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.

When is a camera not a camera?

…when it’s a fucking video camera!

This is the other side of yesterday’s post.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere, that I don’t shoot video. Well, that’s not entirely true, I have shot maybe three or four with my phone, but my camera cameras are still video virgins. I have no interest. At all.

But hey, If you shoot video, good for you! If that’s your thing, enjoy it. But as it is, right now, your thing has affected my thing, in ways that I’m really quite annoyed with.

Just about every major camera out there (mine included) these days is apparently quite capable of shooting fairly stunning video footage. 4K this, 1080p that, super-duper frame rate -shit I know nothing about. I just pulled those numbers out of my ass, uh… I mean, I just threw those numbers out there, because I’ve seen them used to reference video quality. They’re all Greek to me.

What’s that you say? ‘Well then just don’t used the goddamned video feature, asshole!’ Obviously, I don’t.

The problem I have, is all of the extra video features, are making cameras bigger, heavier, are a bigger drain on the battery, and add too much clutter to the layout of modern cameras.

‘Well, just turn that shit off.’ Trust me, it is.

But you want bigger batteries, because you want to shoot longer scenes, and that requires a heat sink to disperse the heat generated; and they both add bulk and weight. You also want image stabilisation, in either the camera, or lens, or both, and there’s some more added weight. You want the option of movie film simulations -which is just another thing for me to trip over. 

I know I’m in the minority here. Extra shit sells. It’s what the consumer demands! I guess the consumer demands the capability of not only taking shitty pictures, they want to be able to take shitty videos as well.


‘We used to have to get up a half an hour before we went to bed!

I’ll be 58 in about a month or so, not really old, but perhaps late middle-aged. The older I get, the easier it is to fall into the ‘back in my day’ horseshit, but I try to avoid it whenever possible. It’s true, some things were better, (french fries, Converse All-Stars, to name a couple) but for the most part, any older person using  BIMD, is just ignorant of what’s out there, or can’t be arsed to put in the effort to learn something new. Bear in mind though, people my age, for example, have been forced to go through plenty of generations of Windows, or Mac operating systems, where we were forced to change how we used a personal computer, for things as simple as how to send a bloody email. It was as if you had learned to drive, but every few years, someone had reversed the position of the clutch, and brake, and switched the gear shift to the other side.

You can see why people reach a certain age, they begin to think, ‘fuck it. I give up. It ain’t worth the headache.’

Can you blame ‘em?

BIMD is also great for bullshitting about how ‘kids today have it so good.’ “When I was your age, I was two years older…” The kind of nonsense you become entitled to just by virtue of sticking around long enough.

With that last point in mind, I’d like to mention a bit about just how good modern cameras are.

Short of resorting to hyperbole, sometimes, when I think about it, the modern digital camera seems about as removed as the jet engine is from the Wright Flyer. Or maybe the modern pc from the abacus. (O.K., maybe I am being a bit hyperbolic)

The first camera I had, had no autofocus, no motor drive, (method for automatically advancing the film through the cameras body) no form of auto exposure assistance, (there was a meter in my Pentax Spotmatic, but it was broken, so I had to rely on the instructions that were printed on the inside of the box that my film canisters came in) the ISO, or ASA as it was known at the time, had to be constant for the whole roll, and plenty of other things that you had to learn and understand to get a half decent image.

These days, with my state of the art-ish camera, for just about everything, I can use the ‘set it, and forget it’ approach. I’ve been shooting mostly manual these days, so all I’ve really got to consider is exposure, and composition. I can trust my machine to do what I’ve programmed it to do, the way I like it. Sure, there’s a bit of a learning curve at first; figuring how to adjust, and set the parameters where I like them, but for anyone reasonably familiar with the science of photography, it’s not too hard.

Yes, modern cameras are that good. Because competition is so fierce, they have to be.

Of course, anyone who’s ever taken a cursory glance at any photo gear forum, will have seen dozens of posts claiming that ‘brand X’ is a piece of shit, or ‘brand y’ has glacially slow autofocus, or won’t allow 16 frames per second shooting, or doesn’t have image stabilization….. etc., etc.

That’s what humans do: Go online to bitch, or conversely, troll with a ’my camera can do this, can yours?’ type statement. (By the way, I suspect that at least 90% of these idiots couldn’t take a decent picture if their lives depended upon it. Seems the end result is somehow inconsequential to them. They really only care about fastest, shiniest, best resolution at 500% magnification.)

Not me. I don’t take this shit for granted. I am still pleasantly amazed every once in a while when I stop and think about what I’ve got.

Because, back in my day…..

Copyright © All rights reserved.
Using Format