Hey all, I’ve been shooting a ton of live music and festivals lately and I thought I’d share a few tips from the pit. I've still got a TON to learn, but here's a quick shot of. You love lists, right?
1. When shooting an event that runs all day keep an eye on your settings. Weather and light conditions change all the time.
2. Keep your shutter speed fast if you want to freeze the action. The minimum shutter speed you should be using is equal to your lens size. In other words, if you're using a 50mm lens you should keep your shutter speed at 1/50 or above. For live events I like to more than double it, somewhere around 1/125. Using a 200mm lens I'll start around 1/400 of a second.
3. Shoot wire open. When it gets dark shoot using the lowest aperture your lens has. The lenses I was using were at f/2.8, which work great for a well lit event. For smaller clubs I use a 50mm that goes as low as f/1.8.
4. Don't be afraid of high ISO. When you're shooting a band in low light don't be afraid to bump up the ISO to get the shot.
5. 3 songs or 15 minutes. That's typically how much time you'll get to shoot each band. Even if I get more time I usually just stop and enjoy the show.
6. Shoot pictures of the crowd. Sometimes they're way more entertaining than the band.
7. Be considerate of the other photographers that are covering the show. You wouldn't believe what I've seen in the photo pit at live shows in the last year. Giant tripods, guys crawling on stage, GoPros on sticks in the singer's face... be nice, grab a few shots from your location and then let the next person get in there.
8. Clothes. If you're shooting an outdoor festival wear comfortable shoes and bring some rain gear if it's in the forecast.
9. Network! Bring business cards (if you've got 'em) and meet all the other photographers there. I've made some good friends from the local group and contacts with some of the national folks.
10. Follow up. After shooting the show, contact the PR rep that approved you and send them links to any photos or articles that ran with your images. I take it a step farther and send a note to the band I shot and share the images with them. Sometimes they'll share them with their fans and you'll get some more exposure.
If anyone would like to get out and shoot a band or a festival that's coming up let me know and if you'd like some pointers I'd love to share what I know!