Concert photography is a very fun and enjoyable thing to do. You not only get to listen to good music, you also get a chance to create fantastic photographs to share to the world. Taking photos of concerts can also be your ticket to a professional photography career.
Taking photos of your first concert photography gig can be daunting but we are here to share some tips with you to make it easy and enjoyable.
Bringing the right gear
The first thing you have to consider when shooting concerts is the gear you have to bring with you. The best cameras for concerts would be one that can handle noise well as you will be shooting in low light. Any camera that has low noise at high ISO would work well. If would also be of help if your camera focuses fast even in low light.
Lenses are also a big factor to taking good concert photos. Ideally, professional concert photographers take with them two zoom lenses: one wide angle and a telephoto. The lenses are typically built for low light with fast constant apertures of f2.8. Having the constant aperture would improve your experience as you won’t need to fiddle with the aperture controls as you zoom in and out when framing shots. It would also be good if you have two camera bodies for the lenses you bring as you don’t want to be changing lenses in the middle of a concert and miss important moments.
Lastly, it would be nice to have a flash. Any through-the-lens (TTL) flash would do especially when shooting wide angle shots of crowds and other candid moments.
Choosing the best settings
Now that we have the gear down, the next bit would be what settings to use. As with any event, it would be ideal to set your camera to aperture priority when shooting concert photos. Having the camera set to aperture priority would lessen the time fiddling with the controls and gives you more focus on framing and timing your shots while not worrying about getting the right exposures. The lighting also tends to change abruptly during concerts so having the camera decide the right exposure would be a big plus.
One other important setting to consider would be shooting RAW versus shooting JPEGs. With RAW photographs, you do not have to worry about getting the white balance right when shooting. The white balance tends to change fast during concerts and you wouldn’t want to be caught with the wrong WB settings. Only use JPEG when you need to send out photos immediately after shooting. The only downside of shooting RAW is running out of card space.
Timing your shots
Concert photography is about anticipation and timing shots. Get a feel of how the concert runs during the first few songs. This is especially true when shooting band photography where the musicians tend to go crazy during the chorus of songs. Get to know how the band / artists move around the stage and how the crowd reacts to certain portions of the show. Once you understand the subjects, you can then anticipate and time your shots accordingly.
It would also be good if you familiarize yourself with the band’s songs beforehand; it is music photography after all.
Look for Candid Moments
Candid moments are a must when shooting concerts and music festivals. The band may have a touching moment in between songs or people in the crowds may do crazy things. Always have one eye open for the other things going on during the concert. When you know you already have good photos of the artist, you can then focus on looking for those moments that would make viewers feel the vibe of the event.
Concert photography is and should be fun. But there are times that you might at times get caught up in shooting that you will forget to enjoy the moment. Remember to focus on the artist(s) and the crowd but it should also be important to enjoy the music as well. Having fun will bring out the best in your photography.
Have fun, take lots of photos and feel the music.