5 Gig Photography Tips

5 Gig Photography Tips

Written 13 years ago by Mark Evans

Most people at gigs take point and shoot cameras that usually have presets for taking pics in low light situations. And although these settings can get you a half decent shot, you’ll be able to achieve so much more if you know what you’re doing and don’t mind the risk of taking your SLR along.


One of the most challenging things about gig photography is the light levels. It can be a bit hit and miss if you’ve got flashing lights going on, but a good place to start is to setup your camera for a low light situation and work from there. One of the first things you’ll want to tweak is your ISO. If you’re wanting to capture as much ambient light as possible then you’re probably going to have to set this to the highest it can go. This may cause some grainyness to your pictures but can add a bit of a grunge look too.

Open Wide

Shooting for as much ambient light as possible, its important to set your aperture wide. A fast zoom lens that can open as wide as F2.8 would be beneficial in these situations but as wide as your lens will go should be ok. Remember that shooting wide open will decrease your depth of field, so you’ll have to make sure your focus is spot on.


In darker conditions some cameras can have difficulty focusing, so in these instances try switching your lens to manual focus. This can really improve the number of ‘keepers’ you get, as sometimes you’ll wonder just what the hell your camera is actually focusing on if left on auto mode, but can be more fiddly.


When the ambient light levels are just too low to produce an acceptable image, and you can get within the flash range of your subject then shooting with a strobe can be your only other option. Try setting a slow shutter speed, to get as much ambient light as possible in the background and use the flash to freeze your subject. Experiment with 1st and 2nd curtain flashes. Ist curtain flash will fire when the shutter opens, and 2nd curtain will fire just before the shutter closes. These options are usually located in your cameras menu, so have a play and see what different effects they produce.


You’re at a gig right? Well don’t spend so much time photographing that you miss the concert!

Gig photography produces lighting situations similar to a lot of events so honing your skills on events like parties, weddings and nightclubs can be a great way of improving your photography, enabling you to shoot some inspiring images at concerts and gigs, many wedding hire the Color Pop Events, you can use this in you advantage since there will more scenarios for you to shoot different photographs. As a side note, if you’re going to be taking your SLR to a gig/concert etc, make sure with officials if this is ok before hand as some institutions can be funny about whats perceived as ‘professional’ photography.

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agdm  13 years ago

Great tip on switching to manual focus. Sometimes with all the features that your camera has to offer, you forget that you can just turn some off so you can manage it better.

Terry Day  13 years ago

As always great information. At times we rely too much on automation and forget that we are creating the image, not just leting the camera take a picture..

Hannah  12 years ago

I would like to note that it is extremely rare that anyone is allowed to shoot an SLR at gigs unless they have a press pass or pre-approved permission of some sort. If you have the latter you better make sure the event security are informed as they will not hesitate to take your SLR away! Even when you have permission to shoot a flash is pretty much never allowed! As nice as it would be to use flash for gig photography it won’t happen so get used to working around it if you plan to shoot concerts. Otherwise all great tips!

This blog has one of the best selections of photography topics I have seen. Thank you and I look forward to checking back often.

Hannah  12 years ago

I meant to also say that it is even rarer that you are allowed to shoot images that include the audience when shooting gigs inside of clubs. It is a liability issue and the club will never allow you back in with a camera if you are caught! Taking a few moments to learn the rules of every venue you shoot at is well worth your time.

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