Enjoy Very Long Exposures With Will Cheung And MPB

The Difficulties Of Concert Photography From The Crowd

Giorgina Parker talks about the difficulties with taking pictures at concerts and some tips on how to get round them.

| General Photography

Going to concerts is now a regular event with people of all ages attending. Taking photos of your favourite bands and artists performing has therefore become increasingly popular. However, in a packed arena or hall, taking good pictures is not as easy as first thought as there are many difficulties that can occur. Here are just some of the difficulties when taking pictures at a concert and hopefully some useful tips to avoid these happening to you when taking a picture.

If you are not one of the lucky few sitting or standing right at the front, one of the biggest problem that occurs regularly is other people's heads in the way of the photo you are about to take, or if it is not their head then another part of their body such as an arm. After a while, this can become increasingly annoying. Another difficulty that is similar to this is someone in front of you holding up a banner that obstructs your view and can ruin a perfectly good photo. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do apart from adjusting your position or politely ask them to move the banner while you take your shots. You could also try taking a shot at a quieter time such as during an acoustic set or when the musician / singer is talking to the crowd. Another way people unfortunately draw attention to people's heads is by using flash. Many think this will help illuminate the low light venue they're in when really, all it does is light up the row of heads in front of them. This is because the flash isn't strong enough so really, you're better off just switching it off, plus it can be annoying for others around you any way.  

At concerts it is obvious people will be moving around and dancing whether it is a standing or seated gig so it is to be expected that someone will knock into you whilst you are there. Unfortunately, if this happens when you are taking a photo it tends to spoil it, but it's not worth getting annoyed about, just re-take the shot. Due to how you'll be knocked around, it's worth fastening a wrist strap to your camera so it's not knocked to the floor in the crush. If your camera has a neck strap secured to it remember to remove it before the gig as if you put the camera around your neck, chances are it'll get pulled and tugged when standing in a crowd which could result in injury. 

The Difficulties Of Concert Photography From The Crowd:


Whilst at concerts a lot of the reasons why taking a photo is so difficult is due to what's happening on the stage. One of these elements is the lighting effects and for some cameras, the lighting effects on the stage can cause some tricky exposure problems. When acts have particularly bright lights, coloured lights or even a dark set, some cameras won't cope well with the lighting extremes and as a result, your images won't be that great. However, by experimenting with your camera's modes and settings, you should produce better results. If you can, over ride the automatic settings for more control. Using a higher ISO in darker venues will help reduce the effects of camera shake. When in larger venues, selecting a small aperture and working with low ISOs in situations where bright lights are a problem should help you achieve the shutter speeds you need to produce a sharp shot. Plus, there's always the option to just enjoy a few songs and wait for the house lights or another even light source to illuminate the stage so you can snap a few memorable shots in lighting conditions that are much easier to work with.  Many concerts today have sets and special effects, such as fire / fireworks and smoke, and whilst these are visually really good, some of these special effects can make taking photos difficult, too. You may be tempted to use flash, but this will just light up the smoke and hide the band behind it, plus it's really annoying and some venues don't allow it any way. 

Another problem you'll face is the amount of items the act has on stage that block your view or could potentially distract the viewer. Unfortunately, you can't just ask them to move a mic stand to the left a little but there are several other options to pick from. You can either move your own position, which is often easier said than done at gigs, wait to see if the object is moved, take pictures of other members of the act or wait for the band member to move away from the obstruction. You could also try using your zoom to remove the cable or whatever object you don't want in the shot by excluding it from the frame. 

If the act you have gone to see is particularly active on stage and move around a lot, this can sometimes make a photo blurry or make it difficult for the camera to focus. If this is the case, wait until the person is stood still or switch to a mode which allows your camera to use quicker shutter speeds. Manually controlling your camera so you can set it to its maximum aperture and a low ISO will give you a suitable shutter speed that successfully captures an image of the stage action under the difficult conditions. Autofocus may struggle, but it will be generally more reliable than trying to manually focus on a subject who doesn't stay still for very long in low light conditions. 

Whilst many people still take their cameras to concerts, with the increasing number of smart phones having high specification cameras, many just take their phone. Sometimes when taking a photo on your phone, zooming in too close can give you poor results due to the digital zoom. To fix this, either try and get closer if it is possible or just take wider shots of the stage as these can look just as good and will produce sharper results when using a camera phone. 

Whilst taking photos at a concert can be problematic, there are some easy solutions to improve your ability to improve the quality of your photos. However, if these don’t work for you because of where you are sat or stood don’t worry; you're there to enjoy yourself after all! 

Article by Giorgina Parker

Photo by Gary Wolstenholme


MPB Start Shopping

Support this site by purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK, MPB. It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.


Other articles you might find interesting...

5 Cold Weather Photography Tips
5 Easy Ways To Make Shots More Interesting
Get Creative With Apertures
Wide Angle Photography Hints And Tips
Photograph Artificial Poppies On and Around Remembrance Day
Autumn Photography Walk Advice
Seven Tutorials On Capturing Motion And Movement
Take A Composition Challenge


bohdan Avatar
bohdan 9 6 United Kingdom
24 Oct 2014 9:22PM
In this article, Giorgina mentions the use of a higher ISO? Giorgina Parker, does not state in her article to the readers that if you use a higher ISO, your image will be effected by Noise or (Grainer in film terms). Their is way to resolve this, and that is to use a very good camera and lens (either Canon or Nikon) one preferably with a wide aperture ie F2.8. This, in turn will help to reduce the ISO level, and in turn produce a good photograph.

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.