If you are someone who is into music, especially live music, then concert photography would be something you could consider going to as a photographer. You get to enjoy your favorite musical artist playing a favorite song of yours live and be able to enjoy the experience too. However, it is also one of the most challenging in the sense that we do not get to have control of almost any parameter in the picture: the subject, the lighting, not to mention we are limited to the angles we could shoot with the limited free space available. Then there are the people attending the concert who would be certainly captured in our frame and they could only care less.
Despite these challenges, concert photography is actually less difficult to do than what most people might think. Let this post show you how.
For starters, try to go to a more intimate concert that would enable to roam a bit more freely and shoot from any angle you wish. If you have a band that you know personally, it will be a good place to start from.
They often say it’s not the camera that is important but the person behind it. But in the case of concert photography, the camera plays a big role, especially due to the environment these concerts are usually held. For instance, many concerts are held under dim lighting, so your camera should have lenses with wider aperture (like f/2.8, f1.8, or f/1.4) and using cameras that allows us to take photos at high ISO without noise. Even if your camera could not be able to take high ISO images with less noise, boost the ISO settings anyway and just adjust things in post-production. And in dynamic shows like rock bands, we will have to use a relatively high shutter speeds to freeze movement of drummer or the singer.
Another challenge would be the measurement of the light and selecting the correct exposure. In live shows the optimal would be to measure light from a point which we want to expose by using the point metering. Still, check the histogram and the monitor for overexposed points, to ensure that the important objects in the frame are exposed properly. Shooting in RAW is highly recommended too to correct images better.
Should I Use Flash?
Unfortunately, flash has no effect on lighting the singer, especially if you’re far from the stage so better turn it off. If you are close to the stage remember to first measure the light by the environment until you get proper exposure in terms of atmosphere you want before adding the flash to get some ambient lighting showing the atmosphere while the flash will lit the singer and freeze his movement.
Wait for the spot light
When it’s too dark and we are far from the stage and we cannot use the flash, wait until the spot light, the narrow, focused and strong light, will light the artist for a more artistic effect. In concert photography, what matters are certain moments more than the whole event itself.
In most concerts, red is the dominant color. So be careful that the red color will not “burn” and lose details in affected areas. Better take the photo a bit underexposed in RAW and then add some brightness so no details will be lost in those areas. If it fails, one option is to convert the image to black & white so you can save its quality.Having some photography knowledge pays off in cases like this.
Of course, the most important element to consider in concert photography, or any photography format for that matter, is composition. Whatever story you wish to tell about the concert through photos. you should have good and interesting compositions to show. It could be a close up image of even just hand playing the guitar or the whole band doing the performance. It all depends on your artistic taste and equipment as well.
Concerts are not an easy event to photograph, as an event photographer will tell you. but with a some practice and knowledge, you can get beautiful results.