I was getting ready to shoot Jessica Lea Mayfield & An Horse tonight and I thought I would share my checklist for shooting shows.

A few days in advance I will check setlist.fm to get an idea of what I’m in for. If it’s a band I’m unfamiliar with, I’ll check out some YouTube videos to give me an idea of what their lighting is like. It also helps you to spot potential shots before hand know when a band member might take a flying leap off a stack of amps, or interact with the crowd in a certain manner.

I learned the hard way that you should also learn about the venue beforehand if you haven’t shot there before. The Orpheum Theater here in Madison sometimes sets up with a seven-foot tall stage. It makes it very hard to get any decent shots unless you get a long lens and shoot from the soundboard.

The night before show, I get the batteries all charged up. I’m a bit paranoid about batteries dying on me, so I always carry more than I will need. I use the MB-D80 on my D90. It holds two of the Nikon EN-EL3 batteries or six AAs. I also make sure to have plenty of batteries for my flash. The majority of shows I shoot forbid flash, but for the smaller venues with local acts I like to have it ready (if the band allows it).

I also always carry more memory cards than I need. It’s only happened twice, but I’ve had some memory cards get corrupted in the middle of a set. Bam! A hundred or so shots just gone. Have you ever seen a grown man cry?

I always print out my email confirmation as well. I’ve been fortunate and never had a problem with my photo credentials but you never know. Better safe than sorry.

Right before packing my camera in the bag, I set my camera up for the show. My basic settings to get me in the ballpark are:

  • Shutter Priority Mode
  • ISO 1600
  • Spot Metering Mode
  • Auto White Balance
  • Continuous, Single-Point Autofocus
  • Hi-speed Advance

Most importantly…EAR PLUGS. For the love of God, and all that is holy, don’t forget these.

Last but not least…have fun.

Cheers,
Clay

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