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Basic concert etiquette

Members of Ballet Arkansas with Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
Members of Ballet Arkansas with Arkansas Symphony Orchestra
David Standridge

There are many things to remember when photographing a concert such as aperture, shutter speed, lighting conditions, and many others too numerous to name here.

What will be named here are some basic rules to keep in mind while you are shooting...

  • Probably the most important of these is the fact that you should turn off your flash while shooting.  Aside from the obvious reason that you are more than likely in a darkened venue and a sudden flash burst will not only distract performers, it will more than likely be very annoying to those around you. Additionally, as you are trying to bring the performance to viewers, the flash will wash out the lighting that the venue offers and therefore diminish the mood of the event.
  • Second, always remember that security at the venue has the final say.  What they say is gospel.  Although, if you are minding your work and what you are there to accomplish this should not be an issue.
  • Finally, the larger venues and national groups usually have a "first three song" limit (or about 10 minutes) for a window in which you must work.  Therefore, be prepared when you arrive and have all of your basic camera functions preset before the event or you will wind up losing valuable time setting your equipment.

There are other considerations/courtesies to keep in mind as well.  While keeping in mind that you only have a limited amount of time to get the images, do not use that precious time previewing what you shot during the performance.  Do that later.  If you are previewing images, first, you are not paying attention to what is happening on the stage, and second, most previews are brighter than you might imagine, so have a little courtesy for those around you.

Something else that may or may not be an issue is the 'auto focus' lamp on your camera.  If you have the option of turning it on or off, then turn it off.  This little beam of light is something that could be another distraction to a performer, and after all, you do want to be invited back, right?

This is a lot of information to comprehend all at once, and may not sink in until you are actually at your venue, but hopefully it will help to keep you organized and on-track while you are there.


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