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Published: 2011/06/20
by Jeff Kravitz

Making The Most of Your Festival Photos (Tips from a Pro)

Jeff Kravitz in the photo pit during Flaming Lips at Bonnaroo

This piece ran in the Bonnaroo Beacon but it is applicable to any festival setting…

Welcome to Bonnaroo 2011!! After 10 years of covering every inch and tons of performances at this beautiful site, I was asked to share some photo tips with you all. Here are some pointers so you don’t miss a moment that you’d like to keep forever.

1.Be prepared, photographically of course. If you are going to bring a camera and haul it all over with you, make sure you have plenty of batteries and lots of memory. Those cards fill up fast and you don’t want to be left deleting old pictures to take new ones.

2.Bringing an SLR camera and lenses to a festival is a commitment. You have to keep track of your gear all day. It could rain, someone could spill a drink on it or you could forget it somewhere. So make sure you want to carry your gear all day and make sure you have somewhere to lock it up when you’re not using it.

3.Use your phone!! I know lots of you do this already and it’s probably the easiest way to get photos. The photo quality on most phones is as good as most point and shoot cameras. Plus you have all the cool effects and can upload on the spot to show your friends back home what they are missing. Next year, they’ll be joining your party!

4.Experiment with your camera’s different settings to learn how your camera works. People come up to me all the time asking for help with their cameras. Each camera is unique as far as which buttons do what, so I’m usually little help. If you understand your camera and know how to use it, you will get good photos.

5.Check your composition, is there a tree growing out of your buddy’s head? If it looks cool, shoot it and if it doesn’t move to the side a couple steps to clear the background. Also don’t cut off your friends feet or hands in photos.

6.Make sure you are controlling the camera and the camera is not controlling you!

7.Work the camera like what it is, a time stopper. Learn to find the special moments, watch how people interact, how cool someone looks dancing. Try to shoot candid moments, the time in between when people are posing, not just the pose.

8.Your going to want to capture all the beautiful colors, so shoot without flash to achieve that. If you want to show a couple of your friends in front of a stage and see the lighting, you have to set your camera on the night flash mode. Refer to point 4 for that!

9.If you’re shooting during the day, turn your subjects so the sun is behind and their faces are shaded and use the flash to light their faces. The sun can cast some nasty shadows, so work with your positioning and angles to make it happen the way you need it.

10.Experiment with your camera, try all the different settings, learn what your ISO is and how to use it, look for crazy angles or maybe give your camera to your friends for a bit. Have fun with your camera and it will come through in your pictures.

11.Taking pictures looks easy, but it takes concentration, a steady hand and a little forethought…all of those things will be in short supply by Sunday, so shoot a lot early in the weekend.

12.Get those photos up and share them. I like Facebook, Flickr and Tumblr for sharing my photos. I always see people shooting video or shots at concerts and then never see the images online…SHARE!! You can see my photos on and a selection of highlights on my blog

13.My last tip is this, stay hydrated, sleep, eat and get your dosage right so you can enjoy the most of your weekend. Be prepared for anything and expect the unexpected. After all, you’re at Bonnaroo and that’s just not you ordinary music festival, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and the trick is to make it to Sunday night remaining upright! Have fun out there and hope these tips helped!

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