Everything You Need to Do Before Photographing a Live Concert: From Credentials to Camera Settings:


As concert photographers, we’re always looking to get the best shot of an artist, but before focusing on that, I usually have a very simple pre-show checklist that I like to go through every time, to avoid having issues accessing the venue, to shoot the band and later on. Below I’ll cover a bit of what I do before every concert:

Confirm the Credentials

  • Double-check the photo pass and access details
  • Ensure I know the venue and band shooting conditions (some bands have specific songs, only the first 3, all show, etc)

Research the Show

  • I watch a few of their previous concerts, to see their style, specific movements such as jumps, crowd interactions, lights and more. Also, I check the band’s Instagram and photographers to see their style.
  • If it’s a new venue, I look for information about their layout to find great angles to shoot (only when allowed) and their overall security rules.
  • Review the setlist: I use setlist.fm to check the latest setlists, sometimes I create a playlist to get acquainted with the order of songs.

Check the Camera Gear

  • Download and backup images from memory cards
  • Format both memory cards
  • Charge the camera batteries
  • Decide which lenses I’ll take (usually the 35-150 and the 17-28 are always on the bag, but sometimes I take some extra lenses, such as anamorphic, or some primes)
  • Clean lenses and camera sensor
  • Take some test shots to make sure everything is working properly (usually of my cats)

Prepare The Camera Settings

  • I have two presets on my camera already, focused on concert photography, one with an aperture mode set, so it’s easier to control based on the aperture for low light and one in full manual to have full control of my shots.

Safety and Comfort

  • I always carry my custom earplugs, but if forgotten, I have a spare foam earplug set on my camera bag as it has happened a couple of times.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. My preferred ones are the Hokas or Nike Air Max Pulse.

Final Preparations

  • Arrive early to the venue, and talk to security to ensure everything can run smoothly
  • Test your camera settings and take a few practice shots

This is a very basic checklist, but I try to follow this routine for every concert before having any issues (I had my camera dying due to low battery on the very first gigs and once I ran out of space by not formatting my memory card for example). Besides that, always remember to be respectful to the other photographers, the venue staff, artists and in particular the crowd, that paid to be there and enjoy the concert!