Technology Mobile-Cell-Phone

Shooting a Concert With Your Mobile Phone

Along with weddings, summer brings concerts all over the country.  Summer concerts are not only in inside venues but if you are lucky, you can knock out a few outside venues as well.  

If you are an avid concert goer, you have seen the increase in the screen lights of the audience's smart phones.  In the olden days, lighters were used to go up and only during the ballad portion of the concert or when the artist would request for the lighters to go up for a cause.

 These days some artists ask audience members hashtag their photos and videos and encourage the sea of people to raise their phones and take photos or video.

With the latter being amazingly viral, imagine the quality of photos or video that emerge on the social networks.  Imagine blurry, pixelated images (and if they were shooting video - terribly blown out sound) of someone who you really can't even recognize.

As much as I'd like to help in the video department, this article is to provide you with ideas on how to shoot stills.  Maybe later we can chat about some of that moving imagery stuff. 

I want to get the first tip out the way: the first thing you should do at a concert is - enjoy the concert. There it is.  I've now given you the single most important part of shooting a concert. Just kidding, I'm sure you already knew that.  Consider it a friendly reminder.

Keep in mind these tips for taking photos with your smart phone at a concert are just for starters.  There are many more tips that will be given later for the next in this series of articles.

 Practice below and I can guarantee that you will be much more happier with your images.  

With that, let's get started:
  • If you have an iPhone or an Android, download a third party camera replacement app.  For the iPhone: Procamera.  For the Android: Camera FV5.  Both these apps allow the user to manually control focus and exposure. This is definitely important with all the crazy scenarios a concert can bring. For Windows Phone, the native camera is also coupled with it's advanced software that includes both Pro Cam and Smart Cam.  Pro Cam is the most robust app for mobile photography as it allows the closest features to a DSLR as possible and this is done in real time.  There are missing features for the iOS and Android apps and for the most part you can have the features of Pro Cam but you'll have to download a combination of apps.
  • Concerts is a lighting fiasco.  For the audience it is a beautiful array musical light accompaniment.  For the photographer - whether mobile or not - it is a nightmare that messes with the sensors of our image capturing machines. First expose your phone's camera on the highlights of a scene - as much as you can when shooting a concert.  This will bring out the lights more as it increases the darks in an image.  Also because of the light shows, there are a lot of red lights.  If this is case, consider converting or even shooting in black and white.  This will alleviate the red lights bleeding into other subjects in your frame.
  • Concerts are typically very dark and lights outside of the stage are usually turned off during the show.  In order to avoid camera shake and blur in your photos, hold your camera as steady as possible.  I used the claw technique.  My phone is horizontal, my thumb and my pinky finger holding the bottom and the top.  My middle three fingers are the support behind the camera.  I also suggest that if you do use this technique, use your other free hand to keep the phone steady. If you are in a smaller venue, consider getting a Joby Gorillapod and placing it with your phone in a vantage point that not many, if any, people will not have.  If you do decide to go this route (and I totally understand that most people won't - even though I have) you would also need a shutter remote like Muku Shuttr.
  • As I spoke above, getting close is key.  The closer you are, the better your photo will be because you will be able to show who the artist is.  If you are farther away, the image you take is not going to be focused on the artist, but on the concert and the venue.  There is nothing wrong with this at all.  I've seen some amazing photos of stadium concerts that show how the light show illuminates the audience.  It was a powerful image, almost more so than the photos taken closer.  WIth these type of photos, you must concentrate on composition more in order for the image to work. Also consider using a lens attachment.  I recommend the lenses from the happy folks of Moment Lenses.
  • Lastly, do not ever use your flash.  It's not strong enough and also you can imagine how annoying it must be to the performer.

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