How to Film a Music Festival | Festival Videography | Concert Videography
My name is Andy and I’m a 28-year-old full-time videographer and today, I want to share with you how to get into festival and concert videography. Every videographer and photographer dreams of shooting their favorite artists. I’m not different; I love EDM, trap, future bass, and hip hop, and that’s why it’s so great that I can share with you my experiences and how I got into festival videography. My first gig was with a hip hop artist named Lecrae, a very big rapper from the U.S., and it was amazing. I shot for him at a festival in Sweden and you can check out the whole story on my YouTube channel. My second festival was a big deal: Abroadfest in Barcelona. It was a passion project for a long time and I got to shoot amazing artists like Krewella, Rezz, Zeds Dead, and Gryffin. These were amazing artists who I never would have thought that I will shoot.
Firstly, let me tell you that this industry is very hard to get into and even harder to make money out of, so I don’t recommend you do it for the money. If you’re a freelancer, stick to your other sources of income because this is more for fun and for the experience. Eventually, you’ll be able to charge for your services but this takes a while and a lot of time. You must have some portfolio work to show that you’re able to capture photos or videos. It’s also important that you provide them with value and why they should consider hiring you. Are you shooting for a specific publication? Do you have a big audience? Are you shooting for yourself? Are you doing it for your portfolio? Or do you want to help them out? Make sure that you provide them with value and let them know it.
How Do I Get Media Passes?
To shoot a concert or festival, you usually need a media pass or an AAA (all area access) pass. There are two ways to do that. Firstly, you can go over to the festival or concert organizer and contact them directly. You can do that via their website, email, phone number, or you can DM them on Instagram, but usually, they’re not very interested because they already have their own media team. That’s why it’s important that you make sure that you provide them with value that other people can’t bring them. Also make sure you find out who’s responsible for marketing, PR, and media connections, and contact them directly (for example via Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn). Communicate to them what value you bring and showcase your portfolio, your work, and what you have done so far. The second option, which is, in my opinion, better, is to go directly with the artists. Same here, big artists have their own media team so it’s hard to get in contact with them or their managers. My tip is to look for smaller acts who are doing the warm-up or playing at the festival or concert and contact them. Because they are smaller, they don’t always have a media team, so it makes sense for you to step in and provide them with value. You can either work for free or offer them your help and maybe they can get your media passes.
What Gear Do I Bring?
Bring as little as possible — that’s the most important part about concert and festival videography. You will sweat a lot, run around a lot, and crash into people, so don’t bring too much stuff. Also, you can’t store your stuff somewhere safe so I would recommend you keep all your belongings with you. I brought my Sony A7iii with the 16-35 F4 and the 50mm F1.8. I also brought two batteries and a dust blower and I carried all of that in a small shoulder bag. You can throw it over your shoulder and run around and you have your front free to shoot. I also brought one backup memory card which was 256 GB and that was ideal even for 4K. I don’t like shooting with gimbals and personally, it’s a hassle to set up. I would not recommend you bring a gimbal when you’re alone. When you’re shooting with a team, it’s definitely an option to have one person shooting the nice and smooth gimbal shots and another person running around and getting close-up shots and emotions.
Quick Tip: Please use earplugs. I know they look ridiculous and they feel awkward but it’s worth it. Trust me, you want to enjoy listening to music for a long period of time, so use them. Also, remember to bring gum on every shoot — you’ll thank me later.
Before the Event
The first day is very nerve-wracking but remember to arrive early. That’s the most important part — arrive early to show respect to the organizers and the artists. You can check out the venue, get test shots, talk to people, and get your media pass. To get the media pass, it very much depends on the organizers. One time, I got it beforehand, but other times, I got it right at the location. You should definitely have the name of your contact person in mind or even a phone number so you can reach them in case you are lost. Always talk to staff and security on-site; they’re usually very friendly and helpful. As soon as you enter the venue, it’s very important that you check out where you can go, where you can shoot, whether you can enter certain areas like VIP, the pit, or backstage. Also, get some test shots if possible. It’s really important that you set up your camera properly, get the settings right, get the white balance right, and think about compositions you want to have later when people arrive.
Firstly, there’s the pit in front. It’s very important to know that you should enter the pit in the first three songs because they will not allow it after the third song because artists must focus on performing. This counts for large events. For smaller ones you can roam around all night. So that’s a rule of thumb for the pit — enter it for the first three songs. I always shoot wide angles for the first song and close-ups afterwards. The pit is the perfect location to get some nice shots of the artist and the crowd because the first row is very dedicated and emotional. The initial performance is also amazing because there are so many emotions. Sometimes, the artists are jumping in front of the stage and the crowd is screaming and crying. Do you want to capture the artist? Or do you want to capture the crowd? Think about this beforehand and get your wide-angle lens out. Usually I shoot wide for one song and close ups for two songs. Make sure you capture all sides, all angles, and shoot as much as you can in the pit because you’ll have a limited time there. After the pit, I walk to the back of the crowd and got some nice wide-angle shots of the crowd and the stage. In these shots, the stage looks majestic and massive and there are so many people there that I recommend you bring a wide-angle lens of at least 24 mm. I get a few of those shots and then switch to my 50 mm lens.
The rest of the time, I capture as many emotions as I can, which is the most important part of the video. Especially with concerts and festivals, people are so energetic and emotional and it’s so nice to capture. If you look into Tomorrowland, EDC, and all the big after-movies, you will see so many emotions — laughter, love, partying, and excitement. It’s important to capture all those moments. So get in there! I also recommend that you vibe with the crowd. If you know the song, sing and dance with them, and they will open up to you and the shots will look very nice. If you’re friendly, they will not only stage their smile to you; you will open their heart and the shots will look much better. Also, keep in mind that some people get very mad if you try to get in front and they don’t know that you’re a videographer. Always get your camera and hold it up high as you wriggle through the crowd. They will see your camera and will be much more friendly and let you through.
Filming Tips and Camera Settings
Of course, you can shoot in a low aperture and low ISO, but that’s nothing new. With close-up shots, I recommend you get very close. You should be able to see the white part of people’s eyes and this makes for a much more interesting shot. I see it more than ever that people hold the camera into the crowd but don’t think about the shot they’re taking. It’s very important to capture emotions and emotions always start with the eyes. Use the foreground and make sure that you’re going a little bit lower to get the low ground, the railings, and some lights to make the shot more interesting. Another tip is to bring in movement, which works especially well in festival and concert videography. If you’re having static shots, you can always move from left to right, from right to left, top-down, and even this little movement makes the shot much more interesting. You can also move with artists and crowds. For example, if people are jumping, you can try to capture the speed of their jumps. When the Spanish artist Garabatto was doing some moves, I tried to capture the speed of his movement and use the last move to transition to another shot. That’s something you will see a lot of especially in festival and concert videography of people — using in-camera transitions and whippings to the left and to the right or top-down to match the pace of the festival when you’re editing your post.
These were my tips on how to shoot music festivals and concerts. I can only recommend you to do it because it’s so much fun. For me, it’s the most fun I have ever had and it’s comparable to going on a trip. It brings me so much joy and I hope it will bring you as much joy. The editing was also so much fun. I hope this guide was helpful. If it was, please leave me a like and drop me a comment down below if you have any questions or you can follow me on TikTok or Instagram. Good luck with your move and good luck with all the festivals.