Last year, my parents treated me to something special: my first concert. I’d read about Matthew West, a popular (and funny) artist, coming to my area, and had asked them about the concert. They surprised me a few days before the concert, and I was so excited. “What should I wear? Who’s coming with me? Can we get floor seats? Can I take photos?” That last question was probably one of the most important to me. If I was going to my first concert, I was definitely going to see if the place allowed photography.
I was extremely impatient as my Mom and I walked to the ticket office. The floor seats had long since been sold out, but I didn’t mind. At least I was going to see Matthew West! But the ticket seller said that two floor seat tickets had just come open while we stood there! My Mom gave me a look, and I shrugged. “You have the wallet.” I laughed. Floor seats all the way. That must have been a God-incidence (there’s no such thing as coincidence).
As we sat in the second row (a bonus because the first row had no one in it!), I fiddled around with my Nikon, setting the “correct” ISO, shutter speed, etc. I decided to leave it on Shutter Priority because I didn’t feel comfortable with full manual at the time.
The opening band performed for a while, and the sun behind the grandstand fell quickly. By the time the set-up crew had removed the extra equipment, tuned the guitars and furnished the stage for Matthew West’s entrance, it was completely dark. I had to change the settings on my camera again, and took a planned shot of the drum set with the blue lights and smoke in the background. This was a must-have shot for me.
Matthew West finally made his entrance and impressed me much, much more than I thought he would. He had me smiling the whole night away. Being my first time at a major concert, I “followed” the artist’s and other fans’ actions. I’m not much of a wave-hands-in-the-air type of person, but I clapped a lot. Matthew West included the crowd in everything, holding out his small microphone so that everyone could “help out” with the bridge or chorus here and there.
He shared plenty of stories (most of them honestly hilarious) and even more jokes. He’s a funny guy. At one point, he jumped off the stage and over the gate to stand in front of us. He was positive he had hurt his knee in doing so, but he said it was for the fans.
Without hesitation, he jumped onto the front-row seat in front of me! He bent down, shook my hand and asked, “Hi, did I scare you? What’s your name?”
I replied, grinning with a smile too big for my face, “Megan.” How could I be scared? I was too busy thinking, “WOW, I JUST SHOOK HANDS WITH MATTHEW WEST!”
“Well, everyone clap for Megan,” He returned the smile, and added, “Because I think I might have scared her a bit.”
See? There are huge benefits to buying the last floor seats available. Getting the best seating for taking photos (awesome), and getting the unexpected possibility of shaking Matthew West’s hand (double awesome).
Here are the details for my first concert “photoshoot”:
I decided to use my 18-55mm lens because, although I could have zoomed in closer with my telephoto lens for some face shots, I was more interested in the atmosphere and adding it into the photos.
Matthew West has some really good faces (by “good,” I mean he’s either got a beautiful smile or a full-of-feeling, scrunched-up look) when he’s singing, and when he sang “Forgiveness,” his look was amazing. I had left my camera bag open in order to retrieve my Nikon D3200 whenever I felt like a good shot would happen, so I quickly got it out and readied it for the ever-hopeful “next time.” Thankfully, he made the same look, and I got the shot shown at the beginning of the post. A super-important tip in the Boy Scouts, as well as in photography, is “Be prepared.” Remember that you may only get one chance to create a great photo.
In some photos I took during Matthew West’s first songs on stage, the highlights are, well, high-lit. I had forgotten to reset my ISO and shutter speed after the opening band, so, while Matthew West smiled into the camera for me, the photo would take a lot of editing to show it. Again, be prepared.
I used a 32GB SD card, but didn’t take many photos because I wanted to “cherish the moment,” something I have a bad habit of forgetting to do.
As for editing, I used some contrast to boost the skin tone, which was an unnatural gray from my camera. I also cropped out the uninteresting parts of the stage to focus more on Matthew West. Black and White conversion, which I’ve seen in quite a few different concert shots from other photographers, didn’t look good with the photos I took. Color did more justice, I thought, so I left my photos that way.
I definitely plan on going to more concerts with my camera in tow, and this won’t be the last time I participate in a Matthew West concert. I’m all smiles just thinking about it! Thank-you, Mr. West, for the best first concert ever.
For more info on Concert Photography, check out these posts from my favorite tutorial website, Digital Photography School: