Intimate stage photography : make the difference.
By Luc Rabaey
14 May 2007
If you want to make the difference, you have to know : the quality of the photographs is not proportional to the music event size or the success of the artists. Be aware of the large possibilities on small stages in clubs. Get as close as possible. Ask the band manager for permission and talk about conditions and possibilities. Talk about photographing really on stage. Try different angles and points of view on stage level.
Don't disturb the musicians. Try to be invisible.
Don 't use a flash. Most musicians don't like it, the more it deconcentrates them and you can ruin the concert atmosphere in your images.
Photographing candid before and after the concert, at the rehearsel or during the soundcheck brings a different viewpoint - as far as I am concerned, even look for the musicians playing on the street -
Make an agreement about your presence. If necessary make a deal : you shoot, they got some of your images to put on their website with your name under.
Try it in a street photography way. Look for decisive moments and ironic, humourous, surreal, etc. approaches. Look for associative elements, metaphores, conflicts, etc.
Use your imagination. Try gripping angles, frames and compositions.
Look what 's happening around the stage. Focus on interactions between the musicians and between them and the audience.
B&W is standard. When colour is not really essential for stage photography â€“ there are exceptions â€“ why should you shoot in colour ?
While lightplay often is big part of the big show it could devert a photographer 's attention and be too striking in images. Try to frame light parts in a subtle and functional way. Put them formerly opposite to shadow and dark.
Try to show unusual profiles, poses and body language. Back light accentuates the silhouets in a way the subjects becomes really recognizable and so, special.
Think in terms of a reportage containing a series of about 20 photographs and think about variations. Take into account the considerations above. Nothing is more boring than too much resembling clichÃ© images of frontstage performers surrounded by flashy crossing beams of light.