020: Photographing Macklemore with Zoe Rain

September 6, 2017

When to work for free with Zoe Rain on The Bearded Tog Podcast by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason

If you want to break into the music photography industry, you’ll probably have to start by doing work for free. 

Zoe Rain is a professional music and fashion photographer, based out of Chicago. She is most known for her work as Macklemore’s tour photographer, as well as her recent work with Ed Sheeran, Miley Cyrus, and more.

In this episode, Zoe shares how she went from studying photography in high school to being on tour with Macklemore and creating a name for herself. She gives insight on when to work for free and how to license your photos to publications and get paid for it!

Zoe’s Takeaways

    • When you first start out, you’re probably going to have to photograph a lot of stuff for free to make connections. To get favors, you need to give favors. (Can I trade photos for a backstage pass, ect.) 
    • Don’t do work for free for larger scale brands or bands. They might just be taking advantage of you. 
    • You have to figure out what’s worth shooting for free for your portfolio, and what you should be paid for. 
    • The reality is, most bands don’t have the money to pay for a photographer, and making money in the music industry is hard, But it is possible. 
    • To get started, go find a band you like, large or small, and go take pictures just to enjoy it. 
    • Just because you aren’t being paid for taking the images, doesn’t mean you can’t make money from the photos through licensing. Zoe took photos for free of the behind the scenes of the Ed Sheeran music video, “Shape of You” and was able to make money by licensing those photos to publications. 
    • As for how much to charge, you’ll find that there are standard industry rates for images based on the size of the page or usage. Zoe recommended bidding high if asked for a price because you can always come down lower depending on what you are offered.
    • Usage and the value of the usage are the most important factors in pricing.
    • Try not to have the exact same photo that everybody else has. Look for a different angle.
    • At the end of the day, it really is all about who you know. So go and make relationships with people.


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Adam is local to Washington, DC and is currently booking 2018 and 2019 wedding photography sessions at any destination. Really, any destination!

Adam Mason frequently travels for wedding, event, and non-profit portrait sessions and has clients from coastal Maui to Iceland. To find out details regarding his upcoming travel dates to a city near you or to book a custom travel session, please contact for more information or follow along on Instagram!