Home Photography Ideas Concert Photography Ideas and Tips: Shooting Concerts Like a Pro!

Concert Photography Ideas and Tips: Shooting Concerts Like a Pro!

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One of the most fun and invigorating photography ideas for anyone to capture is shooting concerts!

What makes concerts so unique?

It’s that they can be really challenging for you as a photographer while at the same time be very rewarding. In this article we’re going to share some important concert photography tips for you to learn (or help improve) your photos when shooting concerts.

 

concert photography ideas and tips by the wanderer's eye

Photo by The Wanderer’s Eye

Concert Photography Tips

Use Manual Mode

Most concerts take place in darkened venues and even if you get past security flashes usually aren’t allowed.

Unless you’re directly in front of the stage when photographing a concert a flash isn’t going to do much good anyway, other than illuminate the person’s head in front of you.

Setting your dslr in manual mode is the best choice when shooting concerts since you can set the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO levels. Always set the white balance appropriately before the concert starts to help reduce time when editing your photos later.

Shoot in the Highest Resolution Possible

This is probably the easiest of our concert photography tips.

When shooting concerts always shoot in the highest resolution your camera supports. Often, if you didn’t buy a pre-sale ticket (or spend a lot of money) you’ll end up in a seat that is far away from the stage. Shooting in a high resolution allows you to crop the shots later to create good looking close up photos and no one will ever think you were far away!

Choosing ISO and Shutter Speed

When you’re photographing concerts you’ll have to experiment with the ISO and shutter speed to see what works the best in each venue.

Our best advice here is for you to try to keep the ISO as low as you can to cut out the photo noise. The higher the ISO setting the more noise (grain) will be in your photo. For some shots this is acceptable, but for most it’s not.

If you want to freeze the performers when photographing concerts you’ll need a relatively fast shutter speed.

You may want to try a few shots as low as 1/40th of a second and see if they are bright enough. If they are, keep trying a faster shutter speed until the photos are too dark. When they are too dark, you can simply slow down the shutter speed until the exposure is good. Using a slower shutter speed and panning can also help create a blur effect.

yodcox! shooting concerts

Photos by YODCOX!,

Use Aperture to Your Advantage

If you find that your photos are still too dark after experimenting with the previous concert photography tips on ISO and shutter speed you’ll need to adjust your aperture.

Another great way to balance the aperture and shutter speed is to keep the same shutter speed, but open the aperture wider until the photos are light enough.

When taking photographs in a dark venue it is important to have a fast lens that opens up to a very large aperture, like f/2 or wider. A good tip here when shooting concerts like this is for you to record the EXIF data information for your photos. This will enable you to go back to them and see which ISO, aperture and speed settings produced the best shots so that you can use this knowledge at the next concert.

Focusing at Concerts

Low-light photography for concerts is similar to shooting a boxing match since there is limited light and it’s all focused on the stage.

However, the lighting conditions and intensity constantly change at concerts due to the different colored spotlights. In addition, you never really know what your subject’s going to do next when photographing concerts. Like sports photography, anticipation can help quite a bit, as can Al servo or auto-focusing as it allows you to follow your subject while keeping them in focus as they move about the stage. If the venue is really dark, a camera’s auto focus system may find it difficult to focus on the subject. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to switch to manual focus while photographing concerts.

Lens Choice for Distance

Depending where you’re located in the venue when shooting concerts, you may need to use a telephoto or zoom lens or even a teleconverter to close in on the performers as tight as you like.

A 300 mm lens or higher is recommended for this and the lower the aperture the better, as it will allow more light in the camera. A 2.8 lens or faster is recommended for photographing concerts since you can then use a slower shutter speed and ISO if needed. If you’re not too far from the stage though, a 70-200 mm, 2.8 lens or anything faster is ideal.

Example photographing concerts

Photos by uselessrebel and ydhsu

We hope you enjoyed these concert photography ideas tips and learned some good information on how to achieve better photos when shooting concerts. Leave a comment on your favorite tip below!

5 Comments

  1. - Gregory Allen Deese

    April 20, 2012 at 4:56 am

    […] Concert Photography Tips: Shooting Concerts Like a Pro! – a concise post that gives us a few important behind-the-scenes pointers on how to achieve great concert photography.  This is a tricky venue to master in photography, and each tip provided can really help with getting the results you want. […]

  2. […] Concert Photography Tips: Shooting Concerts Like a Pro! – a concise post that gives us a few important behind-the-scenes pointers on how to achieve great concert photography.  This is a tricky venue to master in photography, and each tip provided can really help with getting the results you want. […]

  3. […] the basics of using Photomatix, one of the #1 HDR merging and tone-mapping applications out there.Concert Photography Tips: Shooting Concerts Like a Pro! – a concise post that gives us a few important behind-the-scenes pointers on how to achieve […]

  4. Eric Frahm

    June 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I find that a high ISO is often needed which results in noisy/grainy photos. An application like Noise Ninja does wonders to reduce the noise and salvage many good concert photos.

  5. Tim H.

    November 15, 2013 at 1:03 am

    Thanks for tips!
    Will use…

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