It’s officially festival season which means that event, especially music, photographers will be having a busy few weeks. We have compiled an easy and comprehensive guide to any first-time festival photographers to help you make the most of your music events this summer.
Before you even take your camera out to photograph the festival you need to prepare for the event just like a festival-goer. So firstly:
- Pack plenty of water. Even if the weather isn’t swelteringly hot you will be walking and working all day which can make for thirsty work.
- Wear suncream. This is a bit of a given, but if the weather is set to be sunny, make sure you protect your skin from harmful rays. You don’t want to come home looking like a lobster.
- Wear comfortable shoes. If you are photographing a concert or other festival event then you will probably be on your feet for hours and hours so comfortable shoes are a necessity. Plus, make sure you have a back up set up wellies in the car, just in case the weather turns bad.
- Snacks. A little sugar or healthy pick me up goes a long way. Yes, you are at the festival to work and therefore don’t want to miss relevant acts by spending hours queueing for food so take along a selection of snacks to keep you going.
When photographing a music festival it’s important to make a plan for the day. Most music festivals post their schedules online well ahead of time, so take a look and make a plan of which bands you need to cover and how you can maximise efficiency.
Take into consideration the start times, the distance between stages and the popularity of the bands. The popularity is very important to consider as the more popular the band the more photographers will be covering the act, and if a band is particularly popular you may find there is a limit on the number of photographers allowed in the pit.
It’s important to pace yourself during extended shooting, especially if you are limited on battery power or memory cards. The last thing you want it to run out of power before you’ve seen your main act.
The idea of pacing yourself also goes for your own energy. Festivals can be draining events, especially if it’s very hot so make sure you take a few minutes to eat, drink and grab some shade.
PHOTO PIT ETIQUETTE
At large music festivals, photo pits can become crowded quickly so a little courtesy can go a long way. Basically, just be nice and polite because in all likelihood you will be sharing the photo pit with these people all day or weekend.
In general, best practices mean using some common sense and common courtesy e.g. moving towards the back of the pack if you are grabbing overhead crowd shots and not stepping into someone’s shot.
TIPS FOR FIRST TIME FESTIVAL PHOTOGRAPHERS
FIRST THREE SONGS
There is a “first three songs” rule that applies at most music festivals. This means that you will be able to photograph the first three songs of a band’s performance from the photo pit, located between the stage and the barricade.
For larger festivals or tour dates and popular bands, it is advisable to get to the photo pit early as they often fill up very quickly and some may only allow a minimum number of photographers.
Many music photographers use a technique called “zone defence” at festivals. This basically means that you choose a single area in a photo pit to photograph musicians and defend that area from others as moving around a lot is simply a losing battle.