Festival photography 101

written by:
Donna Tzaneva


Festival photography 101

Ok, so you finally got your first concert or festival gig and now what?! The more you start surfing the internet on advice, the more you realize that you’ve plunged far too much in the deep end, and by this point you’re probably contemplating on whether or not you can actually follow through. You’ve already past the point of no return therefore quitting isn’t an option and well, the thought of continuing is quite painful as well. Surely there has to be some light at the end of the tunnel. And do you know what? There is ! You’re definitely not alone here, trust me on that!

In order to help you out just a tad with this, I’ve listed below some basic yet noteworthy tips, tricks and heart to heart advice on how to make your initial encounters with festival photography as smooth as possible.

1# Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable

Like with any new beginning comes a certain level of fear of not meeting the required expectations, or more simply put, momentously failing and making a fool out of yourself. You cannot learn if you don’t try and well… truth be told, it’s perfectly fine not to know what you’re doing as after all, you’re only human. Will you be great? Probably not. Will you fail? Probably not either. At the end of the day, you can only grow by stepping out of your comfort zone therefore, take this task with a pinch of salt and perceive it as an opportunity to learn and grow, as after all trying is the first step to succeeding.

2# It’s not about you, in fact, it’s not at all about you

I remember my first concert; I was surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of unfamiliar faces, all of which looked identical under the low, dim concert lights. I had the feeling that each and every person present in that venue was meticulously judging every movement, breath or camera click I took when, in retrospect, they truly didn’t care who I was or what I was doing. They had come to see the performers therefore to them, I was a no one and in situations like this, it is good to be a no one as you can blend in with the crowd and do your own thing – in this case clicking away.

3# Get to know your gear

This is where equipment comes into play. Know your camera inside out, or at least as much as possible. If you’ve been shooting on Automatic until now, the morning of the concert is definitely not a good time for a frantic Youtube crash course on how to use the camera’s Manual Mode.

4# Take the correct lenses

50mm. That is all. This is probably the most versatile lens that has ever been made. Relatively cheap and lightweight, this lens delivers perfect crispy clear images in low light conditions with that much desired depth of field, or so called ‘blur’. It might not be the ideal lens if your subject is a football’s stadium away from you, however, in all other circumstances, this lens is golden. GOLDEN.

5# Shoot in RAW

Yes, the files are large and you might have to use up quite a few SD cards however, shooting in RAW has unparalleled benefits when it comes to freedom in post production, which do not exist if shooting in other formats such as JPEG ( for example adjusting the balance, exposure, noise etc ). In other words, if you mess up big time, you could still potentially save  the day and your reputation in the postproduction phase.

6# There are no rules

Photography is all about being creative and unique. No two souls are alike therefore no two photographers are the same. If it works for some, it might not necessarily work for you and vice versa. Try out anything and everything that comes to mind but most importantly don’t forget to have a little fun as well!

Donna Tzaneva

Donna Tzaneva is a twenty-something year old globetrotter that was born in Bulgaria, grew up in Australia and now resides in Iceland. After finishing her BSc in Equine Studies, a severe horse-back riding injury made her take a step back from that career and take up photography. She hasn’t stopped ever since..