Tell people around you that you’ll be taking photos of the first few songs to encourage them not to bump into you. This photo of Body Count is an example of getting to know the size of the room, where you can and cannot shoot from, the size of the stage and the kinds of stage lighting. It seems counter-intuitive, but don’t shoot directly in front of the lead singer, Armour said. It’s tempting, especially if you’re using a camera phone with limited space, to delete photos that you think aren’t good. Bands can decide, even up to the last minute, that they don’t want pictures or videos taken of their shows. During the delay, Armour met one of Jones’ friends and got to go backstage to meet the singer. PBS NewsHour allows open commenting for all registered users, and encourages discussion amongst you, our audience. If you want to start with concert photography you should know the difficulties that you may encounter and how to overcome them to succeed in taking great shots at concerts.
Among the first things you must think of is how to get access to the concert venue with your camera. Even if you get a photo pass and get access in front of the stage, or not, you will encounter a lot of difficulties as with any low light environment.
Concert photography is a great experience and with some practice you may get some great moments captured on your camera. Get some full-body ones, some with the instrument, some just of the instrument, and some with the whole band. If you can back up far enough, take a few pictures that include part of the audience for variety.
This photo shows how even in low light, if the colors are soft (red) and bright (yellow), they can make an image pop and draw in your eyes. Armour was photographing an after-hours party in New York City where Grace Jones was supposed to perform, but she was three hours late. However, if a commenter violates our terms of use or abuses the commenting forum, their comment may go into moderation or be removed entirely.
If you like live music and photography you’ll find that those two blend perfectly in the form of concert photography.
Although there are some venues where there are no restrictions and you can bring your DSLR with you; most big concerts that take place in large venues won’t allow entry with such a camera. Usually the stage where the artists are located is dark and illuminated by spot lights that flash relatively randomly and could be a problem for any photographer.


At some large venues the size of the stage will also be quite large and this could be a problem if you want to try and get shots with more than one member of the band, or even with the whole band. Although the crowd can be an interesting thing to photograph at a concert, it can also be a problem if you want to move through different areas of the venue. After understanding the requirements and the difficulties you may encounter when taking photographs at a concert, you should get the appropriate gear.
If it’s possible, get in front of the stage, you’ll usually need a photo pass for that but if this is not a possibility try and get a position where you’ll have the whole stage in sight and not many people in front of you. You will find it a little tricky because at concerts the light from the stage is constantly changing and you’ll have to do quite a few to get it right. You should not use flash if possible but if you have to, then get an external flash that can be rotated so that the light from it flashes around you, not directly on the artist, don’t use the one built in the camera as its light isn’t so natural. It is one of the most difficult types of photography, but it is also one of the most rewarding ones.
The low light and the smoke on stage will give you an interesting perspective on the artist and you could take some amazing shots if you have the proper position for the shot and the appropriate camera and lens. One way to overcome this is to use lenses that are fast and have an aperture that can be opened wide so that you can shoot at high speeds but also have enough light in your camera. For this you would need lenses with a wide angle but you should also take into consideration that you will have to increase the depth of field to keep all the band members in focus, especially if you’re shooting from an angled view of the stage. You’ll have to be polite an try not to block other people’s view for a long time while you take the photos. Whether you photograph at a concert that takes place in a large venue or in a small club, you must have a camera that can be used to shoot at a high ISO without loosing too much quality. Just try and concentrate on the people on stage and don’t get too distracted by the flashing light from the stage. Also the smoke on the stage combined with the fuzzy light can provide you with some unique perspectives. Nikon D90 or D300 are some starting options but other manufacturers like Canon, have good options in the same price range. Photographing at concerts will give you the opportunity to capture the visual side of the live music act, and sometimes it’s almost as great as the music itself; many great bands make an impressive show while on stage.
A photo pass is usually given by the event management to newspapers and magazines, and in the last few years they also started giving them to online news sites and online magazines.
This could be done by closing the aperture a little while keeping the shutter speed the same to avoid blur and at the same time you will have to increase the ISO to compensate for less light that enters the camera. Also try not to use flash as this will distract and annoy people around you and those on stage.


If the camera shoots at ISO 800 or 1600 which is good enough, it could be the right choice. An important thing is to try not to check your images too often on the camera’s screen because you might miss important things on the stage.
It is necessary that the camera’s ISO values be decent enough to be used for low light situations.
More than this, you can capture what the artist is transmitting and what the audience is feeling. You can start by contacting a local newspaper or even an online magazine that you think would be interested in covering the event you want to attend and convince them to assign you as a photographer for that concert. Some venues forbid the use of flash; it usually gives you unnatural photos because you won’t be able to capture the interesting light on stage if you use flash.
Usually the camera’s last two high ISO values are unusable so don’t think that if your camera has it’s highest ISO 3200 it would be ok to shoot at ISO 1600 because more than likely it will produce noisy photos. It’s better to pay attention to what the members of the band are doing on stage and capture the interesting moments. Some of the options would be: 24-70mm, this is quite versatile as it has a medium zoom but also a wide angle. By submitting comments, you agree to the PBS Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which include more details.
A concert of a big band brings thousands of people and among them will be many who would like to see photographs of the event they attended. You may be required to show a portfolio before you get the assignment and for this, a good place to start is small venues or clubs where you don’t have restrictions to photograph, you can then use those shots to build a portfolio with concert photographs.
It’s best to test a camera before you buy it if you can, or look for photographs taken with that camera at high ISO on websites such as Flikr. Next you could use prime lenses like the 50mm which offers great quality at a lower price, but you will not be able to zoom and you will need to get a good position or to be able to move a lot. If you get assigned and obtain a photo pass, this also means you will attend the event for free and if you like to attend a lot of concerts, this will also save you a lot of money in the long term. You can find all sorts of details about a photograph there, just look for the specific model of camera and you’ll get an idea of what it can do.



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