How To Take Great Concert Pics

3 minute read

Today, UpVenue is proud to bring you our new line of articles entitled “Tune Up Your Mind” or TUYM.  Tune Up Your Mind is an educational (oh we can see you cringe from here) series that will show you how to do certain concert related activities. In this first installment, we aim at teaching you how to take better pictures with a digital camera when you’re at a concert.

Getting the camera into the venue

Before we begin, let’s get one thing out the way. Depending on where you live, which act you’re going to see live, which venue a concert is being held at and how the moon is aligned on a particular day of the year, you may or may not be able to bring a camera, let alone take pictures, at a concert. As a save-their-ass measure, most venues will write that cameras are prohibited by default on their concert tickets. However, you may want to find out ahead of time as some bands won’t care and will gladly let their fans take pictures.

Adjusting your camera

Okay, so you've smuggled in your camera anyway, now what? Well, the first thing you want to do is make sure the settings on your camera are good. Start by disabling the flash. Yeah that’s right, you heard us. Unless you’re in the first row, using a flash is probably not a good idea as it will only illuminate the area surrounding you and make everything else (i.e. the actual band) darker.  Instead, you’re going to want to change the ISO settings on your camera. A higher setting, such as 1600, will take faster and more visible shots in the dark however this will result in grainy (dots everywhere) pictures, while lower ISOs such as 80, will result in blurrier, darker pictures. Play around with your settings until you find the best ISO by taking a few test shots and looking at your LCD screen. Remember, the screen is only a few inches wide, so zoom in when reviewing the pictures to see if they’re too blurry or if there’s too much “noise”.

Compensate for stage light

During a concert, there might be a lot of light coming from behind the stage. Either the spotlights are really bright, or there’s a giant screen behind the band. In these cases, you’re going to want to play with the light exposure settings on your camera. One trick that you can do, if your camera allows it, is to half-press the shooting button. Your camera might suggest an exposure setting for you. For a concert, it’s usually advised to go slightly higher than what’s suggested. Once you’ve changed the settings, half press the button again and see if it looks better.

No one wants to see nosebleed section pictures

The last step is to zoom in. Do not use digital zoom. Digital zoom is the equivalent of opening up Microsoft Paint and pressing the zoom in button. There’s no need for it as it will just make your shots look blocky and you can always zoom in like this at home later if you took high megapixel shots. Instead, rely on the optical zoom on your camera. It’s better to take higher quality pictures at the concert and touch them up later than it is to take bad pictures and try to fix them.

Vary your shots

Don’t focus all your shots on the entire band at all times. Instead, take a few shots of every band member (from different angles if possible), a few shots of them together, a few shots of the stage and a few “action” shots. Play around with the zoom settings, close ups can look really good but so can shots that are further away. Also keep in mind that as the songs change, the lighting usually does too, so you can use that to your advantage and not have the same dull shots over and over.

That’s it for this edition of TUYM. Remember, when you’ve finished taking your shots, upload them to UpVenue and share them with the world.