Concert photography can be a thrilling and rewarding experience, especially for those who have a passion for both music and photography. Capturing the energy and emotion of live performances is no easy feat, but it’s definitely possible with the right skills and equipment.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the tricks of the trade that will help you get into concert photography. From understanding lighting and using the right camera settings to building relationships with event organizers and artists, there are many factors that contribute to success in this field.
Whether you’re an amateur photographer looking to break into the industry or a seasoned pro wanting to refine your skills, these tips and techniques will provide valuable insights into the world of concert photography.
“The key to great concert photography is not just technical skill, but also creativity and the ability to connect emotionally with your subject.” -Unknown
So if you’re ready to learn the ins and outs of concert photography and elevate your craft to the next level, read on!
Invest in Quality Equipment
If you want to get into concert photography, investing in quality equipment is crucial. Without the right gear, your photos may turn out blurry or dark, and you won’t be able to capture the energy and excitement of live performances.
Choose the Right Camera and Lens for Concert Photography
The most important piece of equipment for concert photography is a high-quality camera that can handle low-light conditions. Look for a camera with a large sensor size and high ISO capabilities, like the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or Nikon D750. Additionally, consider using a lens with a wide aperture, such as an f/1.8 or f/2.8, to let in more light and create blurred backgrounds.
Expert photographer Jason Sheldon recommends the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens for its versatility and ability to capture sharp images even when shooting handheld. He also advises against using a zoom lens during concerts because they tend to be slower and less stable than prime lenses.
Invest in High-Quality Memory Cards and Batteries
Memory cards and batteries are often overlooked but just as important as your camera and lens. Choose memory cards with fast write speeds and plenty of storage space, so you can take multiple shots without worrying about running out of space. SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-II and Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC are popular choices among photographers.
Battery life is another critical factor to consider. Live performances can go on for hours, so it’s essential to have enough juice to last through the show. Invest in several camera batteries and bring along a portable charger in case you need to top up.
Consider Purchasing Additional Lighting Equipment
While concerts are often dimly lit, sometimes you may need additional lighting to brighten up your subject or create a unique effect. Consider investing in a flash unit, such as the Nikon Speedlight SB-5000 or Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT, for more control over your lighting.
Alternatively, you can use an LED light panel like the Yongnuo YN300 Air or LitraPro to provide consistent and continuous illumination without casting harsh shadows.
Protect Your Equipment with a Sturdy Camera Bag
Finally, make sure to protect your investment with a sturdy camera bag that can keep your gear safe from bumps, scratches, and other hazards. Look for bags made of durable material with padded compartments and weather-resistant features.
“Investing in good quality equipment doesn’t necessarily mean going out and buying brand new expensive cameras and lenses. You just have to choose wisely and know what works best for you.” -Aaron Draper
When selecting a camera bag, consider factors like size, weight, and ease of access. The Peak Design Everyday Backpack is a popular choice among photographers for its sleek design and customizable compartments.
By investing in quality equipment, you’ll be better equipped to capture stunning photos at concerts and other live events. Remember to do your research before making any purchase and think about how each piece of equipment will help you achieve your desired results.
Develop Relationships with Local Venues
If you are interested in concert photography, one of the best ways to get started is by developing relationships with local venues. Here are some tips on how to do so:
Attend Local Shows and Introduce Yourself to Venue Staff
The first step in developing relationships with local venues is to attend their shows and introduce yourself to venue staff. This can help you become a familiar face and make it easier to network. When attending shows, be sure to bring business cards or other promotional materials that highlight your photography skills.
“Networking has been cited as the number one unwritten rule of success in business. Who you know really impacts what you know.” -Sallie Krawcheck
Offer Free Photography Services to Local Bands and Venues
An effective way to build relationships with local bands and venues is by offering free photography services. Many up-and-coming artists and smaller venues may not have the budget for professional photographers, so offering to take photos for them can be mutually beneficial.
“The quality of your work, in the long run, is the deciding factor on how much your services are valued by the world.” -Orison Swett Marden
Stay Professional and Respectful at All Times
When interacting with venue staff, bands, and fans, it is important to always remain professional and respectful. Remember that you are representing yourself and your brand as a photographer, so maintaining a positive reputation is crucial.
“Professionalism means consistency of quality.” -Alan Robert Neal
Follow Up and Maintain Communication with Venues and Bands
After attending shows and connecting with local venues and bands, follow up with them to maintain communication. This can help keep you on their radar and may lead to future opportunities for photography work.
“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” -Paul J Meyer
Study the Craft and Techniques of Successful Concert Photographers
If you want to get into concert photography, it’s important to learn from those who have already established themselves in the field. By studying the craft and techniques of successful concert photographers, you’ll gain valuable insights that can help you improve your own work.
Research the Work of Famous Concert Photographers
One way to study the craft of concert photography is to research the work of famous concert photographers. Take a look at their portfolios to see how they capture the energy and excitement of live performances. Look for common techniques and styles that they use consistently across their body of work. Some famous concert photographers worth researching include Mick Rock, Danny Clinch, and Joe McNally.
Attend Photography Workshops and Conferences
To further supplement your learning, consider attending photography workshops and conferences. These events offer opportunities to learn new skills, connect with other photographers, and hear from industry experts. Professional organizations such as the National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) regularly host workshops and conferences specifically geared toward concert photography.
Learn How to Shoot in Low Light and High Energy Environments
Concerts are often held in dimly-lit venues, which presents a challenge for photographers who need sufficient light to take quality photos. To excel in this environment, make sure you understand the technical requirements of shooting in low light and high energy environments. Experiment with different shutter speeds, apertures, and ISO settings to find what works best for you.
Experiment with Different Angles and Perspectives
The most interesting concerts often feature performers who move around the stage frequently or climb out onto catwalks above the audience. Try experimenting with different angles and perspectives to capture unique shots that stand out. This might mean shooting from a balcony above the stage, or getting as close to the performers as possible.
“Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” -Elliott Erwitt
If you’re serious about getting into concert photography, be prepared to put in the time and effort required to hone your craft. Take cues from successful photographers who have come before you, attend workshops and conferences, and practice constantly until you find your own unique style.
Build Your Portfolio and Online Presence
If you want to get into concert photography, building your portfolio is essential. A good portfolio showcases your best work and demonstrates your skills to potential clients. Additionally, having a strong online presence can help you reach a wider audience and attract more clients. Here are some tips on how to build your portfolio and online presence:
Create a Professional Website to Display Your Work
A professional website is an important tool for showcasing your work and promoting your services. When creating your website, make sure it has a clean design that’s easy to navigate. It should also be mobile-friendly, as many people browse the web on their smartphones and tablets.
Your website should feature a gallery of your best photos, along with information about your background, experience, and services. You can also include testimonials from satisfied clients to help build your credibility.
To create a website without any coding knowledge, consider using website builders like Wix, Squarespace or WordPress. Or if you have coding knowledge, you can create your own website.
Use Social Media to Promote Your Photography and Connect with Others
Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your photography and connecting with others in the industry. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook allow you to share your work with a wide audience and engage with potential clients and collaborators.
When sharing your work on social media, use relevant hashtags so that people who are interested in concert photography can discover your work. You can also tag venues, bands, and other photographers to increase your visibility and network with others in the industry.
“Social media is really all about amplifying voices – both literally and visually.” -Amy Jo Martin
Social media isn’t just a platform for self-promotion. It’s also a great way to connect with other photographers and learn from their experiences. Follow other concert photographers in the industry and engage with them by commenting on their posts, sharing tips, or even collaborating on projects together.
By creating a strong online presence and network, you’ll be able to attract more clients and opportunities as a concert photographer. Remember that building your portfolio and online presence may take time and effort, but it’s an essential step towards establishing yourself as a professional in the industry.
Network with Other Photographers and Industry Professionals
If you’re looking to get into concert photography, networking is a key element in your success. Networking means building relationships with other photographers and industry professionals who can guide and support you on your journey.
One of the best ways to network with like-minded individuals is by joining photography groups and organizations. By participating in these communities, you’ll have access to valuable resources and connect with photographers who share similar interests.
Join Photography Groups and Organizations
There are several photography clubs and associations that cater to different niches, including concert photography. Here are some organizations worth checking out:
- National Press Photographers Association (NPPA): An organization dedicated to promoting visual journalism while upholding ethical standards among photojournalists worldwide.
- Professional Photographers Guild of Colorado (PPC): A community of professional photographers based in Colorado working together to improve their craft and promote photography as an art form.
- International Live Events Association (ILEA): A global community of event professionals who create unforgettable events through education, inspiration, and collaboration.
- National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP): An organization committed to improving digital imaging expertise among photographers through classes, tutorials, and other online resources.
Attend Industry Events and Conferences
Attending industry events and conferences is another way to expand your network and knowledge base. These events bring together professionals from various fields, giving you the opportunity to learn from experts and pick up tips on how to sustainably grow your business. You’ll also get chances to try new products and attend seminars on specific topics that you’re interested in.
Here are some suggested events worth attending or following:
- SXSW Festival: A festival dedicated to music, film, and interactive media held annually in Austin, Texas. With hundreds of concerts happening during the event, photographers can get a chance to witness and photograph many popular artists.
- NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants): One of the largest trade shows for the global music products industry. Held annually in Anaheim, California, NAMM features several concerts and opportunities for aspiring concert photographers.
- PhotoPlus Expo: An annual photography and imaging show held in New York City. It’s an excellent place to find new ideas, learn techniques from professionals, network with fellow creatives, and discover new gear. Many seminars revolve around photoshoots involving models, increasing your chances of picking up skills both about shooting itself and collaborating with people.
Collaborate with Other Photographers and Industry Professionals
Collaborations offer great networking opportunities as well as paving way towards honing your creativity. You can partner with other photographers and share information about upcoming gigs or have all-access passes split so that you can take turns covering different perspectives of the same performance. Collaborating with venues, especially the smaller ones could bring high quality results, making things mutually beneficial.
If you don’t know any photographers who may be interested, consider posting something like this request on photographs related online communities: “I’m looking for someone to work together during every major music events as I try to build my portfolio. Anyone available?” Teams also look attractive toward record labels and magazines. As they see a bunch whose images and names all come along allow for higher attraction.
Seek Feedback and Critique from Experienced Photographers
A valuable aspect of networking is seeking feedback on your work to help elevate its quality. Seasoned professionals will be in a better position to offer constructive criticism as they can identified mistakes or tips that will give you an edge regarding future assignments. You also get the chance to learn about how their experience was during similar shoots, things like favorite locations backstage pass distribution tips among others.
“The only way to grow as a photographer is to seek out constructive feedback and critique.” – Jasmine Star
You may reach out to them via email, social media or have the conversation after any event in case it wasn’t too busy. Although some wish not initiate interactions this manner even if they still appreciate hearing positive feedback too
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of camera equipment do I need to get started in concert photography?
To get started in concert photography, you’ll need a camera with manual settings, fast lenses with wide apertures, and a sturdy tripod. A DSLR or mirrorless camera with a full-frame sensor is recommended for better low-light performance. A zoom lens with a focal range of 24-70mm is also useful for versatility. Additionally, you’ll need to invest in memory cards with fast write speeds and spare batteries for long shooting sessions.
How can I get access to shoot concerts and events as a photographer?
To gain access to shoot concerts and events as a photographer, you’ll need to build a portfolio of your work. Start by attending local shows and festivals and capturing images of the performers. Share your work on social media and online platforms and reach out to event organizers and promoters to request press passes. Networking with other photographers and industry professionals can also lead to opportunities for shooting larger events.
What are some tips for capturing great shots of fast-moving performers in low-light settings?
To capture great shots of fast-moving performers in low-light settings, use a fast shutter speed to freeze motion and a wide aperture to let in more light. Increase your ISO to compensate for the low light, but be mindful of noise. Use a lens with image stabilization or a steady hand-held technique to avoid camera shake. Anticipate the performer’s movements and focus on their eyes or face. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to create dynamic and unique images.
How important is editing and post-processing in concert photography, and what software should I use?
Editing and post-processing are crucial in concert photography to enhance and refine your images. Use software such as Adobe Lightroom or Capture One to adjust exposure, color balance, and contrast. Use noise reduction tools to clean up any digital noise. Pay attention to the details and remove distracting elements. Be mindful not to over-edit and maintain the authenticity of the moment. Experiment with different styles and presets to find your unique editing style.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when shooting concerts, and how can I improve my skills over time?
Common mistakes to avoid when shooting concerts include relying too much on automatic settings, not anticipating the performer’s movements, and not paying attention to the lighting. Additionally, be mindful of your surroundings and respect the audience and performers. To improve your skills over time, practice shooting in different environments and lighting conditions. Experiment with different lenses and techniques. Study the work of other concert photographers and seek feedback from peers and professionals. Continuously challenge yourself to create unique and compelling images.