Concert Photography Tips

I recently had the opportunity to photograph one of my favorite bands, Black Flag, along with the tour support (Cinema Cinema and The Quitters) at Hard Rock Live on the Las Vegas Strip. High energy sets usually translate to good photos, why not share them with you? Below are some concert photography tips, this is by no means a comprehensive list, it's merely meant to help you get a good variety of shots the next time you head to a live gig with your camera. 

Black Flag at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Black Flag at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Try to capture the full story in one shot, look for the details the sum up the event. In the above photo, I utilized the drum's skin with the band's logo as well as the venue's logo above the drum riser. Also, showing the entire band in one frame introduces all of the players and works to emphasize the scale of the event.

Black Flag at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Black Flag at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Look for those moments where the band members interact on stage. Don't forget that they're human too.

Black Flag at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Black Flag at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Experiment! Concert photos sometimes look stale from one photographer to another, make your work stand out and get noticed! You're probably shooting with a digital camera and it cost nearly nothing for a few extra frames plus you get to review and fine tune your results immediately. For the above shot, I took a long exposure of around 1/2 second and shook the camera around, I knew there would be some trial and error involved, so I took about a dozen frames using this technique.

Cinema Cinema at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Cinema Cinema at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Get as close as you can without being in the performers way. Close up/detail shots help put the photo's viewer into the action.

Cinema Cinema at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Cinema Cinema at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Take photos at the peak of the action. Occasionally this may mean mashing your finger down on the camera's shutter button to capture a interesting sequence. Work on your timing.

The Quitters set list at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas. 5-18-14

The Quitters set list at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas. 5-18-14

Think about photo opportunities that don't directly involve photographing the performers like shots of the set list or the fans, these sort of shots help to tell the story of the concert.

The Quitters at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

The Quitters at Hard Rock Live, Las Vegas 5-18-14

Performers love to ham it up for the camera, take advantage of this, wait for them to give your camera crazy expressions or gestures.

One bonus tip for ya! When the lighting ssuuuccckkksss, as it often does in small clubs, try converting your photos to black and white so that the bad lighting does not become the focus of your shots. When the concert features washes of red light, going black and white is one of the  best things you can do for your photos, after this conversion they often get a crispy and contrasty look to them.

Again, this is not meant to be a comprehensive list so I'm interested in any of your ideas since I know there's hundreds of valid concert photography tips. Be sure to send over your questions and comments.