Photographing Live Music! 🎸

Live music is a wonderful photography opportunity. With the high energy, crowds, artistic touches, and performers, there’s a lot to capture! While fun and rewarding, photographing live performance can come with its own unique set of challenges. Additionally performance styles can vary depending on genre and performers, capturing the unique essence of each performance is an awesome opportunity for photographers to exhibit their artistry. 

Stick around as we explore the valuable tips and techniques you’ll want to keep in mind when photographing live music! 

Know Your Gear

This one is important for any area of photography and is often the place we recommend people start. Knowing your gear and how you can make it work for you is essential to capturing the images you want. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your camera’s settings and capabilities and figure out what lenses you need to get the results you want. 



Get comfortable with making changes to your camera settings depending on the environment you may find yourself in. Live performances move fast, don’t miss the moment because you’re spending too long adjusting camera settings. 

This is especially important when it comes to photographing live music. Many of these performances will be in low-light conditions with varying lighting from spotlights, stage lights, strobes, and more. You’ll need to know how to balance low-light conditions with dynamic stage lighting. 

Understand the Lighting

One of the more challenging parts of photographing live music is the lighting conditions. More often than not performances will take place in low-light environments. You’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for dimly lit venues with dynamic stage lighting such as strobes, spotlights, and colorful, moving stage lights. 

Use fast lenses with a wide aperture, typically 2.8 or wider, to let as much light in while maintaining a shallow depth of field so you can focus on what’s important. 
While concert lighting can be difficult, it also presents a wonderful opportunity for creativity. Leverage the available lighting and camera setting such as white balance to convey a mood. Enhance colorful stage lighting in post production to make colors pop or bring a dramatic edge to your image with a monochromatic style. 
When it comes to live performances, lighting choices are just as much of an artistic expression as the clothes the performer is wearing or the music they are playing. Pay attention to everything that’s happening on the stage and figure out how you can really capture what makes the performance or performer stick out from the other rest! 

Capture the Energy of the Performance

Every performance and performer is different. Learn how to capture the essence and energy of the performer, their music, and the fans! Look for emotions or interactions between band members. Capture facial expressions that compliment the music or the lighting. Watch for the moments the crowd goes wild and keep an eye out for interactions between the performers and the crowd. 

These events are huge rooms full of people enjoying the same thing, use a fast shutter speed to freeze the moment and capture the fun! Shooting in burst mode can also be super helpful for capturing a sequence of shots in intense moments, plus this increases your chances of getting “the shot” in a high energy environment.  

Experiment with Composition

Concerts and live performances have a lot to offer when it comes to composition and they are the perfect opportunity to experiment with different types of shots. Use a wider shot to capture the entire stage, crowd, and atmosphere of the performance and venue. Use tighter shots to get close-ups of the performers. Tighter shots can help you capture the interaction and emotions  you might miss in wider shots while wider shots can really convey the overall vibe of the event. 

Autofocus is Your Friend

You’ll want to make sure your focus mode makes sense for the movement of the performers. We recommend continuous autofocus or AI Servo mode. Also, get comfortable with using your back-button focus for more control over focus points. 

Beware of the Background

Concert venues can be hectic places. Try your best to single out your subject and keep an eye out for distracting backgrounds. Clean compositions will really elevate your image and help your viewer connect with the subject or the scene. If you’ve having trouble finding a background, consider leveraging stage lighting to create silhouettes or bokeh! Shallow depth of field will also help you blur out the distractions so you can focus on what’s important.

Blend In 

When capturing these kinds of events, you’ll want to make sure you’re immersing yourself in the action instead of standing out. Be careful not to distract the performers or audience. To capture the most natural shots, you’ll want to make sure your presence is unobtrusive. Venues also may have rules regarding photography and photographers so you’ll want to make sure you research these beforehand and follow any rules or guidelines while you’re working. 

Get Creative

Concerts and live performances are the perfect opportunity to play with lighting, editing effects, filters, color experimentation, and more! Let your creativity flow and have fun with it, your images will reflect it! 
All images courtesy of Pixel Team Member, Ihor
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