Hi all. I am Natalia Kempin.
A concert photographer working under the artist name of Natalia Die Hexe (Natalia The Witch) based in Berlin.
My first experience in photography is connected with a mechanical camera, the Zenith-B from the Soviet Union times. Back then, it was mainly about portraits and places, with no concerts or live events.
Later I got my first digital Canon camera, a Canon Powershot S5 IS, and it was with me pretty much everywhere: school, university, work, my bands’ rehearsals and while travelling.
Before I moved to Germany back in 2009, I was active in music as a vocalist doing lyric dramatic soprano, classical style and growling. We were releasing albums and actively touring, so pretty successful, but nothing like big names such as Nightwish or Epica.
After my relocation to Germany, I really missed the stage and decided to try and get a photo pass for a music festival, the Dark Troll Festival, back in 2010. This was my official start in the genre of concert photography.
At this point, I had an interest in photography, but I was also getting to know people, making connections and possibly finding a new band for myself. These days I am more known as a live photographer than a singer, but I haven’t given up hope yet.
In my opinion, concert photography is one of the most difficult genres to master, with lighting being managed by a technician, artists moving as they feel, pyrotechnics and smoke, crowd surfers, stage divers, security, other photographers, video crew, the weather and of course massive crowds.
It’s all happening very fast!
Going into a photo pit that might be five metres deep and two to three meters high can be like going into a shower if the weather is really bad. The performance still happens, and as photographers, we are there to document it all.
This job requires a lot of focus, endurance, fast reactions and a very good knowledge of your camera and its settings. You have to be able to change a set-up without even seeing your camera.
Concert photography does not require much equipment, and since 2010, my Canon EOS 5D Mark II has worked perfectly to produce all my shots.
When I am at a concert or festival, I stick to my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 USM II lens as it’s super fast, super sharp and great for any full height or portrait shots.
Another lens I like to use for smaller open-air and club events is the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM. It’s also great for any band, model, promo, and travel photography.
Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM I never forget this lens, especially for smaller clubs. It has no stabilizer, is relatively slow, and it’s difficult to keep the focus shooting with an aperture of 1.4, but it doubles your chances of getting really good shots from a show.
This lens has become a real saviour for me as it has produced some convincing images that portray the atmosphere that the band and the editor have been happy with.
Flash lighting is taboo in this genre, so I don’t even bother to pack one. Most events have a no-flash policy. For any work outside of live performance, I use a Canon Speedlite 580 EX II.
My most recent additions to the family are the GoPro Hero 9 Black and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. The GoPro has proved to be extremely helpful. It is so light weight as part of your kit, and for the large production shows with pyrotechnics (think Rammstein with stadiums ablaze), you often need footage for social media.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV was just the logical upgrade from the Mark II which has just not let me down over all these years.
At this point in time, I still do not believe in mirrorless cameras much the same way as I don’t believe in the hyped photographic quality of the newest mobile phones.
My best advice to those starting work in the genre of concert photography is to learn all about your equipment and train your reaction times. If you have those two things nailed, you will get great results.
You are welcome to contact me via my social media.
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