Concert photography tips: from getting a pass to editing photos in under four minutes

Tips & Techniques

If you’re an avid concert goer and a photographer, you may want to bring your two passions together. And if this is the case, Rachel and Daniel of Mango Street have a perfect video for you. In about four minutes, they give you plenty of tips to get you started with concert photography. And it’s not just about gear and shooting – but also about getting the pass and editing the photos after you bring them home.

1. Getting the pass

If you want to shoot a concert, the first thing you need to have is not the camera – it’s the pass. There are a few ways to get it. First, you can contact magazines or blogs to be their contributing photographer and get the pass through them.

Another way is to contact the bands’ managers directly to get a pass. If you want to shoot a big concert, this may be more difficult. But, you can reach to the manager of the supporting act. Small bands are usually more accessible, and they will be happy to have photos of their performance.

Finally, you can always go to small gigs where everyone can bring a camera. The lighting is usually challenging in small clubs, but it’s a precious opportunity to practice and hone your skills.

2. Shooting the gig

Once you get the pass, you can enter the pit with other photographers. However, it’s usually only the first three songs that you can shoot from there, so make the best out of it. Shoot a lot of wide-angle images while you’re close to the action. But also, get as many different compositions as possible with various focal lengths. While you’re there, use the opportunity to take photos of the drummer, as he’s the most difficult musician to photograph.

After the first three songs, you can shoot from the crowd to show the atmosphere and what it was like to be there. If there’s a gallery, shoot from above, you can get a lot of interesting shots.

As for the gear, it matters in concert photography. A camera with high dynamic range and good low-light capabilities will be your ally, as well as a fast lens. Rachel and Daniel prefer shooting with several different prime lenses, and I’d always go for that option as well as they’re usually faster than zooms.

When it comes to settings, go with manual settings (but not manual focus) to have complete control over the exposure. Daniel notes that 1/250s is a good shutter speed to freeze motion, so you can start from there and adjust the remaining settings around it.

3. Editing

Editing concert photos can be tricky. There are many different colored lights on the stage, so you don’t need to try and get the skin tones right. Rather focus on creating the mood in your images and showing what it was like to be there. You can use more extreme white balance adjustments if you want to change the vibe, and if I may add – black and while sometimes work great as well.

Personally, I love shooting concerts and gigs whenever I have the chance. I sometimes get the pass, usually through bands, and I enjoy both the music and the process of photographing the show.

If you’d like to read more useful tips for photographing concerts, you can check out this article. And if you want to start making money by shooting music, this is an article for you. And finally, when you have the skill, the pass and the gear for the job – don’t forget to follow the etiquette, do your best, and enjoy the experience.

[Concert Photography Tutorial (Low Light Tips!) | Mango Street]

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