Maarten Mellemans reveals his top five tips for shooting crowds and bands
1 Make friends with everyone
Don’t be a loner. I always make sure to smile at everyone and start some small conversations whenever possible. And I really do mean everyone, from the other photographers and stage hands to the security and volunteers. You’ll be amazed how much easier your job gets when people know you and are willing to help.
2 Don’t use a zoom
Everyone uses a zoom lens at gigs and shows, and I’d rather not have the same shots as everyone else. By only using primes, you’ll be forced to look for other compositions instead of just zooming in on the singer’s head. It’s also a great way to include context and watch for some details you might miss otherwise, like a set list on the stage.
3 Turn around
Getting to the front of the stage is awesome, but don’t forget to watch the crowd behind you. Some of the fans can get quite ecstatic when they’re seeing their favourite band. Looking out for interactions between the band and the audience can also give your images more story and add depth to your series.
4 Figure out the patterns
Shooting a concert is often quite hectic. Light beams are going off everywhere, and nobody is standing still. The good thing is that this isn’t totally random. If you take a moment, you’ll start to figure out the patterns and can almost predict what’s coming next, then get ready to press the shutter.
5 Mind the volume
It goes without saying that you should always protect your ears at a concert, especially when you’re right in front of the speakers. But don’t forget that most DSLRs still make quite a loud ‘click’ when you press the shutter, so those silent passages during some concerts might not be the best time go wild with your images.