Be respectful of the event.
When you photograph a concert, you’re there to do a job. “I personally try and stay out the fans’ way, or I’ll get down, so fans can see what they came for,” says Brad. Be aware of the people who purchased a ticket and are there to enjoy the show, so you can make sure you don’t block their view. And in smaller, more intimate shows, be mindful of the clicking sound of your camera.
Additionally, be respectful of the performers. “When you’re there, you’re being trusted to be close to the artist. You don’t want to abuse that privilege. If the artist is right in front of you, don’t reach up and grab them,” says Tepsic. Also don’t distract the artist. Turn off the orange focusing light and the flash on your camera, and don’t sneak additional photos after the first three songs are finished. If you do break the rules, you risk losing access and the chance to shoot at that venue in the future.
Be mindful of the other people working the concert. Make room for other photographers, and don’t spend all three songs in the best place in the photo pit. “I stay out of people’s way as much as possible, so I always remain conscious of that,” says Brad. “Another good practice is to always be nice. Over the years I’ve even made friends with security guards that are in the pit.” Everyone working the show has a job to do, and over time you’ll get to know the people behind the scenes.
Take it into post-production.
When it’s time to edit your photos, you can take a journalistic or artistic approach. From a journalistic standpoint, keep photos in their truest form and enhance them only subtly. From a creative standpoint, it’s okay to use Adobe Photoshop to cut out distracting objects, such as a fan’s hand or a mic cord in the frame.
“I do a lot of work in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. And I’d say for concert photography, specifically, 90% of my post-processing work is done in Lightroom,” says Tepsic. Whether you adjust contrast, apply a custom preset, or improve the brightness of an image, subtle adjustments can help you elevate your photos.
“I don’t do too much editing with my photos because it’s journalism. I want to always keep the feel of the show,” says Brad. When you decide how much editing to do, just consider your client and their needs. If a publication paid you to take photos, make sure you know what kind of images they expect to receive. If they want clear-cut journalism, you should edit with a light touch. If it’s for an editorial piece, you may have more room to play creatively.
Concert photography is an exciting way to improve your skills and build an interesting portfolio. Plus, you get to enjoy some wonderful music along the way. So whether you shoot in small, intimate clubs or inside enormous stadiums, just stay in the moment and focus on the energy of the performance.