Rock N’ Shoot: How to take better concert photos using your iOS device


ConcertShoot copy

How often do you see your favorite music artists live? Well, unless you have boatloads of money, I presume not too much, right? I feel ya. When it does happen, there’s always that urge to take pictures to “capture the moment” – mostly to post on your social media accounts for proof.

“Enjoyed *insert name of artist/band here*’s concert last night. IT WAS AWZUMMMM OMFG”

I get it. You have the right to post your experience. But if you’re going to do that, do it in style – or at least in clear and engaging photos. Pictures should tell a story, defining that exact moment, and should intrigue your audience. What’s more exciting and intriguing than a famous person performing in front of you? Fortunately, iOS devices are equipped with cameras that are more than capable of your concert experience. Let’s compare some specs first:

camera specs

This is between the iPhone 5S and 5C, which as you can see has minor differences. The iPad family has few differences with their camera features (click here for more information). With camera specs that are almost the same, taking awesome pictures now depends on your ability to master your device’s settings and take advantage of what’s happening onstage at the concert.

Here are a few guidelines to remember before taking your photos.

Expose your subject

With photography, capturing something enticing or amazing can be a matter of being at the right place at the right time. But it’s also about knowing your camera’s functions. After activating your camera app, point the camera towards the stage or wherever the performance is. Tap your screen until the square comes out, drag the square towards your subject. Doing this focuses the camera to get a clear image.

Since a concert venue is usually in an indoor location, expect that you won’t get a lot of light. What you need to do is focus the square towards the brightest part of the stage to get a clear shot. Doing this deepens the image, providing contrast between the dark and illuminated parts of the scene. Since you’re attending a concert, point that square towards the spotlight directed at the performers.

Ready, steady, shoot

Concerts differ from one artist to another, so you might have to pull more than one technique to capture better photos. There is however one way to at least get stabilized photos: use both your hands to hold your device and keep it close. If you can move around, find a better angle of the stage and zoom only if you really have to, and if at least you can still produce a clear image. Use a tripod if its available and if you can.

There’s also the Grid feature that you should take advantage of. To activate this feature, go to Settings > Photos & Camera > Grid; this will put a two intersecting lines in your camera view. Now to use the Grid to your advantage, you have to follow the Rule of Thirds. This concept basically tells you to align the most interesting parts of the scene along the lines or at the intersecting points.

Use HDR mode with caution

HDR means High Definition Resolution, so choosing this mode optimizes your camera to capture more vivid and detailed images. Using this at a concert scene is not advisable though. Since a concert is a live experience, the performer, the stage, props, etc. will be moving constantly, a disadvantage when capturing at HDR mode. If you really want to try this out, wait for that slow track that usually makes your favorite artist just sit on a stool to belt out the song/s. A steady subject is OK to capture in HDR.

As an alternative, use Burst Mode instead by holding down the capture button. Or you can capture videos in Slo-mo mode! Go to this feature by swiping through the camera options until you see Slo-mo. Notice how the capture button changed to red, indicating you can record a video. Once you’ve captured the action happening, open the image from your Camera Roll. Slo-mo media are seen with a circular icon at the thumbnail’s bottom left corner. Open the file and you can edit out the sequence you want to slow down by dragging the black lines in between the blue ones. Everything in between the two black lines will be slowed down. Unfortunately, these two features are iPhone 5S-exclusive.

Don’t flash, it’s not appropriate

I mean that literally and figuratively if you know what I mean. Anyway, your iPhone’s flash is basically useless if you’re at a concert. Any of the following could happen or should always be considered: (1) your subject is too far, (2) even if you’re seated in the front row, the stage lights will render your flash useless, (3) you could make the experience less enjoyable for those in front of you, and (4) you could distract the performer.

If you’re going to take photos, take your time and rely on the stage lights and the spotlight. It will give your photos a more concert-y vibe so that when you look at it, it would feel as if you’re still at the moment.

Camera apps are friends

I personally mostly use Instagram and Camera 360o for on-the-spot photo editing., but there are other incredible apps out there you can download from iTunes that could help you take your photos. Some apps even have configurable features such as Exposure, Contrast, etc., and other shooting modes. Should you use apps, focus on making your pictures clearer by highlighting important elements – example, make it brighter if you took it from a dark room, or make it darker if it’s a little washed-out. I advise editing your photos after the show so you don’t miss out on the concert itself.

Use filters accordingly, but make sure the one you choose do not mess up the composition (that means you, Toaster filter). Avoid using frames as much as possible – reserve those for your selfies and groupies if you want.

The best part about photo-editing apps is that they have integrated social network sharing so you can upload your photos directly to you profile.

Last full reminders

  • Toggle your Airplane mode on so you can conserve battery for more pictures. You also cancel out all your signals so you won’t be disturbed by anyone and anything – calls, texts, updates, all of it.
  • Stick to smaller or lighter devices for taking pictures. Use your iPhone, iPad mini, iPod Touch, or digital camera. Your load is lighter, so your arm won’t be too tired from carrying your device for the entire concert.
  • Keep your belongings close to you. If you’re not using your device, store it someplace safe like your bag then carry your bag if you need to stand up. Or just put it under your arm.
  • This works both ways: your device might obstruct other people’s view, and other people’s device might obstruct yours.
  • Above all this, I advise you to just keep everything in your bag and just enjoy the show! Sing out loud, dance, rock on!

MacMall is also offering camera accessories that you can also to get better concert photos and options. Check them out here. Need help with configuring your device? Drop by our retail stores and get professional recommendations from our Apple-credited experts. You can also visit for exciting promos and exclusive offers for all your tech needs.

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