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« Shooting On An Overcast Day | Main | Thinking outside the box »

Taking Great Pictures at Concerts


  Many of us go to concerts, and want to shoot pictures while we are there.  Here are a few tips to get you started.

First, be sure taking pictures is allowed.  Some venues do not allow it, others allow picture taking as long as there is no flash, and others have no restrictions whatsoever.  Know the situation so you do not get into trouble.  And if possible, check to see if you can get access to the aisles, the area right in front of the stage, and even backstage.  Depending on the venue and the artist, you may get much better access than you expect.

Second, try to work with zoom lenses so you can respond quickly to what is happening on stage.  I like to work with one short zoom (24-70mm) on one camera, and telephoto (70-200mm) on another body.  You may choose to shoot with a zoom with a longer range (28-300), so you only have to take one camera and one lens.  I would recommend a lens that has image stabilization, so the pictures stay sharp even at slower shutter speeds.

Third, set up the camera before you go into the concert hall, in an area where you can see the menu with ease.  I recommend shooting at a high ISO, usually in the 1200-1600 range if your camera has that.  Also, be sure to set your white balance to Automatic (AWB).  Most newer digital cameras have a great ability to judge color in this kind of environment.

Finally, once the concert starts, think of the concert in a similar way to a sports event.  Watch for who the key players are, where the action is, and try to anticipate the situations so you are ready to make great images when they happen.

Here are a few images from a recent shoot with The Latin Giants at a concert they did at York College in New York.  The image below is right as the lead trumpet player took over from the previous soloist, a sax player.  Notice how the composition is such that you do not know who to focus on.


In the next image though, notice what happens when I moved to the right, zoomed in a longer focal length, and got lower in relation to the trumpet player.  Suddenly the whole picture is about this one player, and the intensity of how he is improvising.


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