(MFKN) Tips: Shooting A Metal Show WITHOUT A Photographer Pit

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You better know how to mosh…

I’ve recently photographed DevilDriver on their Bound By The Road tour with special guests: Death Angel, Winds of Plague, The Agonist and Azreal. I had NO idea that The Ritz in San Jose had no photographer pit. As soon as I realized what I was in for, I only had a short amount of time to prepare. In the end I had a ton of fun, but I did shed some blood (and possible internal bruising hahaha!). Here’s some last minute prep tips for shooting a crazy metal show with NO photographer pit.

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1.  PAIN KILLERS!!!

They will be your BESTEST FRIEND! Seriously, take some pills BEFORE as well as after the show. You don’t want to feel achy (or any other sort of pain) in the middle of a set. I’ve damn near quit shooting a show before because I thought I could manage without them and got ROCKED. So, for your own momentum, take some pain killers before you start shooting.

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2. Rearrange Your Bag

Do not use your side pockets. DO NOT USE… your side pockets. Put everything (that’s important to you) in the main part of your camera bag. Your things can and most likely will fall out while you’re trying to shoot, digging for things, or running through the pit to get to the other side of the stage. You won’t be able to get to them very easily (and will probably lose “the shot” while digging). I suggest you have a multi-pocket vest on or in the car for such an occasion. If you don’t have one, improvise. I’ve used my bra as a memory card holder multiple times.

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3. Run Straight Through The Pit

Running through the pit is a must. Getting photos from only ONE side of the stage is boring. It might look intimidating, but do it. If you’re too timid to do it while the band is thrashing, wait for them to finish a song and go to your next spot. If you’re crazy like me, hold your camera close to your body, wait for a clearing, and run. Protect your ribcage from the pit, but protect your camera first. Don’t try to hit anyone in the pit while running, you WILL get hit back (unless you feel like moshing for a bit).

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4. Get Front Row

If you’re not already there waiting for the band, it WILL be difficult but you can do it. The best way is to be kind to everyone around you and politely ask if you can “get in right here to shoot”. Nine times out of ten, they’ll smile and let you through. However every show has that crazy drunk who’s having a “one-man mosh pit”. If you encounter this person you have two options: move to another spot, or box them out (I tend to thrash back if they get in the way of my shot). The people around you may help you out by being a shield, calming their friend down, or in my case SNATCHING them up. (By the way, thanks to the strongman in red who helped me out! I don’t know HOW you did it, but thank you hahaha!).

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5. Be Aware Of Your Camera Settings

While getting bumped around in the crowd, your camera may have switched from 5F to 16F. Make sure that your camera is on the proper setting that you want it to be. You’ll start to notice when your pictures start coming out darker in the view finder. Recalibrate your camera and shoot.

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6. WATER.

It’s going to get REALLY hot in there, especially if you’re in the thickest part of the crowd. Hydrate yourself before the third band comes on- don’t wait. Either you won’t be able to get to the bar, or you won’t get your spot back.

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7. Use A Mouthguard

My lip was busted from getting pushed into my camera at that last show. I didn’t have a mouthguard… I WISH I did. At first, I thought I chipped a tooth and just left it (it had already occurred and I couldn’t go back in time and get my tooth back, but I COULD get the shot). Luckily, it was just my lip that got thrashed. However, I feel I was pretty close to chipping a tooth. I suggest using a mouthguard while shooting so you don’t come out looking like a hockey player.

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8. Post-Show Care

After the show is over and you’re covered in everyone’s sweat but yours… you’re going to need some aftercare. Have a spare shirt in the car, and take more pain killers (before you drive so it kicks in by the time you get home). When you get home, draw a hot bath and soak. You may have internal bruising; you may be bleeding from somewhere. Soaking will help ease your muscles and aches (the ones to come). After that, put on some comfy clothes and start editing. You may be half-dead, but you still have a job to do.

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So there you have it! Hopefully this will enhance your photography experience and boost your metal show game. If you have any questions about this article don’t hesitate to contact me! Don’t forget to check out my pictures from the show!

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