I was speaking with a friend the other day about some of the photos I recently took at the Kinetik Festival 5 a couple of weekends ago. One of the things that came up in conversation was the general lack of wide-angle shots in my photography, which is normally what most people associate with concert photography.
My interest however when photographing artists is slightly different. I am more interested in tight closeups. The big picture doesn’t interest me as much.Regardless of concert photography or nature shots or anything else, I prefer to see what happens in detail in a small area. An area that we normally don’t give much attention to. I also prefer to have clean and uncluttered backgrounds which further focus the eye on the detail being observed. In wide-angle shots it’s not so easy to keep a clean background. Partly because the DoF of a wide angle shot is much longer (more things tend to stay in focus) and there’s usually a lot that’s going on in the background at a concert (equipment, people, etc).
The tighter shots have their own challenges to get perfect. The DoF is much narrower (the area that’s in focus is narrower) which benefits with the subject isolation but too much movement will render an out of focus image. I usually shoot at up to f2.8 to f4.0 for the guys that are really energetic on stage.
I also love capturing energetic facial expressions of the performers in their peak moments of their artistic expression. The tight head shot conveys a lot of this feeling to the viewer. Combine the shot with some interesting colorful background lighting and a great shot is formed. The ‘big picture’ doesn’t interest me as much. We usually experience the world from a ‘big picture’ perspective (partly due to our field of view) and to me capturing that same perspective at a concert is not that appealing. I’ve experienced that perspective. I want to bring the audience a new perspective that wasn’t experienced or highlight something small that is unique to the artist.
One of the greatest challenges I face is the timing of the shot. Part of this is technological in that great moments are captured, but usually focus is not up to my standards, which results in a missed shot for me. I guess a better AF system would yield more keepers.
Aside from the equipment used there’s also the timing of the photographer which is what I’m hoping to develop.
I hope this article shed some light on why I shoot what I shoot.
What’s your proffered shooting style and why?