For the love of rhythm, a music festival is where each one of us would gladly spend all our life. The celebratory atmosphere that comes with a ‘no holds barred’ principle is eclectic. And then, there are the people armed with DSLRs.

A camera is the new addition to the world of music festival accessories. In a pool of selfie taking younglings, there are those who believe that handling a DSLR lends them some dignified respect that isn’t available to the ‘instagram obsessed generation’. And amongst them are those very few people who are in it to capture mass hysteria that can be barely witnessed elsewhere.

(Image courtesy: Concert Photography by Rama)

Music festival photographers have always had it the hard way. The large crowd and lack of space notwithstanding, it has been a stroke of luck for them to avail the perfect shot.  Add to that, the number of DSLR warriors is at an all-time high, so even serious festival photographers stand the risk of being reduced to a cliché. Today, at Festival Sherpa, we give you the best ways to land yourself a respected collective of photographs from a Music Festival.

1. Forge acquaintances! You never have enough of them

If you’re shooting a music festival organised on a colossal scale, it will do you well to get a permit card from the festival organisers itself. It is part of their public relations move. With this access, you will earn yourself back stage entry, green room access, and probably, even some time on the main stage. The compositions that you can make will remain a novelty to the rest.

2. Gear-up, but Stay Light

Limit a photographer to the choice of one lens for a music festival, and it is as good as sending him back home. They would want the 50mm, to get the perfect depth of field; the wide-angle lens to capture crowds in an amazing breadth; the super zoom-in lens, because how else are you to zoom into that one band member’s face? But, stop right there. Remember, a music festival generally goes on for days. If you wish to maintain your physical sanity, carry light. Restrict yourself to one zoom lens with a wide aperture and good sensitivity to light. A camera makes not a photographer. Never forget that.

Photographers at Austin City Limits Music Festival
Image courtesy: Lotus Carrol)

3. Know your Music

You might land at a music festival not interested in the music at all. But knowing the performing artists’ style will not only help you gauge their stage movements, but you will know what to expect from them, as mere subjects. You will also be able to strike a conversation if allowed green room access. And that conversation might even land you a tiny photo project. Basically, do your homework. No band member wishes to entertain an ignoramus.

Image courtesy: Mike Danenberg Photography)

4. Pick and Choose

Music festivals are spread across huge ground and multiple stages with a bunch of artists playing simultaneously. But how will you know that capturing Thom Yorke in his element is a greater photographic moment than some hillbilly band? Ultimately you want to make an image of the musician in his zone, but your work will be progressively crisper if you know which artist to prioritise. Which takes me back to my earlier point. KNOW YOUR ARTIST.

(Image courtesy: From Daft Punk by Andreas H)

5. Learn the ropes

The internet is a magical place full of free advice. There have been festival photographers who have aced this genre, and they have the technical knowledge lined up for you. The exposure combinations, fast shutter speed tricks, focusing in the dark, and the most unique shots, they’re all up there. Reading up on them will leave you a lot more prepared. You wouldn’t want to take the perfect shot only to realise the exposure was off, now do you? Try your best to secure unique, never-before-seen images.

(Image courtesy: Concert Photography by Rama)

6. Everything but the camera

Wearing the right shoes is the most underrated advice at a music festival. And it becomes that much more crucial if you’re a photographer continuously running around. Dress yourself so you may run, squat, kneel and stand comfortably. Allow enough room for air to enter, so you are not found breathless or dehydrated. Keep the body fluids in check, and grab that occasional meal, even if it is a plate of fries. Ear-plugs are a blessing. You wouldn’t want that life-size speaker to blast next to your ears. Basically, ninja mode. At all times.

It can be body and mind-numbingly crazed out to work while the entire crowd is going bonkers over a crazy guitar riff. But when they will be nursing their swollen soles, you will spend time being satisfied over a brilliant collection.When the festival is long over, it will be your images that will be shared and circulated. So arm up, and shoot right!

(cover picture courtesy: Vidhi Trivedi)