This guide is intended for concert photography beginners. If you have a DSLR camera and are interested in how to control your camera settings to take great photos at concerts, this guide is for you. If you’re an experienced photographer who just hasn’t shot shows before, there may be some helpful info in here along with plenty of stuff you know already.
There are a lot more music photographers than there are music photography jobs — that’s just how it is in this corner of the industry. It’s a port of entry for many hobbyist photographers, and the result is saturation of the market. A lot of budding photographers are willing to work for free, making the gigs that are out there even tougher to get.
When most bands are composed of young people just out of (or still in) high school, is understandable that most aren’t able to pay photographers much. I used to charge local bands $100 for a band promo shoot. That felt like a fair price back then; I gained valuable experience and it was affordable for the musicians as well.
But a few years down the line when you have thousands invested in gear, $100 shoots aren’t going to cover your costs, not to mention your time. When you reach that point, you have to figure out other ways of simply financially maintaining your hobby. I want to shed light on a few opportunities that I’ve found and seen my peers succeed in, not just breaking even but actually making a living.
I had an interesting discussion in a photography group on Facebook some time ago. It started with my question about the 35mm prime lens, and somehow I ended up discussing zoom lenses with a member of the group. He said that, as an event photographer, he doesn’t have the luxury of moving around and focusing with his feet so he only uses zoom lenses. I support him and agree with him – up to some point.
I am not a professional event photographer, so I have the luxury to experiment. And a few months ago I was in a situation where I had to experiment. My prime lens was put to a test in event photography – and I believe it passed.
Recently I had the opportunity to test the new Fuji X-T2.
At start, it was only possible to do some tests with natural light and mainly in the street. Although it is not the kind of environment I use to photograph, this first test had as main objective to serve only as the first contact with the equipment, so that in a second test, which I intend to do soon in concert, im already slightly familiar with the menus and buttons Of the X-T2.
This text is not meant to be a technical text, I am no expert in engineering and certainly the Fuji engineers must have their reasons for deciding to build the X-T2 as it is, in this text I will only share what I found of the X-T2 and what I felt when I photographed with it.
My intention with this test, and with the test in concert photography, is to verify if the X-T2 is a valid option to replace my Canon equipment, at least for concert photography. I like Canon and I am very used to the brand, but as Canon Portugal has decided to close the official service of the brand in Porto, thus abandoning its customers, I can not and do not want to be subject to mailing my equipment to repair In Lisbon by a repair company that I do not know …
It should be noted that Fuji has the official technical service for Portugal and Spain based in Oporto.
Photographing concerts is not an easy task, especially indoor concerts. Often, you’ve got get dim lighting conditions. The lights you do have illuminating your scene are often extremes of one colour or another. They oversaturate your shot, you lose a lot of detail and information, especially in highlights and skintones, and your camera’s meter often just can’t handle it.
So, what can you do? In this video from concert photographer J. Salmeron at MetalBlastTV, we find out how our cameras react to different types of light, the challenges faced shooting concerts, and how to overcome some of them. It also explains why we see so many concert photographs shot in black and white.
With great power comes great potential for abuse. Back in 2011, Apple filed a fairly controversial patent, which would allow the cameras in their devices to be turned on and off at will by external forces. In theory, this would allow locations and venues that have “No photography” zones to enforce this rule more passively.
Aimed presumably at concerts, cinemas, museums, private company areas and the like, it comes across a feature for good. To help protect one’s rights and intellectual property. On the flipside, however, people are worried that this technology could also be used to prevent freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Adele might disagree with this one, but a team of researchers at the American Psychological Association have published a study reporting that taking photographs of an experience can actually increase the enjoyment of that experience.
With several lab and field studies conducted, each of the over 2,000 participants were either banned from using or allowed to use a camera while on safari, at a concert, museum or restaurant.
Concert photography is a community within itself, where you often end up seeing some of the same photographers at many events. Though most photographers may often work solo, you can create an environment of mutual respect that benefits everyone.
Remember the massive outcry when Taylor Swift’s terrible concert photography contracts were published? Apparently Janet Jackson doesn’t, or she just really doesn’t care.
Earlier today PetaPixel were sent a copy of the contract photographer’s have to sign if they wish to take photos at Jackson’s 2015 world tour, and it ain’t pretty.
“I have seen a lot of crazy contracts come my way, but this one is beyond ridiculous”, said the photographer, who chose to remain anonymous.
The last couple of weeks, the matter of photo contracts once again has been debated. First came Jason Sheldon’s blog post, calling Taylor Swift out on her hypocrisy when attacking Apple for demanding musicians give away their music for free while doing the exact same thing to concert photographers in her photo contracts. If you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware of that whole ordeal, so there’s no need to get into it further other than to say that I fully support Sheldon’s views.
His post made some waves, the latest being The Washington City Paper refusing to sign Foo Fighters infamous contract. Honorable as it may be, as pointed out by Kevin Bergin, their way of solving the problem, will make matters even worse for concert photographers. Petapixel’s Michael Zhang calls the decision a brewing revolution in the world of concert photography, but, I’m not so sure. Right now, it’s “viral”, so there is an immediate payoff, but, as soon as the story fades, so does the will to make change among the decision makers. After all, this is not the first time we’ve seen an “internet riot” against photo contracts, and yet, they are breeding. Well… except in Norway, but I’ll get back to that.