Photographing From The Pit: Do's and Don'ts
So, it's your first time shooting a show, and you don't want to majorly mess up... we've all been there! Some of us (me) were lucky enough to have someone there to help along the way for the first show, but most others do not have that luxury.
Most venues and artists have the basic "first three songs, no flash" policy when it comes to shooting from the pit. There are still venues out there that may allow more, or less, so it is important to ask about the photo policy when you arrive to be sure. If you are shooting directly for the artist, rules differ a bit, and you will be granted more access than the other photographers.
Photographers are more like a community than anyone else. Be respectful of the people around you. Do not lean on other photographer's shoulders to balance your camera, and do not push anyone out of the way if they are in the spot you want to be. Remember that everyone there is doing a job, and everyone there has a common goal of getting that one perfect shot. Do not jeopardize another person's shot on purpose to get yours. A lot of the time, if a photographer has already gotten some awesome shots from their prime location, they will get themselves out of the way to allow other people that opportunity too. Keep in mind though, it is not cool to stay in one place the whole time. That takes the opportunity away from everyone else to shoot from that position. Get your shots, and go. When you move from place to place, it is also common courtesy to duck down, so that you do not interfere with the other people taking photos, or fans trying to enjoy the show. Another big NO in the pit is holding your camera above your head to take a photo when you are in front of someone. Not only does it block the view of the other photographers, but it blocks the view of the fans at the show too. There are some instances where it is necessary, but try to be mindful of who all is around you, and think of other ways you could possibly avoid it.
Staying on topic of respect, the crew and security guards at shows are some of the most important people at shows. These guys (or girls) take priority over photographers any day. Crew members are necessary for the show to go on, and security guards are necessary to keep everyone safe and in a danger-free environment. Concert-goers safety is above taking photos at all times under every circumstance.
After your time in the pit is up, grab your things and exit. Staying after the time allowed will not only put you on security's bad side, but make it seem like you don't know what you are doing as well. Depending on the venue, you are allowed to shoot from the crowd, so take advantage of that! Just don't ruin the fun of the crowd around you. Keep in mind that it is a photographer's job to take photos of the natural environment around them, not to disturb and disrupt it.
Example of Pit Shot
This photo was taken from the pit during Breaking Benjamin's set on the Nocturnal Underground tour. I chose this shot as an example because of how many photographer's were there and how strict their personal security were.
There were maybe 10 photographer's in this pit with about 10 security guards and all of the Breaking Benjamin and Korn's stage effect gear such as smoke. The gear was taller than the majority of us, so shooting with that in the way was a struggle all in it's own. On top of that, during the first 3 songs of this band's set, their personal security spent the second song telling us we had to stop shooting when the three song rule was still intact. That time was lost, but we did end up getting to stay through the third song because he realized his mistake. This photo is the perfect example of just going with the flow.
Example of Crowd Shot
This photo was taken from the crowd at a Crowbar show. A fan was taking a photo, so I decided to capture that as well to show the concert through the perspective of that fan.