4 Concert Photography Tips
I recently uploaded quite a few concert photos, so I thought it would be appropriate to share a few tips on concert photography. Bryan Villarin shared his two cents worth on the matter and gave a few tips on what gear (and attitude) to bring. Here are two more pennies.
I won’t get really deep into what gear to bring – I think you can get great images at concerts with whatever camera you have. Yes, having a good gear increases the odds in your favor, but trust me – a DSLR isn’t a requirement. Don’t believe me? Check out these images from a Switchfoot concert.
Anyway, let’s get on with the tips.
Play with lights
Concerts are usually full of bright lights. They’re there not only to make your subject visible, but to add color, create drama, and basically make everything in the concert look good. In fact, in some cases, the lights are as much a part of the show as the music is.
You can argue with the last statement I made, but you have to agree that including lights in your composition can make your images look even better.
Take, for example, the image on the right. I simply love the rays of light that seem to be coming out from the singer’s mouth. Don’t you?
Of course, trying to include lights into your composition makes lens flare a definite issue. Don’t be too worried though – sometimes the flare can add a bit of flavor to your image. If you really want to avoid it, DPS has a few tips to combat flare.
Get different angles
Yes, this is a tip that pretty much applies to any kind of photography, but it works particularly well for concerts. Most people only see concerts from one angle. If you’ve got the freedom to move around the venue, take full advantage.
Go up to the balcony, move to the middle of the mosh pit, get right up to the edge of the stage, and even go backstage if you can. Of course, it helps if you’ve got a press pass, or even better, an all-access pass. How do you get one of those? That’s a topic for another post.
While we’re on the topic of different angles though, I’ll throw in another tip – mix up your focal lengths. Go wide to catch more of the bright lights we talked about earlier, or get close enough to see the dirt under the guitarist’s fingernails.
Basically, the point is to get a variety of images during the concert. Face it – it’ll probably be quite a while before you see the band live again, right?
Watch their expressions
Concerts are about performances, but some of your best images from a concert will probably look more like candid portraits than anything else.
While they’re singing, the performers are usually doing exactly that – performing. If they were actors, they would be in character during most of the concert.
Occasionally, however, they drop their guard – and this is when you want to have your camera pointed at them. This can happen many times – in between sets, near the end of a song, or even during the bridge. If you’re lucky, you can catch a moment where you see, not the performer, but the artist and the person. On top of this, you won’t have the microphone blocking your subject’s face.
On the other hand, you also want to catch the most intense portions of a performance – those moments when your favorite performers are singing their hearts out. If you know the songs, chances are, you’ll know when these moments are too.
Lastly, bring your girlfriend along
Yup, you read that right – bring your girlfriend along. It helps if she’s as much into photography as you are (though maybe not as involved in the technical aspects), and it really helps if she’s as good as, or even better than you.
I’m lucky enough to have that help. You see, I didn’t take any of the photos you see here, including the pair below. Who did? I’ll give you three guesses, but the answer should be pretty obvious.
Did you enjoy these tips? I hope so, and I hope you enjoyed the images too.
Do you have any of your own tips? Please share them with us in the comments.
• Luis • 18 April 2008 •