How to Shoot Concert Photography

I've always been impressed with professional concert photographers. You know the type of person, the guy who can catch Sting mid-jump while he's pounding out 'Roxanne' on his bass. 

For years my idea of concert photography had me bringing a point and shoot camera from the 70th row. I'd return home with blurry dots on a stage. Or in more recent years I'd come armed with a cell phone camera. Horrible.

Last night my pal and I went to a Monkees concert. Yes those Monkees. We've been fans since we were kids and I was determined to grab a few photos of the band. We had nice seats but I wasn't too close to the stage. I really wanted to get a few guitar playing photos of Mike Nesmith, our favorite Monkee. 

I did quite a bit of research before the show to nail down some techniques that work well with stage lighting and darkness. Here's what I did:

I flipped my camera to Manual mode for the entire evening. You really need total control of your camera. I set my ISO to 1600 but found myself cranking it or lowering it as needed. I started out with a shutter speed of 1/160th. I made the mistake of bringing only the kit lens for my Sony NEX-7 so I couldn't get as tight as I'd wanted. I opted to bring the Sony because I wanted to go small so that security wouldn't throw me out. 

I would have also set my camera to spot metering to grab the face of the performer but I was too far back to worry about it. Now I know for next time.

I got a few nice shots. Much better than a cell phone camera or a point and shoot!





The Monkees, 2012 Keswick Theater, PA

Mike Nesmith