Concert Photography Part 1

Photographing Concerts by Bryan Farley, Fresno High, Class of 86
First of three parts
In high school, I loved music. So did my classmates. We listened; we danced. We even shared music. MTV was new and we watched videos for hours. We even stood in long lines to buy tickets to concerts we would never forget.

Twenty four years after graduation, my classmates have reconnected on Facebook and share our memories of the music and concerts. Some memories seem dazed and confused and were probably best omitted from high school publications. (Some comments probably do not belong on FB now.) However, a commentary about popular music belongs somewhere in American high school publications. Hopefully, this series of articles can help.

Tim McGraw performs at Shoreline Amphitheater in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 2010 Southern Voice Tour

Last Fall at the JEA National Convention in Washington, D. C., when I reviewed the photography portfolio of the eventual National Student Journalist of the Year, Ina Herlihy’s, I wondered why more students did not photograph concerts. If only I knew how to photograph concerts… If only Ina would agree to help I thought I could teach others.  Since I knew Ina’s adviser Tracy Anne Sena,  I contacted Ms. Sena and asked if she thought Ina might be willing to help. Ina agreed. We attended concerts this summer and she taught me how a high school student gains access to events. Her younger sister Emma Herlihy joined us too.

In a future C:JET article, Ina and I will discuss our project in detail. In the magazine, Ina will also present her twelve rules for photographing concerts.  On the JEA Digital Media site, I will discuss some of the digital media issues. Since Ina is attending college, I have asked Emma to help me continue the project. Beginning in Kansas City, Emma and I will also present a concert photography workshop.
The JEA Digital Media articles are currently in three posts.
1. Online concert photo galleries:  “If I can create a two-hundred image photo gallery, should I?”
2. “Now that you have an online gallery, what do you do with it?”
3. “What is the difference between online and print?”

Installment 1. If I can create a two-hundred image photo gallery, should I?

Lady Antebellum toured with Tim McGraw in 2010

The simple answer is no, but anyone who has worked with digital media already knows that there are no simple answers. So, the real answer… it depends.

For the Tim McGraw gallery inserted below, I settled on 20 photos. I took 300 photos during the first three songs. (At most concerts, photographers are allowed to photograph the first three songs of each performer.) For McGraw, I liked about 80 photos.  I thought 80 was too many, so I tried to eliminate similar photos.  I would have eliminated a few more, but I wanted students to see how I approached the shoot. Usually, I prefer to use fewer photos when possible.

Tim McGraw Southern Voice – Images by bryan farley

There are reasons however, for creating large photo galleries.

Search engines love searchable content. The same day that I photographed Tim McGraw, I photographed Lady Antebellum and Love & Theft. When Taylor Swift was singing about Love and Theft’s Stephen Barker Liles (Hey Stephen), people searched for his photo. While anyone can find a Tim McGraw photo (because Tim McGraw uses his own name), Stephen Barker Liles’ images are more difficult to find. However, if I keyword every Love and Theft image where Stephen Barker Liles appears, someone can link to my image to their website. This helps my SEO.  This is also where a larger slideshow might help… assuming I added the appropriate keywords.  How did I do?

See the larger photo gallery with all three performers.

Ms. Lauryn Hill toured with the 2010 Rock The Bells hip hop festival

I had a more difficult decision at the 2010 Rock The Bells hip hop festival. (I photographed the show with Emma Herlihy on August 22, 2010.) I created separate galleries for Snoop Dog and Ms. Lauryn Hill and a few other bands. I also created a separate Rock The Bells San Francisco Show Gallery. You can see the slideshow or gallery below.

Rock The Bells Photos SF 2010 – Images by bryan farley
Launch Rock The Bells 2010 Slideshow

Digital media can attract online viewers across the world. Photographing concerts also has the power to connect local communities. At some schools, people who listen to country music are considered outcasts. At other schools, hip hop is misunderstood, especially by adults. With music, we can share memories and experiences.

In the next segment, I will discuss the significance of sharing photo galleries in a digital world.


Bryan Farley

Bryan Farley is a visual art educator from California. Primarily a photographer, Bryan also studies and teaches how to use new media to communicate personal stories about people he considers invisible.

Bryan Farley has 13 posts and counting. See all posts by Bryan Farley