Concert photography requires a huge level of dedication and skill. In between trying to take pictures of a band performing from backstage without attracting any undue attention to yourself and looking for the perfect angle to shoot a guitarist who is 6 feet mid-air, there is an abundance of factors working against you.
You have to deal with no light, strobing light, multiple colored lights, smoke, limited space, and others. However, once you get to understand how to use these challenges to your advantage, you are on your way to having a really fun career.
In this article, we will be sharing tips to help you navigate the murky waters of taking pictures in the extremely loud and unpredictable environment of a concert. These tips will give you the required edge to end up with really amazing pictures.
- Mind the rules
- Intimate yourself with the program
- Use portable gadgets
- Go beyond the pit
- Master the use of manual settings
- Go for low-light cameras
- Avoid the use of flash
- Snap With a Very High Aperture
- Increase Camera ISO
- Shoot RAW
- Shoot in burst mode
- Alternate between auto and manual focus
Top 12 Concert Photography Tips
01. Mind The Rules
Unique to music photography, there are always rules, mostly because, there will always be several photographers vying for the best shots. There are general guidelines, and there are rules specific to each concert. Some of the most common rules:
- Photographers for publications get to shoot three songs
- No use of flashlights
- Photographers are confined to the pit
- No sneaking around
- No physical contact with the musicians
So, whatever concept you plan on executing, let it be within the confined of the rules. Note that, you can have your pass revoked if you are considered a nuisance.
02. Intimate Yourself With The Program
As much as possible, acquaint yourself with the flow of activity at the concert. You want to know what songs they would be playing; opening acts; side attractions; and others. This will help you prepare accordingly.
03. Use Portable Gadgets
As much as possible, limit the number of gadgets you carry along. Also stick to lightweight gadgets, including your camera. You need to be able to move swiftly, and without badging into other photographers or obstructing the view of fans.
04. Go Beyond The Pit
If you have an all-access photography pass at a concert, you want to take full advantage. There is a rich source of content to be photographed from various parts of the venue. Consider backstage, behind the crowd, scaffolds over the stage, etc.
05. Master The Use Of Manual Settings
Your ability to manually adjust the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus, and white balance, will go a long way in helping you. There is no telling how the environment changes. One minute you are shooting in the dark, and there is a sudden switch to red lights. One minute the stage is clear and within minutes smoke fills up the stage. You would have to constantly manually set your camera to suit each change.
06. Go For Low Light Cameras
Concerts are notorious for light conditions that are practically against the optimal use of cameras. The first thing you need is a low-light camera. These are cameras built to magnify the limited source of life to capture images.
07. Avoid the use of flash Or Extra Source Of Lighting
Do not be tempted to haul in your source of lighting. You will be banned from the pit. Also, avoid using the flash in your camera, as it will distract the musicians on stage. You would have to make do with whatever lighting condition in the concert.
08. Snap With a Very High Aperture
Set the aperture of your lens to the highest ranging from f4 to f2.8. This is perfect for snapping in very low light conditions. Of course, some cameras allow you to go as high as f1.8 which is awesome.
Note that the higher the aperture, the shallower the depth of field, and this is perfect. The background of most stages are cluttered, so, your goal is to have your subject in the composition with the background blurred out.
09. Increase Camera ISO
Gun for a minimum of 1,600, 2,000, and even higher for your ISO, the sensitivity of your camera will be heightened thereby increasing the chances of capturing our pictures at low light. A high ISO is also perfect in blue, yellow, and green light.
When deciding on the best camera with high ISO, go for cameras with low megapixels. Cameras with high megapixels produce very pixelated pictures when the ISO is high. Therefore, go for cameras with low megapixels.
10. Shoot In RAW Format
Set your camera to shoot in RAW format. Pictures shot in RAW format retain all the details, thereby giving you all the detail you need to work on during post-processing. Also, you get to work on all the colors registered in your pictures thereby presenting the final edit in the best way.
11. Shoot In Burst Mode
Set your camera to burst mode. Burt mode is effective in a rapidly changing environment. From the light strobe effect to the unpredictable movement of the artist on stage, shooting in burst mode will help you capture several moments within a short period.
What is the biggest challenge in concert photography?
Lighting remains by far the most challenging aspect of concert photography. Photographers have to deal with colored lights, strobing lights, and very low-light conditions
How much freedom is given to photographers to shoot concerts?
Freedom is quite limited. However, it varies. Photographers who work directly with the band get a free pass to shoot throughout the concert and from anywhere they choose. However, photographers working for publications only get to shoot 3 songs and are confined to the pit.
What Camera setting is best suited for concert photography
There isn’t a general camera setting for shooting in concerts. You have to manually set your lens, aperture, ISO, and other parameters to suit each condition you want to shoot in.
Despite the complications identified with concert photography, it is a fulfilling style of photography. A high degree of professionality is required to excel at it. However, following the tips discussed in this article, and with consistent practice, you can begin churning out great concert pictures.