Low Light Concert Photography Tips

Live music pumps energy into you. As a photographer, if you’re able to capture that energy level and sense of excitement, then you’ll do justice to the performers. But concert photography is no walk in the park. The low lighting and other factors can make it really challenging to take any decent images. To help you get started with concert photography, the team from Mango Street has put together this informative video:

Getting to the Gig

You will require a photo pass in order to be able to take your camera with you to a concert. To get a pass, try to become a contributor to an online music site or a news publication.

 

“Just email the publication and ask them to become a contributing photographer. Make sure to include a link to your portfolio.”

If you’re not a contributor, reach out to the band or their management via email. The response rate may vary but do offer them some free photos that they can use later on social media.

“Smaller and upcoming bands are usually grateful to have photos of the set so it’s a win-win kind of situation.”

However, if you’re visiting smaller venues, they might just allow anyone to bring their camera along. You can use this as a platform to practice your concert photography.

Shooting the Gig

“Concert photography is one of those instances where your gear can make or break your photos.”

We don’t say this very often but it’s true to some extent for concert photography. The action that happens amidst the ever-changing lighting conditions is a challenge. Since concerts have low available light, have a camera with you that has good low light and high ISO performance. Also, use lenses with wide apertures, as they let in more light.

wide aperture lenses for concert photography

As the performers will be moving most of the time, decide on the shutter speed to avoid motion blur. Start at around 1/250 second and adjust as required.

Also, have an understanding of your camera’s ISO performance beforehand. Knowing the upper limit at which your camera can deliver workable results will allow you to bump up the ISO without worrying much.

Since the subject will be moving around a lot, have your camera to continuously track them by using the continuous autofocus.

Varied Shots

“For shows with a photo pit, you typically get to shoot the first three songs of the band while in the pit. Use the time to shoot some wide-angle shots while close to the action which can really add some feeling and emotion to the photos.”

When in the photo pit, make sure that you move around and shoot all the members of the band from varied angles. Acknowledge the presence of other photographers and be courteous to them. Also, since the drummer is the hardest member of the band to photograph, make use of the time in the photo pit to get a good angle.

expression and mood in concert photography

After you’re out of the photo pit, capture the environment around the concert venue. Shoot from the back and photograph the stage and the crowd. With your images, try to convey the mood around the stage, and make the viewers know how it felt being there.

concert venue photograph with crowd

Editing Concert Photography

When editing your concert images, you might find it difficult to balance the colors due to the stage lights. Instead of trying too hard, go with the flow and embrace the colors that you captured on stage. This will also help you portray how it really felt being there.

colorful lighting in concert stage

“You can also use more extreme white balance adjustments if you do want to change the vibe.”

If you’re looking forward to getting started with concert photography, these tips will help you out. And if you have any other tips for concert photos, we’d love to hear from you!

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