Shooting Metal – Warsons

Recently I started to photograph metal-bands in and around Hamburg – „Whoa, slowly“, you might think. „I didn’t know you liked metal!“, you might add. Well I do and have always done. I’ve always found metal-music to be emotionally honest – very much unlike chart-pop, which I’ve always found to be the opposite. So it has usually been easy for me to appreciate Pantera, Metallica, Testament and the like and much harder – though not completely unsuccessful at times – to appreciate the likes of the Backstreet Boys (back when that was a thing).

Personality-wise, this is somehow not easy for me, nowadays. In my free time, I do not enjoy clubs and crowded spaces much anymore, but my curiosity won over my reclusiveness. The band here is called Warsons and they’re underground metal heroes for those who like it fast, hard and in-your-face. You can find out more about them here or listen to them on Spotify here.

I did a lot of research on the technical hurdles of shooting in low-light situations with my Olympus OMD EM1 II and wrote rather extensively about them here, I would like to encourage you to read that if you’re into ISO and aperture-musings or if you simply want to see a different selection of images.

Artistically, I found that concert photography is a pure joy. It’s challenging, for sure, as musicians seem to move about quite a bit and the great shot might be on the opposite side of the stage, but it’s over as soon as you get there. So the only way to shoot is with patience, trust and some continuous shooting mode. You have to have a good idea beforehand on the kinds of pictures you want though, e.g.

  • every band-member singled-out with a clear view of the face
  • every band-member headbanging
  • interaction between the guitars
  • establishing shots of the whole band
  • and so on…

If you do not preconceive at least these kinds of shots then I guess the evening will turn out more about jogging from left to right and about the question of how much frustration you can stomach. Not a good idea.

Then there are „special“ shots, like audience interaction, guitar-licking, mean-middle-fingers, explosions (if available) and the like. Here it probably gets tricky as these things might only happen once and you do not know where you are at that moment in time. Knowing the band and how it performs helps a great deal in that regard, so the old adage „practice makes perfect“ holds up. Repetition is key here and it’s a good idea to shoot continuously for the whole set if you’re allowed to and not think that you ever got all the shots even if it means thinning out 2000 images to 25 for hours.

I chose to edit these shots in black-and-white and for reference, they’re shot mainly with 35mm/50mm f1.8 prime lenses at their wide-open ends at roughly ISO1600.

Enjoy!