Anti-Flag @ Warped Tour 2009, Scranton PA - 07.15.09 (2)

Warped Tour Photography Tips for Beginners

May 28, 2008 | Article, Concert Photography, Photography

The Vans Warped Tour is coming up this summer and more & more photographers are getting access to shoot the tour. I have been covering the Warped Tour on and off for 10 years now and tend to get my best shots at this tour. This article is for the newbie photographer that’s just starting out and needs some type of advice on what to do on the concert. I have been asked from time to time on how to get a pass, advice, etc. So here’s a list of things you need to know before shooting the Warped Tour:

1. Requesting credentials can either be an easy thing or a pain in the ass. One way of doing it is asking a Warped Tour band or record label what publicity company is handling the passes this year. Then you’ll be given a contact for that company and they will send you a press form. Fill that out and send it to the contact. Now you have to wait and see if you get a confirmation back, and if they will even grant you a pass. Don’t be bummed if you get turned down, it happens. If you have a website, or work for a website/magazine/ newspaper / etc; it should be fairly easy to secure a pass. Though, if your website/etc. doesn’t get many visitors or readers, you might have a hard time getting a pass. If you’re just a fan that wants to take pictures in the photo pit, you probably will get turned down as well. So take that into account before you even bother requesting a pass.

2. When you get a confirmation e-mail back, make sure it says that you have BOTH a ticket and a photo pass. That’s important.

3. Print out your confirmation email, and make sure you have a number to call in case something happens at the will call booth. And make sure you have a photo ID with you too!

4. Make sure to pack sunscreen because it’s HOT out there, and if you can sneak it in, a water bottle as well. If the venue is on a field, make sure to bring a bandana or face mask because there will be dust. Remember to keep wiping off your camera as well.

5. Get to the concert when the doors open because you might miss some great bands early! Traffic, slow goings in the parking lot, and extremely long lines will probably happen so take those things into account as well. Though, if you have passes, you can probably skip the ticket line.

6. When you finally get your credentials, try to get back stage immediately and avoid walking with the rest of the crowd. That can slow you down with getting to the photo pit.

7. Don’t be Wayne & Garth from Wayne’s World and flash your passes to every person you see, and brag that you got a pass. Act professional and don’t be a dickhead to the staff & security either. There might be some assholes on the staff but just try to deal with it in a professional matter.

8. Make sure you have a pen & paper to write down set times, but if you go to the press tent/room/area you’ll be provided with set times on a printout.

9. Take advantage of the press room if you need to because it’s shaded, and you can probably charge your camera’s batteries if you need to.

10. The standard first 3 songs/no flash rule is in effect at the tour. If you can, try to get into the pit early so you can secure a good spot. I usually sit at the other main stage when the other band is playing but last year’s Warped Tour I got yelled at for doing that. It all depends on the security and the venue.

11. When in the pit, make sure you have your camera bag with you or have a friend hold it for you while you shoot. Never leave it under the stage because it can be easily stolen or damaged.

12. Beware of the other photographers around you. All the photographers are there to shoot the same thing as you are, so don’t have an ego or push people at out of the way to get a shot. Concert photographers aren’t slimy paparazzi! Give a tap on the shoulder if you need to get by someone. And another thing, DON’T put your camera right in front of the band members face & use your flash because of two things. 1) It’s annoying to the band member and 2) you’re in the shots of the other photographers. That’s a big pet peeve of mine so don’t do that!

13. Beware of security and crowd surfers! The photographers are the closest to the stage, but behind them are the bouncers and are catching all the crowd surfers. Sometimes they will push you out of the way to catch someone, and sometimes they might fall back onto you by catching someone. You almost need to have two eyes behind your head because it’s dangerous to be in the pit at the Warped Tour. I once saw a female photographer get her head cracked on the stage from getting crushed into the stage accidentally by a bouncer. Another thing kids like to do at the Warped Tour is throw water bottles and other objects. So if you think something is coming your way, you might want to duck or cover up your head & camera.

14. If you have more than 1 lens, try to be as quick as possible when changing it. Or change the lenses in between songs. Point the camera down when changing lenses because you’ll get less dust in the camera & lens. Since you only have 3 songs, make sure you got photos of the entire band. Get some wide angle shots, close-ups, and mid-range portraits. And turn around and face the crowd every once and awhile, you might get some awesome crowd shots!

15. Drink lots of Water! Even if a bottle of water cost an arm & a leg, still drink lots of water. You don’t want to be known as the photographer that passed out in the photo pit.

16. After the 3 songs are done, either you can go backstage and chill or you have to go out into the crowd & wait for the next band to come on. Review your photos; delete the blurry/duplicate shots or ones that just suck. Unless you have a lot of memory cards, then you can do that at home. Double check to see all your camera equipment is working as well.

17. Be sure to get pictures of the skaters and crowd as well. There are a lot of strange people walking around, which makes for some great photo ops!

18. Pace yourself, if you do too much in the beginning; you’ll be burnt out by the time the headliners start to play. If there is a shitty band performing, try to sit down, eat a 20 dollar cheeseburger and sit in the shade.

19. When you’re finally done shooting, make sure you back up your photos as soon as you get home or when you first get on the computer. It would be sucky if you shot photos all day and got everything erased afterwards.

20. When posting your images, don’t post every single photo! Some photographers think it’s great to show 50 shots of the same band member, and just other uninteresting photos. Pick your best shots! Maybe 10-20 shots of each band?

Well that’s it folks. If you think you can do all that, than you’re all set to shoot the Vans Warped Tour this summer. Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.

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