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For those photographers aspiring to be in front of the stage, behind the stage, or in a spot to take live performance photographs, a new book, Three Songs, No Flash! An Ultimate Guide to Concert Photography (Rocky Nook, Inc, 2010) by Loe Beeren, will make a great field guide.
The book is packed with wonderful photographs that are technically correct as well as composed for the ultimate emotional effect. The book is not one for the beginner photographer unless it is used as a composition primer. The technical tips and techniques are better understood by those photo hogs with some time behind the viewfinder.
Your Ultimate Guide to Concert Photography
The author and photographer, Loe Beerens, works as a freelance photographer and photojournalist with a wide span of experience working in public relations, advertising, press and magazine photography, and photography for websites and portraits.
“Photographing pop artists is a goal of many photographers, both amateur and professional. Images of live performances can be colorful, full of expressions and action. If intending to take live photos of well-known performing artists, three songs, no flash are the keywords you should always bear in mind,”Loes Beeren
The book goes into great details on gaining access to performances, how to get the best photos, how to work with press agents, stage managers, and others, and the super trooper or follow spot–those that get to follow the performer on stage.
Photographing Live Performances
One of the tips that Beerens hammers on is getting a good live performance photograph requires the photographer to do some upfront research to get to know the music, the performer, and details of the performance itself. This way the photographer will be better able to gauge and plan for getting some of the best photos. He also tells readers the best always keep in mind who to photograph, namely, the main singer.
Beerens also reiterates that photographers have to be familiar with getting in and out of the stage pit and they must stick to the rules of the performer or band they are photographing. Violating the rules and ultimately the trust of the performer will ensure a non returning photo gig.
Dos and Don’ts of Concert Photography
Beeren drives his insights down to the last detail. Some of the dos and don’ts include:
- Wear black clothing.
- Be invisible.
- Be careful.
- Be fraternal.
- Respect the audience, the personnel, security, TV cameras, and other photographers.
- Be prepared for the unexpected to catch special moments.
- Don’t act like someone new to photography.
- Don’t get in the way.
Beerens relays his experience photographing Shirley Horn who was in ill health. Horn started performing and could not continue after the first couple of songs. She did not perform much after that particular concert, making Beerens photograph more meaningful.
When photographing a performance by Ibrahim Ferrer, he focused in on the hand Ferrer raised during a song, the skin on the hand looked like parchment. Ferrer passed away a few weeks later making Beerens’ photo historical.
The Photographic Details
The book has great photos of major performers including:
- Bruce Springsteen
- Ricky Martin
- Tony Bennett
- Bryan Adams
- David Sanborn
Beerens lists the technical specifications and camera settings for each of the photos. He covers all aspects of shooting live performances such as:
- Framing the shot.
- Filling the frame.
- Including props such as microphones.
- Focusing on the eyes – “always”
- Photographing different instruments.
- Photographing duets and jams.
- Audience photos
- Paying attention to costumes and outfits
- Shooting the action.
- Capturing the style.
A Must for Your Photography Book Collection
Three Songs, No Flash! An Ultimate Guide to Concert Photography is somewhat small, at only 152 pages, but when the reader opens the book, there is a sense of larger-than-life photography. A great table book, learning tool, or for an interesting read.
Ratings: 5 stars for photographs, 5 stars for technical detail, and 5 stars for writing style. As an overall teaching tool, 5 stars.