As a rock festival veteran, I've taken hundreds of pictures at music gigs over the years. Let me share some of my tips to get great concert Lomographs!
Mind your ISO
A large part of a rock festival takes place in low light, either because it’s after dusk, or because you’re in a tent. Using a flash is not always an option, so it pays to use a high ISO. Especially when you’re using cameras like a Holga or Diana Mini, which need a lot of light, think ISO 800 or higher. Even in cameras with a better lens, like my Olympus XA, a high ISO might just give you that cance to take decent handheld pics of your favourite artist.
Forget about the bands
Well, enjoy the music of course. But unless you have experience with concert photography, I’d advise you to forget about taking pictures of the performing bands, unless you’re at a small festival were you can get really, really close to the band. Most festivals won’t let you bring “professional” cameras (i.e. with big tele lenses), so ten to one you’ll end up with blurry, underexposed pictures of the backs of peoples heads with some impressive looking stage lights in the background. I have dozens of those. Some of them look pretty good, but hardly any of them have actual recognisable musicians in them.
If you can’t resist, get out that smartphone and go wild with the zoom. Or concentrate on other things, like forests of waving hands, close ups of dancing people, or abstract compositions of stage lights. Or just enjoy the music.
Or, you know, prove me wrong and take the best concert pics of your life… ;-)
Pick a theme
A festival is of course more than just the music. It’s a socal happening, with thousands of people: all potential models. Before you get overwhelmed by the possibilities, pick a theme. Look around for cool T-shirts for instance.
Or people passed out in the sun.
Facial hair, dirty shoes, kissing couples, silly hats, ugly tats, dancing people, whatever else you can think of. It’s fun walking around in between gigs, looking for themed shots, and it makes for a cool series.
Double your fun
Festivals were made for doubles! Bring out the coloured flash, and create multi layered party pictures. Two or three portraits with different colors always look festive.
Panorama’s, Holgaramas, Dianaramas, etcetera are perfect to capture the vast numbers of people.
Don’t forget the tents and stuff
Want some cool festival pictures? Those big circus like tents are always good for a few cool pics. Light beams falling in, colorful canvas and flags outside, inflatable art… All of it just begging to be photographed. Use a steady surface (the floor, a handy garbage can, a fence) when shooting inside or after dark for sharp images.
Most importantly: have fun! Don’t spend all your time looking through the viewfinder, but enjoy the moment every now and than. And perhaps a pint or two.
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