Getting Started with DeShaun Craddock
We interviewed DeShaun Craddock, who was a finalist in the Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards 2022 Zeitgeist category, the category that focused on capturing the image that defined music in 2021.
DeShaun explains: “I began taking pictures as a hobby in 2008. I've always had a love for music, so it was inevitable that I'd put my appreciation of music together with my passion for photography. After shooting local bands around NYC, and a big opportunity to meet and photograph Alicia Keys, concert photography became a regular part of my life in early 2014. When I'm not shooting shows, I love street photography and city scenes.”
How do you build a portfolio?
At the beginning, you’ll just need to go where the barrier to entry is lowest. Either take your camera to venues where there is no camera policy, or bring a point and shoot to bigger shows and shoot from the crowd. This starts to lay the foundation of a portfolio, and as you gain more experience, your portfolio will become more varied.
What should be your first camera, or a camera you should buy on a budget?
I think that it’s really hard to go wrong with a camera these days. I’m a Nikon user, but you should get whatever makes the most sense to you. Take your time deciding. Play with cameras in a shop, watch reviews, etc. You can always upgrade later as your needs grow. Something I also like to do is check the Camera Finder on Flickr to get an idea of the kinds of photos people are taking with a particular camera.
How do emerging photographers get noticed?
There are many ways, but I think a good thing to keep in mind is to make sure your work is visible and discoverable by people who need to see it. If you’re sharing your work online, tagging can go a long way, and I don’t just mean the artist. Labels, PR firms, venues—even things like instrument and lighting brands can all turn into opportunities. Building a rapport with photographers and other people in the industry is also really important.
What resources are available for further education and development as a music photographer?
I think that historically there have been very few resources, but there are photographers out there who are changing that. Three people who immediately come to mind are Todd Owyoung, Isha Shah, and Michelle Grace Hunder. Not only are they all immensely talented, but they share what they know openly. Each of them make an effort to foster a community that is well-informed, growth-based, and inclusive.
Surf Gang / DeShaun Craddock
What are your top tips for shooting live music?
If the space allows, keep moving. Being able to capture a performance from multiple angles and distances can help tell a more comprehensive story. Take your time and slow down. The first three songs can be over quickly, but it’s also more time than you think. Slowing down can help you take photos more carefully. Always have ear protection! You are the closest to the music and you want to be able to keep enjoying shows, so please protect your hearing.
How do you create a distinctive style and visual identity in your music photography?
I think that a distinctive style takes time and experimentation. I wrote about this recently, but I think a lot of what goes into making a style that resonates with you is trying different things you like and seeing what does and doesn’t work. There’s an iterative process to it and your style today might not be the same one you have a year from now.
What’s your go-to gear?
I currently use a Nikon Z 6II, but that is a very recent addition to my gear. I’ve used a Nikon D750 since 2014. I always have the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses with me as well.
CHVRCHES / DeShaun Craddock