If you are interested in music and photography, you might as well combine the two for your dream job but it isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are new dynamics at play when capturing live shows, whether it’s the audience or those on stage, so here is how to nail live music photography:
1. Fast Lenses
You need to pick a lens that can not only handle the low lighting but has the flexibility you need to adjust to changing shows. One minute it could be dark, the next the lighting effects come into play and you need to adapt! Choose a lens like a 50mm 1.8 and start from there.
2. Start small
If you go straight to a sold out concert and try to shoot you are going to be quickly out of your depth, so instead start small. Visit clubs and open mic nights to test out the photography in darker atmospheres and practice angles where you can get closer to the subjects before hitting the big leagues.
3. Multiple Images
Live music is fluid and as a performance you will often find the unexpected happening so you odn’t want to miss it. Ensure you use multi-shots so you can capture subtle movements and organic moments as they arise for a full range of images you can showcase.
4. Get access
For bigger, popular concerts you may not be able to get close enough initially so you’re going to need special access to get front and centre. The way to do this is with a press accreditation which means you’ll need to associate yourself with a website, whether that is an online newspaper or student magazine.
Don’t stay in the same place, work on different angles and shots. Everyone takes an angle from the front of the stage so opt for something a little more interesting and keep moving.
6. Leave Equipment At Home
You may want to bring all of your fancy equipment with you and while this can be an asset for most other types of photography you won’t be able to use or store it. With live music, particularly larger shows, you’ll be close to the audience who will not necessarily respect you setting up a tripod in the way of their favourite band. Take a spare lens in your pocket and your camera that is ready to go and leave your bag and main equipment at home.
7. Understand The Band
Do your homework and research the type of band you are going to see. If they are high-energy think about your positioning beforehand and move around with them so that you capture their essence. If they are more subdued, you may be able to go to the venue beforehand to set up some stage cameras for the performance, particularly in smaller clubs.
8. Remember Post
Even with the best settings and photography, you’ll still need to process the images afterwards to get the best results. This is, in part, because of the amount of noise that is captured due to the settings of shooting live music. Ensure you always shoot RAW and then deal with exposure and white balance in post.
The key point to remember is that music is an experience just like capturing images with photography so ensure that your photos display this!