Top Smartphone Festival Photography Tips From Erik Voake

Festival season is on the horizon and to make sure you don't miss a moment, we're here to help!

| General Photography

Top Smartphone Festival Photography Tips From Erik Voake : People at festival


Download Festival kicks off today and with so many other events lined-up for the Summer, we thought we'd share some festival photography tips with you. 

These particular tips come from photographer and Huawei ambassador Erik Voake so they're great for those who plan on taking their smartphone instead of a compact or indeed a tough camera along. 

Whatever events you're going to this weekend or over the next few weeks/month, have fun and don't forget to share your photos with us over in the gallery


1. Practice, Practice, Practice 

Get to know your smartphone and all the features it offers. It’s likely you’ll find tools that help you create a beautiful image you weren’t originally planning to capture, especially with all the cool filters. The more you practice, the faster the camera will become an extension of yourself. 


2. Keep The Lens Clean 

It sounds so obvious, but you’ll often be carrying your smartphone around in a pocket or in a bag and the lens can easily get dirty. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people ask me why their photos are blurry, only to look at their phone and see a giant fingerprint on the lens. Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you!


3. Don’t Stand Still

When you arrive at a musician's set, don’t stand in just one place! Move around through the crowd to capture different angles. Shoot some wide angles showing the stage, shoot some close up, go to the side of the stage (both sides) and capture as many angles as possible. As you move through the crowd you will almost always notice something you didn’t originally see and now you can capture that!


4. Flip It To Get It

As we are used to holding our smartphones vertically, it’s easy to forget that you can switch this up, depending on what frames the image best. You can hold your phone “upside down”, bringing the lens lower if you want to play with perspective. The fact your smartphone is small allows for more opportunity to discover new angles and perspectives… take advantage of it.


5. Avoid 'Mic Nose' Shots

What’s 'mic nose' you ask? Musicians will usually sing right into the mic, resulting in a portion of their face being covered, making their nose disappear. It’s tempting to run right to the front and centre of a crowd to try and get the best shot of a lead singer. But what good is a photo of a person where half their face is covered? My advice... stand to the side a bit so you can get a better profile, and when the artist steps back from the mic, wait for them to look around and snap a beautifully clear shot of their face with no equipment obstructing it. That way, you’ll get a much better shot. 


Top Smartphone Festival Photography Tips From Erik Voake : Festival

Photo by Joshua Waller


6. Light, Camera... Still Lights

At a festival, you’re at the mercy of whatever type of lighting the concert venue is providing. Prince was known for playing entire sets in the dark, there are artists who prefer moody red, pink and purple lighting for their sets. If you’re struggling with overexposure or an image being too dark, don’t fret - take the photos anyway and change them to black and white – or even better shoot in black and white, which can look amazing. 


7. The Golden Hour 

Nothing beats gorgeous sunlight. When the sun begins to set it creates a unique ‘golden’ light. Wherever you are, remember that as the sun goes down, your chances of getting that beautiful portrait or landscape shot only increase. Take advantage of the natural light and play around with the position of the sun in your photos – you can backlight people for a silhouette effect or even use an object to partially hide the sun, capture flare and add an artistic touch to anything you’re shooting.


8. The Main Event

One of the biggest challenges with live music photography is capturing an image that parallels what you experienced, especially as artists are getting more and more creative with the whole experience of their performance – it’s more than just the music – there are costumes, lighting and special effects too. But there are one or two critical things you can do to capture “the moment”. Put your phone into burst mode to take several images very quickly so that you don’t miss a thing – you can choose the best one afterwards. 


9. When The Sun Goes Down 

Some of the most spectacular moments at a festival happen after the sun has set, but it can be a struggle to capture great shots at night. Most devices have a lowlight mode to help you get that shot. 


10. It's An Experience 

Festivals are about more than just music now, so be sure to capture that as well! With amazing food, crazy outfits, rides, games and more on the festival grounds there are great opportunities to capture some intriguing images that will tell the story of your festival experience far beyond just a single performance photo could. Keep your eyes open… there’s a lot going on, take advantage of it!


Top Smartphone Festival Photography Tips From Erik Voake : Tents

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