How to: Get Good Photos

Salup's Guide to Getting Great Photos on Stage

If you’re performing on stage, chances are at some point a photographer is going to take pictures of you. The main goal of the photographer is to capture the photos that tell the story about the event. They have to juggle their equipment, the booze-infused crowd, a high noise level and have a limited amount of time to get the shot. It’s not an easy job and as an artist, you being aware of their challenges can help you get better pictures. Here are five things you can do to help them and ultimately help yourself.

1. Ask for better lighting on stage. The key to good photography is good lighting. My take, don’t be afraid to ask. Most lighting guys are more than happy to cooperate and make sure you get good images. Some important factors:

Intensity – ask for slightly brighter lights. Slightly brighter lights allow the photographer to use higher shutter speed and capture motion without blurs. For example, this photo of Savage Masters performing at Churchills. It has great light intensity & balance. Note: no editing has been done on this picture.

The color of the lighting is important too. Blue, green and orange are great for photographs, they allow the camera sensor to capture more detail and are sharper lights. Red is awful. Different photographers have different theories as to why, but red light produces slightly out-of-focus pictures with not much detail in the highlights. For example this picture of  Overdose at Churchill’s. No editing has been done on this picture. You can see this photo lacks details, looks unfocused and is a result of the awful pink light.

On the opposite, check out this picture of Lucifer at Churchill’s. Again no editing has been done on this picture and it looks amazing partially thanks to the good blue light.

Another problem with pink light is that it requires a lot of post-processing to make it look good. A photographer who already has a lot of photos to edit may not have the time to do that, and you’ll either end up with bad photos, no photos or get stuck with a bill to pay the photographer to spend the time and edit the pictures. If you can, save yourself the trouble and ask for better lighting.

Above Gery Rodriguez & Revolution at Churchill’s is an example of a really low and awful pink light. The position of the lighting is also important. A bit of a backlight, coming from backstage, helps tremendously in making you pop from the background. It also gives you that dramatic “fringe” around the hair, clothing, etc. Eunoia invested in their own set of backlights, and it makes a huge difference as you can see in this shot below.

2. Dress distinctively – Nothing worse than a great group on stage, sounding great, with obvious chemistry… then dressed in slacks and a shirt or something. The pictures will not do justice to the sound. If it is your look then it is your look, but, if not, consider dressing a bit more distinctively and with more character, the pictures will look way better. One of the great things about metal, rock and similar bands is their whole persona: they dress the part, act the part and live it up. That makes for some really dramatic shots.

For example, this ”onesie” worn by member of The Burnouts during the Tribute To Radiohead at Churchill’s was memorable. Below another great example, the always interesting, Ralph Arana & Manic Office performing during the same Tribute to Radiohead show at Churchills.

3. Movement – Don’t move continuously. I know… it’s hard but, if you stay in a position for a couple of seconds, it makes it much easier to focus and compose and the pictures look amazingly good afterward. And, as long as we are talking about movement, don’t be afraid to be a bit dramatic on stage… just count to two.

Mariela Muerte from Faetom – One of the few pictures with movement that I posted. Normally, no one likes a blur.

4. Play to every side of the stage – there are photographers everywhere, make sure you give them the opportunity to get a good shot. And, while we are at it, don’t be afraid to look at the photographer and even interact with him or her, the pictures will be more emotional and memorable.

Mariela Muerte – Lead singer at Faetom – makes it a point to walk all over the stage.

5. Just let go.

The last tip is to try not to think too much while you’re up there. Get into your groove, do what you do best, and let the photographer do what they do best. That is how great shots like this one of “Crazy Ray” during the Radiohead Tribute at Churchill’s are captured.

Marcelo Salup is a Miami based business professional and photographer. He can be contacted via his website: