Becoming a concert photographer may sound exciting, but as with any photography niche, it comes with its own challenges. Mastering the techniques to get the perfect shot can take some time and getting into bigger venues will require a solid portfolio. Don’t let this deter you from pursuing a career in concert photography. Follow the tips below to get started and master this field of photography.
5 Tips for Beginner Concert Photographers
Local clubs and smaller venues will give you experience with little limitations. While some of these venues may require you to check your bag, which means you won’t be able to take your gear with your, most will allow you to take your camera in with no problems. Call beforehand to see what the restriction are before you show up at the door, Bigger venues will often require you to have a press pass or other documentation that allows you to shoot, so to get the experience you need to start small.
For even more opportunities, check out how to get media passes for concerts and sports events here.
How to find local concerts?
Once you have found a place that you can take your equipment in with you then you can check out their concert line up. You can easily find what concerts are scheduled for your area by checking the venues web page, reading the newspaper, reading local blogs, finding an event website or look in music magazines. Also, don’t forget to ask your friends and family members. You probably know someone or someone that knows someone who plays in their own band. Ask around to see if any of them have a gig coming up and get permission to show up to shoot. You can offer to let them use some of the images to promote their next show and this starts getting your name out in the concert world. When you are first starting out, be prepared to buy a lot of tickets to different shows, but this is a small price to pay for the experience you’ll gain.
When you are just starting out as a concert photographer you might have a tight budget that doesn’t allow you to get all the equipment and lens you desire, but concert photographers can start off with a few essential pieces of equipment. Choose the right DSLR camera body. You want a body that will allow you to use a range of lenses, even if you are only using one or two for now. You want to carefully consider which body you will use as switching to a different body can be more costly when you are on a budget it is best to go with a crop sensor camera, but choose one that offers an ISO of 6400 as noise can be more prevalent in crop sensory cameras. You’ll need to have a 50mm lens as well. When you use a 50mm lens on a crops sensor camera you get a longer focal length, resulting in a 50mm lens actually being an 80mm lens. Also, be sure to choose a lens that offers f/1.8 or f/1.4 aperture for more emotion in your concert photography portraits.
Most concerts you shoot will be in low lighting, which makes it tricky to capture a well-exposed image that is clear and focused. The best way to shoot these situations is to use aperture priority mode or AV mode. This will allow you to set the aperture while the camera will set the proper shutter speed. Set the aperture to the lowest you lens allows which will allow the most light to enter the camera. Most prime lenses will offer a setting of f/1.8 or f1.4 while some others may only go as low as f/2.8.
You want the shutter speed to be fast to avoid blurred images. A speed of 1/200 second should be your goal, and faster if possible. Anything lower you will begin to notice a blur in the motion unless this is what you are going for, you want to try to freeze the movements on stage.
Set your ISO to 1600, or maybe even higher if you’d like. The ISO refers to the sensitivity of the sensor in the camera, This can eliminate grain in your images, which can be more obvious when shooting in low light. You want to give this a few test shots to ensure your images don’t blur. If an ISO of 1600 results in blurred images then the shutter speed is too slow so you want to bump up the ISO more. You wan the ISO to be as low as it can be and only raise it when necessary.
You wouldn’t show up late to shoot a wedding and you don’t want to be late to shoot a concert as well. While you have more flexibility with concert photography you still need to be professional. It is wise to show up to the venue an hour or two early. You may be able to get some pre-show shots of the band doing their sound check or as they are mingling around the club. Most local bands will gladly welcome a photographer to shoot the show but ask them if you can take their photograph while they mingle before you do so.
Arriving early also lets you find the best place to shoot from. Often you want to be sure to be in front of the stage. You needed to remember to also be respectful of others who are there to enjoy the show, so have your camera settings adjusted before the lights go out.
Concert photography offers a lot of excitement and can be a fulfilling niche to break into. Getting starting won’t take much equipment but will require a great deal of practice. Start in local venues and become familiar with your camera settings. Build up your portfolio and get comfortable shooting in low light and energized spaces.