Become Successful: Treat Your Clients Like Rock Stars

Maybe you’ve noticed the Go Media staff photos popping up in our twitter profiles or facebook pages. Well, we don’t always look that cool; rock ‘n roll photographer extraordinaire Chris Cassella was the man behind the lens & the magic maker. He’s been cool enough to write about his experience & share some tips for making the most of your photography career.

Written by Go Media client & photographer Chris Casella

If you are like me, you read this blog regularly. I am drawn to the visuals and the trailblazing that goes on at Go Media. That is the exact reason I contacted them, I thought we might have something in common. I found that we do; a strong work ethic and a never ending desire to do what we want, at a high level and be successful doing it.

When I “reached out” to Jeff, I thought that we could both benefit from some kind of working relationship. We appreciated each other’s work, so we agreed to meet and talk about the possibilities there may be for us working together. We met up at their space in Cleveland where I was introduced to Bill, another driving force and partner in the business. I felt that I had found someone I could work with that had a similar outlook on business, design and aesthetic. Through our conversations it was decided we would trade some work. They would design some logos and branding for me and I would photograph the staff of Go Media for their needs, publicity and otherwise.

Before I knew it I was looking at proofs of my logo, presented in the smartest manner I have ever witnessed. It wasn’t just my logo on a two dimensional white background. They had actually presented it to me in different situations, in a three dimensional form, making it possible to see what it would look like on paper, on business cards and even on a bus stop with one of my images. What an awesome way to make a client realize some of the potential of their branding! Now it was my turn.

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I traveled to Cleveland and photographed the staff the same way I do rock stars. I mean, they are rock star designers, right? I felt it was the best way to portray them. The images turned out great and I think bring out some of the personality I encountered. It was a whirlwind afternoon, but well worth it. It is the way I like to work. Stay focused, no nonsense, get the job done.

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I love this Job!

Growing up I never thought I wanted to photograph rock stars, I wanted to be one. I ripped images form magazines and plastered them to the walls of my bedroom. Nikki Sixx and Slash were the coolest guys I did not know. When reality hit and I left high school and went to college that dream died. I had a scholarship to the Columbus College of Art and Design. I knew I would pursue art and thought I would be drawing skulls (too funny, considering who’s blog this is) for t-shirts in no time for bands like Metallica and Motorhead and the covers of metal albums.

But life takes strange twists and turns. I had always liked photography and when it came time to choose a major, for some reason, I went with my gut. Over the next three and a half years I was schooled in commercial and fine art photography. I had pretty much given up on the idea of a cool job in rock and roll & started thinking about making a living instead. When I got out of school, it was me and my 4X5 camera and buildings and their interiors. I didn’t despise it, but it was just not enough action or excitement. Then I photographed a friend’s band. That was in 1993. That was all it took. I got an itch that I still can’t scratch.

rock star photography

I have had the pleasure of working with publications, writers, record labels and PR companies. I have been on tour with musicians and seen my work displayed on the cover of a magazine in the UK. I have met and hung out with rock stars big and small, even my boyhood hero Slash. I want to work constantly and love what I do. That is why the dark side (hard work and internet networking) of all of this isn’t so dark to me. If you want something, you have to go after it and get it. Nobody is going to give you anything in this world, especially in the nooks and crannies where the creatives dwell. There are a few things that need to be considered if there are any future photographers out there that are looking to do what I do or what Ross Halfin or Robert Knight did before me.

You want to Photograph Rock Stars? Do This.

  • Learn how to shoot correctly and understand what you are doing. I know there are some savants out there, but for the most part, you will need to know how to get a good exposure. I learned back in the dark ages before digital, with film. I feel bad that a lot of people don’t use it or learn with it. I found it incredibly beneficial when it came to shooting digital so my exposures were where I wanted them.

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  • Don’t depend on anyone. Do things yourself and follow up. Promises are rarely kept in the music world so it is up to you to make things happen.
  • Don’t think you need the most expensive gear there is. You should own pro level equipment, but save some money and get middle of the line not top of the line. You will get large images that can be printed for any publication on the planet.

  • rock star photography

  • Shoot all the time. Shoot local bands, for local rags, anything and everything you can.
  • Get connected and network. Research who to contact about the show or whatever you want to shoot. Local zines and rags can get the much coveted access you desire.

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  • Lastly, once you get to shoot that band or musician, do not be a fanboy! Don’t ask for autographs or guitar picks or drum sticks or anything. That is the quickest way to lose their respect, gain the ire of your fellow photographers and never get hired again. You have to show people you deserve to be there working and making a living by the quality of your images and your character.

About the Author, Jeff Finley

I'm a partner at Go Media, a Cleveland web design, branding, and design studio. I started Weapons of Mass Creation Fest and wrote the book Thread's Not Dead, teaching artists and designers how to start a clothing company. I'm also writing a new book called Wake Up: The Morning Routine That Will Change Your Life

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