Getting paid to hang out at concerts and festivals while you snap away with your camera? Concert photography sounds like a dream come true.
If you’re interested in becoming a concert photographer, one of your biggest questions is probably what gear to invest in.
It’s true that gear isn’t everything. But it is important. And it’s interesting to see what professional photographers use to get their shots.
That’s why we’ve asked some top concert photographers to share a look inside their camera bags. Check out their features and you’ll get some great ideas and insights to help you build your own kit.
Now, before you get as far as choosing what equipment to buy, you might want to delve a little deeper into the genre and what it entails.
Sometimes budding photographers get swept away by the fantasy of getting to hang out with their favourite bands or have an all-access backstage pass swinging around their neck.
Obviously that’s one of the appeals of the genre. But don’t be mistaken – there’s plenty of hard work (and stamina!) needed for attending concerts and getting the photos you need.
And don’t forget that after all the shooting you still need to cull and edit your shots.
Another of the biggest (but arguably also the most rewarding) challenges of concert photography is capturing the true essence of an event.
Think about the best concert photography you’ve seen. It captures more than the performers, the crowds, and the action. It somehow captures the intangible.
The synergy between band members. The raw energy that buzzes through a moshpit. The emotion of a lead soprano singing her heart out on stage. The practised serenity of a jazz legend kicking back in his dressing room before the show.
The true concert photographer is committed to finding ways to transmit these precious and impalpable things through their photographs.
Because this is such an important part of the concert genre, you’ll notice that a lot of our featured photographers take a “less is more” approach.
Capturing the moment is the most important thing and becomes somewhat instinctual. In the heat of a performance, there’s little time for changing lenses and fiddling with complex setups.
Being light and quick on your feet is one of the biggest advantages a concert photographer can have. So while a highly capable camera body is paramount (it may be a DSLR or a full-frame mirrorless camera), so too are versatile lenses that can quickly adapt to a range of situations.
What other staples are there in a concert photographer’s bag?
A comfortable strap or harness that makes your camera easily accessible is a big one given they’re always on the move. Some carry a monopod for added stability (often preferable over a tripod in this genre due to limited time and space). And depending on their style, perhaps some speedlights as well.
Oh – and another thing many of our featured photographers recommend? Ear protection. With all that loud noise, you’re going to need it.
Check out their kits (and extensive lanyard collections) above.