Shooting a music festival can be a chaotic experience, especially if you’re not prepared. You need the right gear, the right planning, and above all, permission to even step into the arena. In this video, photographer Ruth Medjber shares some vital points that have helped her cover hundreds of festivals over a career spanning 15 years:
No amount of preparation and planning will let you through the gates unless you’ve secured your press accreditation with the organizers of the festival. If you don’t have a pass, you’ll be turned away—no exceptions!
The best option is to have a printed copy of the email confirmation on hand or to show the email correspondence on your phone to prove that you’re picking up a pass and that you have every right to be at the venue with your gear.
That brings us to the next important aspect: gear. Don’t be too choosy about which camera to take. Just use what you have. What you should do, however, is bring in a second body if you have one.
Spare batteries are essential. The last thing you want is to run out of juice just when the festival is getting warmed up.
Memory cards are as important as spare batteries. If you love to leave your camera on continuous high mode, you need as many memory cards as you can get. Make sure that the memory cards have a fast write speed.
Write speed can often mean the difference between getting the shot and the frustration of seeing something happening in front of your eyes and not being able to capture it because your camera is furiously trying to write the previous images to memory.
Medjber recommends taking your entire arsenal of lenses, just in case you have the need for any one in particular. Photographing a music festival involves photographing the performers, the musicians, the crowd, the food, the merchandise stands, and the arena.
So, you’ll be happy to have a telephoto lens, a wide angle lens, a macro lens, and, of course, a standard zoom lens.
Medjber uses a super wide Sigma for atmosphere shots, a Nikon 24–70mm for general shots while wandering around the festival grounds, and a 70–200mm for candid crowd shots from a distance.
She also uses the nifty-fifty for smaller stages with no light as well as for getting beautiful bokeh when working with food and merchandise.
Though pocket lights are not cleared for use inside the arena, they come in handy when you’re walking around the festival grounds at night looking for something interesting to shoot. Pack your triggers so that you can use them off-camera whenever you can.
Though not exactly a tool for making images, they’re vital for future business and branding.
Medjber recommends investing in a rain jacket for your camera. This ensures that your camera stays dry come rain or hail. Most pro bodies are weather sealed, but they are not 100 percent waterproof. You never quite know when the heavens are going to open up. You don’t want to be running for cover just when the main show starts.
Proper working boots, a rain jacket, hats—bring whatever you need to keep you dry and warm and in perfect working shape for the gruesome three or four days.
Not all media rooms have free laptops to use. And that means if you can’t send out images unless you bring what you need. So bring your laptop and everything that goes with it.
Other Things to Bring
Some other items to consider are ear plugs, lens wipes, silicon gels, a tripod (don’t use it in the pit), a camera holster, and even a tent.
What gear do you find useful for shooting music festivals?
Like This Article?
Don't Miss The Next One!
Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current: