1. How did you start shooting concerts?

  2. How can I get a photo pass?

  3. Are you allowed to shoot the whole concert?

  4. Are you allowed to use flash?

  5. What gear do you use?

  6. Do you shoot in RAW or JPG?

  7. What photo software do you use?

How did you start shooting concerts?

Well, it’s a luck story. When I worked at The Arizona Republic, the music editor had forgotten to assign a photographer for Old Crow Medicine Show and Chuck Mead from BR549. I jokingly volunteered to do it. Even though I had taken photos all my life, I had never shot a concert. Lucky for me, I sat next to the photo editor who said he’d go with me. Since I didn’t have a DSLR, he lent me a Canon 20D with a 70-200 f/2.8 lens and then gave me a 15-minute lesson on what I should be paying attention to while shooting. He told me about the ISO, the shutter speed, and how I should never shoot under 1/60 or else I’ll have “shake.” I had no clue what he was talking about. When I got down in the pit, I was terrified, but strangely comfortable. I was grateful for knowing what to look for, due to my previous long-term experience with bands, so I just allowed myself to do what felt right. In the end, the photos looked great! I remember while I was shooting thinking, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing. How have I never done this?” I’ve been shooting concerts ever since.

How can I get a photo pass?

Most of the time, you’ll need to be shooting for a publication, the venue, or a radio station.
When I’m shooting for publications, the music editors at the publication will make the connections with the publicist and set up the photo credentials. They will also be setting up tickets for the writer who is reviewing the show, so it’s easier to do it all in one email.
If I’m shooting for a promoter or a venue, depending on the conversation, one of us will contact the publicist or tour manager asking for permission.

Are you allowed to shoot the whole concert?

Most of the time, photographers are allowed to shoot the first three (3) songs of each band performing. Sometimes it might only be one (1) or two (2).
When you get to the venue, you’ll be informed how many songs you’re allowed and from where you’ll physically be shooting. Sometimes you’ll be shooting from the pit (in front of the stage) or from the soundboard. There are times when you’ll have to stay in one place and shoot from stage left or stage right, depending on the stage set up (a catwalk or extended stage). Always bring a long lens with you. You never know when things will change.

Are you allowed to use flash?

Most of the time, while shooting concerts, flash is not allowed. The stage lighting is usually enough, but there are times when it can be quite difficult. This is when understanding your camera can really help.

What gear do you use?

Since Canon was the camera I started with, I’ve continued to use the brand. Both Canon and Nikon are great! It’s your own preference. It’s what you like and what works for you, just like using a PC or a Mac.

Camera Body:
Canon 20D
Canon 7D

Canon 24-70 f/2.8
Canon 300 f/4.0
Canon 50mm

My love is my Canon 20D, which came out in 2004. It only has 8.1 mega pixels, and the ISO only goes to 1600, but it’s a true workhorse. When I started shooting in 2010, I bought it from a woman who had never used it, so it was brand new. It’s sturdy and camera-hardcore. I can pick it up and know exactly what I need to do and how it’s going to react in certain situations.

I’m learning how to use the 7D since it’s still pretty new for me. So far, I really love it! I don’t own a lot of lenses, but what I have works for me.

Do you shoot in RAW or JPG?

I only shoot in RAW. This allows me to have more flexibility when editing.

What photo software do you use?

Adobe Photoshop CC
Bridge CC