We had the good fortune of connecting with MG Ommert and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi MG, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This is an interesting question! Pursuing a career in the creative fields isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s hard to keep going. I think that is because in tying my creative pursuit to my career life, I’m tying part of myself to my career life. I feel like there is a little piece of me in every photo I produce, whether I like it or not. It can tear me down if I don’t like the photos, but also, I find that partially is what drives me. Y’know, like the idea that people aren’t just buying photos. They’re buying MY photos – it shows that there’s something style-wise that only I can offer. I’m not putting myself on a pedestal either, this statement rings true for every photographer in the music scene who shoots smaller venues – every photographer has something special to offer, and with something as varied as music photography, everyone can find their place. I just seem to be very driven by the fact that I have found mine. Another big factor that pushes me everyday is the fact that it simply feels like there are no other options. When I’m tired and dreading all the editing that I’m opening my laptop to do, I just stop and remember that I could be working a 12 hour shift at Walmart for the same amount of money that I’ll be bringing in once I’m done editing. I lack any formal education, so honestly, what else is there for me? What do I have to lose by skipping school and choosing band photography as my career? There’s no degree I’d be “wasting”, it’s not like I’d be stepping down from a well-paying position, it’s simply the decision of not joining the minimum-wage lifestyle again and pursuing the passion that’s overwhelmed me since I was 16. I live for it. If I go more than 3 or 4 days without shooting a show, the photography itch starts to itch again and I hit up bands to see if they want me to shoot their practice for free. If I can’t go more than a few days without it, why wouldn’t I devote my entire being to music photography?

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think the main thing that sets me apart from other music photographers in the area is simply the amount of shows I go to. I attend minimum 2 shows every week, though usually it’s 3. Some weeks I even go to 4 shows in a row, spending no time in-between at home. Whenever I go out, I end up couch-surfing, as the public transit costs of going to and from the city for every show would be much too high. I got to where I was today by just asking. “Just ask and see what you can do” has kind of become my motto at this point, haha. I wouldn’t be making nearly as much money as I am (which still isn’t a lot) if I weren’t reaching out and asking bands for gigs. If I see a show I want to go to, I find all the bands playing the show and send them a message along the lines of “Hey, I’m MG, I’m gonna be at _______ on _______, I was wondering if you’d be interested in getting photos…”. Usually at least one band on the bill says yes, I always feel really lucky when every band on the bill agrees to get a set of photos. If no one wants to get photos, I’ll usually still get a spot on the list, and I’ll try to go shoot the show anyway, but for the most part bands will get photos, or another band will book me for a different show on the same day. It’s hard working up the courage to start pitching people, but I find just sending a brief DM is the easiest way to do so, and I wouldn’t be nearly as successful if I just sat around waiting for bands to book me.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Evan Rose (ig: @evanwithtarget)

Evan is one of the biggest reasons I’m out here doing band photography. He founded the only venue in my town, and since when I shot my first show, the day before my 16th birthday, he’s been providing me endless encouragement. I remember very clearly, after shooting my first show on a 12 year old Canon, being very insecure about the photos, I’d never shot a show before and the autofocus wasn’t working, I felt bad getting in the band’s faces with the flash and not having anything I was proud of. He reassured me and thanked me over and over again, at the time I had no idea the importance photography held in the scene, but the warm fuzzies I got from his appreciation pushed me to keep doing what I love. My camera ended up breaking after the next show I shot, but a few months later I purchased a Rebel T3i, and Evan’s band was the first ever to purchase photos from me, which was a big step forward for me, and made me realize that maybe I can make a career out of this. He really changed my life.

Website: mgmphotoco.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/mgmphotoco

Image Credits

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