Leave your concert photography questions as a comment and I’ll do my best to answer, no strings attached. Please indicate if you would like my response to be public or private.

*EDIT* – Please skim the comments to see if your question has already been answered!



  1. New Blog Post: Have a question about concert photography? Ask me, I dare you. http://snurl.com/9z683

  2. How do you deal with the frustration that nobody cares about you and your photos only because none of the bands you like is popular? You have to be really good to get great shots in those small bars / local youth centres and basements where there is never any good light at all. And even if you do – everyone will be impressed by some other guys images just because there is some international super star on it, taken from a fine photo pit and with more light in 1/250s then some other band has on an entire tour?

  3. Fantastic idea :)

    Totally not concert related, but I know you do some event photography too – any tips on using a speedlight on camera in extremely dark environments when there is nothing to bounce it off of? I do my best to balance, and I use a plastic diffuser with reduced flash output… but anything else? Any gizmos that are a “must have”? There is little I hate more than flashy photos.

  4. HELLO!!!! first of all CONGRATS!!! you guys rock!!! i’m a musician converted to photographer, from Caracas, Venezuela, i have just one question regard concert photography…. do you charge the band??? the promoter??? the veneu?? i have problems when a promoter call me for work, and then the band want the photographys also…. sorry for my english!!!


  5. Hi Alfredo,

    I think you should charge The Band, The Promoter, and The Venue. Your work has a unique value to all of these people and since people generally pay for things with value, you have a right to charge them whatever amount you feel is justified.

    I have sold the same photo to the band, the publicist, and a magazine. Good luck!

  6. Ben

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for taking the time to help others out. I was hoping you might be able to help me out a bit with some solid advice. I’d prefer if you would reply privately via email.

    I’ve been shooting shows in Los Angeles for almost a year now and have a pretty good reputation among local acts, bloggers, and concert goers. As of the new year I’ve decided to spend all my time exclusively on photography (at least until SXSW which I’m going to attend). Whereas last year I might only shoot a handful of shows in a month, so far this year I’ve been trying to go out every night and photograph as many shows as possible, especially larger shows in larger venues with larger bands. Trying to make the transition from hobbyist to professional is difficult, which is okay because I’m up for the challenge and the hard work, but I’m also in the dark on how to accomplish a lot of different things.

    1) One primary question I have is about publishing rights and costs. How do publishing rights work? Is there a good place I can beef up on this? What should I expect to charge bands, media outlets, venues, promoters, labels for my photographs? What kind of terms surround these sales? And then also, similarly, what’s a reasonable fee to charge an artist or their representatives for publicity stills or concert coverage? I don’t need to know what you charge per se, but rather what’s common place in the industry.

    2) How is the best way to promote yourself and garnish work? With the new year I created a new website to showcase my work http://yyyikys.com hoping that it would help build momentum and increase visibility around my photographs. But what’s the best way to contact magazines and other publications? Should I be sending out postcards or emailing photo editors? For example, I’m going to be at SXSW and would love to cover part of the festival for a publication, either online or in print. What would be the best way to try and set something up like that?

    3) How do you a sell a photo that you’ve already taken? I’m loosely familiar with photo agencies like Wire Image and the like. So you use a photo agency to help get placement for your work in publications. How do you sell photos that you’ve already taken? And on a related note, do you have an agency or management company that represents you to labels, publications, and other companies that are looking to hire photographers.

    I guess those are my main questions, it’s a lot of stuff I know. My primary goal is to simply work really hard over the next three months to improve my portfolio, shoot larger shows, and to network with more people. But come April I feel that I need to be at a point where I’m getting paid and am not sure how to transition to that point.

    Thanks for you time.

    Best regards,

    Ben Hoste

  7. John


    Fantastic quality photos my friend :)

    I started photographing concerts last year and drew up a list of all the bands that were coming to my local area that I liked.

    Surprisingly, I managed to blag a pass for my first concert and got some decent photos. From there on in I managed to shoot practically everyone on my list, but without magazine representation.

    It costs me on average, £15 ($30) petrol to get to each gig I shoot, but I made the decision to shoot right through from March until December off my own back in order to build up my portfolio.

    My question is this:

    I’m obviously at a point where I want to start selling my photos, but I dont know where to start. I’ve had enquiries from bands/managers asking how much I charge, but I’m stumped at what to ask for.

    Having researched it, its frustrating. Everybody seems to say – “well, you need to consider who its for, what they are using it for, how much this, how much that”. The fact is, everybody seems to mention umpteen variables but not give any examples of some pricing :(

    I’m also very interested in working for local (and hopefully at some point, national) newspapers/magazines, but again the first question they ask is – “how much do I charge?”

    I know its should all be done on an individual basis, but I just dont know where to start.

    Any help appreciated mate!

  8. Hi John. Thanks and thanks for writing.

    1) What to Charge.

    I recommend two books to almost every aspiring concert photographer:

    Best Business Practices for Photographers
    http://snurl.com/a1elw [www_amazon_com]
    Pricing Photography
    http://snurl.com/a1eom [www_amazon_com]

    I also recommend Fotoquote which is an industry standard for photo pricing
    http://snurl.com/a1pci [www_cradocfotosoftware_com]

    You can always ask “what’s your budget for photography” and see what they come back with.

    2) Magazines, Newspapers, etc. Typically, publications will pay a set amount for an assignment or photo. They quote the price up front and then you can negotiate, accept or decline. All you need to do is get in contact with them and get on their radar.

    I hope this helps! Followup questions are welcome.

  9. Hi Chris,

    I’m asking a question based on equipment.
    I see you’ve jumped around with Canon and Nikon and I was curious to what you started shooting low-light with and if you thought early on that your brand choice was detrimental to future growth.

    Mainly concerned I use a Pentax K20D currently and have the AF to be quite horrible in low-light and am thinking of even just completely switching Nikon before I spend lots on top of the line Pentax lens’ that will most likely still hunt a lot. I’m highly thinking of going large with a D700 but settling with a 50mm lens (which is what I have now on the Pentax).

    Have you come across other photographers who use Pentax at concerts?
    I suppose I haven’t shot a lot and haven’t shot in a proper lit stage yet but I really don’t think hoping into bed with a dormant beast is an option. Rather I think I should go out and find the best piece I can get and pay full price and be set for the the next few years.

    Good luck in 2009.
    Time to shoot a show.

  10. Hi Chris!
    Great idea and thanks for posting this.
    I’m glad you are taking the time to answer some of our questions.

    I actually have the exact same questions as Ben Hoste asked you.
    About publishing rights, selling your work and promoting yourself?
    I’m very interested in the way on how to contact magazines, publishers and photo editors.
    What is your advise on all of this?


  11. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the worldly response.

    Well I jumped at the idea of the D700 with the 50mm today.
    I got the f/1.8 though as the build quality was roughly the same and I couldn’t register any difference in IQ or sharpness that made a few hundred dollars for the the 1.4 viable.

    I think I’ll just eye a 28-70mm in the next little while.

    All in all I’m amazed at the greater level of camera you get for not too much more in $ than what I have now. Oh and here in Australia Nikon is raising the price by 20% – 30% from February.


  12. Hey, great post you got going here. I guess my first question is how do you keep up with all these, or how much coffee do you drink? Haha.

    Anyway, I wanted to ask: what is your take on noise-reduction setting when shooting at high ISO (1600 or above let’s say)?

    I have a D300 and at first I was shooting at ISO 1600 with default NR setting, then I realized that a lot of my shots appeared “smudged”. So I tried lower NR or no NR at all but I just couldn’t achieve good consistent results. Using a bunch of consumer-level lenses probably doesn’t help, but I was wondering if you can share any good tips & tricks?

    Do you use NR at all when you’re shooting at high ISO? Do you use the setting from camera, or do you just shoot RAW and not worry about it (apply NR later on computer)?

    Thanks Chris!

  13. Jennifer


    I am very new to photography and I really want to take some great shots like yours. I have a canon 40D, with EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens. I am purchasing the Canon 70 200MM F2.8 and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. I am clueless as to settings. I recently shot a show a concert. I wound up shooting in auto because I had no idea what to set the camera for. Any help?

  14. hey Chris,

    Thanks for all your answers here, they’ve been great.

    What are your tips for shooting in very dark red-lit situations, other than the obvious converting to b&w in post?

    I recently shot in such circumstances (http://www.flickr.com/photos/stillpixels/sets/72157612751493276/) and while they’re “okay”, I’d like to improve in this area as it’s a very common situation.

    many thanks,

  15. John Burrows

    Haha and its always me :D

    When you say dial up or dial down your exposure, you mean like when you put exposure compensation on? I know its easy to do if your shooting manual, but I guess what I’m saying is in concert halls that are really dark and I’m already pusing ISO1600 (my cameras max) at f2.8, I havent really got that much room for manouvre?


  16. My Concert Photo Q&A has covered – self promotion, getting assignments, dealing with red lighting, etc. – http://snurl.com/9z683

  17. Hy Chris,
    I’m photographing concerts using my Canon 5D with the AV-Mode…
    Yesterday I read the user manual more precisely and I determined that the exposure measurement only takes the central AF-point in spotmetering?? So if I focus manually on the above AF-point in portrait format at the face of the artist – the exposure measurement would be taken from his belly???

    Do you have any experience with this problem?

  18. Lode

    Hi Chris,

    I have a question about your website.
    About your sidebar to be precise.
    I’m making a new website and I’m playing around with wordpress.
    I’m going with a simmiliar theme as you, but how did you get “recent images”, “upcomming shows”,.. above the sidebarright and sidebarright?
    And what kind of widgets did you use.
    I’ve been going true all the php but I cant seem to find it.

    Hope you can help me.

  19. Hi Chris

    Thanks for replying to my previous comment about red lighting.

    I’ve been reading through the other answers and saw you use Noise Ninja for noise reduction when required. How do you prevent your noise-reduced photos coming out looking soft? I find Noise Ninja “over-smooths” my photos.


  20. Paula

    Hi there,

    Your pix of KoL are awesome, pin sharp and just excellent!!! I wanted to ask you something, not as a photo geek cos I don’t know anything about cameras – hope you’re not offended – but would you have any idea of the best compact digital to take photos at gigs??? I’ve been researching and I get the idea that no compact is gonna do it – noise, motion, low light, etc but thought I would ask you for your best bet?? I’ve been pointed to Panasonic TZ5 and Fuji models for low light but don’t know which to go for?? It needs to be small so I don’t get stopped as I’m not planning to get in the photo pit or anything but want to get the best pix I can.

    Many thanks if you can help, although I appreciate it’s not really your area.


  21. Hi Paula, thanks!

    No compact is really going to do it. However the Panasonic LX3 might do a decent job. It’s good in low light and the lens/body design are great. The Fuji F50 would be my second choice.

    This is obvious, but I would only try using these from the first couple of rows.

  22. Your tip of the day today reminded me…

    I can read histograms for standard studio/outdoor-type shots. I understand the science behind it… but for dark shows, with little backlight, the histogram is generally going to be left-heavy, even when properly exposed, correct? When your shot is predominately black to begin with, how do know what the proper exposure looks like? I suppose the same could go with extremely back-lit shoots, but with the histogram favoring the right, in that case.

    This is more for curiosity than anything else, since I’ve generally trained my eye for metering, and rely on it more than any visual aid on the camera, so don’t spend TOO long answering… but if you have a short answer, I’d love to know. You and your bro are WAY more technical-minded than me, and I just can’t figure out a reliable way to read it in concert settings.

  23. I have to thank both of you guys. I never really used histograms, but I tried this weekend and was surprised to find out how inaccurate my eyes can be. Still need lots more practice, but I’ll definitely use histograms (and highlights) more often!

  24. Paula

    Thanks Tasha for your help, you and Chris are definitely tempting me towards the LX3, I might have to start saving for it!! Your settings info is much appreciated too – I’m gonna try the Fuji F50 (got one I can borrow from work) and see how I get on but might come back to the LX3 if I’m not happy with that. Cheers.

  25. Hi again,

    Just wondering how you deal with contracts in terms of putting work in your portfolio and here on your site. Do you leave out showing those bands with strict contracts?


  26. Sheryl

    Hey Chris… I have a ? for you… attending concerts and always struggling to get a few decent shots but can’t figure out my settings on my camera(Panasonic Lumix TZ1) Not sure really how to manually shoot in low light settings , so I set it on auto or sports mode hoping for better control of blurriness, but still can’t seem to accomplish much. What do you suggest for amateurs?? Please speak in layman’s terms as I need the dummy book !! Also… what is RAW… I’ve read online about people suggesting ‘shoot RAW’ and am cluelss !!

    Thank you,

  27. Hi Chris,

    Thank you so much for the Q&A section and photography tips! They’ve been quite helpful.

    One problem that I’ve been having is clarity. Your shots seem to be so clear and sharp, even after noise reduction while mine tend to come out not so sharp. I do have my AF setting set to “fastest”, is this whats killing my shots? Some of the pictures look great if I lower resolution after post-processing, but this isn’t a proper solution.

    Any advice is welcomed!


    PS: Nikon D300, usually use the 18-200 VR lens that came with the kit, though I also have a 35mm f/2 and 50mm f/1.8, but I tend to be too close for those focal points

  28. Zack, saw your post and wanted to put a few cents in. . .

    Depth of field will be something you want to keep in mind when you are shooting. With an apperature that is wide open, and the fact that you are very close to a subject, your distance from the focal point that is in clear focus is going to be dramatically reduced. You could have less than an inch depending on the settings.

    Also, what is your method of focusing and metering? If you are just shooting several shots rapidly, you’re not allowing an environment to set up your shot, which could create the softness you refer to. . .Use settings to lock your focal point and metering prior to shooting (some cameras have predictive focus mechanisms as well) and wait for the subject to fall in your zone of focus with the ligting you are set up for (this will get easier with practice). If you know your Depth of Field distance, you will understand what shots you can execute of the subject that will remain in focus with your locked settings. I strongly suggest reading and practicing up on the concept of panning, this will really help you nail that perfect concert photo. . .even if you are practicing in good lighting.

  29. mari

    First, thanks for all the insightful information.

    My question is, have you ever used a Sigma 50-150 for concerts? I am in need of a zoom lens for shows but the Canon 70-200 is just too heavy and will end up hurting my wrists.

    Also, all the cameras I have are rebels. Do you suggest I upgrade and to what camera body to take pics at concerts? Any suggestions welcome.



  30. Hey Chris,

    First of all I gotta say you’re my new photo hero. I check your site everyday for a lil’ bit of inspiration before I leave the house. These last few months I really started making an effort to get my photos seen, as well as attending just about every musical event humanly possible with my camera here in Oahu. (I read some of your advice above about that) Kinda learning as I go, if you will. I’m fortunate to know just about every band I shoot as well as work on a local music zine to get me “in” at larger venues.

    I’ve been shooting with my trusty ol’ Canon Rebel XT and my lil’ 50mm.

    So I got a few questions that have really been bugging me:

    Do you have any recommendations as far as lenses go? I’m consistantly in low light, the 50mm works fine in most situations but feel like its time to up the equipment a bit so I have more composition options in low light. I’m not a big fan of flash either. Its kinda a personal rule for me not to disturb the fans or the band. I’m looking at moderate in terms of price range. Not too cheapy but I don’t want to go overboard as well.

    I’ve slowly established myself as that “crazy photo headbanging guy” at every show. I’m at crossroads now. I can get in at just about any show here due to the zine and knowing promoters and such, BUT they kind of all expect me to just GIVE away my high-res photos to them as a part of an (assumed) agreement for letting me shoot the show.
    How do you go about dealing with this? I’m still new to the world of event photography, so I haven’t officially been paid for any of the shots or commissioned to shoot for anyone. I just put them in my own publications and sites.

    Any tips about being published or the follow through if it ever happens? I love helping promote local acts as well as telling stories about some of the national acts I’ve seen. But I often feel like I’m talking to a brick wall, even with an insane amount of resources and images behind me.

    Sorry for the long e-mail. Any advice would be EXTREMELY APPRECIATED!

    Keep rockin!

  31. mari

    In a nut shell, could you tell us what your steps are when you set up an exposure (and metering) for shooting at a concert?


  32. Quick one for you. I cant seem to figure out the best metering on my D90. (im assuming its the same as D3)

    What situation do you use the different metering options. (spot, area, and Matrix)

    Also, do you know if the D90 meters from different focus points or only from the center? It seems at a Korn Concert last night the spotlight was so bright, and I completely blew out the face even though spot metereing from the face. My NEF Files were TOAST. So pissed!

    (Jonathon Davis form KORN hates pictures, so I heard he purposley has the spot light turned up as bright as possible and flashes it around to ruin us photographers. He even smiled at me a few times becuase I kept going to him and leaving right away. I could not get a good shot for the life of me!)

  33. Ok this question may be more complicated than I think it is, but here we go.
    I shoot with a cannon 5d. I have been reading everything I can because most of my shots are pixelated, too red and grainy, I came to realize I have been shooting EVERYTHING in Jpeg (LG-FINE).
    I dont really understand RAW but I am making the switch this week, my big shoot is coming up in August. Here is the problem, I shoot at music festivals and i always run into the same issues, no flash, slow lens…blurry pictures, grainy shadows.
    What are some ways to get better shots? These are the settings I have come up with to try out, if you have anything else let me know:
    ISO 200 or 100 if i can (outside) 1600 (inside)
    F4 (as fast as my lens gets)
    Neutral Picture Style (WB)(sharpness +3, Contrast +1, Saturation +1)
    Continuous Shooting Mode (burst photography)
    AI Focus (I have no idea why this is better than Servo but I have been told it is, so I am going to try it, I shoot fast moving heavy metal rockers)

    My next question is this, how do I quickly switch my WB on the fly? Outdoor concerts have such drastic light changes when clouds move in and out, I have heard of using a White or Grey card, but I dont know how to use it, do I shoot the whole picture, with the card in the frame then use the card later to set the balance? Do I only have the card in the frame? If I am shooting in Raw does it matter as much as it does with Jpeg? And how can I use the card in the middle of a concert, its not like someone can hold it up while they are singing.

    Thanks, email me if you can I will 100% forget about this thread, Im a disabled vet with a Tramatic Brain Injury, I forget lots of stuff LOL.

  34. Rhys

    Hey Chris,

    Maybe I haven’t looked throughly through your site, but, I was wondering what kind of workflow do you go through to get these great images from camera to online?

    I mean like what programs you use for batch work, like Adobe Lightroom or Aperture? Or perhaps editing with automation in Photoshop? Maybe a couple of tricks you use in editing? ;)

    Techniques for archiving images so to keep track easily perhaps?

    Keep up the good work.


  35. Hi Chris!

    Thank you for all the info and your article, it really helped clarified many questions I had. But I still have one that I don’t have an answer for. Could you let me know what are the base prices that you could charge say I am doing a concert in a big venue with multiple artists some of them big others not. This would be my first time, actually charging. It all will take 2 hours. After reading your website I understood that I have to keep the rights for my photographs etc. what would you consider a good creative fee for starters? I look into the software that you recommended but unfortunately I cannot afford it at this time. I am looking to getting the book



  36. I will start by saying this is just a expenicve hobby. For now at least. I started a few years ago with a point & shoot fuji. I just now upgraded from a Nikon D80 to the D300.

    My question is what do you think is better, prime lens or zoom? I’m sure that years ago (film days) that prime was the way to go, I’m thinking that zoom lens have come a long way. Being that I upgraded cameras I can be “that guy” with two cameras. Being that you get the first 3 songs at the bigger places in can be a bear swithing lens. I want to get the best shoots I can.

    this is what I have.

    Nikon D300
    Nikon D80

    30mm sigma 1.4
    50mm nkion 1.4
    80mm nikon 1.8
    105mm nikon 2.8 vr
    150mm sigma 2.8

    24-70mm Sigma
    80-200mm Nikon

    What would you carry into a show

  37. globesearch

    hey my name is ty and im new to photography and i take more pic of the citys more then anything else but im wondering do I have a decent camera it is a fujifilm finepix s700 i had it for a year or so never really used it so lost my manuel and dont know exactly what the functions do just go by hand and if it turns out then cool but i am starting to get intrested in it so again can u tell me something if u know about my camera

  38. Jax102082

    Hi Chris!

    I have a quick question for you. I am in the market for a zoom lens. I am trying to aquire all the basic lenses right now since I just got my first digital SLR a few months ago. At the moment I can only afford one so I was wondering which one would make the most sense to get first. Which one will I use the absolute most? I shoot pretty much everything, bands, portraits, landscape, animals yada yada yada. I'm quite new at this and right now and it is my hobby so I take pictures of everything, trying to perfect the talent I have. I just want to get a zoom that will be a good first zoom.

    Thank you for your knowledge!

  39. Hi Don,

    I like to be in total control of my framing and thus I carry exclusively f/2.8 zoom lenses resorting to primes only when the light is too dark.

  40. Hi Jackie,

    I would need to know what kind of camera you have, what lenses you currently own and your budget before recommending anything.

  41. Jax102082

    I have a canon rebel xsi and the standard zoom lens that comes with. I have a 50mm 1.4 prime. and a 60mm macro. So I just want to get a good zoom to start with.

    thanks again!

  42. wilson333

    Hi Chris,
    I am interested in getting my work “out there,” to the masses, more or less. Can you offer any advice on going about that? How can I get the right people to see my work so that I might be able to earn a little money doing something I love?

    I have been shooting for an online city guide/publication (sfstation.com) for four months. Started out as an intern but am now getting paid for my galleries! The site is based in SF and has 400k registered users as well as 60k daily hits. The exposure is great but it is not generating any business, which is the direction i'd like to pursue.

    My galleries can be seen at: http://www.wleephotography.com

    I don't maintain an actual website or blog and am currently in school thru Spring 2010. Again, your wisdom is appreciated… thanks

  43. Hi Chris,

    You've stated before that your workflow includes NX2 for RAW conversion. Can you briefly describe any additional steps in post you use NX2 for? (ie sharpening, color correction, etc) I am considering implementing NX2 into my regular workflow and I am curious to know what it's best uses/features/applications are. I used it to convert my last gallery to jpeg PRIOR to editing in LR which was a weird transition.

    I am still a bit confused as to why you convert to jpeg BEFORE post. Wouldn't that workflow toss out valuable image information thus giving you less to work with? Or is it because post processing the jpeg itself gives you as close the the “end” result as possible?


  44. Crystal

    Hi Chris..
    This will sound dumb.
    I am in advanced photography and need to do a report on a photographer and I really like your work! I was wondering if I could somehow interview you and if I could, how?
    via phone, email. whatever would work for you!
    and if you couldn’t I totally understand!
    Thought i’d ask anyways!

    • Hi Crystal,

      If you could send the questions to me ahead of time (so that I could have some idea of what you need), we could arrange a phone meeting this week/next week.

      Send me an email at chris@onelouderphoto.com

  45. Hello brother Good night.I am agree with your blog opinion about that but i found something strange that i felt you didnt know the main problem before you posting this so i want to ask :where do you know about this dude ? Regards owner of photoshopvideotraining.com bye

  46. Hi Chris,

    I’m LaJean from Louisiana & I have another concert show for August 13 in Fayetteville, Arkanasas. This will be my first time for shooting in MANUAL MODE, Could you please give me a few good tips. It’s @ the Arkansas Music Pavilion,around 8:00pm, which is outside, but under a roof. I’ll most likely be up @ stage to just a little to the right of the artist, that’s where I’m always at anyway & try to get exact same spot every time, it just feels right. lol

    There are several different shades of lighting going on, I’m confussed about my settings for my WHITE BALANCE….don’t know the exact lighting to set my camera on. Whould it be VABOR LIGHTS?

    NIKON D-90
    Lens 18-105
    Lens 55-200



  47. Hi Chris,
    Big thanks for the site and loads of great imaages and practical informations, they are very useful for me.
    It’s great that you can earn money on making concert photos, in my country it’s pretty hard to do (almost impossible if you have no connections, or if you are not a friend of a friend, if you know what I mean). I live in Poland, and the mentality of our media is kind of irrational. We have some music oriented websites or printed magazines, but only very few of them want to pay for photos. Most of them just offer you an accreditation, or even not – just an e-mail address in their domain, so photographer must write for photopass on his own. And the few media that pay for photos have their constant photographers, so they won’t buy imgs from you. That’s why I treat concert photography rather as my passion, than job. Maybe it’s in some way good, ’cause I do it for myself and try to put all my heart into it.
    I would be honored if you’d like to see my pictures on my website http://www.fotokoncert.blogspot.com and tell me how you like it, maybe give me some clues.

    Best wishes,