Photographing Festivals

In this post I will try and give you an insight of what it’s like on a typical day at a music festival.

The music usually won’t kick off ‘til midday at most festivals so, after a night of preparing all the folders and sub folders for both my raw files and edited files, I’m usually up quite early in the morning of the first day of a festival (depending on how far away it is of course). I’m lucky as we have quite a few big festivals in my area, such as Creamfields, Fusion Festival, Liverpool International Music Festival, Bluedot Festival and Africa Oye Festival, to name just a few I have been lucky enough to cover.

Fusion Festival

First thing I do on the morning of the festival is to check all my cameras are set up right

First thing I do on the morning of the festival is to check all my cameras are set up right and everything I need is in my camera bag (batteries, note book, cleaning cloth etc ect). If it’s a big festival like Creamfields, where they have a media tent all set up with WiFi, I’ll also take my computer. Although, even at Creamfields, I never edited and sent images off from the festival site as I live quite close to the festival site so came home every night to edit and email my images.

Bluedot Festival 2018

After checking my gear, and making sure I have everything, I’ll then quickly check the weather forecast just in case I need to take waterproofs. I’ll also take a quick look at the bands and artists that are on stage that day and, if it’s a multi stage festival, will try and work out times and stages so I can get to as many bands as possible. We don’t always get a stage and set list of times so this can be a bit hit and miss, so you have to work this out once on the festival site!

Shawn Mendes Fusion Festival

I try and get onto the festival site at least an hour before the first band or artist is due on, or, on the first day of a festival maybe two hours because I have to find the PR tent or cabin in order to pick up my photo pass and this can take time (and be a little frustrating at times).

Jess Glynne Fusion Festival

Once I have my press pass I try and find the press tent (if they have one

Once I have my press pass I try and find the press tent (if they have one), sometimes it can be quite small and just a place to chill between sets, sometimes it’s quite nice, with water, food, Wifi – even tables and chairs! When I find the press tent (or area), I just chill and go through a few final checks of my gear and wait for the first band I want to photograph.  Then I get to the pit just before they are due on stage (remember at most festivals we will only get the first few songs so you have to be there on time).  At some of the bigger festivals you are taken to the stage by security or PR people just before the artist is due on stage, and then after the first three songs you are taken back to the press tent to await the next artist. This is rare and most of the time when you have done the first three songs you are allowed to roam around the festival site and get some crowd pictures which to be honest are always asked for by editors.

Gary Numan Blue Dot Festival

The rest of the day is filled with the same routine usually, shoot the first few songs, get chucked out of the pit, go back to the press tent or area and wait for the next band, or go out of the pit and get some crowd shots and soak up the atmosphere.

Once the final band are on stage and we have been chucked out after the first few, I usually pack my gear up and set off home, where I’ll spend a few hours uploading the images to my computer, editing some images and, if I’m shooting for a publication like Getintothis,  resizing them and mailing them off to the editor, writer, and the person selected for checking the review and publishing it.

Then I’ll format my memory cards, stick any batteries on charge that need charging and go to bed looking forward to day two when it all starts again.

Africa Oye Festival

So, a few tips if ever you are lucky enough to shoot a two or three day festival.

  • Check your gear the night before the festival
  • Check the line-up and if it’s a multi stage festival check stage times
  • If you have a map of the festival site, check where the press tent is
  • On the first day get there early in order to pick up your press accreditation
  • If you are at a local festival and not editing on site, upload your images as soon as you get home and, once uploaded and checked, format your memory cards ready for the next day. Also charge all your batteries.
  • Check the weather and take appropriate action i.e. waterproofs or a hat if it’s going to be a scorcher.
  • Don’t forget to eat and drink but try to avoid alcoholic drinks!

Follow Warren

Warren Millar is an award-winning live music, gig and festival photographer based in the North East of the UK.  Warren shares his passion for music photography through workshops and training events and is also a member of the Fujiholics admin team.

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Email Warren

Join Warren at HipFest 19

Shooting live music with the Fujifilm X series System

Princess Queue Shopping Center Fujiholics Room | Princes Dock St | HU1 2PQ Hull | United Kingdom

Saturday, 5 October 2019 from 11:45 to 12:45 (BST)

A personal music photography project, Live performance black and white portraits

Princess Queue Shopping Center Fujiholics Room | Princes Dock St | HU1 2PQ Hull | United Kingdom

Sunday, 6 October 2019 from 11:45 to 12:45 (BST)


Earning Your Press Accreditation

How do I get get photo or press accreditation, the one question I’m always asked, and to be honest again it’s not that easy to answer but I’ll try my best.

I’m quite lucky because I shoot a lot of my gigs and festivals for a few web based music magazines and blogs such as “Getintothis” and “Shoutaboutit” and as such these are usually sorted out for me, so this is the best way to get a photo pass for gigs and festivals.

In most areas you will find a music review web site, so practice your gig photography at local open mic nights, get to know the artists and promoters and get a good looking portfolio of gig images together.

Then and only then contact the editor of your local gig review site and see if they require any photographers to cover any gigs they are reviewing. They will probably ask to see some of your work and this is were getting out to as many local small live music events will come in handy because you will already have a good portfolio to show the editors.

 

If your good at writing and can write reviews as well as photographing a gig, well that’s an added bonus as writers and reviewers are always being looked for. Don’t expect to get paid as most don’t pay, you just get access that joe public don’t get, but look at it as a step up the ladder.

By writing or emailing the right people, you can sometimes get a press pass off your own back so to speak (don’t expect a reply as unfortunately and more increasingly PR people don’t even send you a “No” reply). More and more bands and PR people are looking at what sort of exposure they will get from allowing you a photo pass so best to have a publication behind you.

The best people to contact would be the marketing and or PR people connected to the band and or gig/venue/festival you want the pass for.

Be truthful with these people about what and where you intend to use the images you take. But as I said before it’s a lot better and you will stand a better chance if you have some sort of publication behind you.

 

(It also means that the work of obtaining a pass is out of your hands, but don’t be picky about what gigs you want to do as the publication will soon get fed up of this) If you are lucky enough to be given a gig to cover by a music review page or magazine, try not to let them down on your first gig you cover for them and be ready for a lot of hanging around, shooting from the crowd, dealing with security and shooting in very poor light. This may sound daunting to you at first but it’s all experience that will stand you in good stead for the future.

Happy Snapping

Warren

Follow Warren

Warren Millar is an award-winning live music, gig and festival photographer based in the North East of the UK.  Warren shares his passion for music photography through workshops and training events and is also a member of the Fujiholics admin team.

Web
Email Warren

Join Warren at HipFest 19

Shooting live music with the Fujifilm X series System

Princess Queue Shopping Center Fujiholics Room | Princes Dock St | HU1 2PQ Hull | United Kingdom

Saturday, 5 October 2019 from 11:45 to 12:45 (BST)

A personal music photography project, Live performance black and white portraits

Princess Queue Shopping Center Fujiholics Room | Princes Dock St | HU1 2PQ Hull | United Kingdom

Sunday, 6 October 2019 from 11:45 to 12:45 (BST)


How to Start off in Music Photography

This is the question I get asked the most and is really one of the easiest to answer.

Start off small, look for local open mic nights at pubs and go along and take photos (ask the pub and or organiser first, if you can take photos). If you know any local musicians who play in a band in your local music scene, ask them if you can take photos at their next gig.

Get the names of all the bands and artists that play and post them on your social media page with tags to the bands/artists (they usually have a Facebook profile) make sure you are very picky about the images you post. Only post sharp well exposed images and bin any images that don’t meet with what should be your high standards.

The lighting at such events can be very poor, but resist the urge to get your flash out. Using flash at gigs is a big no no in my books (although I have had to use it once sparingly, just to get some images for the publication I was shooting for).

Not only will you be shooting at very high ISO settings but you will be learning all the time how to make the most of your gear and make it work very hard for you pushing it to its limits. Small local open mics and gigs are great for learning how to get the best from poor venues, with very little in the way of good lighting. Every one you shoot will be a great learning curve, helping you to improve your technique.

With a bit of luck (and it is luck) the bands you photograph at these small open mic nights will, somewhere along the line, be supporting bigger more well-known bands and they will already know of your work and ask you to come along to photograph them.

This is where it’s good to also get to know the bands and artists at all the smaller gigs you may get to photograph, they are your best friends at this stage and will lead you to other bigger venues and bands.

The images here were all taken at small venues were anyone who turned up with a camera could have taken shots of the gig.

So what you waiting for? Go look for some open mic nights in your area and don’t forget to post some of your images on the Fujiholics pages using the hashtag #Fujiholics (only your very best images though).

Look out for my next blog in this series coming next month

Happy Snapping

Follow Warren

Warren Millar is an award-winning live music, gig and festival photographer based in the North East of the UK.  Warren shares his passion for music photography through workshops and training events and is also a member of the Fujiholics admin team.

Web
Email Warren

Join Warren at HipFest 19

Shooting live music with the Fujifilm X series System

Princess Queue Shopping Center Fujiholics Room | Princes Dock St | HU1 2PQ Hull | United Kingdom

Saturday, 5 October 2019 from 11:45 to 12:45 (BST)

A personal music photography project, Live performance black and white portraits

Princess Queue Shopping Center Fujiholics Room | Princes Dock St | HU1 2PQ Hull | United Kingdom

Sunday, 6 October 2019 from 11:45 to 12:45 (BST)


Preparing for a Gig

Home work is the key to covering any gig or festival, if you do your research beforehand it can result in better images and a much easier time in the photo pit.

As far as your gear goes it’s much the same as any type of photography really. Always make sure you have fresh batteries including spares. Don’t forget your memory cards. Check over your cameras to make sure they are set up in the way you are used to shooting, I once went to a gig just after doing a talk to my local camera club where I had my cameras and invited the people there to take a look at the cameras I was using at the time. I forgot to check over my cameras before I went to the gig and all the settings were changed. Luckily I had time to change them all back to my own personal settings before the first band came on, but it was a lesson learnt! I also, due to the above, try to give myself a bit of time to check over a few things by getting to the venue early.

As I said at the beginning homework and research can really help in gig photography. Most of the time I am photographing bands at small venues and a lot of the time it’s the first time I have photographed the band or artist. A lot are new up and coming bands that are starting to get onto the local music scene by supporting better known bands at their gigs.

So what do I mean by homework? Well the first thing I do is see if the band or artist has a social media pages I can look at. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are the main places I look. You can get a great idea of what music they play, what they look like and how they perform on stage as usually they post live videos on their social media pages. This all helps in the preparation for any gig and is something I always do when the band or artist is new to me. YouTube is also a great help, more so with the more established bands or artist as they may also have some professionally done music videos on their YouTube channel this also means you at least know some of the songs they are likely to play. I also like to know the bands names which are usually on their website and or Facebook page. It’s always great if you get chatting to the band to know their names without asking as it shows you’re interested in what they are doing musically. Another site which can be worth looking at is Sound cloud, many bands and artist have their own Sound cloud page and post their music on there.

When researching a band take a look at how they perform on stage, are they static, do they move about quite a lot, any songs in which they perform more than others, any strange or worthwhile moves  they make during their set to look out for. These are all things which may make your time in the pit a bit less stressful.

So home homework is the key, I’ve been in the pit with photographers who will say to me “never heard or see this band before” at least if you have done some research you can think “nor have I seen them live but I know a little about them”   Take any advantage you can.

Look out for my next little snippet hints and tricks to help with gig photography coming soon here at Fujiholics and in the meantime.

Happy Snapping

Follow Warren

Warren Millar is an award-winning live music, gig and festival photographer based in the North East of the UK.  Warren shares his passion for music photography through workshops and training events and is also a member of the Fujiholics admin team.

Web
Email Warren

Join Warren at HipFest 19

Shooting live music with the Fujifilm X series System

Princess Queue Shopping Center Fujiholics Room | Princes Dock St | HU1 2PQ Hull | United Kingdom

Saturday, 5 October 2019 from 11:45 to 12:45 (BST)

A personal music photography project, Live performance black and white portraits

Princess Queue Shopping Center Fujiholics Room | Princes Dock St | HU1 2PQ Hull | United Kingdom

Sunday, 6 October 2019 from 11:45 to 12:45 (BST)


A Look Back at 2018

So it’s that time of year when almost everyone looks back at what sort of year they have had and us photographers are no different.  We all have low points and high points in the year, times when you wonder why you should bother getting out with your camera and times when your passion just seems to be so overpowering you wonder how ever you would cope with out a camera in your hand.

The beginning of this year for me was a bit of a worry, wondering if I had enough kit to carry on photographing live music and festivals due to the burglary I had suffered . I thought quite a few times of just forgetting it all but the thought of never standing in a press pit again at a gig or festival just kept me going and this year turned out to be a bloody good one.

 

"I have probably photographed over 200 artists at over 30 venues, covered festivals such as Africa Oye, Fusion Festival and Bluedot Festival, exhibited my work at Shout About it Live (a music festival and festival of music photography) and was asked to speak at Hull International Photography Festival."

I have been lucky enough to photograph some big names such as Billy Ocean,  Flaming Lips, Future Islands, Gary Numan, The Chemical Brothers, Echo and the Bunnymen,  Frank Turner, Clean Bandit, James Arthur, Jess Glynne, The Vamps, Shawn Mendes, Zara Larsson, Travis and Jeff Lynnes ELO.

Even with the above names I still get exactly the same buzz when setting off to smaller venues and so called smaller artists as I do when setting off to the bigger arenas and so called bigger artist and that’s because I just love live music.

I was lucky In September to be able to order the Fujifilm X-T3 and it arrived on the 20th September the launch date and I can openly say here and now that this camera is awesome for what I do and I have my 50-140 f2.8 permanently attached to it. I will have to try and hire the new 200 f2 at some stage as at some arenas we have to shoot from the sound desk so would be interested to see how that beast performs.

If I was to pick just three highlights from 2018 this would be my own personal top three :-

At Number Three, The Friday Saturday and Sunday I spent in August at Shout About It Live not just photographing some great live music but also exhibiting some of my gig photography there and chatting to some awesome gig photographers, I was in heaven honestly. Big Thanks to Georgia and all the gang at Shout About It U.K. and all the lovely photographers and artist I met there.

At Number Two would be Bluedot Festival, I would highly recommend this four day festival to anybody remotely interested in Music and Science.  Held under the shadow of Jodrell Bank  Radio Telescope it’s a stimulation of the senses and not just the music senses. Big thanks to the two Peters from Getintothis for letting me cover this festival even though they had me rushing from stage to stage in blistering heat all three days I bloody loved it and hope to be back next year.

And pop pickers at Number one we have Hull International Photography Festival or HIPfest 2018. Anyone looking at going any sort of photography festival really should have this at the top of the list. The passion and just sheer enjoyment of photography is what this festival is all about. Some great speakers, inspiring exhibitions and a social side that just can’t be bettered anywhere. Im not going to name names about the great photographers they had there this year both exhibiting and speaking because I want you to research what HIPFest is all about and learn about what you might miss next year if you don’t bother going. What I want to do though is thank Matt Hart for believing in me and giving me the chance to speak at such a great international photography event (I hope I didn’t bore anyone) I also want to thank all the people I met there and my fellow Fujiholics who helped in the planning, encouragement, banter, drinking and just for being lovely people. Special thanks go to Alan Raw,  Sophie Duffill, Lee Glasgow,  Matt  Walkley, ClaireArmitage, Richard Waine, Barry Mee, and everybody else who was there .

So that’s it really the end of another photographic year for me. I’m already looking forward to 2019 and what it will bring.

I want to wish everybody a happy Christmas and all the very best for the New Year.


Alpine Party Plug Ear Protectors

For the last few months I have been testing Apine Hearing Protection PartyPlug ear protectors at gigs I have been covering. Alpine were kind enough to send me a couple of pairs quite a few months back. One pair I gave away in a little quiz I had at my gig photography workshop. The other pair I had with me at a couple of gigs until along with all my gear they were stolen. Once the good people at Alpine (Big thanks to Susanne) heard about this they had another two pairs in the post to me straight away. Now that’s great costumer service for you right there !

Anyway I have now used these ear plugs and quite a number of gigs over the last few months and can write about them here in this blog.

The first thing I can say is how comfortable they are, you honestly forget that you have them in. In fact on more than one occasion I have found myself driving home from a gig still with them in my ears!

One thing that other cheaper earplugs do is distort the actual sound of the band. Now I know im usually at a gig to photograph the band or artist, but I do also like to hear the music they are making too. Alpine Partyplug ear protectors let you do this thanks to their unique “Alpine Acoustic Filters” which filter out the damaging frequencies thus protecting your ears but letting you listen to the music at the same time. So if you are one of these festival goers who get right to the front of a gig next to the PA systems, these are the ear protectors you need.

The other thing is that you can hear and have normal conversations with these ear plugs in.

Alpine PartyPlug ear protectors have a Noise Reduction Rating of 16.5 – 21.5 Decibels.

So would I recommend these ear protectors to other Gig/Live Music photographers ? The answer to that would be a big fat YES. For the price, quality, comfort and protection Alpine PartyPlug give you they are a great buy. The come together with an applicator to help you fit and take out the plugs and a handy Minibox to hold them in when not in use.

Highly Recommended !

Warren

 

Alpine Hearing Protection
https://www.alpinehearingprotection.com/


Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show Liverpool

Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show Liverpool

Welcome to my second blog post from my gig photography series. In this post I'd like to share how I prepared to photograph Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show Liverpool at the 'Camp and Furnace'.


Getting the gig:

As a gig/events photographer you often spend a lot of time chasing jobs to cover, but every now and again, sometimes those jobs find you.

A good friend of mine who happens to know a lot about the work I do, and knows a lot about me as person, happened to mention my name to Craig Charles PR company, ‘Bite the Apple’, who was after a photographer to capture Boxing Day home coming Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show Liverpool in his home town.

After they reviewed my work, I was contacted and invited by Craig’s PR people to cover his show at the Camp and Furnace, which is in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, located between Liverpool’s Toxteth and docks areas.

Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle is a real gem of an area in Liverpool which really comes alive in the evenings with creatives and music events.

Research:

It is too easy for any photographer to accept an offer, pack their gear into their bags and head off to photograph whatever they have been asked to do on the day, but as this is a PR company I have never worked for before, I decided to research who ‘Bite the Apple’ are, what other people they represent and, more importantly, the style of images they use.

Often, their website will contain links to social media accounts, so it is as equally important to like and subscribe to those as you never know what other things this can lead to. Luckily, I was already a follower of Craig Charles ‘Funk and Soul Show’ page, so I already had some idea of what sort of images the client would like me to present.

It is also important to know where you will be shooting and what to expect when you arrive at the venue.

After speaking to the PR Company, I knew the venue was going to be the 'Camp and Furnace', I’ve covered various music venues around the Baltic Triangle but this would be the first time I have covered particular venue.

Fortunately for me, the person who referred me to the PR Company had also recorded a video for one of Craig Charles previous Funk & Soul Show's at the ‘Camp and Furnace’ venue. It also happens he is my partner’s daughter’s boyfriend.

We watched the video and considered the flow of Craig Charles Funk & Soul show; the lighting conditions at the venue, and what to expect.

The ‘Camp and Furnace’ is like other smaller venues, that is, the lighting conditions are very challenging but workable. I use the techniques to deal with the challenge of the lighting conditions that I teach attendees at my gig photography workshops.

This experience shows the value of having contacts and a portfolio of work online. Potential clients then have the opportunity to review your work, so it really is worthwhile recognising the value of keeping the online content to a reasonable number of quality images rather than seeking quantity!

So what do you do when you do not have a video available?

Most bands and event organisers use social media. This a valuable research tool, where you can review images already taken or see footage people have recorded on mobile devices.

Preparation:

Before covering an event, I always run through a checklist:

  • What camera gear do I need?
  • Are my batteries fully charged?
  • Make sure I have a notepad/pen

Talking of preparation, I also make it my personal ‘golden rule’ to set up folders for storing the images as soon as a I return from a gig.

In Conclusion

  • Research who you are working for
  • Research who or what you will be photographing
  • Research the venue
  • Anticipate any potential issues that could arise
  • Make sure your equipment is ready well in advance

A big thank you to Craig Charles and Bite the Apple

Love & peace, Warren


In the bag - Warren Millar's Gig Gear

Who am i?

I am Warren Millar, Fujiholics newest team member. I have already run some workshops for Fujiholics over the last year as well as regularly attending Fujiholics events and I am also looking forward to contributing to the Fujiholics blog. A little more on my photographer background can be found on my Fujiholics profile page.Read more