Tips for better live music photos
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shooting live music. Depending on the genre of music, the size of the venue, the quality of the house lighting, the rowdiness of the crowd and any photographic regulations imposed by the band or venue, your approach to getting the shot can vary greatly.
It is for all these reasons I find live music photography irresistible; no matter how much you prep, you simply never know what the rock and roll gods will throw at you. And the combination of difficult lighting, fast moving musicians and a mass of people competing for sight lines makes getting the shot all that more sweet. Especially when your shot conveys the pure, unfiltered energy of a live performance.
I've been shooting live for about seven years, in both stadiums and basements, dive bars and dance halls (I currently run a site called NWSoundExchange.com, which seeks to visualize Seattle's DIY music culture), and I've picked up on some general tips and principles that help me feel a little more prepared each time I walk into a new venue. Some of these tips come from advice given to me by more seasoned music photographers I've bumped into over the years, like Mick Rock, others come from shooting hundreds of shows and learning from my own mistakes.
Of course, these tips alone won't guarantee you the next cover of Rolling Stone. After all, excelling at live music photography requires on-the-fly thinking and problem solving, creativity, as well a mastery of photographic principles. But hopefully these tips will at the very least inspire you to bring a camera long to the next concert you attend.
By the way, the most important tip of all for shooting rock and roll is this: showing up with your camera to the show is half the battle. If you can make it that far, well, the rest should be pretty easy.
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from A big year - birds 2019
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