Congrats, you got the email confirming a show you want to shoot! Sweet! …Ok NOW what? Well, I’ve decided to give out some basic, creative, and time-saving tips that may help you get “The Shot”.
1. Respect The Pit
Usually followed by everyone, but it is the number one rule when photographing a live concert. Understand the fact that you’re not the ONLY photographer there, and respect each other’s space. If you need to get passed a fellow photographer… DUCK AND RUN!
2. Don’t Switch Lenses; Switch Cameras
Photographers with multiple lenses tend to strap on multiple cameras. I’ve seen music photographers strapped with four different cameras before; it’s not uncommon. So instead of stopping shooting, digging into your camera bag (in the dark), and taking off the lens to use a different one (yes, it’s a lot!), you can just put down one camera and turn on another one. It’s MUCH easier that way, and you’re more likely to get “The Shot” that you want.
3. Always Have The Email Ready
Sometimes, when you get there and you’re supposed to be on the list… you’re not. I’ve experienced this a few times. Getting the confirmation email is key, but so is being prepared. I’ve gotten emails about shooting shows but then NOT receive a follow up email about it. And with that, I’ve gotten into shows WITHOUT the confirmation email before just by having the email on my phone ready for viewing.
4. Extra Batteries; Extra Memory Cards
Always. And have all of your batteries charged up. I’ve been backstage, on tour buses, ON stage… and have either my ONE battery die on me or my memory card become too full for more pictures. You never know where you may end up (especially if you’re the adventurous type like myself), so be prepared.
5. Check Your Bag
This is pretty simple. Check your bag to make sure that EVERYTHING you need is in there. I’ve fudged a few times on this one. Make sure you have your memory cards, batteries, chargers, camera bodies, business cards… everything.
6. Get Creative!
When shooting a show, keep in mind that you don’t have to do the regular style of pointing and shooting. You can mix it up by adding a few creative elements to your photographing. I’ve seen a guy use a crystal in front of his lens for effects. I’m not trying it (cause I feel like I’d be stealing his idea?); but YOU certainly can! Get irregular angles, zoom in on something you find unique, use the rule of thirds… anything! Do what it takes to stand out… it could mean the difference between your portfolio and someone else’s.
7. Don’t Use Flash!
You will blind the lead singer (or whoever you’re photographing) if the show is indoors. Outside during the day is still a risky idea. I’ve done this ONCE during Aftershock; the singer wasn’t looking in my direction. Other than that “once in a blue moon” moment, make sure that your flash is off.
8. DON’T SLEEP; EDIT AND POST!
We try not to be too competitive in the pit… but we are certainly competitive about social media. I tend to pick up a couple Monsters and edit as soon as I get home. Being first, being efficient, and having good shots will put you ahead of the others. I suggest you post them on your social media accounts and tag as many people as possible: the band, the band members, the venue, the record label… everybody! They will likely be seen and shared by those you’ve tagged (which is obviously beneficial).
9. Watermark Or Not?
I’ve seen successful photographers who do and don’t watermark their images. Common curtesy is for whoever is sharing your image to give the photographer their credit. I haven’t had a problem with not receiving credit, but if you want to put a trademark logo in the corner, go for it! But make sure that it fits into the picture well and that it’s big enough for people to see it.
Bonus Tip: for indoor live photography, use a higher ISO, and a faster shudder speed. Generally, that tends to work, but always play with the settings. Some sets are brightly lit with vibrant colors, others are more dark. Calibrate.
Hopefully these will help you in your quest for the perfect shot! If you have any extra questions about something on here or something I didn’t cover, feel free to contact me!
Good luck and have fun!