Living a dream as a photographer & filmmaker

8 tips for photographing bands at concerts and promos

  • Evan Taff's band
  • photographing bands
  • concert photos
  • live performance photo
  • Rev Up
  • band photography
Photographing bands is a great challenge for beginner photographers, considering low light/high contrast environments, fast moving subjects, tight environments, and sometimes unruly crowds.

Learn how to make better photos of bands

I've had some experience photographing bands over the years. Included in this post as an example is my recent band shoot: "Rev Up" (my friend Evan Taff's band) at Outta The Way Cafe in Maryland on 29 March 2013. I've also done some promo shots for his old band (last photo in the slideshow above).

Check out the full album from RevUp shoot.

Here are some tips to help you make better photos of bands.

1. Emotion and mood

Photographing bands is more about the emotion, feeling, and mood, than achieving technically perfect results. You have to become an observer first: what's special about the band's performance? How do they interact with the space / crowd around them? Observe the band and then capture these special moments.

2. Flash is a NO-NO

Normally, a flash should not be used in concert photography. A camera with a good low light shooting ability is preferable to archive low noise photos.

3. Manual mode is your friend

Put your camera on Manual mode, set your ISO to the setting that provides no/low noise, perhaps 800 or 1600 (or use AUTO ISO), iris will have to be fully open (1.4 or 2.8). Which brings me to the next point...

4. Lenses: large aperture

Get a good low light lens-the one that has aperture of 1.4 or 2.8. It will allow the most light to reach the sensor.

5. Type of lenses

Wide-angle lenses are good if you can get close enough. 14-24mm will have a wide field of coverage. If you can't, then telephoto lenses will be needed; something like 80-200mm on a full frame sensor.

6. Composition: preserve feeling & mood

Remember that the feeling and mood are very important in concert photography. Compose your shots to preserve/emphasize that mood.

7. Composition: Rule of thirds + leading lines

Rule of thirds works well here. It will allow you to place your subject off to the side, with the background complimenting the main subject. Use leading lines composition to "lead" the viewer's eye to the mail subject of the photo. Leading lines could be seats in a stadium, a bar table, raw of lights, fans, etc...

8. Other elements

Try different and unusual angles. Go low or high. Get shots of the band interacting with the fans during the performance. Get really close, if you can (and allowed to)... With this last one the famous words of Robert Capa come to mind: "If your photos aren't good enough, you're not close enough".

What are your experiences photographing bands?

Was it challenging? Share your stories and photos in the comments section below...

Serge Batyrshin is a photographer, filmmaker, and blogger. You can follow Serge on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Never miss another post - Subscribe to the FREE Newsletter delivered by email. New to Cineserge? Start here