MISSION STATEMENT - This site is dedicated to professional music photographers. Our mission is to advocate sound business practices, warn against predatory client practices, provide helpful and educational resources, and foster a sense of community. All discussions related to capturing, processing, cataloging and licensing music photographs are welcome.

You are here

Shots per gig

How many shots do you take per gig?
I take ~200 frames

maybe 100-500 frames. Depends on the music style also.

I take photos intuitively, which involves producing a lot of crap. But I wouldn't have it any other way - if all the images were composed and exposed "by the book", that would mean that I had used too much of my head and not enough heart.

I am not that experienced, so I just take as much as I can. I carry along 6Gb of memory that is enough for ~600 shots. Normally I just fill it up (which makes around 200-300 pics/band). When bands change, I also clear totally crappy images to free space (last time, I cleared 150 pics like that). I shoot in continous mode, just trying to capture some interesting faces and movements. Almost never I am really know what exactly I am shooting (apart from the general idea of "shoot that guy wguitar while he moves" - of course, taking into account tecnhical tetails like framing and such), and what will be in result. This is a random process and it's a lot of fun :)

So, in short, I take as much pics as I can. I can take less if I'd go for "standard" shots, that are quite obvious after few shooted gigs. But I like the random and impressive images... they even sometimes sharp *_*

Askar Ibragimov - middeneaht.deviantart.com

About 200 pics per band. The actual number varies between 100 and 300, depending on lighting, music style, band performance, number of bands performing that night, shooting possibilities (sometimes there's just one place to shoot from -> not so many pics), etc.

The more shots I take the worse is the percentage of decent frames. This only applies when number of shots rise above ~150 per band. There is some variable limit after which pics are just crap; I shoot without thinking. Going under this limit pics are at their best; I use my head and heart but still experiment alot. When number of shots is way under my "magic limit" most of the shots are technically ok, but artistically dull. I try to avoid both of the extremes.

Markus Lehto

Speaking for myself, the frame count dependson two factors:
1. The band
2. The lighting

If the light is good and band gives a good show, I ususllu fire around 120 to 160 shot per gig.

There's huge difference shooting a dull performance on small, poorly lit stage between professional performers who know their instruments playing on perfectly lit large venue.

Live hard, die hard

the main factor is policy. being allowed to shoot the whole show allows for a lot more pictures than only the first three songs. and then there is the factor of length of songs. i've shot the same band on two different nights where the first three songs was 12 minutes one night and 30 minutes the next.
i rarely fill up more than 4 gigs of raw with the 20d. if i can shoot the whole show i'll delete according the the lcd. in three songs of a large act i take between 250 and 400.

-michael saba


I shoot RAW and bracket 0,-1,+1 ... I normally get 500-1500 frames depending on how long I am allowed to shoot and how much the lighting/presentation change. I shoot with two 1D bodies and often switch while buffers download into CF cards. I also have a 5D that I use for fisheye (both Canon 15mm and Sigma 8mm) shots of the stage setup (I walk around the stage before the performance and look for interesting things to shoot ... I get to do this because I work for the venue and have badges and passes) normally with the aid of a small tripod, but this is usually under 50 additional frames.

Dwight McCann

Teemu Juutilainen wrote:
Speaking for myself, the frame count depends on two factors:
1. The band
2. The lighting

I agree with you there... it also depends on how long I get to shoot for obviously. Varies a lot for me... wouldn't say I have a standard average frame count though.

Agreed with the above, it depends on the setup & the bands stage presence
I could shoot 200+ shots in 3songs but still only shoot that amount in a full set if the band lacks energy/movement etc


I completely agree with you here. I'd always wondered if I was the only one who took 200 frames and ended up with a large pile of bad photos and small pile I loved!

My norm is being able to shoot the entire gig, and I'm getting down to 120-160 pics (RAW). If I had the 3 song rule I would shoot at a higher rate, in my opinion it's only fair play that you have been given a time slot in which to annoy the hell out of anyone you choose. (That's one way of seeing it!)

I say 'getting down to'. A bit of a traditionalist maybe, or maybe it's just my personal way to improve skill, quality and technique. I don't want to go trigger happy, shoot 3 cards worth then slog through them all to reject the heaps of crap. I had a hard enough time on a 10 hour dance shoot (dvd filming) running through 700+ images.

I'd prefer to have a higher rate of keepers from a smallest set of shots rather than an adequate number of keepers from a huge batch. Of course circumstance varies, so if I choose to spray & pray at times then I'll do just that, though try to remain focused on the task rather than 'yup that'll do nicely'. Hmmm. Me serious tog. Hehe :-D

Canon vs PC, Aperture vs Lightroom, Pc vs Mac (hello I'm a aMac!), spray & pray or pick & click, it's horses for courses as people get better results doing things their way.

So umm, yeah. About 150-ish if I'm lucky.

"David, what musical instrument do you play?" "I play the Hasselblad!" (David Redfern)

I shoot til I have nothing left and then I might even go back and delete photos that are just obviously horrible or of no use. Then go back and keep shooting.

It also depends on how many bands are playing for me as I'm still in the local scene. And if I know the whole place is going to go crazy for the headliner. If so I def save more pics for them. I get better photos when the band members get caught up in the drunken energy and do crazy things like jump into the pit or crowd surf. Gets even better when they start bleeding while they're still preforming. LOL!!

So if I know it's gonna get crazy I def save space. I do end up deleting a lot of photos in edit, but it's worth it!

Like most of you it depends... I know when I first started I went a bit crazy, but I have really started being more selective about my shots.

I usually only get 3 songs and then that rages from 50-150 RAW images, depending on the action of the shoot. Plus I've noticed if its high action and I am really enjoying the show and the artist is playing to the camera or at least the audience, I shoot a lot more.

I've also known where I've nailed the shot I need, and then shoot more because I want to play with effects and lenses... or if their are lighting issues...

I only shoot in RAW these days, I will never shoot a concert in JPEG again. I love the quality and flexiblity with the setting I can adjust, If i shoot a total of 9 songs(3 bands in a night) I normally get about 650-1000shots. I shot fast and look like I have a rubber neck when im shooting becuase each movement could be THAT SHOT that you just awe over. Some people would call it over kill but i dont mind sorting through the photos and having a bigger selection of photos.

I shoot everything in raw and generally shoot 150 - 300 images per band. It really depends on the lighting and the band as well though. I shot Dillinger Escape Plan a month or so ago and they only had strobe lighting so ended up shooting 600 image so I would end up with enough images to sell.

A variety of factors determine how many shots I generally shoot/band (in RAW):

3 song limit, exciting band: between 120-200
3 song limit, static band: 50-100 (or less)
full set, exciting band: about 200-350ish, depending on set length

I am at that point now where I have begun to recognise prime "shooting moments," so my shots per gig has started to come down, and my good results has started to go up. Although sometimes, if the lighting is particularly good and it's easy to get a lot of shots, I will just shoot as much as I can, as well as I can, in the hopes of getting a few of those awesome, one-of-a-kind pics that we all hope for. I find that sometimes when you least expect it you get the most amazing shots, but if the lighting is poor and things are a real hassle, I just concentrate on getting a decent selection of the best I can do, and don't really shoot like mad. I know it probably seems like it should be the other way around, but sometimes it's just not worth the hassle in crap lighting to keep shooting. Of course we all try to do our best, but when it's obvious its going to be a losing battle, I am starting to just throw in the towel, save my battery for the next band, and hope there are at least a few useable pics, though I know it's unlikely anything will be "breathtaking".

All that said, on an average 3-song shoot, I get between 100 and 200 shots. If the lighting is really good, or if I am permitted more than the 3 songs, I have shot as many as 500 shots of the same band, and then gone through and been really picky with them, deleting most of what has been shot and only keeping the really prime stuff.