Photo Tip Series – Photographing Concerts


Written by: Nathan Wertheimer

The next Photo Tip Series I will be writing about is concert photography. Concert photography can be the most visual and challenging images one will ever take. With a little time and practice one can be a serious photographer in no time.

Depending on the concert venue, some venues don’t allow DSLR or SLR cameras into their places. The next alternative thing to do is to find out what cameras they allow if any into their concert venue. Most people today take photos from their cell phone, which are ok, but have some limitations. Another alterative camera is to bring a small point and shoot camera with a high ISO setting for low light. It recommended not to crank the ISO to the highest point because it will be grainy and somewhat look out of focus.

Before heading out to a concert these are some recommended photo gear to bring. First one only needs one camera with one to two lenses. There is no need to have an extra camera excess lens around. Depending upon the crowds and where you sit and or stand at the concert will depend on what lens to use. Because I am a photojournalist, I carry up two cameras with a variety of lens such as a12-24mm lens, a 24-70mm lens, and a 70-200mm.

For high-end concerts, the media does not get to pick the location where they will be photographing at. Most media outlets are directed to photograph at either the soundboard or the back of the house, and or in the pit area in front of the stage. There are both pros and cons about each location. For the general public most people watch while sitting and or standing in front of the stage. While it will be challenging to get the images you want. Be patient because there will be a moment where you want to capture it. Many people forget that there is no flash photography at the high-end concerts. This is because it may affect the performers on stage plus there is mostly adequate lighting on stage. Some concerts have spotlight to focus on the main singer on stage. Watch how they move around. At the perfect moment and angle take several photos.

For standing room only concert venues, get there early as you can. This will give you a chance to get a get prime spot in front of the stage. It is not recommended to shoot straight from middle. One will encounter microphone stands in the way of the performers most of the time. The microphone will most times block the singer’s mouth which is not a good thing. Position one self off to the side will work better for getting the singer on stage with the microphone.

Low-end concerts are the best because the attendees have more of an easy access to get up close to the performers. Most of the low-end concerts are at fairs, bars, and festivals. This is your opportunity to practice and get the best shots that you can. It does not matter who is singing and or performing on the stage. One might be surprised what type of images they get. Because of low-end concert the light might not be the best. Most of the time you may need to use a flash or use natural light depending on the day or inside of the venue. For low light problems, try bouncing the flash to the white ceiling. If the ceiling is black than use a index card and or a pocket flash bounce card attached to the flash. The flash should be tilted up towards the ceiling.

Experiment on the shots you take at a concert. Don’t keep taking the same shot because it will start to get old very fast. I recommend starting out with the wide shots and then work into the tight shots. When talking about the wide shots means photographing the entire stage to a couple of performers rocking away. These tight shots will look great.

When it comes to shutter speed, it will depend on a combination of the aperture, shutter speeds, and the ISO setting to take the right balanced photo. Most of the time slow shutter speeds will not work at a concert because of the fast action and movement on the stage. Another camera technique which one should try is to vary your aperture on your camera from f2.8 – f8. One will notice a different in the background being out of focus. Your camera focus should be on the person’s face to be in focus.

Another group of shots one will want to take is the tight singer photo. This entails photographing the singer at their high notes. The singer’s mouth will be open next to the microphone. This will only last as long as the song has high notes, which happens in the middle to the end of the song. Other tight shots one will want to try is the up close shot of the performer with the guitar. I prefer the tight shot of the performers hands playing the guitar, which makes a dramatic image.

Once you head home and color correct your concert photos it is recommended posting your best photos on your social media account where everyone can see them. Just remember to tag the photos with the title of the concert and the date that one has attended. Happy shooting to you at your next concert venue. Don’t be afraid to experiment on your creative side along with other camera techniques. Remember that there are no rules in photography. Go for it one has nothing to lose.

If you’d would like to see more examples of my photography go to and click on the “Slideshows” on the top menu. Thank you for reading this Photo Tip Series and check back again for more Photography Tips in the future.

Note: All written content and images are copy righted by either the person and or company who wrote and photograph published for this article.


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