Up & Up Festival ft. Gryffin at SJSU: My first time photographing a concert!
I had the opportunity to photograph Gryffin (@gryffinofficial) during the Up & Up Festival at San Jose State University. It was my first time taking photos of a concert, and I was a bit nervous but it ended up being an amazing experience!
In this post, I'll share some of my favorite photos from the event, as well as concert photography tips I learned.
During the first hour or so, I wandered around the crowd to play around with my settings and try different angles. I wanted to capture the entire stage. the colorful lights, and the audience.
Something that I should've anticipated was concertgoers who wanted their photo taken. On a few occasions people saw me and posed; one couple asked me to take a picture. Unfortunately, I second-guessed myself, apologized, and said no. Because I was using my new camera and I had barely taken any shots with it, I was worried that the photos wouldn't turn out well and that I would take too long figuring out the right settings. Looking back on it, I should've tried it anyway. Aside from adding variety to my photos, it could've given the concertgoers something special to remember the night by.
Because there were so many people, I ended up bumping into some. Most didn't seem to notice, probably because it happens all the time.
The weirdest encounter was a guy who collided into me and apologized, but then stood very close - practically a hug without him putting his arms around me. It took a couple seconds for me to register, then we moved away. Afterwards, my friend Leslie told me that some people do that at concerts to rob people. (Other times, it's for other purposes.) Either way, it's something to look out for during events like this.
Then I made my way to the photo pit. It was a thrill to feel the crowd's energy along with the thumping bass and melodies! A quick tip: bring earplugs! I remembered to buy them right before the concert and they came in handy. I could still enjoy the show while protecting my ears, especially when I was photographing very close to the blasting speakers.
My backstage shots were my favorite, and my time taking them was limited. The photographers had to take turns to get close to the artists. When we weren't up, we'd be at a back corner of the stage or in the photo pit.
It's easy to get nervous when going backstage on a time limit. When I first went up for a couple minutes to photograph Joyzu, so many thoughts were racing through my head. I think this composition is okay. Is everything in focus? Am I annoying the audience by being here too long? Goddamn, this music is good. Wait, I can't get distracted, I have to take photos!
The best things to do are to relax and trust yourself. Even on a time limit, remember to breathe and steady your hands. Be mindful of your surroundings so you don't get in another photographer's way or trip over anything, but focus on your subject and everything in frame. Do your best and your gear will take care of the rest.
There was a small break before Gryffin's set, so I took some photos of the stage and brainstormed possible angles.
Days before the show, I had listened to some Gryffin songs and remixes. I recommend this for everyone shooting concerts, especially people not familiar with the artists' work. Aside from enjoying the show more, I was more familiar with what would happen in the songs - for instance, what the beat drop would be like.
Finally, Gryffin came to the stage! He had such great energy and the crowd loved him.
I didn't know if there would be any confetti during the show, but I had been hoping for it. When I paused to take a photo in the photo pit, one of the security guards advised me to move away soon because I was standing close to one of the confetti cannons. Always be aware of your surroundings!
After that, I went backstage again and captured a couple of my best photos from the night:
After that, I kept moving around to get different angles. I ventured around the sides of the stage, the photo pit, and out among the audience.
Camera settings can be tricky in concert photography because of the changing lights, but overall my settings worked out fine. The highest ISO I used was 2500, but most of my shots stayed between the 1000 and 2000 range. It helps that the Sony A7iii does well in low-light.
As for camera lenses, I mostly used a zoom lens (Sony FE 24-240mm). I did try my Rokinon 14mm but it takes longer to find a good focus and I didn't want to miss out on any good shots.
This event made me realize that concert photography is something I want to pursue more, so I'm definitely searching for more opportunities.
I'd like to thank Up & Up Festival again for this awesome show! Special thank you to David (@davesnectar) and Raisa (@raisahaque_)! The festival is a really cool event I'd like to bring to my school one day. Up & Up essentially brings artists to schools through a contest open to colleges who enter. After the artist is announced and the competing colleges are introduced, the competition begins! During the 48 hour time period, the colleges compete to get the most pre-orders for the show. (More detail on their website here. Not sponsored, haha.)
I love the concept of the festival and I asked David about his passion for it. He said that these festivals mean a lot to him because "of how there are many optimistic individuals along with a positive atmosphere."
I also wondered how the festival will expand in the future. He told me Up & Up is currently "more focused on reaching this festival out to the east coast colleges as there is a huge potential. Eventually, [they] want the Up & Up brand to be widely known as as company that allows audiences to buy tickets through an on-demand basis."