On shooting concerts

Shooting concerts, or how not to be a public dickhead.

Over the years, I’ve given quite a few photos to indie (broke) bands. Why not? I enjoy shooting them, and they probably need promo shots, so it’s a win-win situation. Plus, shooting unknown, or new bands, or even bands that suck, for that matter, is a great way to learn, and try new ideas out.

I’ve spent my entire adult life either playing, working, or drinking in bars and clubs, and I can’t even begin to guess how many thousands of bands I’ve seen. On the surface, I’d probably describe myself as a jaded old fuck, but every once in a while, I’m mildly amused with myself, when I realize that some band, -and it’s usually somebody no one’s ever heard of, and probably never will, is really impressing me. Guess I’m not as apathetically burnt out as I usually think I am. It’s especially cool if the band goes on to be popular. (I say that not in the sense of meaning that I’m some kind of talent spotting visionary -I’m not, but that it’s nice to see something I think is good, go on to further success.)

I find shooting concerts lots of fun, and not too hard if you’ve got half-ways decent gear. The trick is, as with most things, is to know what you want. Which also means knowing what you don’t want. Just as important.

I don’t use flash. I have one, and I’ve seen some folks get awesome results with them, but I don’t like how it illuminates everything in the shot, and changes how the concert actually looked. Plus, it’s usually really annoying for anyone nearby -least of all, the subject.

I try to be as quick as possible. Get some shots, and get lost. Hopefully. 

I’ve found that if you’re polite, and either tell, or imply (sometimes it’s too loud for verbal communication) that you’re going to be brief, people really don’t mind if you’re in front of them for a few seconds. Make sure to thank them when you’re finished. I’ve never been turned down. Not even once.

Have your shit prepared before you start shooting. Check your exposure. Are all the settings on your camera where you’d like them to be? Check them a second time.

Shoot a LOT. Shooting live bands is one -if not the only time, that I have my camera set to burst mode. Things happen fast. The lighting is usually changing quite quickly. Autofocus, while really quite spectacular on modern cameras, isn’t perfect -especially if you’re shooting wide open. Take more pictures than you think you need. There’s nothing worse than shooting a band, and thinking that you’ve got something great, only to realize once you transfer them to the big screen of your laptop, or pc, that you didn’t get what you thought you had gotten. Shit.

Practise, and make sure you’ve got your shit together before you even start firing off shots, and you just might get something that you’re happy with!

Well, at least you won’t have those around you calling you a dickhead for blocking their view, or blinding them with your flash.


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