How to Take a Concert Photograph | Digital Cameras

It has been my favorite form of photography
and is usually rock ‘n’ roll photography. I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot for a
couple of big magazines and newspapers and have had access
to really awesome concerts. The reason I like it so much is because A)
it’s extremely challenging. It’s
generally crazy lighting patterns, crazy lighting schemes, low lights
situations, fast action. So it create a lot of difficult problems,
but if you work with it really hard you can get great
photographs. A couple tips to get some great rock ‘n’ roll
photographs is you’re going to shoot wide most of the time. Most concerts will have you up front for
maybe the first two or three songs and that will be all you will get to
shoot. So you’ve really got to nail it in that time. Shooting wide ensures
you a lot of frames to work with. That way if you’re have to crop in, you
can crop in. I generally will set the exposure I think
is right in manual mode and adjust it accordingly as I’m shooting, depending
on how the lighting is. Nailing down a white balance in is also a
really great way to ensure that your faces aren’t going to look too blue
or too red or whatever. The
lighting that they’re using, you want to compensate for that. Now if it’s a small venue you might be able
to get away with using a flash. I don’t really recommend it because A) it
generally aggravates the rest of the people in the venue, especially if it’s
a really intimate crowd. So if
you’re going to use a flash, use it sparingly. Don’t be that guy in front
popping off a million frames. They’re just going to hate you. Generally speaking, at bigger concerts you’re
not going to have that option. You’re basically going to be at the mercy
of the bouncers up front, and you’re going to be able to do what they
tell you. So if you want to use
a flash, ask them first. In fact, ask them anything before you do it
because you don’t want them to be your enemy. Another important thing to keep in mind when
shooting rock ‘n’ roll is everybody going to hate you. The crowd is going to hate you because you’re
either in their way or you’re up front out of the mosh pit, or you’re
popping off a flash, or you’re really close to the bands. For all these
things they’re not going to like you. The band is not going to like you because
they think you’re just . . . not all of the time, but a lot of big bands will
be like, oh, this guy is just smooching off our fame. The bouncers aren’t going to like you because
you’re in their way. Pretty much your only fan is going to be the
band’s PR firm which is okay. So if you’re cool with everybody hitting you
and you’re cool with the really tough challenges, hey
rock ‘n’ roll photography might be for you. These are some of my favorite shots I’ve done
over the years. This is (?)
NRD shot during an outdoor concert. It was a pretty easy shoot with good,
natural light probably day. In fact, it’s actually pouring rain during
this show. The band was covered, and all of the other
photographers had given up and gone home, but I was sitting in about
a foot and a half of water next to the stage and just happened to look up
and get this shot. This is the band, the Front Bottoms, performing
at a really teeny, tiny venue. This is an example of using a flash with some
shutter jags, and this photo is less about the band and kind of more
about the movement and the vive of the music. This is Paul McCartney at Yankee Stadium. It was a really different kind of
photo. This was shot from really, really far away
with a really strong telephoto lens. This we literally had the first two songs,
and we were shuffled right out of the stadium into a parking
lot. This is Dave Navarro. This is an example of really funky lighting. The
reason, honestly that it is grayscale is his face was so blown out from
fluid and it was corrected, so sometimes grayscale is a good way to deal
with a problem like that, but it was such an interesting look I felt it
deserved to be edited and published. This is another band shot with some shutter
jag, low ceiling with a flash. This is another example of using black and
white. This one was less because
I messed up and more of it began to convey a mood. He’s a good friend of
mine. This was another one shot from far away. This is Jane’s Addiction
again. A lot of rock ‘n’ roll photographers will
kind of neglect the crowd. You’ve
got to realize that is half of the concerts, the performers, the energy
they’re getting back from the crowd that makes a concert so interesting. This is obviously the boss, Bruce Springsteen,
hometown Jersey boy represents I think really intense. You can tell he’s really getting into
it. It just kind of makes it. This is an example of using the lighting
schemes around there to kind of give it energy, to kind of give a mood to. Another thing to realize with rock ‘n’ roll
photography is you’ve really got to be prepared for anything. You’re, again, always going to be at the
mercy of the bouncers, the people in charge. So I have had plenty of shares
where I wasn’t even allowed in front of the stage and had to shoot from a
balcony with a long lens. So for that reason I always bring two cameras. I
always bring a wide angle. I always bring a telephoto. I always bring a
flash, just in case I can use it. I always go into the concert with the
understanding that there’s a chance I’m not
going to get to shoot at all.

14 Replies to “How to Take a Concert Photograph | Digital Cameras”

  1. Great tips! I have been doing concert photography for just over a year now, it is very very challenging. I work officially for a local band, so I can take photos for their whole set, I can use flash, whatever I want really. If the bouncer doesn't want me there, It doesn't matter as the band want me there taking photos 🙂

  2. would people recomend a 35 or 28 mm lense i have a 50mm which is only really good for doing individual band member shots.

  3. Honestly, I like to keep the same ISO & change the shutter speed & aperture, you get a lot more variety in styles of photographs. Well, at least, I do. I've been shooting concerts for a few years now & every one is different.

  4. sjwewitt22 it depends if you are using a crop or full frame camera. I would suggest to start out wiht a crop sensor camera and the cheap 50mm f1.8. The imporatne point is to have a lens with a small aperture number. And I agree if you want to go wider a 35mm f1.8 would be a perfect fit. 

  5. Hello, I just got my first DSLR (D3200) and would love to photo concerts at my local venue (UEA, Norwich, UK) I'm 35 years old and have no Training in Photography, I would use the photo's gained from the concerts to help build my first portfolio, do you think I should still ask the venue/band to shoot the shows? givin my lack of experience and training, A reply would be great, thank you.

  6. Lots of events does not even allow DSLRs or professional cameras to be used to take photos. In fact some event doesn't even allow photos but due to the introduction of camera on smartphones, one cannot really stop everyone from taking a picture. My experience has been that most of the concerts bans DSLRs, just really something huge. It ends up with me using a Compact, for which the RX100 m1-m3 can be useful due to small size, huge sensor.

    The one bit I disagree with is the use of the wide angle lens. Some of the concerts have u so far far away from the subjects that ur kind of forced to zoom in to be able to recognise the person in the picture. And that is when I pick a compact that has huge aperture at the longest end of the zoom. Also wise to pick a camera where it can zoom far away, but a lot of sensor sizes are limited to 1/1.7". 

  7. Two cameras you say..?
    A wide angle!
    Which lens do you suggest for wide angle low light ( obviously some bright light as well..! ) indoor concert shooting?
    I enjoyed your video because it highlights the perils of shooting photos at a concert.

  8. Some great suggestions here and thank you for them. I only came back to photography about 5-6 years after a massive heart attack and initially was concentrating on wildlife. About three years ago I discovered tribute bands where we live and started reading about and teaching myself how to shoot live shows. Invested in an 28-75mm f2.8 lens for my Sony a77 and off I went. Recently got hold of a a77ii and with the same lens shot an Eagles tribute band a month or so ago. Was pretty pleased with the results both colour and B&W. I shoot mainly at one venue and have just invested in a wider lens, 17-50mm f2.8 lens as they change their setup from show to show, this will hopefully allow me to get the whole stage in one frame. This is link to photos from that Eagles show.

  9. Thought it was "How to take a concert Photograph" not some negative guy bragging about who he's photographed.

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