Who doesn’t love a good concert, right? Considering how concerts are finally taking place after nearly three years of being on a pause, it certainly is a good time for everyone who is looking to enjoy. Now, the good news is that enjoying concerts has become a lot easier but you know what’s even more fun? The ability to not just attend your favorite musicians but also take pictures, and that too, on a professional scale.
However, if you are new to this, then you might want to know a little about the best camera settings that you should know about because we believe that this is going to help you take your photography to the next level. That is why, we are going to explore the best camera settings for concert photography in this article, so let’s not waste more time and have a look, shall we?
How to Shoot Concerts – The Perfect Tips
Now, I will be honest, one can easily go on a tangent and talk about all the things you need to do before you successfully shoot a concert. However, I am going to walk you through some really important tips that are going to stick with you throughout the entirety if your experience and you will come out on top in no time.
First, I am going to share some tips with you and then we will move forward to the ideal settings that are just as important. So, let’s not waste time and have a look, shall we?
1- Don’t Fear the Dark
I know there is a famous Iron Maiden song that says, “Fear of the Dark” but when you are talking about concert photography, you really do not need to fear the dark. Regardless of the scale of the concert you are covering, there is always a chance that it is going to be dark in the venue, and you are going to need to get a higher ISO.
Thankfully, modern cameras are great when it comes to higher ISO, so you should not be afraid of going at a higher number like 1,600 or event beyond. Plus, remember, there are going to be moments when the stage will be filled with light and you must always keep in mind that it is better to use those moments and take the perfect shot.
2- Seize the Moment
Now, anyone can go to a concert and just start taking pictures and they might even manage to put a good price on those pictures but that is not it, is it? There are perfectionists who want to be sure that whenever they are at a concert trying to take pictures, they are doing it in the best way possible.
If you want the best possible shot, then I would highly advise that you are only seizing the moment and capturing the most memorable shots happening at the concert because those are the images that are going to tell the story and nothing else.
3- Never Leave the Artist Out
Considering how you are going to get the chance to get up close and personal, there are moments when you can really nail the images you are taking and I would not suggest that you are going ahead and taking random shots because you will have a lot of moments that you can easily work towards.
Look at the expressions of the artist, what exactly are they looking like, what are the thoughts that are evident from their expression. These things combined, matter a lot more than one might think and can result in some brilliant shots, with ease.
The same goes for the audience because if you are really trying to capture the emotions, then you should go ahead and take pictures of the audience and see what the music is making them feel. You will be able to freeze that moment in time if you manage to take the perfect shot.
4- Try Avoiding Flash the Best You Can
I do understand that in such situations, flash sounds like something that is paramount but you might want to go ahead and avoid using it. Why? Well, for the simplest reason that flash can hinder your experience and it can easily distract the artist, too.
Now, this is not something that is for every photographer as some of them have developed their techniques, but if you are just starting out, then I would highly advise that you are avoiding the use of flash altogether because it could potentially ruin your photography experience.
Another thing is that if you are shooting with flash and there is a lot of smoke in the vicinity then simply take off the flash because I am telling you right here that it is not going to work the way you want it to work and you would be wasting your time at that.
5- Being at the Right Place at Right Time
Another thing that you must understand is that it is better that you are being at the right place at the right time as it will help infinitely more than not being at the right place at the right time. This means that you should know what the artist is up to or about to do. This is something that you will not be able to master right away but as you attend and cover more and more concerts, you start realizing more about these moments and how they pan out.
Remember, you will be overwhelmed in the beginning and going forward, you will have a much better understanding of what needs to be done and what needs to be avoided.
What are the Best Camera Settings for Concert Photography?
Now that I am done sharing all the crucial tips with you regarding concert photography. The net thing that I am going to shed light is going to talk about the different settings that you should use when it comes to concert photography so you can get the perfect shots without having to go through any issues.
So, let’s not waste time and start having a look.
1- Starting with Manual Mode
I am not going to start with the obvious and the suggestion here is that you should always put your camera in manual mode because that is going to help you a lot more than you might think, in the first place. I do understand that it might be complicated for a lot of people but putting your camera in manual mode will allow you full control over every single setting that there is in the camera. This is for the perfect control of photography and the results are always amazing, to say the least.
If you are thinking about ISO and concert photography, then the chances are that you will have to go higher with the ISO rather than going for lower ISO. ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor to light and higher ISO means higher sensitivity, meaning brighter pictures. However, since all of this is done digitally, this means that higher ISO normally results in digital noise that is never really a good thing for anyone, in the first place.
Similarly, lower ISO means darker images. For concert photography, you will need to take the ISO to a higher level so you can get the images that you are capture. For older cameras, you can easily get good shots at 1,600 ISO. But modern-day cameras can go even higher than 3,000 ISO, which is always a good thing and will result in the proper experience.
3- Shutter Speed
Now, it is safe to say that everyone who owns a camera knows what a shutter speed is, but if you are still under the unaware of it, then I am going to make things easier for you by telling you what it actually is. Shutter speed simply refers to just how fast the shutter actuates or how fast the shutter curtain opens or closes.
Faster shutter speed would result in a faster opening, and a slower shutter speed would result in a slower opening.
Now, considering how we are talking about concert photography, you have to keep your shutter speed higher because you want to capture action as it is happening rather than the opposite. I would suggest that you are using 1/250th of a second or even 1/500th of a second if you can. These shutter speeds will allow you for the perfect experience.
Another thing that you should be aware of is that you are going to need to set the right aperture so you can deliver the perfect shots and that too, with ease. Now, aperture refers to the lens opening, the wider the aperture (smaller number) the bigger the opening will be and the narrower the aperture (larger number), the smaller the opening is going to be, allowing less light.
For concerts, I would suggest that you are using a wider aperture, anything starting from f/2.8 and lower. Why? Well, you will be in a situation where the lighting will not be ideal, and therefore, you would need as much light coming through your aperture as possible to get the best shots.
5- Always Take RAW Photos
Moving forward, another suggestion that I have is that you should only and only take RAW photos if you are at a concert. Almost all the modern cameras you have in the market are going to ship with the option to shoot both at the same time and you can opt for that but if you are talking about final delivery of pictures, that should only be done once they are processed through Lightroom, Photoshop, or your preferred software.
The benefit of taking RAW photos is that you get to edit it the way you want to and that too, with ease. I do understand that you might not want to edit but if you are looking to make your pictures look even better then editing them is a no brainer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Concerts can be a lot of fun, to be honest. There are a lot of things that can go wrong but if you are doing it the right way, you would be able to handle everything with ease. However, one must always know that when you are taking part in a concert as a photographer, you will have to be there as a photographer first and a spectator later.
Simply put, if you have been trying to make sense of concert photography and you want to be sure that you are good at it, then this entire guide ensures that you know everything there is to know about concert photography so things don’t go wrong.
We have added almost everything that needs to be followed as a photographer, so things can keep working your way.
Rest assured, these tips are more than enough for you to get good at concert photography. Always know that this is a process and it takes time to get better.
Hi! I’m Furqan Shahid, founder of SnapDirector. With a decade of experience capturing countless moments, I’m here to guide you on your photography journey and save you from gear pitfalls!