How to use speedlights when shooting live music performances

Oct 15, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to use speedlights when shooting live music performances

Oct 15, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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There seems to be a popular conception out there that you don’t use flash under any circumstances during musical performances. While good manners and etiquette might suggest that this should be the default position to take when not told otherwise, there are times when flash is allowed and can bring you some fantastic results that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to achieve.

Like, if you’re there specifically to photograph the band. But how do you use the lights? How do you know where to put them for a live event when you don’t know what your subject’s going to do and where they’re going to do it? Well, this video from professional music photographer Todd Owyoung via Creative Live is going to tell and show you how.

For most of us, especially if it’s not something we do often, our first instinct might be to simply pop a speedlight on the hotshoe and call it a day. But as Todd explains and demonstrates through the photographs he shows, there is so much more you can do with lighting for a live performance.

Todd shows us how we can place our lights in advance to anticipate what might happen, where we can put them so that they’ll look good in every shot, little signatures that’ll make your images pop. And if you’ve got multiple speedlights set on different groups, you can always enable and disable them on the fly as you and your subject move. So, don’t think you have to get placement perfect for every light before you even start.

The slightly longer-than-seven-and-a-half-minute video covers a lot of ground when it comes to lighting up a stage. When you might want to assist, augment and balance with the house lights and when you might want to overpower them and light your shot completely with speedlights.

The idea of photographing bands performing live always intrigued me and it looks like a whole heck of a lot of fun. And as unlikely as it may be, if I ever get the opportunity to do so, I’ll definitely be taking a few speedlights along!

Do you shoot bands performing with flash?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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2 responses to “How to use speedlights when shooting live music performances”

  1. Your mamma Avatar
    Your mamma

    I’ve been shooting live shows for many many years!!! You! Shouldn’t ever use a strobe or speed light… ever

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Except when you should :)