As a beginner looking to break into the world of concert photography, it’s important to know what to do and what to avoid in order to succeed. Concerts offer a unique and exciting opportunity for photographers to capture candid moments and emotions on stage. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to photograph big-name musicians like Mandy Moore, Steve Aoki, Louis Tomlinson, and DJ Snake.
However, getting started in concert photography can be intimidating. In this post, I’ll provide some tips and tricks for beginners looking to break into concert photography.
One of the best ways to get started in concert photography is to start by shooting local shows. This will allow you to get some experience under your belt and build a portfolio. Local shows also offer a great opportunity to network with the artist, other photographers, and make connections in the industry.
Keep in mind, it’s important to get permission from the venue and the artist in order to photograph them. Many venues and artists have specific rules and guidelines for photographers, so be sure to follow them to avoid any issues.
While you may have easily gotten a photo pass for smaller musicians as a freelance photographer, if you want to get into the bigger shows, joining a publication is the best way to go. Publications started off with traditional media like magazines, but now include digital mediums like blogs. In my experience, joining a publication is easy because they are always looking for photographers. Bonus points if you like to write! As long as you have some sort of portfolio put together it should be relatively easy to find one to join. If you’re wondering where to find a publication, look around in different Facebook groups.
Think about why joining a publication is the easiest way to obtain a photo pass. As a freelance photographer, what value do you bring to the musician? Artists are protective of their likeness but are looking to widen their exposure which is usually only something that a form of media can bring.
A lot of the time you will be shooting for free, or in exchange for the comped media pass and entry ticket.
When you finally secure your first photo pass there are also a couple of do’s & don’ts that you need to be aware of. This is pretty standard across the board.
Photographing concerts can be challenging because it’s a low-light setting and extremely fast-paced. The first couple of times you might be nervous since you don’t know what to expect, but after a few shows, you start to come up with a strategy. Setting-wise, I usually have the aperture at the widest since it’s lowlight, shutterspeed around 1/200 in order to freeze motion, and ISO between 800-5000 depending on the available light.
Strategy-wise, I’ll stand on the left side of the photo pit for one song, middle of the pit for the 2nd song, and on the right for the 3rd song. I’ll also use a star filter during the first song just to get some cool shots, and then take it off for the rest of the time.
As for actual camera gear, I keep it simple. I share in this article what camera gear I typically bring with me in a lot of situations, but for concert photography, I actually bring the least amount. I just have my camera stuffed in a cross-body bag, the star filter, and my wallet!
To keep up to date with everything I share, follow along on my social media!