• Irina Duane

How to photograph your child's Musical, Play or Concert Like a PRO

Hi everyone,


It's been a very busy week and it's not even over yet!


But as they said "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life".


This week my photographs appeared on the pages of the Dungarvan Leader newspaper twice. The photographs were from the CATS Musical and two composites from the February Competition entitled "Sky and Clouds" in Deise Camera Club. You can read all about the competition in my previous post.

CATS the musical featuring a very talented group of drama students from the Dungarvan Junior Musical Stage School, and a  fantastic production by David Hennessy (Director), Brian Collins (Production Manager) and David Hayes (Musical Director) was definitely the highlight of the month.


Theater/Concert photography is one of the most challenging fields in photography. Imagine that you have no control over light or the position of your models, you can't use a flash as it would disturb the performers, you don't have access to preferred angles, and you can't move around as you have to stay in your seat. On top of that you have to remember that there are people around you who want to enjoy the show, proud parents who want to record every minute of their child's performance, and small children in the audience dancing, singing, and copying the movements of the actors. Sounds like a challenge, right?


Cats the musical by Dungarvan Junior Musical Society Stage School

Here are a few tips that will be definitely helpful:

1. Open your aperture! Aperture refers to the lens diaphragm opening inside a photographic lens. Go for the lowest number on your lens. I always shoot concert/theatrical events with my two favourite lenses: a 50mm and 85mm. F/1,8-3,5 are my preferred settings to allow me to take pictures on high ISO without noise. 


2. High ISO. ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera.  Push your camera to ISO 800-1200. Even if some noise will appear on your picture it can be easily remove in post processing.



3. Shutter speed. Shutter speed is the length of time it takes for the digital sensor inside the camera to be exposed to light. One of the reasons your photographs come out blurred is that your shutter speed is too slow/low.  Anything below 1/60 may result in a camera shake and blurred photos. Bump your shutter speed up to at least 1/125.


4. Wait for the spot light! Remember you don't have control over light so you have to use the theatrical spotlights to your advantage. Wait for the light and shoot!


5. AF Setting. I shoot with AF-C (continuous) on my Nikon, which is the same as the AI Servo mode on a Canon camera. This continuous focusing lets me track motion until the moment I press the shutter release.


I always shoot in Manual Mode. I usually start with an ISO of 800 and use a wide aperture f/2.8, a shutter speed of 1/160th of a second. I always tend to shoot underexposed to avoid "burned" areas on the photographs and prefer to work on correcting the exposure later in post editing.  






I hope you find these tips helpful! Remember “there are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” ― Ansel Adams.


Good luck and happy shooting!

Irina x


Happy Memories Photography

Children, Family and Wedding Photographer in Dungarvan | Waterford | Cork


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