Marcus Haney: The Music Photographer Who Made it By Sneaking into the World’s Biggest Shows

If there is a path that music photographers usually take to make it big, it’s not the path Marcus Haney chose. Rather than start at the lowest levels by shooting smaller gigs to build a portfolio and reputation, Haney decided to start things off by sneaking into Coachella as a faux credentialed photographer back in 2010. He was only a junior studying at USC.

The trailer above is for an upcoming documentary titled No Cameras Allowed, which chronicles Haney’s unconventional journey into the world of concert photography.

Haney talking about No Cameras Allowed at the Montclair Film Festival earlier this year.

Haney talking about No Cameras Allowed at the Montclair Film Festival earlier this year.

Haney’s methods will be controversial, to say the least. In order to fake it as a credentialed photographer, he recreated festival wristbands, posed as artists, pretended to be security, searched for obscure entrances, “walked with confidence,” and strolled right up onto the biggest concert stages with some of music’s biggest names.

After a number of these unofficial gigs, Haney dropped out of college two weeks prior to graduating in order to pursue his photography career legitimately as a tour photographer. That eventually became his full-time profession.

His photographs have since been published in magazines such as Rolling Stone, and Haney is currently Mumford and Sons‘ official photographer. At only 26 years old, Haney has become a star in the world of music photography.

Haney's online portfolio

Haney’s online portfolio

You can find a sampling of his work over in his online portfolio. There’s also an interesting interview with Haney published over at Noisey.

Image credit: Photograph by Montclair Film Festival

  • Bob Sweeten

    More like Mockumentary…

  • John Nathaniel Calvara

    And the lesson hear kids is when you’re so good at something, drop out on college and become a millionaire!

  • jon

    Good for him on finding a way to make it. He seems talented. That said, the trailer for this movie is amazingly cheesy. I have no interest.

  • Amando Filipe

    Eh, it’s each person’s choice, truth is, whether or not you stay in college, some people will make it and others won’t.

  • Cal

    The reason he should be criticized is because he’s taking away from what legitimately credentialed photographers can shoot. At a festival they’ll typically restrict the number of photographers in the barricade. Either cycling people through, or first come first served unless someone leaves. So he sneaks in to shoot Jay Z with a fake pass, and you’re there shooting for a real outlet trying to get the shot your editor needs. His being there means someone legit gets left out.

  • D.A.

    Another reason he should be criticized is due to the fact that he got into Coachella 2010 with a counterfeit wristband. There were so many people getting in with counterfeit wristbands that year that the festival was dangerously overcrowded. In the end, it caused the promoters of the festival to reconfigure the wristbands to include RFID chips which made the wristbands more difficult to fake, but that year turned into a complete mess due to scores of guys like this.

  • MickO

    And… this is why I stopped photographing Coachella. I enjoyed the hell out of it,and my modest compensation as well. But the desperation of people to photograph festivals is crazy now. They’ll break the law to do it for free. And for every 100 photographers as good as this guy, only one or two will end up being able to make a living. And the rest of the people willing to play by the rules find life that much harder. Concert photography in general is a fascinating branch of photography with some different rules and different motivations. I’ve no resentment towards Haney at all in my observation. Good for him. Sorry for the talented folks who put in the work, develop their craft, play by the rules but still don’t catch a break. “It’s a tough racket.”

  • OtterMatt

    You have to admit, if there’s any industry where his attitude and actions would be appreciated, it would be music festivals. If you break the rules and succeed, then you’re just smart. Good on him for making it, I suppose.

  • T T

    Not sure if it’s related but check out RiotFest. They have the tightest restrictions for who can photograph these concerts. Good luck getting in. Even this guy would have trouble.

  • Fullstop

    My experience with “concert photographers” was always people who were willing to do everything for the cost of admission. I guess that’s normal.

  • Carlini Fotograf

    Sorry but this guy is far from being a star. Obviously the writer of this story hasnt heard of real music photographers like Ross Halfin, Neil Zlowzower, Ken Settle or myself. Ive been a pro music photographer for 27 years. As someone who is at gigs shooting with a real legit assigment, what he was doing pisses me off. To me hes in the pit with no assignment and hes in the way of us working photographers. I started getting photo passes when I was 14 and went on tour as a tour photographer when I was just 18… I worked my way up making contacts and getting real assignments with newspapers,music magazines, record labels, and band managements…. Not sneaking into shows with fake passes.

  • Brendan

    Eh… I respect this guy’s passion more than most of the suckers in the press pits who sell their hard work and art in return for basically just a festival ticket. I used to sneak in my camera stuff to these things as well, but found I had more fun in bandrooms and warehouses where people want me there taking shots without stupid restrictions. This guy put in a lot of hard work because he still loves that environment and it looks like he is making a career out of it. Good for him.

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  • Matthias Hombauer

    then you know the wrong ones. The concert community is a bunch of hard working and honest guys. Sure, there will be some others like Marc from this movie, but in genreal they love what they are doing, but not for every price.

  • Matthias Hombauer

    nobody will shoot famous bands without signing a contract. It doesn#t matter if you have a faked wrist band

  • Matthias Hombauer

    exyctly, and then he can even publish his film footage and makes money out of a film ? No way, this will be ever possible. Normally you get sued by bands even when you print and sell T shirts with the photos you have taken at a concert.

  • Alessio Michelini

    I agree, there’s no way he can make any money out of it, and if he does, he will be sued to hell by artists mgmt.
    This guy is a feckin paparazzi, with his behaviours he offends any other music photographer IMHO.

  • Sam Mortensen

    Because Rock & Roll is about legality, conformity, credentials, and the status quo! There is no room for individualism, passion, and balls. If this guy wants to break the rules, rebel, and do it his way…he needs to find another industry! Rock & Roll is about merchandising, credentials, and overpriced tickets. What is this kid thinking?

    Marcus Haney is a true rock photographer because he does it…like a Rock Star!

  • Sam Mortensen

    Sounds a lot like the music industry as a whole. How many rock stars played by the rules? I like it because, well, he partied like a what…partied like a rock star!

  • Sam Mortensen

    Photograph like a what? Photograph like a rock star!

  • Neil

    I too would like to see a concert for free, and I’ll bring along my point and shoot camera. Can I get in now?