Top Ten Concert Photography Etiquette Tips
While photographing concerts and events can be fun and challenging, there are some things that you need to keep in mind as a first time shooter that will make your life easier when you are shooting. There are also things that some of the more seasoned photographers might forget. So here is my Top Ten list of basic concert photography etiquette.
10. Be on Time.
When concerts are scheduled, the timing is usually down to every last second, and the last thing a publicist wants to do is to chase down late photographers when escorting you to the pit. Try to be at least ten to fifteen minutes early if you can. If you have to cancel then try to notify someone that you will not be showing up.
9. Print out your confirmation email from your magazine editor/band management
When you show up at the box office to collect your media accreditation your name should be already on the press list. However, they might want to see your driver’s license and possibly the e-mail to confirm that you are in fact with the media. Have the e-mail ready to make their job and your job easier. The best way to carry your photo pass is to use one of my lanyards (including a plastic pouch).
8. Take the Right Gear.
It all depends on the size of the stage. Are you shooting in a small club (wide angle lenses work well, learn more about shooting in low light stages) or is it a festival with a huge stage (you’ll need a 200mm focal length)? Make sure to bring the appropriate gear with you. If the shoot is a “Sound board” shoot – which means you will be shooting from a distance a 300mm lens is a right choice. Click here to view my recommended gear for concert photography.
7. Be Mindful of Staff and Security.
Bar staff, ushers, ticket scanners, and security are all staff that you might encounter when shooting. Most of the time they will know that you are there to shoot but if they don’t then its best to explain that you are with the media. Remember that you are there to represent a publication and you don’t want to ruin the reputation of the publication and relationship they have with the publicist.
6. Be Aware of the Ticket Holders.
Ticket holders are there to have a good time and some of them may have been drinking during the course of the event. Make sure to be polite and friendly, but if asked to take photos on people’s cell phones for them be aware that others might see you and want a photo taken by you too.
5. Crowd Surfing and Safety in the Pit (wear Earplugs!)
Some concert goers will want to crowd surf and this is all a part of going to a concert. If security suddenly starts to rapidly move towards you, chances are it’s a stage diver so get out of the way as quickly as you can for your own safety as you might get kicked in the head. For your own safty always wear earplugs to avoid hearing damage. Read more about the best earplugs for concert photography here.
4. Stash Your Gear in a Safe Place Away from Others.
Most of us photographers carry big bags full of equipment that can be quite cumbersome. If you are stashing your bag then make sure that it is in a place that is away from the crowd and won’t be tripped over by other shooters. Most camera bags look the same so it’s a good idea to put a keyring with your name or something distinctive on it.
3. Listen to Instructions from Event Staff.
Things change during the course of an evening, so listen to instructions and have patience. Publishers are usually hard at work making sure things run smoothly but it’s unavoidable that things may change. Sometimes the tour management just decides that they don´t allow photographers minutes before the show. Accept their decision and don´t get angry.
2. Stick to the First Three Songs and No Flash Rule.
While it is tempting (if you are not being supervised) to want to stick around and shoot, make sure you leave after the third song. You don’t want to risk access to future shows by not following the rules. Learn more about the Three Songs Rule here.
1. Respect Other Photographers in the Pit.
We are all there to do the same job and that is to capture an event. When moving around the pit, make sure to duck if you walk in front of people. If you are tall, stand towards the back so that people who are smaller are not obstructed. Don’t stand on top of other people trying to edge them out of where they are standing in order to get your shot and make them miss theirs. Try not to get incredibly close to the stage or everyone will have you in their shot.
Concert photography can be very rewarding, and if you follow these simple steps it will make your job much easier.
If you want to learn more about concert photography etiquette listen to my podcast interview with Steve Brazill here.
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