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Concerts provide a rich atmosphere for any artist. The sights, the sounds, the people and the excitement-charged atmosphere all come together to create unforgettable experiences. Today we'll discuss how you can effectively capture these events using your DSLR, and also take a look at 100 photos that you can use as inspiration for your own live concert shoots!
Hints & Tips For Shooting Live Concerts
So you're going to a concert and hoping to get a few good shots? Think again. Shooting a live concert can be one of the most difficult tasks for a photographer. Poor vantage points, dark rooms, wildly varying lighting conditions, unpredictable facial expressions and constant motion all stack the odds against your favor.
The key here is to use all of these cons in your favor and turn them into pros. For instance, use poor lighting to capture amazing silhouettes, your cheap seat in the back to grab sweeping shots of the arena and the constant motion of the artists to experiment with intentional blur. Think about what you're experiencing and how to translate that artistically into an image without necessarily being too literal.
Some general tips for shooting under these constraints include keeping your ISO high and your aperture open. This will help you pull in as much light as possible. Battling this is going to be your need to keep your shutter speed as quick as possible to capture the ever moving subjects on the stage without too much blurring. You'll have to experiment a lot with different combinations to see what works best in your specific venue.
Depending on where you'll be sitting, you'll definitely want to pack a lens with a hefty zoom and preferably one that will allow a fairly wide open aperture (just beware of a shallow DOF). If you can afford it, a 70-200mm f/2.8 should work brilliantly.
If there's a light show wreaking havoc on your settings, consider shooting in AV so that the camera quickly adjusts the shutter speed based on its own readings. One last trick that you'll see quite a bit from dark shoots: if you find that your images have too much color noise from cranking up your ISO, try converting them to black and white. What appears ugly and accidental in a color shot can often appear classy and deliberate in black and white.
Bottom line, just remember that it's going to be extremely difficult to get anything amazing, even if you don't normally have trouble producing stunning shots. Don't expect to figure it all out right away or to walk out with hundreds of professional grade shots. Even many of the photos below are great in composition while suffering from noise or lighting issues (or vice versa). Try to have fun experimenting and learning about how your camera resounds to the environment.
Need some more advice? Here are a few great places to start:
- The Comprehensive Concert Photography Primer
- 15 Top Tips for Band Photography
- Rock Concert Photography – 9 Tips on How to Get The Shot
- Concert Photography - A Beginner’s Primer
100 Live Show and Concert Shots
Show Us Yours!
I hope the photos above inspire you to try your hand at shooting a few live performances. Once you get the hang of it, the resulting shots can be quite amazing and provide really unique portfolio pieces.
Use the comment section below to leave a link to your own live show and concert shots and be sure to let us know how you captured them!
Bonus points to anyone who can spot the author of this post in one of the images above!