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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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)