I thought it would be helpful to create a tools and resource page that you can always come to for all of your concert photography needs. I’ll add to it as I learn more, but you’ll notice that in the future I will reference this page quite often. I recommend bookmarking it for your reference and convenience. Click on the pictures or on the underlined headlines to get more info. Enjoy!
Best Cameras for Concert Photography
I am a full-frame sensor Nikon shooter. Due to the larger sensor size (compared to a crop-sensor camera), the sensor doesn’t warm up as fast, thereby producing less noise in your photos at higher ISO settings. With these cameras you can set ISO values of 6400 or 9000 and still get great photos in low-light stage conditions. The quality of the BOKEH is also breathtaking and if you are using the best lenses made by your camera brand, you will literally be blown away by the results. Canon offers equivalent camera gear, so this list is also useful for Canon guys.
I absolutely love this camera and it's my workhorse for concert photography. With it's 12 Megapixel resolution and an ISO capability up to 25600 it delivers great, quality photographs. The buttons on the camera body are well-placed and the autofocus is highly accurate, even when thereís almost no light on-stage. I use it with a battery grip and the vertical shutter release button makes shooting in a vertical position much easier.
The D800 is a beast of a full-frame sensor camera. The resolution of 36.3 Megapixels is getting close to the resolution of digital medium-format systems and it has a HD video capability, which the D700 lacks. I mainly use this camera for band portraits as well as for concerts.
The Fuji X-T1 is my go-to crop sensor mirrorless camera when I am on tour or on holidays. It´s compact, lightweight and I love the analogue touch. If you want to have an all purpose camera, stop searching and grab this Fuji.
Best Lenses for Concert Photography
I have both prime and zoom lenses in my camera bag. As youíre rather limited in your forward/backwards movement when in the photo pit, the zoom ability is crucial in concert photography. Sometimes, the artist will constantly be on the move, so itís easier to follow him/her with your zoom lens. On the other hand, there are shows where itís so dark on stage that a prime lens with an aperture of f1.4 is your only option.
This is my go-to lens in smaller venues and my favorite zoom lens. The autofocus is very fast and the photos are tack sharp, even at f2.8. Having the zoom option let's you get a tight headshot as well as full body portraiture. At 24mm, you're also able to get the whole stage into your frame.
This is an older version of the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR and you can get it on ebay for $400. This lens costs 1/5 of the new version and is just as good. (I don't care about the missing VR, it doesn't work for action shots anyway). The focal length of 200mm is essential if you plan to shoot bigger venues, such as festival stages. This lens gives you the opportunity to take both headshots and half-body portraiture shots. In addition, you can also get the drummer who is most likely hidden at the very back of the stage. This is a back-breaking lens (almost 1.5 Kg/3.2 lb!) but the quality it delivers is worth it's weight.
This is my favorite portrait lens, which I also use a fair bit when shooting concerts. Nikonís best lens is able to deliver a bokeh (out-of-focus area) that is breathtaking. But be warned: the autofocus is not very fast and when shooting at f1.4, the depth-of- field is so narrow that you can easily get out of focus photos.
14mm on a full-frame sensor camera is the widest you can get. Have a look at Nikon or Canon 14mm f2.8 lenses and youíll cry after throwing $2000 out of the window. Want to hear the good news? The Samyang (aka Pro Optic, Rokinon, Bower, Walimex) lens costs $330!!!! Holy crap, thatís more than six times cheaper!!! So whereís the rub? The Samyang is a manual focus lens, but with the internal focus information in the viewfinder (at least Nikon has this), itís a breeze to work with. The photos are tack sharp and I can live with some distortion in the corners of my photos. The 14mm f2.8 is my go-to lens if I want to capture special perspectives.
The Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 is one of FUJIs best prime lenses. I tested the 35mm and 56mm in addition, but the Autofocus of the 23mm f/1.4 plays in a different league.
PORTABLE FLASH SYSTEM
The Elinchrom Ranger Quadra is a compact portable 400Ws battery flash system that I am using mostly for backstage portrait work.
OTHER MUST-HAVE GEAR
There is other gear that you need as concert photographer such as storage cards, a camera straps and a camera bag to securely transport your gear. The options can be overwhelming and therefore I want to share my "4 Must-Have Camera Tools" here.
4 MUST-HAVE TOOLS FOR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY
Download my free PDF which includes 4 of my must-have tools I use at every concert shooting (and they are not a camera or lens)
I use Adobe Lightroom 99% for my post production of my concert photography work. This is THE only tool you'll ever need.
I love MOO cards. You can even have different of your own concert photos on this little cards. Great for your offline marketing.
I believe that nowadays you're screwed without an online presence. A webpage is a must and here are two companies that I use for my webpage How To Become A Rockstar Photographer.
SiteGround is a great and cheap option when you´re just starting out. They offer wordpress specific hosting and have an awesome 24/7 customer service. It´s also one of the cheapest option you´ll get. The best thing is that you don´t have to have any IT skills. They also offer a free transfer to their servers.
All my websites are running on the servers of Traffic Planet Hosting and I truly love them. They provide super fast loading times of your websites and have the best 24/7 customer service I have ever seen. This option is for you if you also want to start with your own blog. Since website speed is a crucial ranking factor for google, I highly recommend to check them out.
If you´re searching for a WordPress Theme for your Blog look not further and get Thrive Themes. I have tried dozens of Themes already, but I am blown away with this company. They are the only ones who offer a graphical interface to build your homepage and are beautifully designed that you can start right away.
PHOTO BUSINESS SOFTWARE
You might know the situation too well. A band asks you for an estimate to use your photos as press photos, in magazines or as CD cover and you have no idea what to charge for? FotobizX is the one that I am using. It can not only handle all your estimates and invoices but also includes FotoQuote, the industry standard pricing guide for stock and assignment photography with over 300 stock photo pricing categories. In addition it also includes Releases and Forms as well as Terms and Conditions for different assignments. This program was really a game changer for me.
You can also get a -10% discount using the code 'STR0216'
Shooting the Rockstars is my first 5 weeks online Academy to become a Concert Photographer and start living your passion. This step-by-step video course will help you to understand the technical requirements as well as the network/marketing needs in order to kickstart your concert photographer career TODAY.
I love to read books and as you might know there are thousands of them about photography available. It's hard to know which ones are worth your time. Here is my list of the books I would consider as must-reads.
This is my step-by-step guide (PDF) that explains all the topics you need to known when you´re starting out with concert photography. From your first concert, the right gear and camera settings to building up your awesome concert photography portfolio. This is a must read for everyone who wants to kickstart her/his career.
Photographers are among those creatives that just don't want to focus on business. I made the same experience and therefore I suggest to read this book and get your business to another level.
Austin Kleons Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered is a great little companion. This book will be a revelation to all of you who are wondering how to make your work visible and findable. It's filled with Illustrations, quotes, and stories and it's one of my favorite book.
Zack Arias answers over 100 questions about photography that he fielded directly from his '1000 questions' Tumblr project. These are questions that range across all aspects of the photo industry. It's a great read and highly recommended!
If you find this site valuable, why not share it with your friends