Whether you’re pitching your tent for a full weekend of live music or going to a concert with friends, make sure you're prepared to capture all the fun of the summer. Festivals and music events are filled with spectacular stage sets and props, quirky costumes and, of course, incredible performances that all add to the atmosphere. So pack your Canon camera and follow these top tips from a festival photographer to take shots that are the envy of all your friends.
Ben Morse launched his career as a professional festival photographer with just one email. He was an enthusiastic amateur looking to develop his skills, and saw festival photography as a way to combine his passion for music with his growing interest in photography. "I was just getting started and wanted to broaden out my portfolio past the musicians that I was shooting. I thought a festival would be a good way to do that, so found 2000trees, a wonderful small rock festival in Cheltenham, England that I thought might give me a shot. I emailed them and they said, 'Yes, we love your work.'" In fact, they liked his work so much that they invited him back the following year, as a paid photographer.
"Shooting a festival is much more fun than just attending it," says Ben. "I discover a tonne of new music and get to feed off other people's creative energy, which is very exciting." The varied conditions that festivals present mean that they're the perfect training ground for photography enthusiasts – a great place to develop your skills while having fun.
Here, Ben shares his advice on how to take more creative shots by working with your environment, looking for unusual compositions and using your zoom to maximum effect.
"One great thing I've learned over the years of shooting festivals is that it pays to be where the other photographers aren't," says Ben. "Some of my favourite shots are the ones I've taken when standing in the crowd and the singer has come down to the barrier. The other photographers remained in the pit because that's where their pass got them access to, and they didn't think to move around to get the best shots. I love shooting from the crowd's perspective because it's the view that most people remember. I see it as my job to be there and get in amongst them to soak up the atmosphere."
This tip doesn't just apply during big performances, either. Use the time before and after the music sets to explore the colourful scenes around the festival site. "There's tonnes of cool stuff you can shoot at a festival. There are always people dressed up in crazy costumes wandering around the place. And my feeling is if they're wearing a costume, they want to be seen, so they would probably love it if you take their photo. It doesn't hurt to just ask. Just say, 'Do you mind if take a photo? You look amazing!' Most of the time, they will say, 'Yes.'"