By Ted Soqui

Javanese music and dancing at the  Glow festival on Santa Monica Beach

Javanese music and dancing at the
Glow festival on Santa Monica Beach

1. Use a Camera.

If you want great concert images, use a camera instead of a smartphone. Cameras have much better optic, image-storage and zoom capabilities. They also work better in low-light situations, making for images that are less blurred and less grainy or noisy images. The files sizes are larger, allowing for cropping and printmaking.

2. Get Closer.

Getting close to the act is usually best. The last thing you want to see is tiny, ant-sized images of your favorite musician. Zoom lenses that have image stabilization are a big help.

3. Pick a Subject.

It’s often very difficult to compose a good-looking image with five or more band members in a single shot. Zoom in on each of them individually instead. Sometimes you will be lucky and get two or three positioned well together. Be selective.

4. Higher ISO; Avoid Flash

ISO refers to your camera’s sensitivity to available light. Use higher ISO and shutter speeds, but avoid using your flash. This is where a camera has its advantages over a smartphone. Using higher ISOs allows you to use higher shutter speeds, which means less-blurred images. Flashes tend to wash out your photos, and a smartphone’s flash is virtually useless at a concert. Your favorite artist spent thousands of dollars lighting the stage. Use their lighting. Also, squeeze the shutter release instead pushing it. This will keep the camera or smartphone from moving around and blurring your images.

5. Be a Good Neighbor.

You don’t have to shoot the whole show. The opening number and last song are usually the best to photograph. Enjoy your time and be a good neighbor to those around you. It’s all about capturing good images and good memories, and nothing is worse than holding your camera or phone in front of someone’s face during the whole concert.

Ted Soqui has been a photojournalist in Los Angeles for more than 30 years. His work has appeared The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, LA Weekly and The Argonaut.

Learn more from Soqui, Reuters photographer Jonathan Alcorn and Pultizer-winning AP photographer Nick Ut during their hands-on Venice Beach Photo Workshop on Saturday, July 25.  Visit for details.