I started at the other end of the spectrum from where most concert photographers start. I got lucky one day while I was in Orlando and a buddy of mine who owns a small magazine called and asked if I wanted to shoot a concert for his magazine. It seemed like it would be fun, so I agreed without even asking who it was. To my delight and surprise, it was Evanescence!
At the time, I was still using a film camera (a Nikon n80). I loaded my bag up with as much film as I had with me, a lens cleaner, and headed off to the venue. I was so excited. I was going to not only get into a show that I really wanted to see for free, but I was also going to get to be in front of the front row AND bring my camera along. Could it get any better???
Yes. I could have had any clue as to what I was doing.
I quickly learned that you don’t get to shoot whole show. The industry standard is you get the first 3 songs. So you only have so much time to figure out what the camera settings should be, get the right position, and shoot as many photos as possible. This time was shortened even more since every 36 photos I would have to rewind and change the film. Not to worry, though. After all, I did manage to shoot between 200 and 300 images. Some of them had to work, right?
Wrong! I got maybe 4 usable images out of all the shots I got that night. It was an expensive lesson to learn and I still haven’t forgotten.
At the time, I also worked in a photo lab / camera store and asked some of my friends at work what they suggested to get better images. One friend asked which lens I used. When I told him it was the kit lens that came with the camera, he half-jokingly told me I would have been better off with just screwing a lens filter on to the camera body and not use a lens at all. His advice led to my first (of many) camera impulse buys; the Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens. I still rely on it heavily all these years later and absolutely love shooting with it.
Next time, I’ll tell you about the basic camera settings I start off with when shooting a concert.