Picture of How To Shoot A Band Live Show
Courtesy of Robin Laananen

First things first:

Before you even leave your house, be sure you have your camera, fresh
batteries and film. If it's an arena show, you will not be allowed to use
flash the majority of the time, so bring fast film (800+). Arenas are better
taken with two cameras, one with a telephoto lens, another with a shorter
lens, otherwise you may miss a nice close up. Black & white TMX3200
contributes a more intense look to a darker band such as Nine Inch Nails,
etc. Otherwise, color is pretty, though plan on wrestling with the constant
change of stage lights.

If you plan to use your flash, a 400 or 200 speed film will suffice (I lean
towards 400 so I can switch the flash off for an occasional "rock lights"
only shot).

If shooting digital, make sure your battery is charged, and your memory card
is empty and formatted.

Step 1: Setting Up

Be prepared to cruise to the front of the stage around door time and camp
out if you suspect it to be sold out...or if you're shooting almost any show
in Los Angeles or New York. (I don't like to be that person pushing fans out
of the way right before the band gets on stage, but maybe you don't mind and
can therefore take your time, grab a drink, make new friends).

Digital users, now is a good time to figure out your lighting situation. You'll have
to make adjustments once the house lights go on, but get familiar with your

I like to shoot so that people who missed the show can look at the photos
and feel as though they were actually there.

NOTE: One of the most annoying things to see is someone bringing a crappy
$50 digital camera or camera phone, holding it up blindly, taking photos by
chance. Why bother? Digital photography has given birth to laziness. I can't
imagine something more annoying to a musician than having a flash go off
straight in their face, you not looking through the camera, you looking at
the display to see what you got, most likely deleting it, then doing it
repeatedly. They're playing a show, and you're not in the band. The less
noticeable you are, the better.
great job, especially sinc eits the MARS VOLTA!!!!!!!!!! the best band ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!
gztk8 years ago
Nice shots, good tutorial!
my point of view...
lemonie8 years ago
There's a pub I know offering photos from Live Aid (1985) at £12 each. That photographer could have done with this advice. Heads in the way, obviously no zoom lens, bad positioning etc... (they're all very poor - £12!)
I am a photographer myself, but theres no need to go and put down the average person for wanting to capture memories for themselves without having to spend hundreds of dollars, though I do agree about how disrespectful a flash is, everybody has the same right to take pictures.
Fantom8 years ago
Cool. You definitely picked up some nice shots!
ismith8 years ago
How about a guide to getting Mars Volta tickets? I'm gonna try this at the Who concert I'm going to, I'll see how it goes. Nice guide
Crash21089 years ago
I go to plenty of shows at Pine Knob and never made it into an event like this.. Cool though.
muller9 years ago
Nice shots of the Marz Volta. I especially like the second shot that looks wide angle.