One of my favorite things about concert photography also happens to be the most challenging part of it when you’re at the venue, and that’s on how you can challenge yourself to do better as a photographer. One of the slight annoyances in my life is that my photos tend to all look the same: same angles, same lens used, same poses, etc. Not to say it’s completely wrong to have those types of pictures, but how will you grow and improve as a photographer if you don’t go outside of your comfort zone?
One of my biggest weaknesses are acoustic sets. It’s near impossible for me to take really good acoustic set pictures because everything on stage is so simple and full of wires everywhere. It’s different from when you’re taking a full concert picture where the stage lights and such are cued, or there’s less wiring because the band moves around… therefore it’s practically impossible for me to take a picture of an acoustic set with all of the wires hanging around and lack of movement. Because of this, I hope to book more gigs that are acoustic sets so that I can learn what works best and improve on it.
Every concert is different. I recently went to a show that used nothing but red and purple lights… No matter what I did, there was no way to get the real color from the band to come back from those lights. On top of that, the stage itself was really dark, so a lot of my pictures came out vignette-like. Even though this was really frustrating during the editing process, I went a bit creative and used double exposure techniques and textures to liven up the pictures. Sometimes, doing this makes all the difference.
As a rule of thumb, I like to think that every concert you walk into is completely different and you have to learn it as you go. You may attend the same venue two or three times a week, but cues and stage props (if applicable) will always change; musicians have different movements and styles that make you re-learn what the best shots to take are, etc. and sometimes, the energy from the audience can be so captivating that you’re compelled to figure out how to take the best shot to capture that moment. Whatever the case may be, always think about how you can improve on your next gig – what’s the one thing you can do differently, and how it will affect your work.