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Friday, December 5, 2008

Photograph Concerts from the Audience

Over the years I've attended more concerts than I can even begin to count and I've photographed a huge number of them. Though I've had permission to photograph a lot of them, and I've been paid to photograph many of them, very often I just sneak a camera in under my jacket and shoot for the fun of it. I love having photos of concerts and so far I've only been pestered by security a few times.

The key to getting good shots, of course, is to have good seats (unless you're lucky and have a photo pass and can wander around a bit) and to shoot simply. I bring one lens with me usually (70-300mm Nikkor), one body and I never turn on the flash (if you want to get caught quickly, turn on the flash). The light is notoriously low in most venues so you'll have to really crank up the ISO. I pushed the ISO to 1600 for these photos of Pete Seeger and Guy Davis (that was with a Nikon D70s, newer Nikon and Canon bodies go much higher). The lighting wasn't great and even though I was there photographing the event as an assignment, I shot virtually all the photos that night from my second-row seat. It was just simpler to shoot sitting down and I was very close to the stage and had a clear view of the stage from where I was sitting. The event was pretty thrilling and Pete Seeger is amazing and still touring at 89 years young, so I'm glad to have some photos of it.

By the way, if you see a good concert coming to your area and you have some good samples of concert work, call the venue manager and offer to trade stage access for website photos--most venues love fresh new photos for their sites.

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