Blogger Spotlight: Troy Browder (From The Pit)

Hello and welcome to the dawn of a new age on the Haulix blog. This month we are expanding our efforts to include 7 days of coverage each and every week. To get started, we have a brand new Blogger Spotlight that sheds light on the world where passions for journalism and photography collide. If you have any questions regarding the content of this blog, or if you would like to learn more information about the services offered by Haulix, please email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

We talk a lot about how the world of blogging can be the perfect gateway to a career in the music business for anyone interested in the world of journalism and promotion, but it also has a lot to offer those with an interest in photography. The site at the center of today’s feature exists because of someone’s love for music photography, and much of the success the creators have found since launch can be attributed to the quality of their work behind the camera.

Troy Browder is the head photographer and editor of From The Pit, a music webzine with a love for alternative rock that is matched by few in the blogging community. From an early age Troy knew music was his calling, but it was because of his interest in skating that camera work came into the picture. When he finally combined the two the results were electric, and in the years since Troy has watched his career quickly take off. He shares how it all came together in the interview below, which we believe could very well inspire the next great concert photographer.

If you would like to learn more about Troy’s efforts in the world of music, take a few moments and follow From The Pit on Twitter. Additional questions and comments can be left at the end of this post.

H: For the record, please give us your name, job title, and the site you’re most often associated with:

T:Sure thing, I am Troy Browder, I am senior photographer, and editor of the music website fromthepit.net

H: Thank you again for participating in this feature, Troy. It’s great to have you. Before we get to the website and your efforts online, I’d like to learn a little about your past. Did music always play a major role in your life, or is it something you grew to appreciate a bit later in life (as a teen or adult)?

T:No Problem, Thank you for having me. Music has always played a heavy roll in my life. My mother has always been into music heavily, even when I was growing up I can remember her blasting stuff like Queen, Guns n Roses, and even Michael Jackson loudly while cleaning the house. I have always had respect for musicians.

H: What was the first band you were obsessed with, and how did you originally discover them?

T:I have already had a really wide variety in my music tastes. I don’t know if I would really call it an obsession, But I used to love P.O.D (Payable On Death) when I was a teenager. They were so full of energy and sent a positive message along with there music, and still do. When I was 13 I got my first drumset and would play songs from their album “Satellite” for hours, with headphones on blasting, while pretending to be playing for them live! haha

H: When you think back on the formative moments and experiences that steered you toward pursuing a career in the music industry, what memories come to mind?

T:Just the feeling I got when being in the photo pit for the first time, though I was nervous, It felt like this was where I belong. Crazy thing is, I still get the feeling when I am about to shoot a band I am really excited about.

H: A bio that I found online says your first concert was CKY. What do you remember about that experience?

T:Ah man, That show was crazy. I was only 13. Was in this pretty small club called “Uncle Doctors” in Columbia SC, which is closed down now. It was an intimate venue. So after moshing around for hours to cKy and the other bands, We got to meet them afterward as well. Back then my friends and I were also into skateboarding heavily and it was during the whole cKy dvd/ Jackass era with Pro skateboarder Bam Margera. They had a thing where the would slap the crap out of each other, and Bam’s Brother Jess Margera is the drummer of cKy so when meeting him I asked him to give me a good hard slap.

H: You’re known as much, if not more for photography. When did you first pick up a camera?

T:I actually started off shooting Video. As I said before I skateboarded. I ended up dislocated my knee, Tearing my ACL ligament inside my knee. I wanted to stay involved in skating someway so I started shooting video. I ended up dating a girl named Jen, and she was in a metal band. I started using her friends dslr to shoot their shows and thats what got me started, and haven’t stopped yet.

H: What inspires you most as a photographer?

T:I think that the thing that inspires me the most is trying to recreate a photograph that is different from others. especially in concert photography you sometimes have 15 other people in the pit trying to shoot and they all look the same. I come in with a different approach, if that means shooting from a different area or using a lens that isn’t typically used in concert photos.

H: Okay, onto the site. When did FromThePit originally launch?

T:FromThePit launched in January of 2012, Our first show was A Day to Remember and Rise Against. I am the one the photographed that show.

H: What inspired you to create your own online music new portal?

T:Well I work and shoot for a radio station as well, and it was pretty easy to get passes here in Columbia Sc with that outlet, however Columbia just doesn’t get a lot of bigger shows. I am only an hour away from Charlotte NC and they did, So I teamed up with Brandon Basham which I had been friends with since 2006 and we decided to start the site.

H: When the site first launched, what goals did hope to achieve with your work? Have those goals changed at all since that time?

T:When we first started our initial goal was just to get photo passes to bigger shows haha, then by the end of the summer we had covered some huge shows and tours like Carolina Rebellion, Vans Warped tour and even Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. After shooting those big shows, I decided that we focused on the fans, trying to shoot the bands they wanted to see, no matter the genre.

H: Before From The Pit, did you write anywhere else?

T:I didn’t write before fromthepit, but I did contribute photos to a few places, Hails and Horn’s Magazine and thrillcall.com just to name a few

H: You’re not the only person on staff at From The Pit. How many contributors do you have right now?

T:As of right now there are only 2 staffers, myself, and Katie McPansy Grogan in Kansas City. Brandon decided it wasn’t for him mid 2013 and it was just me. I had to learn coding for the site and everything. Once I got it down I decided to find someone else with the same mindset, I had been friends with Katie for a good bit on facebook, and kept my eye on her work for about 6 months before asking her if she would like to join the team.

H: Are you interested in acquiring additional contributors? If so, what should those interested in working with you do to apply?

T:We would love to get more contributors interested, and we have actually had a lot of people interested before but were pretty much in the same area as one of us. But if anyone that has a portfolio and decent writing skills feel free to email me. Troy@fromthepit.net

H: Speaking in a more general sense, what advice would you give to those considering pursuing a career in the music business?

T: The best advice I can give is one I didn’t know about, Meet people and make contacts. Tour managers and general managers as well as publicist’s will be your best friends in the industry. They are the ones that run thing so get in good with them on a professional level. Other than that remember you are going to a show to work, so I would say don’t “fangirl” if you end up meeting the band. Also just get out there and shoot as much as you can. You will only get better.

H: You feature a number of up and coming acts on your site, in addition to chart topping rock bands. Where do you turn when you’re hoping to discover new music?

T: NewNoise Magazine is where I always find new upcoming bands, I also contribute to them some. So go check the mag out! Also just go to local shows, you never know what talent your hometown may have, and it helps support your scene.

H: What advice would you offer bands who may want to one day appear on your site?

T: Work hard, put in effort, and remember that it is give and take, we don’t only want to put your name out their to our fans, but want you to promote us to your fans as well. Even if that means a simple facebook post like, “hey go check out this website and like their facebook page” before even contacting us will show us respect and will want us to work with you even more.

H: Outside of the site, you said you also do photography work for radio stations in your area. How did those opportunities come together, and what advice would you give other photographers about finding similar opportunities in their area?

T:I ended up shooting for the radio station thanks to one of the Dj’s there. Matt Lee from Rock93.5 got to know me after meeting me shooting other shows a few times here and there. Every year Columbia holds a huge St Patrick’s day festival, and have some big bands play, I ended up getting asked to shoot the show from the photo pit for the station in 2009 and covered that festival until I ended up getting hired on in 2011. Now I shoot multiple event’s and I actually go on air as well.

H: Let’s look into the future a little bit. Where do you see the site one year from today in terms of growth and development? Will you have more writers? Will you cover more topics? Go on, hypothesize a bit!

T: A year from now? I have no clue! haha Hopefully we will still be going strong, and somehow making money from the site somehow. I would love to have more writers and photographers and be able to pay them. So I guess we will see what happens.

H: Let’s turn the focus on you. What are your current career goals?

T:My ultimate goal is to find a band to go on tour with. Just document their entire journey through my lens. I figured I would still be able to tour and run FromThePit without a problem.

H: Okay, I think we are just about done. Only a few more to go. When it comes to receiving music from record labels and publicists for review consideration, which services do you prefer and why?

T:When it comes to submissions we get a good bit, Most just send a download link to check out the album and what not. I would prefer hard copies, that way if we do like the album from the artist we can give it away and bring it to more people.

H: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

T: If I could change one thing about the music industry it would definitely be for the bands to give photographers more respect. I see so many images that bands use a photographers image on their own facebook, instagram, etc, and dont credit the photographer. It really upsets me as well as many other photographers when this happens. So if you are in a band and reading this, always ask the photographer permission, then if granted, link their website or gallery you saw it at first.

H: Congratulations! You have reached the end. Before I let you go, do you have any final thoughts or observations you would like to share with our readers.

T:Awesome! I would just like to share to others to just be encouraged, and stay positive. Don’t conform to what anyone else wants you to be, and also thank you to anyone that has checked out fromthepit.net We value you support so much. And Big thanks to James at Haulix!

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.