Taylor Jackson Photography

This is a basic overview of everything I know about concert photography, for big and small venues. I’ll hit the more important pieces with a more in depth post a little later.

  • brittany - Do u know what lens works the best for portraits like if i wanted to take pictures of the band back stage? I have a NIkon D40 and the 18-55mm lens but i need to find the best one for portraits.

  • Richard - Hi Taylor

    Thanks so much for this post, I found it incredibly helpful. I’m surprised no-one else has commented on it yet!

    One question – to zoom or not to zoom? Your final point is the one I was waiting for, really – how close do I need to get? Obviously if you’re in the crowd, it’s difficult to shoot without a zoom lens, and I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with an expensive DSLR in a big crowd.

    But, let’s say you were in a relatively quiet crowd four or five rows back from the stage, would the 50mm F1.8 lens you mention suffice?

    Lastly, I was thinking of getting the Olympus E510 which comes with 14-42mm and 40-150 kit lenses. Do you know of an Olympus-compatible equivalent of the cheap F1.8 lens?

    Grateful for any further tips you can give!


  • Taylor Jackson - Hi Richard and Britney,
    The best lens for backstage portraits would probably either be a 50mm 1.8 or just using your 18-55 with a flash (if it’s really dark)
    Bands generally like wider angle shots

    The concerts I usually photograph are standing room only – or you’ll have access to a photo pit in the front.
    You might want to get something a little longer if you’re that far back. An 85mm 1.8 would be a good choice, but i’m not sure if olympus makes anything like that.

  • Richard - Hi Taylor

    Thanks very much for this. I think I’ve now found an Olympus based solution that ticks all the boxes. I’m ordering an E510 with the two kit senses (which are apparently pretty decent).

    For concert shooting, I’m going to get an adapter to allow my new E510 to take older OM lenses (under £10 on eBay). This opens up a huge ranges of quality lenses at cheap prices – and because of the OM > 4/3 conversion, I’m told the focal length gets effectively doubled. So I’ll pick up an F1.4 50mm OM lens, and on the E510 it’ll become a 100mm 1.4 . Judging by your advice, this should be awesome for low light shots at gigs 🙂 It’ll probably be manual focus only, but I’m OK with that.

    Cheers again

  • Taylor Jackson - Hi Richard,
    Yah it will probably be manual focus. One thing you might want to look at is if the converter adds a stop to your lens (most of them do)
    But even a 100mm 2.4 isn’t bad at all!

    I’m glad there’s good Olympus stuff out there!


  • Carrie - I found this extremely, helpful!
    I’ll try some of these tips out, and see if i’ve seen a differance in my photos!

    Thanks Taylor!

  • will - ive been doing this a while but have never really looked into anything for help, and i believe this is going to help greatly!! thnk u so much for makn this. if u want to check out soem of my work u can!


    thnx again!

  • Tobi - Now i have time to thank you for your great tutorial.
    It helped me a lot.

    Greetings from Germany

  • Jayman - Fantastic review! so many people talk but you are the one who give the most specs, this is what I and many others in forums have been looking for. Great stuff and great pics, i too started with a S5 Powershot IS but now have a Canon dSLR Rebel XT and do a lot of concerts.

  • David - Thanks for the advice. I have a Canon G9 and I both love and hate it. I have the worst time in low light situations; concerts, kids indoor sports, etc… It seems whenever I use an ISO higher then 200 the pictures are way to noisy and even some at 200. It seems my aperture will only up up to a 2.8 at most but usually it seems like 3.5 is as wide as it gets. I am sure I am zooming in way to far, aside from that any other suggestions?

  • canongirl - Thank you Taylor, this is the best blog I’ve read about concert photography.

  • Alan J - Hey man,
    Great Site you got going, helpful and intresting.
    I just noticed you live in KW, I recently moved in here from another country and my shooting opportunities are rather limited here and ive not been shooting often, not at all infact.

    So since you live here i thought you know about photogenic places and similer stuff 🙂
    hope i can contact you on msn or facebook
    Keep up the good work !

  • Jorge Ayon - Taylor,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.
    Your tips really helped me a lot.

    Best Regards,

    Jorge Ayon

  • andriant - nice photos. thanks for sharing 🙂

Less than 1 year after starting

There’s a lot of make money from home strategies on the internet – this one takes some work. And well…you have to leave your house to take some photos, unless you have a studio, or want to specialize in product or food photography.

More or less, you’re selling your photos to anyone that would want to buy them. Graphic designers to use in designs, bloggers to use on blogs, companies to use on their website. (Travelocity used one of my Las Vegas images) Or whoever else might have a need for images, but not the means, or the money to go take the photos themselves.

I had no idea one of my 4megapixel photos from a point and shoot would be featured on American Idol for a season and a half. If the image would have just been sitting on my hard-drive (Like it had been for 2 years) Fox never would have found it to use. That sale came off of a full stock website, but the same thing could easily happen with microstock.

They bought the image in the bottom right off of me, and added their logos and whatnot.
My photo used in an American Idol Advertisement

Don’t expect to make a living instantly on this, but it’s a nice side income that doesn’t require a whole lot of upkeep to keep paying off. People download images for a couple bucks, and multiplied out over a year, it turns into a lot of money.

As long as you have a camera thats around or over 5 mega pixels(and a pretty good sensor) you’re good to go.

  • PhotoExtremist - This was written in 2006 when there was less competition. I make about 100 a month off of 800 images. How are you doing now, now that it is 2010?

As a wedding photographer, you get to shoot in some pretty unique locations. The Distillery District in downtown Toronto is one of the most unique, and beautiful locations you can find in Ontario.

If you’re from Southern Ontario, you may remember Saturday –Gorgeous, beautiful, sunny day…until about 4pm. Around then a nice little storm rolled into Kitchener, and took down powerlines, and stop lights. Well, it was a good thing we were in Toronto! We had until about 5:15 before umbrellas started getting pulled from patios. No Joke, the wind ripped a patio umbrella right out of a table of the Mill St. Brew Pub, and threw it straight up in the air – quite the experience.

Jill, Craig and I met up at around 5pm – we could see the storm, and knew we had to act fast, so that’s just what we did. We got a lot of great photos in that 15 minutes, before we got a little rained out. From there we headed inside for a little bit.

Here’s a few of the photos.

old school hollywood bride
I love the old school Hollywood feel to this image.

Distillery District Toronto Wedding

having fun walking through the bricks of the distillery

Pausing beside a brick wall for a beautiful photograph

beautiful bridal details

cute intimate moment caught on camera
This one above is my favorite.

bride bouncing through the rain on the wedding day

  • Marshall Angus - I smashed my knee off of that exact wooden barrel in the middle of the last photo in this set. It was about a year ago but it still hurts to think about it.