Music photographers work in some of the most challenging conditions possible. On a good night, the stage and lighting production lend a hand and make the task of photographing musicians in the dark easier. But not every show, or venue, can provide the optimal environment for capturing great photos using just the elements in front of you. Whether you’re battling dimly lit stages, badly positioned lighting, or crowded and distracting backgrounds, these challenges can push your creativity to its limits.

We’ve previously talked about different tricks you can use in-camera to spice up a lackluster setup. Today, we’re exploring 4 more techniques you can create in post-production to add to your music photography toolkit.

Each tip has an accompanying tutorial or example from some of the talented people in the Photographer Tonight community so you can follow along and try these out for yourself. So fire up Photoshop and let's get into it!

1. Add unique blurs

A slow shutter speed or double exposure can produce plenty of interesting light streaks and blurs in your photos. While these in-camera techniques are highly satisfying to pull off, they’re also highly unpredictable and you risk missing critical shots if you overuse them during the show. Fortunately, you can add similar effects with much more control over the result in Photoshop. Follow along with this great tutorial from Caitlyn McGonigal to create this effect for yourself.

For a more intense version of the effect, take a look at this remarkable tutorial by Magdiel Lopez.

Before and after by Caitlyn McGonigal

2. Create some eye-catching reflections

Sometimes a shot is nearly perfect but you end up with a bunch of dead space or distracting elements in one part of the frame. You could always crop these sections out, but here’s a more fun solution. Add a reflection by duplicating, rotating, and flipping the image to turn that empty space into a stunning visual highlight. Sandra Jamaleddine shares a beautiful before and after example in this quick tutorial. 

Before and after by Sandra Jamaleddine

3. Don’t like the background? Make a new one

This before and after comparison from is a formidable example of this technique in action. The original image of Sofi Tukker was taken with a 100-500mm super-telephoto lens from over 100 yards away. As you can imagine, it’s hard to find a clean composition from that distance, especially outdoors during the day, even with the telephoto compressing the elements in the photo. 

Renee turned this otherwise busy and ordinary shot into something mesmerizing by cropping in, simplifying the background, and adding some subtle blurs to the subject.

Before and after by

4. Tap into your inner graphic designer

Using features in Photoshop like color and gradient layers, textures, and different blend modes you can transform a photo into a full-on design. Lia Hansenn shares a fantastic example in this tutorial from their Instagram page. 

This technique is controversial with some photographers since it does involve a lot of editing and blurs the line between photography and design. But, if you’re having fun and creating images you’re happy with that’s all that matters!

For more tutorials in this style we also recommend checking out outlyningart on Instagram.

Before and after by Lia Hansenn