View Full Version : Following a band on tour

02-01-2013, 04:18 PM
I'm a fan of "rock" photography. Not only of photography showing the band onstage, but also of the one that shows the band at all other times: traveling, eating, rehearsing, goofing off, etc. Annie Liebovitz comes to mind. Her early (mostly thos of the 70s) photographs of the Rolling Stones are amazing. Anyway, you guys get the idea. But I was wondering, when onstage, most of the time, there's a lot of light, but not always. Following a band shows quite a few challenges, not the least of which is that sometimes there isn't enough light. Are these photographers on "shutter priority" all the time? This may be a loaded question, I understand, and no simple answer, but how do you do this? I'm sure one has to be well versed in photography technique to accomodate all the situations that will arise (e.g.: lots of light, not enough light, etc) following a band on tour. I would love to try this (first, of course, I would have to find a willing band) and I would like to know how it's done. Assume that this will be done on film, not digital, and even though there might be some color, it will be done in B&W.




Matthew Wagg
02-02-2013, 07:50 PM
What I have done in the past is when shooting in super variable conditions is to have two cameras. One with lower ISO rated film and one with much faster film in it for those dark moments. Say the slower film rated at 400 and the faster at 1600 or 3200.

If the camera has modes, then either an shiftable P mode or like you say Shutter Priority. Then following the action with light, swap between the cameras depending on the amount of darkness there is.

Kevin Kehler
02-02-2013, 08:10 PM
I think you also have to accept the fact that you will only be able to photograph the highlights and write off most of the shadows (example #3, for instance). There is not enough light or too much contrast to do much more - if you get more, you are lucky but in the concerts I have been to, there is not much else that could be photographed.

Tony Egan
02-03-2013, 10:55 AM
Hi - I wrote an APUG article about gig photography a few years ago. You may get some ideas or tips from what I have learnt over the years. Cheers.

p.s. some of my work can be viewed here and also in my APUG gallery

02-03-2013, 01:09 PM
I've tried to do gig photography a few times, and concluded that (1) you have to be really good at focusing in low light, and (2) you have to be really good at buying lots of film. Exposure seems like it's not that difficult, in the sense that stage light levels usually don't change too much, so it can be a "set and forget" thing. But usually the aperture will be wide, meaning minimal DOF to save you from focus errors; I've lost far more gig photos to focus problems than to exposure problems.

Normally I don't like autofocus, but this might be a situation where a *really* *good* autofocus mechanism would help. A bad one will just hunt endlessly in the low lighting, of course.


Ian Grant
02-03-2013, 02:07 PM
I've been working with bands and shooting live gigs since the early 1970's. In more recent years I've worked with the lighting enginner to ensure I get good lighting for photographs, and I've sometimes chosen the venue as well. It does help that I've worked alongside one musician now part of a record company for well over 30 years.

Since the late 70's I've nearly always used auto exposure, the lighting varies so wildly, but that's not always the case.

Use of film is a luxury these days, and the Kodak & Fuji push process E6 films I relied on are long gone. I used to shoot in the evening and process E6 and XP2 the next morning, but clients now expect digital copies the next morning !!!!