Over the past couple of years, concert photography is one thing that has taken a massive jump as compared to what it used to be. Considering how concerts have become a norm, the idea of photographing concerts is there, too.
While it might seem like it is no different than your standard photography, you would be surprised to know that concert photography requires a different set of understanding and skills, that, innately, are linked to standard photography.
If you have been thinking about getting into concert photography because of your love for music and photography, and want to buy a new camera to get started, we have a list of the best cameras for concert photography that you can check out and since concerts around the world have started to open up again, this is a great time for anyone to get into photography and do it the way they want to.
We are going to break down some essentials for this guide that will help you get into concert photography with a lot more ease than you might think. I do understand that most people will tell you that music photography is not relevant enough but hey, once you get good at it, you will be amazing.,
How to Get Into Concert Photography
Now, the thing about concert photography is that getting into it is not going to be difficult. However, the one thing that you absolutely have to be sure about is the fact that if you are willing to go that road, you will need to have a proper understanding of concerts. Furthermore, you might also have to attend some less-than-pleasing concerts just so you can get your foot in the door.
Here, we are going to discuss some ways you can get into concert photography and then start progressing towards making it big with the best camera settings, it is not complicated, so let’s have a look.
I know this is something that not a lot of people have dreamed of because local shows are not often as good as the national or international ones but the best way to get your foot in the door is by going to local shows that are playing all around the city. Why? Well, most of the time, the bands that are playing there are independent, which means that there is a lot less organizational scrutiny. Additionally, the competition is not going to be a lot, there.
Not just that, a small and intimate show will also mean that you will be able to get some really good shots, and if you are capturing an independent band, there is a high chance that they would be thrilled to have you backstage and take some pictures up close and personal, maybe even some headshots of the artists that played that concert.
The point is, if you want to make it big, you cannot just skip the smaller shooting concerts, they are humble, and a great way to hone your art.
Try and Get a Photo Pass
Now, this is what happens on larger shows. If you are looking to get into those shows as a photographer, you are going to need a photo pass and it is important. Why? Well, you will be allowed to carry your camera but best of luck trying to use that in the middle of the crowd, as it never really works out the way one would hope.
Having a photo pass will give you access and privileges as a photographer, and you can even go for an easy move toward the artists, as well as the photo pit, which serves as a great spot for taking photos.
Now, speaking of photo passes, it will be much easier to get one if you work for some publications. However, independent photographers who are good at their art and known on various platforms can often snag one, too.
Going to a Publication
I know this is something not many concert photographers want to do but in most cases, you will have to go through that and let me tell you why. You see, once you have started covering local shows in quantity and the quality of your work can be seen in your photographs, the best way to land a bigger concert is through a publication.
I do understand that working with a publication will come with a set of restrictions in the way, but honestly, if you are trying to make it big, it not really is a problem. As mentioned before, a publication photographer will have a higher chance of getting photo passes.
Transitioning to Independent Concert Photography
Once you have worked at a publication for some time, you can then decide to go independent because by that time, you will have established yourself as an accomplished concert photographer, and your name will also be renowned.
Most photographers I know work at multiple publications before going independent, this just gives way more credibility to their name and makes it incredibly easier for them to land larger concerts.
Publishing Your Photos
I don’t think this should come as a surprise to anyone but if you are looking to make big as a concert photographer, you need to start posting your pictures online as well. The reason behind that is rather simple, if you are not posting your pictures, you will not be known.
What’s even better is that you should always, always tag the bands that you are covering. Why? Well, they will most probably share the images with your name on them, and from there, it is simple psychology.
Additionally, make sure that you have at least one account dedicated to photography, where you are just posting the gigs that you are covering. Why? Well, rather than using your personal account to post all these pictures, taking it on a dedicated account is a better way, where people can get a glimpse of your work rather than your personal life.
Instagram is a great way to get started and you can even find some other photo-sharing sites like Flickr. The point is, that you need to have your great concert photos everywhere, even if they are barely getting any likes. Good work is something that people will search for rather than you searching for people to show that work.
Always Copyright Your Images
I have only covered a number of gigs before I decided to take a step back and photograph some other aspects of life but one thing that I learned is that you should ALWAYS copyright your great images. Why? Well, good photography is something that will sell like hot cake and if your photos are going viral without any copyright on them, you can kiss them goodbye as they will be all over the internet.
You can go ahead and get your photos licensed, that will ensure that you have the rights to the image and it is indeed protected. You can even start selling massive prints of some really great shots, as a lot of photographers are already doing that.
How Much Does a Concert Photographer Earn?
While I know so many photographers who do it for their passion, a lot of people do it for the money. If you have ever wondered about the concert photography salary, then the top earners can go as high as $64,000 annually, and around $5,333 monthly. However, this can vary based on the countries, states, and even cities. Not just that, working with and without publications also has an impact.
However, if you indeed are a concert photographer and you are covering gigs by a dozen, expect to make a decent earning.
Do You Need a Concert Photography Course?
Most photographers I know, including myself did not go through any formal training to become a photographer. We simply decided to pick up the camera out of sheer curiosity and got started. However, if you are looking for a concert photography course, you would be glad to know that there are some really good courses available that you can try.
You can check them below.
Both of these courses are among the most comprehensive for anyone who is looking to get into concert photography and needs a leading hand that will tell them the nooks and crannies of such courses. I can guarantee that it will not be a problem for you. You can even go ahead and check this video for some amazing concert photography tips.
What Lens Do You Need?
Now, when it comes to concert photography, having a good lens is important. Instead of listing down the lenses that you should get, I’m going to list down some characteristics that a concert photography lens must have. This will make it infinitely easier for all photographers using various lens mounts to buy the right lens.
- Large Maximum Aperture:
Unless you are looking at an outdoor live music festival, it is better to have a large aperture on your lens. How large we are talking about? I’d say you should have the aperture anywhere ranging from f/1.2 to f/2.8, just so the lens can have more light entering it.
- Good Autofocus:
I highly doubt that you would be shitting a concert with a manual focus lens because that would be a great mistake. A good concert photography lens needs to have a really good and fast autofocus that can easily capture the best shots that you are trying to get.
- A Good Telephoto/Zoom Range:
Sure, prime lenses are fantastic but they are not as good for concert photography, especially because you are more than likely to be moving around a lot. Therefore, having a good telephoto or zoom range on a lens is always recommended.
- Image Stabilization:
Most modern cameras do come with image stabilization that allows you to get some really nice and stable shots. However, if your lens also has image stabilization then that is just an added benefit because you will be able to get much better shots overall, and that too, without any issues.
- A Durable and Weather-Sealed Body:
This is mostly for outdoor photography where the weather can get a bit unpredictable. However, durability, at least in my opinion, is a must in concert photography. Why? Well, concerts can be chaotic, with a lot of people bumping into each other, and even though you would be in a separate area, it still does not hurt to invest in a lens that has a durable construction with weather sealing, so you can be confident knowing that your lens is not going to break or get damaged.
Best Tips and Settings for Concert Photography
Although concert photography is not difficult, I am still going to mention some handy tips that you can always use for the best results.
- Use Manual mode.
- Keep the aperture wide open.
- A faster shutter speed is the key.
- Use a high ISO (if your camera allows for it)
- Use spot metering.
- Always shoot RAW.
- No flash, please.
These are some tips and settings that almost every photographer would suggest you use, and the best part is that you can actually use these tips in other instances as well, instances that do not revolve around concert photography.
Frequently Asked Questions
Concert photography, when done right, is a lot of fun. Especially when you are actually enjoying the concert and the photography, itself. The process can almost be therapeutic and cathartic if you know what you are doing. However, most people get overwhelmed at the though of it.
That is why this entire guide is dedicated to anyone who wants to get started in concert photography and make a name for themselves.
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!