Concert, Photography, Tips

Boost your exposure when Soundboard Shooting


Joe Satriani

Live music photography presents photographers with more shooting challenges than any photography genre. Poor lighting, unpredictable subjects, and minimal shooting allotments to name but a few.

Add to this the ever present possibility of a further restrictions through shooting position. Whether due to safety requirements, being trumped by a video crew, lack of a photo pit, or simply artist preference – the time will come when the dreaded words “soundboard shoot” are communicated to the assigned media.

Soundboard shooting placement means that rather than in close proximity to the stage, photographers are quarantined in close vicinity to the front of house soundboard. The reality of this generally means shooting from a relatively fixed position behind a few hundred to a few thousand fans. Shooting overhead is an option, though the long focal lengths generally required from this position make this undesirable.

The solution? Boost your exposure position by investing in a step stool. For 15.00 at most local hardware stores, a step stool can mean the difference between getting the shot or going home empty handed. My favorite stool for this application is a 13″ collapsible step stool which is light, durable, and cost effective. Available in a variety of colors (I prefer white) these collapsible stools provide an extra foot of crowd clearance and setup/teardown in less than a second. I favor adorning mine with day glow tape strips on the top to ensure solid foot placement in the dark.

With vertical stool orientation to the stage, there is just enough room to support a monopod with a tight stance.  For a more solid foundation, ensure your monopod is long enough to reach the floor after adding another foot to your shooting position.

Allen Ross Thomas is an Atlanta, Ga based music industry photographer available for concert, promotional, portrait, and editorial coverage for local bands, national tours, multi-day festivals, and international music events.

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