Photographing Concerts, Artists and Gigs

Recently Professional Photos was commissioned to photograph a gig that involved taking stage shots, artist shots and also document the technology that was used in the show. Those guys sitting in the control booth controlling the sound and the lighting and anything else.

I have done quite a few of these shoots as I am extremely fortunate to have some good contacts. Rather than be the photographer who is stuck in the photography pits, I can sometimes get all areas access. The key here is to stay out of the way as much as possible and also to not be a pain while still managing to get the content. I suppose the crew and talent have jobs to do and so long as you are not in their face, they will tolerate you. Keep your attitude professional at all times when taking photos.

This was a corporate gig in which Reece Mastin (Australian Idol winner) was performing and I was looking forward to getting some good shots. There are some real problems in dealing with light in concerts and gigs. Firstly quite often any light on stage can be multi-coloured which can do weird things to people’s skin tones. You don’t have much control over that so the best you can do is wait for the right moment when the light is good on your subject.


More Tech stuff… settings etc

The other problems you deal with, is the fact that there is either a load of light or not much, so you are constantly changing your settings. I try and shoot with a high ISO, which does make the photos more noisy/grainy but then I feel it also gives the photos character. There is no point in lowering your shutter speed as you will get blurry images, and if you open up your aperture too shallow you will possibly have depth of field problems. I try and shoot at about f5.6 if I can, but sometimes I do go up to f2.8. If the light is blasting, I try and use my aperture to control the light and then hold the shutter speed at about 1/125th.


You then just have to wait for the moments. It is really tempting to take a load of photos and hope that one or two are good. You might even have to do this if you are shooting an energetic act but it pays to wait for the good moments. Have your cam on burst and shoot when the artists are doing something interesting. Remember your composition, your backgrounds and your basics and then shoot away!


When shooting the over all concert feel I will set up on tripod somewhere and shoot at a slightly higher aperture if possible although this may mean you need to use a slower shutterspeed and may get blur. Get out there and practice on friends gigs or where ever you can to work out a good system that works for you!

Hope that is of use to someone and please ask if you have any questions. Have fun!

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