Live music photography is all about capturing the moment, encapsulating the energy, excitement, beauty or tenderness of the music without being able to hear a single note. This is much easier said than done, as restrictions of space and light can really limit what a photographer is able to achieve, but there are ways in which you can enhance your chances of getting those concert defining shots. Today, you'll get some tips for shooting live music and more than 60 live music images to help inspire you.
First off, make sure you've got the best vantage point possible. If you're able, get your hands on a photo pass so you get down the front between the fans and the stage. Even if it's only for 3 tracks, this will give you the best chance of capturing the artists and musicians at work. Make sure you take a couple of lenses. Something fast, like a 50mm prime, will help a lot as often there is little light available and you'll need to freeze the movement of the artists. It's also useful to have a zoom, especially if you're shooting large venues and stages.
Using the light available is essential. There isn't really any scope for manufacturing any light, unless you're up close to the artists and can use flash. Bigger venues have lighting engineers who will aim to match the lighting to the energy of the music, so if you can, pay attention to patterns of flashes and colours. For example, the verses may have washes of light as the music is calmer, where as the choruses may be full of flashes and light movement.
It really helps to know an artist before you go and photograph them. Being familiar with their music will significantly help when it comes to trying to capture those special moments. It will also help you anticipate movement and stage behaviour so you can be ready to shoot and anticipate what's coming. An artist like Morrissey for example, likes to stand alone and swing his microphone lead around, where as someone like Prince is more inclined to strut around and show off to the audience.
In this line of work, you have to move quickly. In the first song, you want to get some solid established shots of the artist, nothing too fancy, just clean and focused shots that capture the show. Once you've got those done, it's then time to start experimenting a bit, for example, following the singer around the stage and attempting to capture any mannerisms or favourite expressions that might exemplify them as an artist.
Here are a few links to really useful tutorials and articles that will teach you more about this type of photography:
- 15 Top Tips for Band Photography
- Concert & Gig Photography - Everything you need to know
- The Comprehensive Concert Photography Primer
More Photography Inspiration
Check out these additional roundups from Phototuts+ for further photography inspiration and advice:
Share Your Own Images!
I hope you've enjoyed the above photographs and that they've inspired you to go out and capture something amazing for yourself!
We'd love to see your favourite live music shots - just post a comment and link below. Also, feel free to link to any resources that you've found particularly helpful in this area.