We all know that to hustle your way as a DJ you need to be multi-skilled. At the same time as choosing and spinning the best tunes, today's smart DJs may find themselves networking, gathering people's details for social media, scribbling down song titles and mix ideas, tweeting and so on.
But one often overlooked secret weapon is you camera. Taking pictures while you DJ can directly and indirectly benefit your DJing success in loads of ways. Here's seven of them:
7 Reasons Why You Should Take Pictures When You DJ
- Pictures attract more people to your gigs - Posting event pics on Facebook has regularly attracted more people to my nights. Noticing their friends having fun has for sure inspired others to show up next time. Also, tagging people in your photos advertises your event to their Facebook friends, something which has benefited me time and time again
- They give you content for your blog - When it comes to blogs, the more pictures, the better. Many people (like me) own short attention spans. I do not like reading blogs containing words and words and more words. I prefer photos. Pictures illustrate your events a whole lot better for blog readers. My blog receives more traffic for picture posts than my beautiful words do
- They keep patrons loyal - The more people see themselves in your photos, the more likely they’ll come back to your nights, as they feel more "part" of the event, almost duty bound to be there...
- Photography can become a source of income - You've got to think outside the (DJ) box at this game. Let’s say you get real good at photography. Your talent may lead you to photographing other events. Some may pay more than your DJ gig. Yes, that happened to me too. If it helps to support your DJing, why not?
- You get free material for your publicity - Often, I'll use event photos that I took for my flyers. It saves copyright issues or having to buy stock photography, and it's more authentic, too
- It can led to more press coverage - When a newspaper friend wrote about one of my events, she needed a photo. I gave her an event photo. When printed in the paper, that photo attracted lots more people to my night. (After that successful night brought in a lot of money, my crew and I got ripped off. Maybe I'll tell that story another time...)
- It's another hobby to enjoy - I found myself enjoying photography more than I thought I would. I even sold a pic at an art show. Let's face it, we're DJing because we enjoy it. But I find photography a welcome change, and something equally enjoyable but in a different way
It's not that hard to get started. Trust me, learning basic photography is not rocket science, nor does it take a long time to grasp it. You may get away with your smartphone camera, or you may take a better camera (especially for low light, this is preferable). But whatever you use, learn a bit about photo composition online. Or do what I did and read the books Digital Photography For Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Photography Essentials. It's worth it - the more professional your photos look, the more respect you're likely to get for your events.
And actually doing it can be a challenge at first - it feels weird asking people to post for pics, and many DJs are naturally shy. But like flyering, hustling for gigs, or even DJing itself, the nerves are just something to cope with - and it may actually benefit your DJing to be speaking more closely with your crowd.
To shoot attractive people or not?
Now, I must bring up the subject of "attractive people" photos. On my blog, someone criticised me for not having attractive women in my photos. Personally, I don’t agree, and here's why:
Such photos may attract more patrons to your nights. Yet, be forewarned: If you spend your time photographing attractive people, you may offend the not-so-attractive people, people who may be spending good money at your nights. Plus your nights may come off as more flash (pardon the pun) than substance. In other words, folks may see your nights as another douche bag haven. The last thing you want to do is piss off paying patrons. If paying patrons stop attending your nights, you may soon receive the boot from your residency.
Is it worth the effort?
Sure, you can have someone else photograph your events. Sometimes, that may be required. Still, I think that often, you will be better off doing the photography yourself. Your fans may prefer seeing your vision versus someone else’s.
Also, because you’re doing it, that’s one less person you have to hire or buy drinks for. In other words, it’s cheaper when you’re the photographer of your nights!
For over a decade, I’ve been a nightlife photographer. When I brought my skills to my DJ nights, I saw huge benefits from it. Hopefully, this may work for you too.
• DJ Stone Crazy is a DJ from Central Florida, USA. Here's his blog.
Do you take your camera with you when DJing? How have pictures you've taken benefited your career? Would you consider doing this? Please share your thoughts in the comments.