can connect with me at @AnabelDFlux on Instagram and Facebook!
You can find me on Instagram at @JennDPhotography and Twitter at @JennDPhotograph.
I’m really only on Instagram & YouTube these days, so you can either find me at @byeboston on Instagram or search for Boston Schulz on YouTube. If you’re interested in the podcast, search for “Taking Over The Photo Pit” on all podcast platforms!
You can find my photography @shannonwilk_ on all social media platforms and my publication @rockininterviews on Instagram and Facebook. You can also find my podcast under ‘Rockin’ Interviews’ on Spotify and Apple Podcasts!