Lexington concert photographer: Saturdays at Rupp Arena
This is not my usual modus operandi working for the Herald-Leader, but I just spent two consecutive Saturday nights shooting concerts in Rupp Arena.
March 3, Brad Paisley was coming to the big house with The Band Perry in tow. I’m a bit of a Band Perry fan, and I like Paisley too, so I volunteered to shoot the show. For those of you that think this was a way to see a free concert, I heard three songs of each, and then I was out of there. But I had pictures!
Volunteering for that, I forgot I had a regular gig, the annual Winter Jam Christian rock tour the very next Saturday. This is always fun because the rules are much looser than they are for most arena rock shows. They only want you in front of the stage for the first two songs, but then you can wander until your heart’s content. Since Winter Jam has used a thrust stage setting the past few years, with a strip of the stage going into the middle of the audience, some of the best shots are had by wandering.
Rock concert photography has its pros and cons.
Pros: It’s just fun to go to the big show with a photo pass and come out with up close, energetic shots. It’s also an environment where your presence really shouldn’t bug anyone. The music is much louder than your shutter and people are usually standing and looking up at a raised stage, so you shouldn’t be blocking anyone’s view. While you are allowed to shoot, you should be able to shoot away.
Cons: It can be a logistical challenge, from getting the credentials to getting into the arena. You need to leave yourself some prep time. And it is more restrictive. While you may be able to shoot as much as you want at a club show, there is usually a time limit, and you can get a bit antsy if the last song you’re allowed to shoot is winding down and you haven’t gotten the shot. The lighting can also be much more challenging than other performance environments. For instance, there were moments in the set by Winter Jam headliner Skillet where the lighting can change every second or faster. This is when having good instincts for how your camera reacts and and the ability to make exposure adjustments without taking the camera away from your eye can really pay off.
Overall though, if you like music, like rock ‘n’ roll, concert photography can be a blast, and it’s been a fun couple Saturday nights.