If you type "concert photographer" into Google, the first match you'll find is St. Louis-based music photographer Todd Owyoung. Traveling from Boston to New York to St. Louis to Miami to shoot shows and capture bands' portraits, Todd's work has appeared on the pages of publications including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, Alternative Press, The Wall Street Journal, and Harper's Bazaar.
Upon graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Visual Design, Todd's first passion was with drawing before turning to photography to expand his skill-set. Saving to buy his first Nikon FM3A, he took his camera abroad to Europe and fell in love with taking photos.
But as an avid music-lover, it wasn't until 2006 when Todd decided to mix his passions for music and photography. Bringing his camera with him to a see a band in college and taking photos the whole way through, Todd loved the high-energy experience of capturing live music. He started searching for more opportunities to do the same and the following week he got set up with a backstage pass from a band's manager. Here, he saw the benefits of being closer to the stage. "That was the first time I saw there was a way to get closer to the bands and capture the real of emotion of the musicians," Todd said.
As Todd gained skills through trial and error from show to show, he setup his website ishootshows to showcase his work. But as his portfolio and list of potential clients grew, it was clear he needed a system that could support his work and make it easier for clients to access. After a glowing recommendation from his brother and fellow music photographer Chris Owyoung, Todd turned to PhotoShelter.
"I started using PhotoShelter and was totally sold," said Todd. "I saw a real benefit with the system, plus PhotoShelter realizes the holy grail of having a single image upload. I have an expansive online archive that I can easily upload to, and from there I can deliver images directly to clients, I can send my photos to Facebook and Twitter, the list goes on. I couldn't ask for anything more."
Todd also integrates his Word Press blog seamlessly with his PhotoShelter site, which he considers a crucial component to his business. "When I started, there were very few music photography blogs out there, so I wanted to contribute to the conversation and share my knowledge. Education will always be very important to me," Todd said. Through his site, Todd provides photographers with tips, reviews, advice on equipment and photo technique, and how-tos, including one on Becoming a Concert Photographer.
Todd's content-rich site is the reason why he ranks so highly on Google when searching for generic terms like "concert photographer" or "band photographer." "In order to improve my rankings, the bottom line is that I need to have compelling content," Todd said. "If my site holds images alone, it's tough to get noticed by search engines. But if I'm writing about my images and blogging, I can incorporate important keywords throughout my posts, which can increase my standing with sites like Google."
To help market ishootshows, although Todd relies heavily on Twitter to keep his followers updated with his current projects, he's recently been impressed by the fast traction he's gained from Google+. "I'm so shocked at the response I've gotten from Google+," Todd said. "I've been on Twitter for three years and it took me that entire time to gather 5,000 followers. In just two months alone on Google+, I've reached that same number."
Today, Todd's clients include American Express, Wrangler Jeans, Atlantic Records, Universal Music Group, and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Many clients find Todd via word of mouth or by Googling for a concert photographer, which quickly leads them directly to his site.
Todd has captured bands on and off stage including the Dave Matthews Band, Wilco, Incubus, Bush, Kelly Rowland, Marilyn Manson, Aerosmith, among a long list of well-known groups. He may not be familiar with every band he shoots, but whether he listens to the music or not, there's still an opportunity to get that great shot.
"Some of your best shots can come from bands you're unfamiliar with because you fall in love with the group as you're shooting," Todd said. "On the other hand, when you know a band's music well, you can anticipate the musical crescendos throughout the performance. When music builds, lights change and emotion of the performance heightens. These magical moments can make for the most compelling images."
Saint Louis, Missouri
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