Jan Hudson’s Photo Tips #5

Jan Hudson’s Photography Tips is a weekly feature here for anyone interested but especially for musicians who need or want to do their own photography work. This week, Jan discusses how to get the best look for those action shots – the ones you want when you really want to show that your band knows what to do on stage. To read previous tips, just search for “Jan Hudson” on the “search feature” in the sidebar of this page.

Jan Hudson w BanjoWelcome back! In this week's blog we are going to learn how to photograph your band in action. Action or live shots look great on your website and shows prospective promoters that you have what it takes to put on a great show.

Firstly, make sure that everyone knows ahead of time that you will be shooting photos of the band. This way you can plan your course of action and follow through on it. Don't be afraid to do a good job. Doing a good job sometimes means that you will have to put yourself into situations where you might feel uncomfortable, such as getting onto the stage to shoot while the band is playing. Pull up those bootstraps and get on with it. You want to look like a photographic genius, now don't you? =)

Here are some tips for getting great on-site, live action shots of your band.

1. MOVE IN CLOSE...don't be afraid to photograph each member of the group as they are playing.(see the image of the close up of a band member) Image634964267504153181Photograph that person from several different angles, keeping an eye on the headstocks and expressions. Take tons of photos, this is digital, it's not going to cost you a thing. That being said, if you are using flash on a darkened stage, you may want to use "bounce" flash or take a couple of shots and move on to the next person, that way your subject gets a chance for their eyes to recover from the flash. If you are shooting outdoors on a nice day, have at it. You don't need flash and even if you do use it, the light outside allows the eye not to be bothered as much. Think of it this way, when you are in dark space, the iris of your eye becomes large (kind of like when you have your eyes dilated when you go to the eye doctor) well, imagine someone taking flash shots over and over directly into your dilated eyes. ouch... your subject wouldn't be able to see and you wouldn't either and that's dangerous when you're on the edge of the stage.

If your band is on a stage that is darkly lit or they are in front of a dark background but the group is lit well, the computer/light meter in your camera is fooled. It sees all of that darkness and thinks, "holy moly, it's dark, I have to slow down this exposure!" Wrong. Bad camera! The problem with automatic cameras is that the light meter "averages" the exposure. It looks at the scene and tries to balance the exposure. Most of the time, this is okay. But, when you have a dark background and a lighted subject, Image634964286970356584the meter is seeing everything and it's computer is fooled. (see the photo of the band that is totally washed out) As you can see from the image, the band is totally washed out. Well, since the band is the main objective of our photo, how do we fool the camera into getting the correct exposure? Get in as close as you can and remove as much of the background from the viewfinder that you can. This way, the camera/meter sees the important areas of the picture to take it's light reading and your photo should look great. If it has to average the scene, make sure the scene is tight and the best way to do this is use the zoom or telephoto lens. You will find that just the opposite happens on a bright sunny day with a stage that has a roof over it. Again, move in close and try to get just the stage, not the sky or surrounding area.

TELEPHOTO LENSES ( or the zoom feature on your camera) ALSO ARE GREAT FOR THE TIMES THAT YOU WANT TO STAY INCOGNITO...many people get nervous when they think that they're having their picture taken and you know who those people are. Rather than terrorize them by standing in front of Image634964288711186154them while they're playing and trying to concentrate on the music, back away and let the lens bring them to you. They will never know that you are getting fantastic shots until you show them the pictures.

2. MOVE AROUND THE STAGE...who says you can't get right up on stage and photograph the group? The photos are so much better because you aren't constantly looking up everyone's nose and you can get creative. If this makes you a little nervous at first, you can always sit on the edge of the stage and get angle shots. Then get up and move stealthily around the stage. (see images from onstage) I usually wear darker or plain clothing so I don't look so conspicuous.Image634964303561275530 Shoot from behind to get the band and the crowd. Just let everyone know what you're going to do ahead of time and maybe plan on shooting during the second set, when they've relaxed a bit. Sure, it feels awkward at first, but once you start seeing the advantages and how great the shots look, you'll relax and get into it and the photos will knock their socks off.Image634964304463837154

[Editor's Note: Jan is talking about a photographer who is “with the band” and therefore has permission to be on stage.” If you're not actually authorized by the band or the venue, you'd probably best not try to just walk on stage with a camera or you may find security people escorting you out of the concert or festival. On the other hand, if you have a professional camera and want to try to get these types of shots, contacting the band or the venue prior to the show and asking for permission often will get you those privileges.]

Image6349642895794058133. TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT.... shoot down the headstock for a unique image. (see headstock with guitar player) The camera will focus on the headstock and the player will be out of focus, but what a neat effect. Be different!

Image6349642956090506894. GET CREATIVE, SHOOT THE DETAILS.... You'd be surprised what you can do with detail shots. You can use them on ads, business cards, composites...if you shoot them, you'll have them available to use when you get a creative streak going. (see detail shot)

Image6349642982705429185. REMEMBER THAT THE ON-CAMERA POP UP FLASH IS USELESS AFTER 12 FEET...so, come in close and use the wide angle feature of your lens. This will widen the angle of your shot allowing you to come closer to the group so your flash will expose the entire band correctly. (see dark shot of band taken too far away)

Image6349643099166190356. SHOOT DIFFERENT ANGLES OF THE BAND.... Try shooting straight on and then move to the end and shoot down the line of the group from both sides...just shoot!

7. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE...many times you have to frame your subject and wait. When you see the expression that you are looking for, shoot! Everyone will think that you got lucky, but great "candids" are hard work and patience.

I'm hoping that this information will help you take better live photos of your band. Next time your band or a friend's band is playing, grab that camera and start shooting. Practice really does make perfect. Please let me know if you have any questions!

NEXT WEEK...AFTERCAPTURE...AKA: ruh roh...I shot the group shot and it's dark, what now? Oh, boy, there's a huge refection in that window, can I fix it? Let's try a little magic! Most of you have Windows Live Photo Gallery, let's learn how to use it to our advantage. Let me know if you have any questions concerning Photoshop, and I'll try to answer those for you, too.

Thanks everyone. See you next week! Jan Hudson

No comments: