A Subjective Guide to Music Photography

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A Subjective Guide to Music Photography

I always think of the photography art in street photography terms. Planned and posed photoshoots are not my cup of tea. Following my personal philosophy of art and life, I’m trying to catch and enjoy particular moments. With photography, I feel that I can cherish a moment’s uniqueness even more and share it with others.

Music photography is especially magical and has an incredibly powerful spirit. There are not many situations where people are that comfortable with their emotions, consumed with energy and don’t care what they look like. Honest smiles, faces twisted in screams, tears not held backā€¦ Is there anything more candid?

How should I begin?

Usually, I would say — Take your camera for a walk and keep shooting, for God’s sake! But with concert photography, things are a bit different, more difficult even. Throwing yourself with the camera in the crowd on The Kiss show is not necessarily the best idea. And, for sure, not a very effective photography exercise. Aiming too high from the very beginning brings nothing but frustration. Take it easy — analyze, exercise and learn this specific kind of photography step by step — e.g., with online photography classes.

Does my photography gear play a crucial role?

Music photography is a rather demanding area when it comes to the choice of cameras and lenses. Being at a big concert you must have seen photographers with two camera bodies hanging on straps on their necks, and huge lenses. They probably are pros that after years of hard work could finally afford that expensive professional equipment.

Such an advanced photography gear would actually be a waste in an unexperienced rookie’s hands. A basic DSLR camera with a prime lens will be just fine to practice getting the right combination of shutter speed and f-stop in a given moment and freeze the right moment properly (I avoid using the word ‘perfectly’!).

After some time of exercising (a month, or half a year — depends on how intensively you spend your time shooting) you can decide if you’re passionate and determined enough to invest in lenses with different focal lengths and a better DSLR camera. Just remember — step by step. Better gear won’t make you a better music photographer.

The Low Light Issue

I know, in every possible photography article you can read about the role of lighting and exposure time, and that concerts usually mean low light and, what follows, longer exposure time or using flash. Obvious and boring. But how can you actually deal with the issue and use it for art’s sake, and how to prepare yourself for work in the dark, hectic circumstances?

Shooting at dark events is quite a challenge especially that speedlight can be awfully intrusive if used improperly. Regardless of what kind of flash you have (hot shoe, LED ring or a built-in flash) you can provide it with various diffusers.

Flash diffuser makes the sudden glare less aggressive and indirect. With the diffuser, you can even change the color of the light. There are many diffuser variants accessible on the market — clip-on covers, rubber adapters, small softboxes or more and more popular color gels you stick on the lamp directly.

Quit Hiding and Go Exercise

In the paragraph above, I mentioned the process of preparing yourself for the whole new photography experience. Here’s how I managed to achieve further levels!

  • Make Friends with a Local Theatre

Many theatres offer volunteer work opportunities with different benefits such as free tickets for their plays or even permission to enter dress rehearsals. The possibility of attending dress rehearsals appeared to be a wonderful opportunity for me to practice photographing shows. If there are no theatre volunteers needed in your area, don’t be afraid to ask them if they would let you shoot their rehearsals from time to time. In exchange, you could offer them your photographs for free.

  • Look for Musicians in Your Community

Your friends’ connections, local school bands, and bars where maybe you already are a regular are an excellent source of getting in touch with not popular but active musicians. There’s a great possibility that they would let you photograph their shows or rehearsals. Shooting a small, intimate, not crowded concert at a bar with dim lighting is a super effective photography exercise.

The Final Tip

Let your boundaries go! Looking excuses in your shy and withdrawn character won’t help you develop as an artist. Being outgoing and bold are qualities that you’re perfectly able to exercise in parallel with your music photography skills.

That’s why practising as often as possible and looking for different sources of photography experience is that important. It makes you more and more comfortable with your gear and you simply stop caring what other people think. Be brave and keep shooting!

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