I thought it might be interesting for some readers to see behind the curtain of concert photography by explaining my work routine. I’ll cover it in three parts: Preshoot, the Shoot and Post production. Welcome to part one: The Preshoot.
The Preshoot ritual is variable, depending on the venue, but here are my guidelines:
1~ When in doubt, pack it.
I like options and variations, especially with lenses. Unless the shoot is from the soundboard at an arena, I like to have two lenses with me: The 24-70mm and the 70-200mm. These are my ‘go to’ lenses and even (sometimes often) if I only stick with one of the lenses, I like knowing that I have the other one with me ‘just in case’.
2~ Make sure everything is in working condition and batteries are fully charged. Yes, I’ve been to a concert only to realize that I forgot to charge my battery the night before. It happens. It’s important to go through your equipment before getting to the venure and making sure everything is fully charged and in working condition. I learned my lesson!
3~ Have a spare. I always carry a spare fully charged battery with me ‘just in case’. If I don’t need it, no harm done, but if another photographer could use it, I’m happy to help them out. I also carry extra SD cards with me, too. Sometimes a ‘first three songs’ situation turns into being able to shoot the whole concert and by having extra SD cards, I know I have the memory to capture every moment.
4~ Showing up on time means you’re 15 minutes late. To me, it’s so important to arrive to the venue a little early. If my photo pass isn’t available, for instance, I have time to call the right people to get it. Usually, it’s just a matter of Will Call not having the media list, but if the problem is bigger, arriving early give me time to fix the problem or come up with an alternative action plan.
Another benefit of arriving early is that I can usually recon the venue and find the best place to capture my images. Of course, this is largely dependent on both the venue and the terms of the shoot, but I like to walk around and get a feel of the place when I can.
Finally, arriving early gives me the chance to introduce myself to ushers and security. They will then know who I am, what I’m doing and how long I’ll be there.
5~ Carry a point and shoot. There is nothing worse than arriving to a venue only to learn that all media has been cancelled and photo passes are being denied. It happens and it sucks. But sometimes, the venue will release seats to the media as a consulation prize. If you have a point and shoot camera with you, you may still be able to capture what you need.
6~ Relax and enjoy yourself. Concert photography is fun and every photographer has a unique point of view.
Stay tuned for Part II: The Shoot