Shooting Live Music
A week ago I picked up a gig shooting a AAA Concerts live show for HarvestBloom and wanted to share a few things, including the photos of course. I wanted to lead with how much I LOVE shooting live concerts and the thrill I get out of it. If I were to hit the lotto and could quit my job, I think I would become a freelance music photographer. I have shot a fair amount of bands and musicians in the past few years and I have learned a lot about the craft and how to approach the subject.
The first and most important thing to remember is that there is no show that is too small. Now I mean this in a few ways. The first is that you never know where some of these acts will show up. I treat all musicians the same and that is that, I shoot everyone like that are a rockstar. The second part of this has to do with venues. Not everyone plays arenas or even in clubs. No matter the location you want to make sure to make it look like they are playing a great gig and venue. Bands will love you for it, trust me, no one wants to look like they are playing some dive with no crowd.
Which leads to the next key, make sure to get crowd shots if there is a large crowd and if not, focus on the stage and don’t make it look like no one showed up. This all falls under the approach that the photos being taken can be used for self promotion and even while tring to get contracts. It is in your best interest to make the bands look as awesome and popular as possible. This is where never knowing where act could end up comes in handy.
One thing I also do as a habit is shooting whatever bands are playing that night. I am already there, I already have access to the stage and other parts of the venue, why not take advantage of it? This could also lead to more money or, more importantly, more gigs. Opening acts are also a great way to gauge lighting and locations for the main bands. Knowing where to be and how to set your camera ahead of time is all a part of being prepared. Some of this can be done before the show if you are there early but sometimes you won’t see the lighting setup until the show starts.
Lastly, and this is more of a health concern, always wear protection. Some of you may think im kidding, but im not. Always have earplugs with your photo gig. I keep a ton of them in my photo bag. Let me put it this way, even if its a christian rock show, have hearing protection. Yea, it might be a night of piano, OR it might be Flyleaf… you never know. Never under estimate a venue’s sound system.