Music Photography A-Z: Everything You Need To Know To Start Shooting Concert Photography | Kristina Bakrevski | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Music Photography A-Z: Everything You Need To Know To Start Shooting Concert Photography

teacher avatar Kristina Bakrevski, Freelance Music Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (38m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Project Overview

    • 3. Finding Inspiration

    • 4. Recommend Gear

    • 5. Prepping, Planning and Getting Access

    • 6. Camera Settings

    • 7. Editing

    • 8. What To Do With Your Content

    • 9. Final Thoughts

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

True Life: I have a live music addiction.


The lights. The sound. The energy of a crowd. The raw human expression. Being immersed by all of it makes me come alive. I'm truly "at home" when I'm witnessing the power of live performance. Whether it's an independent act in an intimate venue, running around a major music festival or listening to some of the best DJ's/Producers at a dance club, girlfriend is in her element. 

After getting the opportunity to shoot my first show with a DSLR, I devoted all of my extra time and energy figuring out ways to do this all the time. In just under a year, I've shot 5 major festivals and countless concerts. My work has been featured in several online publications, both local and national. I've been hired by some of my favorite venues and one of the biggest dance music festival promoters in the world. Local and international artists have tapped me to shoot for them. In all realness, my dreams of "becoming a concert photographer" have been realized beyond my wildest imagination. And I want to help YOU do the same. 

This class offers a step by step guide on many aspects of breaking into music photography including: how to gain access, a handy music photography style guide, things to keep in mind when you’re shooting, organizing your efforts & time to ensure future opportunities, editing stand-out images, recommended gear, recommended camera settings, marketing yourself, and more!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kristina Bakrevski

Freelance Music Photographer


Freelance Photographer/Videographer based in Los Angeles.

Background in Theatre, TV Production & Fashion.

Live Music Obsessed. Travel Addict. Foodie. 


See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hello. My name is Cristina Backrub, ski and name of freelance concert and music photographer based in San Francisco, California In just a few short months, I was able to go from amateur with an iPhone to professional concert and music. It managed to accomplish a lot of my goals, assistance, desire to learn and my network of friends, co collaborators and supporters. My work has been published on many different media outlets. Staff, music events or a substation. Also featured all this 100 some buzz. Seven viral on print version of a billboard, the festivals that I shot this year we're outside lands in San Francisco. F Y F and S Angeles Bumbershoot in Seattle on Island Always love, live music and for the better part of my adult life, I spent most of my disposable income going to live. Shows a little bit about you, are you? You are somebody who's already inspired by music. You just always around live shows, always scoping it out. You're always participating. Maybe you're already inspired by concert photography in a sense that when you go to shows, you will frequently spend a lot of time trying to capture the perfect shot on your iPhone. When you do, there's a huge rush 2. Project Overview: So in this class you will create a gallery of 5 to 10 images of a live music performance. This assignment will teach you how to get access, how to shoot a live show, how to create composition that captures light and emotion in motion. Select images that best represent the five of the performance on the performer. And then you'll learn how to edit to strengthen the image. 3. Finding Inspiration: So let's talk a little bit about where do you get inspiration from you? The places that I get inspiration from first and foremost is instagram, and so grams of very powerful tools definitely very important. So if you don't already have an INSTAGRAM account, definitely sign up for one. Or if you do, I would start following other photographers. Other artists, music outlets, music blog's I do a lot of searching via hashtags like concert photography, hashtagged, live music, hashtag hash tags of bands or just kind of whatever strikes my fancy. But then I also follow a lot of festival in concert promoters on. I do this because I try to consciously consume the art that I want to create. I try to be aware of what moves me, whether it's lighting, composition or expression. And then I flood my feet with what I had my hair essentially making my daily social media habit into a vision board of sorts, keeping those powerful images at the forefront of my imagination. So I'm just going to give a few examples little photo slideshow of some examples of images that are, I think, Maura and packed full of and just a good concert shot. - Another aspect of a new impactful image is working and playing with the lighting design. So how did the colors interact? I think that good lighting can effectively illustrate a mood, and then and you kind of want to look out for how lighting can elevate on artists expression. So you'll definitely start to learn which menu has the best lighting and you'll favour shooting there. But these are some examples of shops that I think of interesting lighting composition refers to. How do you frame the shot if toe learn to find what's interesting to you on what creates an interesting frame, you could also work on finding better composition within a more media for shot, which is what I like to do, sometimes not showing an example of that. Here is an example of a raw shot that I got. This is the unedited version of a weekend set, pretty mediocre, not really much to stand out, but it really wanted a wide shot of the stage. So with a little bit of editing, this is what I came up with. Those are a few examples of of composition framing, finding what's interesting to you and then finding better composition within more of a mediocre shot. So the next file note is human emotion. Now, when I refer to that, I mean like, I want the shot where the artist looks like they have transcended themselves in a way, and they're just totally lost in the expression. - Another style note that I tend to look for when I'm shooting and selecting images is movement I'm looking for in the shot where they're just mid thrash. Their hair is flying for jumping, and usually my rule is if I see hair or air the next style New is a storytelling. Does your image say something else? Is it something beyond this? Is a performer on stage or another? Concerts? Does it accurately reflect the vibe who you're shooting? Does it invoke another image or feeling? And then last but not least, I look for natural elements for effects. A smoke, fog, water on fire when included in a set I think are really fun to capture recap style notes of music photography that specifically captured me and I think things to look out for when you're shooting, making sure that your images are clean and sharp, interesting lighting design, interesting composition and framing, getting that peak of human emotion, getting the artist or performer in movement. So is their hair flying around? Are they jumping? Storytelling? Does your image say something else other than this is a performer on a stage or I'm at a concert? And then lots of at least the natural elements that they used for effect like smoke, fog, fire, water. So I think the last note, when it comes Teoh getting inspired is figuring out what your goals are for shooting music . Concert photography. Why do you want to do this? Do you just want to get free access? Do you want to discover new bands? Do you want to build a portfolio shoot festivals get published in a certain publication, become a tour photographer, become an artist photographer? What is it that you really want to dio and get out of this? So setting goals like this helps me figure out what my next immediate steps are, and I think your dreams are achieved. One action item at a time 4. Recommend Gear: So this is what I use. My camera is a Canon six D. My research show that it was the best for low light photography. So for this specific camera, the graininess isn't so noticeable. The higher you go with eyes with your eyes, so and that's something that will get into later. But yeah, this is, I think, the best camera for low light, which is great for those smaller clubs. And this is the lens I first started with. It's a 50 millimeter, 1.8 lens. It's pretty inexpensive. I think it waas around 100 bucks to start, but this is the lens that I borrowed from a friend. So that's why I started with. This is my external flash that I use for more clubs and nightlife photography. This is what I use when they shoot DJs. I really like the low shutter speed flash effect, but that's definitely not necessary for most concerts. In fact, in most photo, pits were not allowed to use a flash. So if you're more into nightlife or club photography, maybe shooting DJs, you'll probably need one of those. So this is the weapons that I use. Currently, it's a 24 to 70 millimeter lens, great for wide shots and then for those close up shots. I use this when I'm in the pit of major music Festival that 70 millimeters. Definitely close enough soon for you to capture the nuances of performers face. It'll be good for capturing emotion movements and then wide enough to capture the stage design set design. So there's a lot of flexibility when using this land. So this is an investment for me but a worthwhile one, because I use it all the time now. So the next thing you'll need our memory cards, I suggest investing in a high speed, 64 gig memory card really great for shooting kind of continuously and shooting a lot at once. But you could definitely get away with a 32 gig memory card. At first, this one is a little bit less expensive. Onda will definitely it'll dio when you're first getting started. Now, if you don't have a DSLR on and you don't have, you know lens that you want, I definitely suggest looking into some rental options. What I first started using was Lou buoyed dot com, and that is a online camera rental site where they would ship the gear to you. You're requested date, and then you just ship it back. And it's very easy, fairly inexpensive and really, really helped me out when I was when I first got started shooting. So look into different Cameron Total options, yes, that are available or close to you. And then last but not least, you probably need a card reader. My computer. You could just stick the memory card right into the computer so you don't need that. But maybe other computers don't have that. So that's something that you might want to look into getting a swell. 5. Prepping, Planning and Getting Access: So now that we've gone over the recommended gear on, let's go into a little bit of prepping planning tips. The 1st 1 is social media. If you're active on sites like Facebook and Twitter, I would suggest starting to follow promoters, venues and artists and interact with their post, seek and stay up to date on concerts and events that are announced. Our speed, everything another. This is another opportunity to make your social media have it work for you. So I RSVP'd to any and all events that are happening that strike my interests at different venues that I really like shooting at just so I know what to prepare for what's coming up. Create a cause or calendar. So I his Google calendar for my personal and professional life and a color code which shows air coming up in, which is that I'm tracking. It helps me to stay saying and not miss stuff by saying organized like this. So this is an example of my Google concert calendar, so I have all of my stuff kind of highlighted noted, And then I have a song kick calendar that I imported directly from the Sun Kick site that tracks artists that are coming to local venues and some kick is pretty smart website and that it kind of predicts your music consumption habits. So this is my self get calendar, and then when I don't want that, I can just click it out and then these air just make a personal appointments and work appointments as well. So these are tools that I used to stay organized and stay on top of keeping up with events and concerts that are coming up. Another thing to keep in mind when propping and planning is just to link up with the music industry in your city are their meet ups that happen? Are there are there networking events that you can go? Teoh are there? Are there ways that you can kind of put yourself out there to really kind of integrate into the industry that you want to get into? So why do all of this work ahead of time access? Most venues do not allow professional equipment unless you get permission ahead of time, so you cannot just bring a DSLR with detachable lens. If you don't have permission from the artists. The PR team with the venue or someone related to that show. So this means that you have to reach out to the band ahead of time or their PR team or the venue. And nobody likes a last minute guest list request. So I think it's important to be on top of your game here, especially if you want to be taken seriously and not look like someone who was just trying to get access or just trying to go to a show for free. It helps to really come prepared and come ready to work. I do all this proper planning because I want to be able to shoot the music that I want to shoot. So I choose, like 99% of who I get to see live with just a little bit of planning and organization. Here are some ideas on how to get access to shows when you're first starting out first and foremost, put the word out. Towel your friends on anyone who's involved in music, who's in your network? What your intentions are. Great resource is music journalists. A lot of the times riders will go to shows and they're not a photographer or will just use press shot for their or a cell phone shop for their blogged post. But it definitely helps elevate the bullet post. I think if there's live shots, I would hit up friends who work at Benny's and see if there are opportunities to shoot for the than you. I would hit up, up and coming local bands, anyone that you might be connected. Teoh friends live. That's kind of struggling to get their project off the ground, like I was saying, they definitely in need of promotions and marketing of their projects. So helping them out in this way, I would definitely help you out. And then when I first started, I reached out to local music logs to see if they were looking for contributors. And then once you get in and once you do get access, make sure you do good work so that they want to work with you again. The music business is just like any other business. It's pretty much all about relationships, so make sure you build strong connections with people and I think that with a little bit of persistence, good work will get you the access to the shows that you want to shoot. So let's recap getting started. So we went over recommended gear. He definitely don't need fancy, expensive equipment. At first, I would recommend looking into different rental options. Lulu dot com really helps me out at first, and they're located in San Francisco in the Bay Area, So I would research some great camera rental options, prepping, planning again, making your social media have it work for you. So start following all those bands and then you start tracking events on Facebook. Start tracking events on song Kick. Create a concert calendar in conjunction with your personal calendar on Google Cow. That definitely helps me stay on top of what's coming up in the next week or two festivals that I want to keep in mind for the future and what not and then link up with the music industry in your city. Start getting connected with the community that you eventually want to you get into, and then why do all this work ahead of time? You. I need the access because most values do not let you in with professional equipment, so you need permission at first and then how to get access. Just put the word out. Definitely Get involved with music journalism. You can friends who work at venues up and coming local bands. Just reach out to your community and use your sharp networking skills to reach out to your network. And once you have your first few links, once you have a cell, a portfolio going, it will be easier and easier to get the access anyone. 6. Camera Settings: So you're at the show. You're about to shoot the life set. It's just getting started on, and you're getting yourself in tune with the vibe of the performer. Thes air some camera settings to keep in mind. So one important thing to know is that I always, always shoot raw, because when you shoot raw, when you edit the image, the raw image isn't permanently altered, so you can essentially create a few different edits from each raw shot. You can shoot raw and JPEG both together, but I think that just takes up too much space. And he also don't need to do the biggest raw file possible. I just keep it on smaller off so that I don't blow through my memory card right away. Other many settings that I keep in mind is a picture style. I always shoot neutral since 0000 That way I can kind of play around when I'm editing, and then these kind of give you different options for sharpness, contrast saturation. But I don't really like to play with those in camera. I just keep it on neutral at all times, and then another thing that you want to keep in mind is your white balance. So you have different white bones options. I always keep my non auto, but for the most part, anytime I'm shooting, it's just auto. So auto, you want a neutral picture style, and then you want raw images. So those three things definitely want to keep those in mind. I always shoot in manual mode, just said that I have as much control over the options has popped the lighting options as possible. I try not to shoot continuous, although I keep it on continuous shooting, which on my camera comes up as three squares. And that's if you hold down the shutter. It just it just keeps snapping. So I have my camera on continuous mode, but I don't usually shoot continuously. I select specific moments to fire those off. One thing to keep in mind is I'm always reading the light meter, and then when you look inside the viewfinder, this light meter is right there in front of you. So if you hold the shutter down halfway, it'll show you kind of if it's right there in the middle and you'll know that the shot will be evenly exposed if it's done there than it might be a little bit too dark. It's right there That might be a little bit too light. So I tryto read the light meter in the viewfinder. Let's talk a little bit about I s O. So for larger shows for bigger shows of the bigger production, I usually keep it around the low lower I s. So maybe around 500 two without somewhere in between there but again, you're really gonna have Teoh make it up kind of on the fly, but usually no more than 3200. Otherwise, the image starts to get a little bit grainy. So high versus low I S O really just depends on how big the production is. Hi, I esos for more intimate venues and then lower eso for bigger productions with a bigger lighting budget. Now let's talk a little bit about aperture, and that refers to the thes numbers on your camera when it's a millimetre. And then there's another number. That's that's the aperture that's so this goes down to 1.8. So when people talk about critter and have stop, it's a little bit confusing because a lower number. So an F stop, an F 1.8, means a wider aperture. There's Mawr like me let into the camera, so I usually keep my aperture pretty high. And remember, that's a lower number. I keep my capture pretty high for smaller venues, so I'll go down to 1.82 even a 2.8. Sometimes on then, for bigger festivals, bigger productions, bigger sets. Sometimes you can get away with three, usually 3 to 5516 But then anything higher number, lower opportunity that it will just kind of get to dark now recommended shutter speeds up your shutter speed is control at the top of the camera, usually anything on under 80. In a more intimate Sillerman, you might make for more blurry shots. I tried Teoh keep my shutter seat around 1 25 to 80. For those smaller shows, I'm that way you can get those super crisp, clear shots and then, for, you know, bigger productions. Sometimes you can go a little bit higher for bigger festivals of rising a little bit higher . It just really depends on the lighting design. So these are the dial's that you're gonna have Teoh get used to playing around with how many images should you aim to get when you're out of show? I think the number that I usually try to aim for is around 2 to 300 shots per set I'm in. This includes varying perspectives. You don't just want photos of being front and center and in the pit you want different positions within the venue. So try him a zoom lens. Try zooming in, try getting wide shots. Stand in the back of the menu so that you could get the whole band and the stage design. Get some shots of, you know, just the front man. Just front woman of the band Get different shots, different variations of expression, different lighting design. So you really kind of want to grab a different for a whole variety of shots. But I would say going through more than 300 shots for anyone set can get a little tedious. So don't go too crazy and, you know, really make those shots count. One protest that I was given early on is to click the shutter when the down beats happened , because that's usually when the lights are programmed. Teoh flash or change colors, so you kind of want to shoot with the beat of the music 7. Editing: Now you've shot the show on. Then for your project, you will be choosing 5 to 10 images, all from different angles, with varying composition. All of my, um, shots are in camera raw. That's the CR two file. So let's go over the editing basics, these air, the things that I keep in mind, Um, when I'm editing my images in camera raw and this is thief Photoshopped plug in. But you can also edit, um, in light room. It's very similar. Um hey, I usually take a look at the exposure of the contrast Highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity, vibrance, saturation and then the white balance. So I kind of adjust these guys, um, you know, however, however I like and then once I have taken care of that, I switch over to levels. Just play around there. It's gonna see what your I gravitates to the most. Um and then I sharpen if I need to. But you can use this masking tool. Um, and there's also loom in its And then if you go to the next one over, can play with different can single out, um, colors, too. Saturate more or less can also change the hue on eliminates the reds. More light Make the reds more black. So here is a quick example of my process When I began editing my concert images, Um, first I like to crop, if necessary, just kind of find the right frame. And then I go over to the dials I was telling you about on the right exposure, contrast, shadows, highlights clarity, vibrance, white balance Just kind of move them around to see what happens there. Home for this one, there's a lot of red, so I'm gonna bring down the saturation just a little bit and then I kind of want to highlight, um, all the people So I'm gonna bring up the clarity smidge around the highlights. I don't want this section to be to break, so bring it just a little bit. Also play with the white balance Here, make it more yellow. No, just keep it where it waas and then I click over to levels on. This is going to adjuster tones, brightness and contrast and kind of just don't mess around how you like here, But I just like Teoh experiment, go over to sharpening. It's gonna brings out the lines makes the edges sharper, but you sharpen too much. Then you see you get some noise. Appear so you can help hit the old button and then move this masking dial and then you'll see just the edges. Get the sharpening and then you don't really elevate the noise here, and then you can even bring the living. It's up a little bit when that kind of gets rid of good, noisy background, and then this is the last part that I go to. Um, I usually like to play with. The color is a little bit. Bring down the rent saturation a lot, maybe even bring up the greens. Play with yellows, just kind of make your own filters can also just the hue of the Reds here, but not really gonna play around with those. You just save image. It's tough and done. 8. What To Do With Your Content: Once you have your finished products, you should definitely not keep them to yourself. Definitely show the world the art that you've created. I think it's really important to share those things. It's really kind of fun to get that kind of feedback. I always upload my favorites to my instagram. Most of my instagram is concert shots and then other photography that I am involved in a swell. So, yeah, share your content on Instagram and then I would look into creating a website. You definitely don't have to be a Web designer. Wiz. I signed up for Squarespace, which is about $10 a month, and it's just really a very easy to use Web hosting site that comes along with predetermined templates. And so I just upload all my work. Usually, I upload my work as soon as I'm done editing it. I select one or two images from that festival, that concert and I put it up top. I also signed up for Dropbox, which is also the 10 maybe $20 a month. This is a good way for me to share my work with my client, so I upload my edit and shots to a folder, and then I share the link with my clients or my editors or whoever I'm working with on gets a really easy way for them to, and I go through and pick out which ones they like and they want to use and then also really important to stay organized with your folders. So I have a Festivals folder for 2015. I have concert folder for 2015 and I make sure to label the, um, artist's name and the venue. And then that way, if I need to refer back, it's very easy for me to find. Now. My computer doesn't hold to too much space. Eso I make sure to back up my work on an external hard drive. Every so often, I'll clear out all of these raw images and then I will just keep the folder off. Um, the selects so really important to stay organized with your work. Otherwise, all this kind of clutter disorganization and I think will deter you from wanting to keep percent. So little bit of organization goes a long way 9. Final Thoughts: So I just want to thank you for tuning into my skill share presentation on music photography. Hopefully learned a little bit. Got some tips and tricks that will give you the confidence to go forth with your dreams of shooting live music. I was definitely scared to do it at first. It's something that I wanted to get involved with for a while, and it was something that I have been inspired by for a while. But I was really scared at first. But don't be. Just put yourself out there. Surround yourself with positive people and you'll start to see that your network will provide ample opportunity for you to proceed. Your passion of music photography. Thank you.