How I shoot live performances – WGTF!? 2019 hip hop festival
I am 72 hours late, but better late than never!
I missed our Sunday Rendez-vous because of this I've been working all weekend and was too tired to complete my video on the subject. You probably have guessed it by the look of the thumbnail I will share with you a few tips on how to shoot live performances!
I am an ex-concert photographer, I used to photograph a lot of live performances, dance, circus and so on... The reality of this business and personal projects here pushed me to stop this kind of work, but I am still hired from time to time to do these. If the event is cool and decently paid I am in. A few weeks back now, I was at this cool event. The Who got the flower international hip hop festival. A family-friendly festival, with good vibes, high-level performers, and just pure positive energy.
When I first started a few years back, I faced a dilemma, should I avoid noise and sacrifice speed or prioritize speed and accept high iso images with noise. When shooting live musicians, for me it's a no brainer, no need for high shutter speeds, with lenses opening as wide as f2.8 you can work around 1/100th and higher handheld (depending on the weight of your lens and if it's stabilized) without going too high with your iso. At least I never had to go higher than Iso 800... but yeah sometimes you can be out of luck and have a poorly lit stage.
If your lens is not stabilized, usually my rule is my lens equals the minimum shutter speed I can use handheld. For example, if you are using an 85mm lens, I will avoid going under 1/80s with my shutter speed. With a 70-200mm and because it's a bit heavy, I will start at 1/200s and go higher if possible. You can go slower if you wish to incorporate motion blur, I prefer to freeze movement, so I never aim for these types of images and usually try my best to work with a high shutter speed...but that's up to your personal preferences. When shooting action, fast movements... sports, circus, or dance, freezing movement is a bit of a challenge. You will have to embrace and accept the noise that will show up in your photos. I usually use continuous autofocus and follow my subjects. I use 2 to 3 program settings, one for static shots or slow movements, Another one for static group shots, and of course one for fast action.
1DX Mark II 1/200 f5.6 ISO 2500 - 70mm
1DX Mark II 1/200 f5 ISO 2000 - 16mm
1DX Mark II 1/800 f2.8 ISO 2500 - 34mm
With a camera like the 5d mark 3 and 4, you can memorize these settings and access them quickly with the turn of a button but for this festival, I had the 1dx Mark II with me. This camera is a joy to use, and the perfect tool for this kind of job, even today in 2019! The only downside is the weight. I usually use 2 bodies with 2 different lenses. Like the 24 - 70 combined with 70 - 200mm, but this time I decided to use the 1dx Mark II only. I was really close to the action so I basically used the 24 - 70mm almost on 90% of the shots, some with the 16 - 35mm and a few with the 14mm. If you are using entry-level cameras, I suggest you invest in fast prime lenses in order to avoid going too high with your ISO. Prioritize expressions and emotions instead of trying to catch impressive spectacular shots at all costs. Don't forget that your pictures depend heavily on the quality of light you will have at your disposal... and sometimes you can have really awful surprises. When this happens, do your best, be creative with your shots, if you can have a chat with the venue, the person in charge of the lights, do so.
I hope these tips will help you with your next gig. I will see y'all in the next but until then, please, have a good one! Huge thanks to the entire staff of this amazing event for welcoming me again this year for the 4th year in a row. Down below are a few highlights of the 3vs3 break competition... You will find more images on their Facebook page: WGTF!? 2019
And maybe the best night of the weekend, the Collab' battle... 8 dancers, 8 musicians playing live, total freestyle :