This is part two of our Concert Photography Tricks series. Check out part 1, how to get a photo pass, here.

Woohoo! You’ve got your name on the list and you’re shooting a concert for the first time. You may be wondering, what the heck do I do now? Here’s a guide to making sure everything goes smoothly while you’re shooting your first show.

What do I need to bring?

Obviously bring your camera gear, including any alternative lenses or bodies you might want to swap. It doesn’t hurt to have a spare battery and memory card on you in case of any technology failures. You’ll also need to bring your government ID so the venue can get you checked in. In terms of attire, try to wear clothes that aren’t overly colorful or patterned; photographers shouldn’t be distracting at all from the performer on stage.

Finally, I highly recommend bringing a pair of earplugs. If you’re shooting in a photo pit, chances are you’ll be standing directly under and in between the speakers. Sounds this loud are very likely to damage hearing over time, and once you’ve lost your hearing it does not return. Wearing earplugs when you’re young and attending a lot of shows is a great preventative measure to ensure you can continue to enjoy music for as long as possible! If you forget a pair, venues usually sell them at the box office for a few bucks. I personally use a reusable pair from Eargasm.

When should I arrive and how do I get inside?

When you want to arrive is up to you, but I’d say a good rule of thumb is at least 30 minutes before the act you are shooting goes on stage. This is to account for any communication issues from the venue, give you time to get acclimated, and make sure your gear is set up. You can usually check what time the doors open and the start time online. If there is an opener, they’ll probably go on 30-60 minutes after doors open and the headliner will be 1.5-2 hours after doors. If you know your venue has a photo pit, you can safely lean toward arriving 30 minutes early. If it doesn’t, you might want to arrive as early as possible to get a good spot in the crowd to shoot from if that’s important to you. 

If there is a communication issue and the venue doesn’t have your name on the list, immediately reach out to whoever you contacted to obtain the pass. I’ll usually ask them for a day of contact ahead of time to ensure I know exactly who to reach out to.

Once you arrive at the venue, the next step is to pick up your ticket and credential. You’ll go to the box office (usually either outside near the audience entrance or directly inside), present your ID, and tell them you’re picking up a photo pass. The box office should also tell you the shooting rules (usually first three from the photo pit and no flash). Make sure you display the pass somewhere visible on your body so security knows not to mess with you for having a camera. Then, it’s time to make your way up to the pit, wait for the show to start, and start shooting!

Can I shoot the opening act?

Probably! Unless you’ve specifically heard otherwise, openers are fair game. Make sure to check the start times to ensure you arrive early enough to catch their set.

What do I do in the photo pit?

Be aware of your surroundings! Photo pits can get really crowded, with sometimes a dozen people crammed in at once. Make sure you’re on the lookout for your equipment and people moving around. Definitely explore different angles and positions, but don’t stay in the same place for too long.

I’m done shooting, now what?

Unless you’ve heard otherwise, you’re free to watch the rest of the show from the crowd. In terms of shooting from the crowd, you sometimes can get away with sneaking a few shots. If security sees you though they’ll probably give you a hard time and could eject you from the venue.

What do I do with my pass once I’m done shooting?

The pass is yours to keep! That being said, you should NEVER post a picture of your credential online until after the tour is over. If someone sees the pass, they could design a copy to sneak into shows and potentially harm the artist or crew. It also could harm your chances of being approved to shoot shows in the future.

This might seem like a lot of info to digest at once, but shooting shows is honestly very simple most of the time! Hopefully this info helps you feel more confident :) 

✌️ – Emily @emgringo