Learn From Your Mistakes

Last month my friend called to say she won tickets to a local Jingle Ball concert. It wasn’t the huge one held in New York City, but she told me that she was still going to be able to see live performances by Pitbull, Demi Lovato and The Script.

Long story short, she and her husband went, danced and snapped a bunch of photos with their smartphones. I don’t even know if it was legal for them to take pictures of the acts, but at this point it doesn’t matter because none of the images were worth displaying—-in a frame, on Facebook, or otherwise.

When she called to spill the details about the concert and share her dismal photos, I chuckled a little because I know how difficult it is to snap decent pictures of a live band performing on stage in a dark venue. Fifteen years ago I tried taking pictures of U2 in concert at dusk from the sixth row of a football stadium and learned that it is nearly impossible to walk away with anything besides blurry, underexposed, worthless shots.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t capture memorable shots of bands in concert. If you have permission, a good vantage point, a high-quality camera, and some photo skills, there is a very good chance you can snap stellar concert pics.

Camera: Don’t bother trying to take concert photos with a compact point-and-shoot camera. The obscenely long shutter-lag, poor zoom and lousy focus features will do you in. Rather, you are better off using a digital SLR camera which can compensate for poor lighting conditions.

Lighting: Lighting or lack thereof is a huge issue when taking concert photos. Most musicians shroud the stage in darkness and only use spotlights to illuminate select artists when they deem fit. This type of lighting does not typically yield frame worthy shots.

Skill: In order to capture exceptional concert photos you will need to use your photo skills. For starters you will have to compensate for unpredictable lighting by using a higher ISO. You will also need to experiment with different angles. For example, rather than snapping a ton of medium shots of the lead singer jumping around the stage, consider taking a close-up shot of the drummer’s hands or sticks. Or, backlight the guitarist as he strums his instrument.

Related Articles:

Shooting the Perfect Portrait

Telling A Story With Your Shots

Natural Framing

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.