11 music photography mistakes everyone always makes (and how to avoid them)

11 music photography mistakes everyone always makes (and how to avoid them)

Common Music Photography Mistakes: 7. Up-the-nose shots

Common Music Photography Mistakes: 7. Up-the-nose shots

Taken at Fairport Convention’s Cropredy festival, which has a high stage with monitors along the front. Using a 300mm lens on a full-frame camera allowed this tight crop from the back of the pit for a more flattering angle.

It’s tempting to stand very close to the stage, but if you do this you’ll be shooting the band from below and this can result in a lot of unflattering up-the-nose shots.

If your subject has a habit of bending or kneeling down, then you may be in luck and get a few decent shots, but otherwise you’re probably better off moving further back to widen the angle.

Standing further back may mean that you need to switch to a longer lens, or zoom in, but you’ll get a better selection of shots for your trouble.

It can also be useful to take a small stepladder or box to stand on so you’re a bit higher up.

Watch out for flying objects if you block the audiences view though.

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Common Music Photography Mistakes: 8. Subject too small in the frame

Common Music Photography Mistakes: 8. Subject too small in the frame

Get closer!

A classic problem with shooting from the audience is that the subject is too small in the frame, often they’re just a tiny spec in a shot that takes in the whole stage and its surroundings.

There are two potential solutions to this problem, either get closer or use a longer lens.

Unofficial photography is often frowned upon at commercial gigs, so it’s not a good idea to take a lot of camera equipment along unless you have access to the photographers’ pit; in fact it’s a good way to be refused entry.

Fortunately, most pubs and smaller venues, as well as many festivals take a more relaxed approach.

Provided you can get a clear view of the band members without heads obscuring your view, it’s possible to get some great shots from the audience and it avoids the ‘up-the-nose’ issue mentioned earlier.

Even if you are right at the front of the crowd, or in the photographers pit at a festival the large scale involved means that you will need a long lens to get a tight head and shoulders shot.

You may need to use a 300mm or longer optic.

A 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is often the choice of the pros in the pit, but even they will use something longer if the stage is especially high.

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Common Music Photography Mistakes: 9. Shooting JPEGs

Common Music Photography Mistakes: 9. Shooting JPEGs

JPEG file

Dark venues and stage lights are a recipe for high contrast images and you should shoot raw files rather than JPEGs to make the most of your camera’s dynamic range.

Common Music Photography Mistakes: 9. Shooting JPEGs

Raw file. Raw files give you much more data to work with so you can recover more from the highlights or shadows if you need to

Using raw format will enable you to capture the widest tonal range possible and you can always boost contrast in the processing if you want, it’s usually more successful than reducing contrast.

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  • Jackie

    I took my camera to a small invited guests concert and was told by the bouncers that I couldn’t use it because it’s a professional camera. EVERYONE around me was using their phones and tablets. I had my Canon 100D with my 55 x 250 lens. Hardly professional and I was in nobody’s way. Unlike all those holding up their tablets and blocking the view. Put me right off Music photography.

  • dvjm

    This is becoming an issue in many different areas. I am not a professional. I take photos for my own enjoyment, or of my kids or grandkids. I hate having to bring in some point and shoot or zoom because the DSLR or mirrorless is considered “professional.” And you are right” The I-pads and phones being held up all over are MUCH more annoying.