Concert photography counterintuition
The last time I shot a show at Rupp Arena, I came away really unhappy with my work. When I took a little time to assess that shoot, January’s Nightmare After Christmas tour featuring Avenged Sevenfold, I figured out the main problem: I was running around trying to keep up with the bands.
Now don’t get me wrong. I know photographers should be moving around and trying to see what they are shooting from different angles with different glass. But there’s a difference between that and trying to keep up with M. Shadows as he sprints around the stage and trying to get a good shot. The former is a recipe for just missing a lot of shots – and probably annoying your fellow photographers in the pit. With a highly mobile act, a better strategy is to find a spot and let the show come to you – it will. That’s not to say spend all of a song allotment anchored to one spot. But if you find a good spot to plant and compose for a verse or two, chances are something will happen like the guitar and bass player stepping in front of your midrange zoom and jamming, and maybe a few other things will transpire before you go look for a new angle.
Funny thing is, I often find it’s the sedate stand-and-sing acts that make me hustle more because they aren’t offering a whole lot of different looks, so I need to find them.
So Saturday night I went to shoot the Winter Jam Christian rock tour – very different night from Avenged – at Rupp with the words “wait for it” etched upon my brain. I did, and right off the bat, I got some shots I really liked of Newsong frontman Russ Lee. At the end of the night, I hung at the end of the catwalk, waiting for Newsboys frontman Michael Tait to come my way, which he did, again and again.