Chelsea Gresh | Photographer
I’ve heard many times from multiple people that the the music industry is not competitive, but it definitely is. There is always someone out there who is not going to believe in you and silently bring you down, especially in this day and age where it’s as easy as hitting “send” on a nasty tweet, slyly aimed towards another. For a girl who is not very into competition, you would think that music photography wasn’t the best option for me.
When I was a freshman in high school, I became friends with a girl who was just dabbling in the art of photography. We were both into the same music. I don’t know about her but I completely fell in love with the idea of taking photos of live music. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that I bought my first DSLR camera. I saved up every penny I possibly could until I could purchase my own camera. I started attending a ton of smaller concerts that would allow me to bring my camera because most of the larger venues had stopped letting cameras with detachable lenses in. I would also post all of my work on my social media accounts because I was so proud of it at the time.
I vividly remember talking to that same friend a few weeks before I started a photography program at my new school. She had stopped using her camera as much as she had before. She told me she was over photography because it was her thing and I had kind of stolen it from her. Shortly after, we drifted apart and stopped being friends. That was my first brush with a bit of competition, if you would even call it that. At first, I didn’t think much of it but as time passed, those words constantly rang in my head. That didn’t stop me. I started creating a portfolio and sent that portfolio to multiple publications. I took everything my photo teacher said to me with a grain of salt. He always had these back-handed compliments about my work. He did not believe that it was worth my time to pursue music photography, even though he would never flat out say that to my face. I tried not to think much about it because I knew what made me happy.
When I graduated high school, I made photography a main priority in my life. Everything I did was directly related to pursuing a career as a music photographer. I worked 6 days out of the week at a grocery store to buy the camera equipment I wanted. I took every opportunity I could to shoot any and every band I could. There were moments where I felt terribly about my work and had the urge to sell my camera but those never lasted very long. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. There were also moments when people would tweet vague statements about photography styles or photographers in general that I felt were aimed towards me. It always seemed to be near a time when I had showcased my work on social media. I could have just been jumping the gun in thinking they were about me but that’s what anxiety will do to you! Let’s just say those people are not my friends anymore and I definitely do not respect them like I used to.
I will always remember receiving the greatest advice from one of my best friends.
"She told me that it doesn’t matter what other people say about your art because, well, it’s your art. If you are proud of it, that’s all that matters."
The advice she gave me also helped push me to where I am now. Without it, I would have definitely sold my camera and quit completely. If I would have done that, I would not have not just finished my first tour with a band I have been working with for the past few years. I had dreamed of touring for years and when it finally happened, I was the happiest I have ever been. Not to mention, this tour was filled with a bunch of ladies who had the same mindset as I did. They were there to work. We all did everything we possibly could to make this tour a success for us and everyone who attended. It completely blows my mind that after all this time, I made my dreams a reality. I pushed all my insecurities and bad thoughts aside to finally achieve a goal I had set for myself year prior. It definitely does not matter what anyone else says. This sounds pretty cliche but as long as you believe in yourself, you can do whatever you put your mind to.