With an explosive increase in the number of DSlr users, the music photography scene has noticed a steady rise in people who turn up with a camera to shoot the band. A growth in any industry is generally treated positively but in this case however, the rise has brought along a fair share of problems that are faced by other photographers, artists, audiences and the industry itself. If you are a newbie planning on shooting a band sometime soon, here’s what you should not be doing –
DO NOT USE FLASH!
Flash photography is not at all encouraged while shooting music. There might be a handful of venues that don’t mind but that doesn’t mean you should be using one.
Using a flash to shoot live music is taboo and here’s why – Most gigs happen at places that aren’t lit up as well as a bon jovi concert at the O2 arena. The moment you fire that flash, the artist you were aiming at is going to be blinded for a good five seconds. Doing that might result in him kicking you in the face or smacking you with his guitar.
When you are shooting the crowd, using a flash might sometimes be necessary but it is advisable to do without one. The flash will tend to blind the audience as well and that last thing you need is to be beaten up by a mob.
Respect the Band
You need to understand and respect your subject. A close up of the drummer might make a great shot but that would mean interfering with his space. Moving in too close to an artist tends to put them on the spot since they have to make sure to not bump into you. There have been times when a photographer gets too close and the discomfort on the artist’s face is visible. Your shoot entirely depends on the band and making sure they are comfortable will only result in better photographs.
There’s an Audience Watching
I’ve noticed at several gigs, how photographers stand where they please to shoot, oblivious to what is happening behind them. There are several people right behind you, who have paid a good amount of money to watch the band play. You need to identify pockets that will not obstruct their view while at the same time, get you the shots you need. At times when you really need that front shot, it’s a good idea to duck low to make sure you aren’t in someone’s face. I have also observed how quickly moving out after a shot works well and keeps everyone happy.
Shooting in The Pit
Now that you were given pit access, I have to assume you have been shooting for a while.
Shooting in a pit is a completely different ball game. The stage is generally higher up, the audience is well segregated behind the barricades and the artists are a good ten feet away. You have a larger space to move around though at times, you will be sharing this space with at least twenty different photographers. While shooting, make sure you don’t step on someone’s toes, metaphorically and literally. The pit can get crammed at times and you need to move around very carefully, making sure you don’t photo bomb someone’s shot or ram into equipment.
Since most agencies allow you to shoot only two-three songs, there is always a mad rush in the photo pit where every photographer tries to get the best shot of the band. You need to make sure you keep moving around in the pit. This is considered good etiquette since every photographer gets the opportunity to shoot from all possible angles and locations in the pit.
Whenever I have shot acclaimed artists, there is a frenzied rush in the pit once the artists get on stage. Every photographer starts shooting in an attempt to get that unique shot and you literally, tend to rub a lot of shoulders. While all this happens, make sure you don’t push someone around just to get your shot. I’m sure you wouldn’t be too happy if someone pushed you just when you were about to hit the shutter.
Shooting live music is an exhilarating experience. It’s always nice to talk to the artist before the show and let them know that you would be shooting them. Such interactions result in them posing for your shots making the photographs unique and memorable. If you got yourself a camera and intend to shoot music, I’d say go for it! There’s nothing quite as rewarding and satisfying. Just make sure you aren’t being a fauxtog.