Concert Photography Essentials: A Comprehensive Shot List Guide

Recently, a starting concert photographer asked me about some tips, and I thought of one that it’s now almost unconscious to me but is always quite helpful: what are the core photos I try to take of a concert to have a diverse range of angles, perspectives and moments to create a compelling session. Not always it’s possible to hit them all, but I consider those as the core photos I try to take.

The Action Shot

Zebrahead at Electric Ballroom

Almost every photographer, artist and audience member loves it when an artist is jumping, doing some crazy movements on stage, and as a concert photographer, those are some of the most popular shots. It’s not always easy to get those, as they require you to use a fast shutter speed (1/400th of a second or faster depending on the movement) and be able to focus on the right area at the right time. A very helpful tip is to research previous concerts from those artists to try to have an idea of when and what kind of movements you will be able to find. Performances do change from time to time, but at least you can have some idea and be ready.

Close Up

Skynd at O2 Forum Kentish Town

For more intimate and emotional shots, the Close-Up shots are great, as they allow us to highlight the feeling and dedication that they’re bringing to the fans on the audience and create a vivid reminder of their favourite artists. For close-ups, I suggest using a longer focal length lens instead of cropping. I personally either use the 70-200mm or a 135mm prime lens for those.


THECITYISOURS at the Underworld

This can be one of the hardest shots from my shot list, as the drummers are usually at the back of the stage and not always well-lit, but they can provide great shots, with dynamic movements and high energy. When shooting from the pit, I try to either get close-up shots, highlighting their drumsticks and movements, or photos where you can see the full drum kit and their facial expressions, but not always possible.

I tend to play between using a fast shutter speed to freeze completely the motion, or sometimes a slower shutter speed to get a trail from their movements, that’s entirely up to you.

Crowd Shot

Crowd at Don Broco

Crowd shots can be a lot of fun, as the crowd is there to have fun and they’ll provide a range of emotions that will be unique at every show. I try to shoot from different angles whenever possible, but when I don’t have full access to get shots from the stage or some other angle from the venue, I always try to take one or two shots from the pit, either a close-up of some audience members that can provide a unique opportunity or to highlight the audience as a whole.

Wide Shot

The Hu at Roundhouse

Wide shots are great for capturing the atmosphere of a concert and the scale of the audience and the venue, they can provide a sense of place, showing the full band, lighting and venue details with the audience. I recommend using a wide-angle lens (I use a 17-28mm or sometimes a 10mm) or shooting from the back of the house whenever possible.

Back of Stage

Sara Correia at Cadogan Hall

Not always possible, but whenever you have an all-access pass for an artist, don’t forget to take backstage shots, as they provide the most unique perspective and can be quite interesting for the artist and especially their fans. From the soundcheck, equipment setup or preparing to enter the stage, all those shots provide a unique story to tell.

Another interesting shot is from the back of the stage overlooking the audience and artists, which can give another perspective that the fans are not used to.

Additional reminder: Please never get up to the stage or backstage unless you have the relevant credentials.

Additional Shots to Consider

Usually, I’d say that the shots mentioned above are a great start, but I like adding some other shots to this list which can add a bit more variety:

Silhouette Shot

Crimson Veil at Electric Ballroom

One of my favourite shots is the Silhouette shots, as they can create a very dramatic and moody effect, highlighting the performer’s movements and position, more than the details themselves. It’s always fun to experiment with bright backlight or very dark stage lights that can help create these silhouette shots.

Gear Shot

City and Colour at O2 Shepherds’ Bush Empire

Another interesting shot is to highlight the details of a performer’s gear, such as guitars, drums or other instruments. They can provide a closer look at details that the fans may not be paying attention to during the concert and can be very unique.

Detail Shot

Shawn James at Jazz Cafe


Detail shots can highlight very interesting elements of the performance and connect it to an emotional moment or add a very nice reminder of things that can go unnoticed by the crowd. This can be the performers’s hands, instruments, and sometimes even their clothing or accessories.


This is by no means a mandatory list, but it’s a good reminder of how being prepared can help you achieve a different range of shots and create a compelling narrative for your concert photography, capturing the best of a live performance.

Go ahead and experiment, try other shots that are not on this list, and feel free to hit me up on Instagram or email for suggestions.