6 expert tips for photographing bands

From The Killers to Kasabian and Rizzle Kicks to the Rolling Stones, here are our pro tips for photographing your favourite musical acts.

Music photography is tricky – the light is often dim, it’s crowded and you are never sure what the band or singer you are watching is going to do next.

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You can go in, put your camera on automatic, press the shutter and hope for the best, but the chance is the shots won’t be particularly good. However with a little bit of care it’s possible to get some fantastic pictures that really encapsulate the moment.

London-based photographer Lee Kirby has photographed a range of up and coming music acts, most recently snapping the album cover of Ivor Novello-nominated band London Grammar.

Here are his top tips to help you capture fantastic music photographs.

Tip 1: Prepare

Event photography can be a tricky one to master but in my experience shooting action and fast-paced gigs, I have found that basic knowledge of your camera is all you need to start.

Tip 2: Listen to music

Research the band's music before shooting, getting a feel for how they might play and move on stage. This should make your kit choice easier when working out what to shoot with.

Band photography

Tip 3: Be aware of low-light levels

The most important part of event photography is being able to adapt to your surroundings and be prepared to deal with low light levels. When preparing to shoot an event I start with choosing a suitable camera that will give me the best results possible when shooting at a high ISO.

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Tip 4: Pick the right lens

Think about the best lens, I normally have a fast telephoto lens, such as Canon's EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM to shoot wider shots including the stage and the atmosphere of the performance. I also have with me a medium length prime lens, like the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM.

The great thing about having such a fast lens is that you can speed up your shutter and capture pin sharp images of single band members or details

Keyboard player

Tip 5: Shutter speed is important

The faster the shutter speed, the sharper the action will be captured. Normally anything higher than 1/500 sec is best, however this isn't always what makes a great image. When shooting a fast-paced event it's sometimes nice to slow your shutter down to around 1/30 sec or slower and capture the movement of a band as they play.

Tip 6: Turn off the flash

Don’t shoot with flash. Not only will it kill all the atmosphere of the event by flooding the frame with light and overpowering the lighting technician’s hard work, it could also disturb the band as they are performing.

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Picture credit: Lee Kirby, photographer and Canon user

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