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Tutorial: What should be in your bag if you’re photographing a music festival?

Any photographer will tell you that outdoor festivals can be the best place to get great photos of different acts, from a hot, new band on the smallest stage to a headliner who has been around for years. But what should you bring if you’re shooting a music festival? If you’re going to be on grounds for three full-days, make sure you’re prepared! 

A great big stage at BUKU in New Orleans, LA.

Photo Gear

Camera: The camera you always use, of course. Don’t try anything new for a festival, at least not as your main body. Festivals tend to be even more rushed and limited on time to shoot than club shows, so make sure you know all your settings and are able to quickly adjust your settings as you may be shooting outdoor stages, tents and crowd shots back-to-back. Some photographers opt for a second body, but if you’re on a budget, don’t be discouraged if you can only bring one camera.

Lenses: If this is your first festival, or first time at this festival and don’t know how it will go, grab all your lenses, just in case. Most photographers will recommend a wide lens for crowd shots and smaller stages, and a telephoto for closer shots on big stages. Most people will opt for a 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200m f/2.8, but other combinations can work well, too.

A lens like a 50mm f/1.8 is not necessarily your best bet here, since you won’t be able to get the same variety of shots a zoom lens will provide. Most importantly, bring your lens hood to avoid sun flares during the day, and ensure you’re able to swap out lenses quickly if you’re shooting with just one body. 

Lollapalooza Berlin, shot on a 70-200mm lens.

Bag: Something light, something comfy. Either a backpack or a shoulder bag, whichever you prefer and think you can access to quickly. Some festivals will have press lounges to leave your jacket, lunch or extra gear during the day, but don’t bet on it and don’t necessarily leave anything expensive there unless you have a lock. 

As stated earlier, your lens hood can be especially useful, and don’t forget extra batteries. There’s nothing worse than going low battery and not being able to shoot anymore. Plan to have at least three batteries with you, with easy access so you can easily grab them. Bring your charger too, in case you need to recharge during the day. 

Finally, what you really don’t want to forget is something so obviously probably won’t think about it: extra memory cards. Get something with a big capacity and fast writing, and remember that you may be shooting fifteen or twenty acts in a day, as well as crowds and fans. The more memory space the better. 

Other Accessories

Some photographers opt for a lanyard with a pouch to put photo passes, timetables, extra memory cards, chapstick or other small items in.

Sunscreen, a hat and water, because it’s summer, and you don’t want a sunburn or to end up in the medical tent with dehydration.

Your business cards so you can spread the word about you and your work. Consider also adding your social media accounts and who you’ll be shooting for so people can find photos you take of them later. 

As for any other show: do not forget earplugs.

A padlock, to secure your bag. Leaving your things in a press tent or coat check is probably fine, but if you have any gear in your bag it’s never a bad call to lock it with a small padlock.

Osheaga in Montreal.

A few extra things

Just like if you were attending as a fan, choose your clothes wisely. Something light, comfortable, with pockets, and ideally with layers that you can take on and off as needed.

Shoes: again, something you’re comfortable in. You’re going to walk a lot, so take care of your feet. 

A pen, if you need to sign a contract or anything else. Have it at easy access so you won’t waste your time trying to find where the pen is.

Some pain killers. Music is loud.

Power bank and charging cord for your phone. Your phone will die, and you don’t want to miss a set finding an outlet.

Edouard Camus
Edouard Camus is a music photographer based in Paris, France. Find his work at www.edouardcamus.com.

Tutorial: What should be in your bag if you’re photographing a music festival?

Any photographer will tell you that outdoor festivals can be the best place to get great photos of different acts, from a hot, new band on the smallest stage to a headliner who has been around for years. But what should you bring if you’re shooting a music festival? If you’re going to be on grounds for three full-days, make sure you’re prepared! 

A great big stage at BUKU in New Orleans, LA.

Photo Gear

Camera: The camera you always use, of course. Don’t try anything new for a festival, at least not as your main body. Festivals tend to be even more rushed and limited on time to shoot than club shows, so make sure you know all your settings and are able to quickly adjust your settings as you may be shooting outdoor stages, tents and crowd shots back-to-back. Some photographers opt for a second body, but if you’re on a budget, don’t be discouraged if you can only bring one camera.

Lenses: If this is your first festival, or first time at this festival and don’t know how it will go, grab all your lenses, just in case. Most photographers will recommend a wide lens for crowd shots and smaller stages, and a telephoto for closer shots on big stages. Most people will opt for a 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200m f/2.8, but other combinations can work well, too.

A lens like a 50mm f/1.8 is not necessarily your best bet here, since you won’t be able to get the same variety of shots a zoom lens will provide. Most importantly, bring your lens hood to avoid sun flares during the day, and ensure you’re able to swap out lenses quickly if you’re shooting with just one body. 

Lollapalooza Berlin, shot on a 70-200mm lens.

Bag: Something light, something comfy. Either a backpack or a shoulder bag, whichever you prefer and think you can access to quickly. Some festivals will have press lounges to leave your jacket, lunch or extra gear during the day, but don’t bet on it and don’t necessarily leave anything expensive there unless you have a lock. 

As stated earlier, your lens hood can be especially useful, and don’t forget extra batteries. There’s nothing worse than going low battery and not being able to shoot anymore. Plan to have at least three batteries with you, with easy access so you can easily grab them. Bring your charger too, in case you need to recharge during the day. 

Finally, what you really don’t want to forget is something so obviously probably won’t think about it: extra memory cards. Get something with a big capacity and fast writing, and remember that you may be shooting fifteen or twenty acts in a day, as well as crowds and fans. The more memory space the better. 

Other Accessories

Some photographers opt for a lanyard with a pouch to put photo passes, timetables, extra memory cards, chapstick or other small items in.

Sunscreen, a hat and water, because it’s summer, and you don’t want a sunburn or to end up in the medical tent with dehydration.

Your business cards so you can spread the word about you and your work. Consider also adding your social media accounts and who you’ll be shooting for so people can find photos you take of them later. 

As for any other show: do not forget earplugs.

A padlock, to secure your bag. Leaving your things in a press tent or coat check is probably fine, but if you have any gear in your bag it’s never a bad call to lock it with a small padlock.

Osheaga in Montreal.

A few extra things

Just like if you were attending as a fan, choose your clothes wisely. Something light, comfortable, with pockets, and ideally with layers that you can take on and off as needed.

Shoes: again, something you’re comfortable in. You’re going to walk a lot, so take care of your feet. 

A pen, if you need to sign a contract or anything else. Have it at easy access so you won’t waste your time trying to find where the pen is.

Some pain killers. Music is loud.

Power bank and charging cord for your phone. Your phone will die, and you don’t want to miss a set finding an outlet.

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