Life of a Traveling Music Photographer

Have you ever wondered what it was like to tour with a band? DroboExplorer and freelance photographer/videographer, Mike Wilson shares his experience touring with musical acts, Third Eye Blind and Mayday Parade.

You never know what to expect the first time you hit the road, but I was lucky enough to start my career with Cartel. I was friends with them for years before touring professionally, which made the transition easier. Through the years, I’ve learned to appreciate the road and all of the adventure it brings.

I typically start my day by building a to-do list of items, such as archiving photos, building video content, filming behind the scenes, and prepping for the show. I wake up before everyone to get my tasks completed before I run around with the band. During this time, I make sure to get key shots of sound check, adventures before the show, backstage, portraits and group photos.

Every venue is different and each provide different lighting points. I find it crucial to check out the venue to help capture the venue’s aesthetic in my photos. It’s also helpful to tour the venue ahead of time so the band has direction when needed. Since I am with the band majority of the time, I offer have to play a hand in navigating the members.

Before the concert begins, I always have a determined mindset to find different angles and shots that will stand out. When you tour on the same run consistently, it is usually the same set, design, and lighting. It’s important to critique the show differently to find unique propositions that aid in valuable photo captures.

The biggest challenge I’ve found is to understand the type of tour; am I touring in a bus? International? Flying show to show? Each tour and show are different, so you have to be mindful of how much gear is necessary. You also have to prepare for how much room you’ll be taking up and how to travel with it, without it being an issue. This is something I struggled with, is to consolidate my gear to travel efficiently.

To shoot, I use the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the DJI Osmo. Additionally, I have a few lenses that I bring: 70-200mm, 85mm, 24-105mm, 50mm and a 20mm. I carry all my gear in a Think Tank Airport Essential along with a Lowepro AW200 roller suitcase.

After the show I get all of my images on to my computer and then I edit my selections in Lightroom. From there, I export and save the images remotely to my Drobo 5N2 and upload them for the band and team.

I use the Seagate IronWolf Pro drives in my Drobo 5N2, which have been extremely impactful for my workflow. My previous drives (various brands) never had transfer speeds or protection for my content. For me, this is where the IronWolf shines the most! Having a reliable backup is important in any industry, and Seagate IronWolf Pro and Drobo 5N2 are exactly that.

My advice to aspiring concert photographers is to start off by shooting at your local venue to learn the intricacies of operating at a show. From there you’ll learn the ins and outs of how venues operate, which will help you when you do hit the road. When on the road, make sure to finalize your daily workflow so the work doesn’t pile up. Having a good flow will make things easier to stay organized. And don’t forget to enjoy your traveling and take advantage of each city you travel to.

In all, never stop learning and never stop fine tuning your craft! It is so important to educate yourself on the newest technology, the latest gear, and reading as much as possible. There are a ton of incredible photographers out there that can help guide you along the way, take advantage of it.


“Drobo has been instrumental for my career. It allows me to safely store my content and allows easy access while anywhere in the world. Before Drobo 5N2, I had to rely on external hard drives as backups and many failed. Drobo’s RAID System helps keep my mind at ease about saving content and never having to worry about drive failures.” – Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson’s Website

Mike Wilson’s DroboAmbassador Page

Follow Mike on Social Media: