Skip to main content

Getting Started in Music Photography with Red Bull Photographer Todd Owyoung

Lesson 15 of 24

Artist Portraits - Stairwell

Todd Owyoung

Getting Started in Music Photography with Red Bull Photographer Todd Owyoung

Todd Owyoung

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

15. Artist Portraits - Stairwell


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
2 Live Music Photography Duration:13:40
3 Camera Settings Duration:09:34
5 Research & Preparation Duration:06:20
6 Challenges & Pain Points Duration:00:40
7 All Access Duration:16:29
8 Shooting for Editorial Duration:03:15
9 Capturing Music Festivals Duration:03:58
10 Using Speedlights Duration:07:44
11 Photographing Drummers Duration:07:44
12 Gear Duration:25:39
13 Location Scouting Duration:19:57
14 Artist Portraits Duration:06:56
15 Artist Portraits - Stairwell Duration:06:48
16 Artist Portraits - Outside Duration:12:04
20 Getting Started Duration:10:15
21 The Photo Pass Duration:19:38
22 Photo Pit Etiquette Duration:06:29
24 Post Processing Workflow Duration:26:02

Lesson Info

Artist Portraits - Stairwell

We've moved on to our second location, we've got BEARAXE's on a stairwell here. This is on, leading on the way down, to the green rooms of Neumos and we're at ISO for the most detail and image quality in the files, were at one two-hundredth for the sync speed, and I've stopped down to five-six just to get a little more depth since the members of the band are now just a little bit farther apart. All right, looks good. Shai, you're good. Let's do a test shot here. 1, 2, 3. Backlight only. Cool. That's looking good. All right, so just looking at the image review. The backlight's a little strong, just looking a little bit more unnatural than I'd want it to be and I'm gonna dial the key light up a little bit. Look's good. Alright, eyes back here, perfect. (camera shutter clicking) 1, 2, 3. Cool. Shai, maybe come step forward a little, maybe one step down. Yeah, looks good. Perfect. And, let's see. Matt, come down one step as well. And then John come down, there's an escape sign that's ...

up at the top of the stairs that's not awesome trying to hide it a little bit, which means adjusting the angle of the band right here to kind of minimize that. When you're shooting on location like this, there's no ideal, there's no perfect, and you kind of have to really have to work with what you have, so simply minimizing distractions like that exit sign is something that you should always try to do, but it's not always possible to minimize those things so you might have to roll with it. Looks good, great. Good, 1, 2, 3. (camera shutter clicking) So it almost, you know because the light is coming you know from the top it almost looks pretty natural. I think that even though the backlight for the brick here is a little stronger than I want it to be, I actually kind of like the contrast you get against Matt, it kinda pops him out. You might look at having you, Shai... It looks like John is like And John, like come forward a little bit just to get you in the light a little more. Cool. Just going to dial the backlight back another half stop. Alright, nice. Looks good. Perfect, yeah and John you can look off that way, that's perfect, nice. (camera shutter clicking) Alright, here we go, 1, 2, 3. (camera shutter clicking) And John, we just want to get a little more light on you even if you come down, yeah, a little bit more. And uh, yeah, have your right hand, even if it's in your pocket like that is cool. You're right hand, yeah. Looks good. Nice. Good. 1, 2, 3. (camera shutter clicking) And then Shai, you can come forward a little bit, even a little more. Yeah, perfect. Nice. (camera shutter clicking) (camera shutter clicking) Looks good. (camera shutter clicking) Cool, sorry. So yeah, I think the light is looking good on John now, it's a little more even on all the band members which is all what you want. You don't want to emphasize one person over the other or have someone under lit compared to the rest of the band. This is looking good, let's keep going here. And Shai, even have your right hand, yeah, on your hip like that, yeah, just kind of get your hand a little higher in the frame because this is kind of waist up shot just so that, you know, not cutting off any limbs, no hands cut off in the frame is always something that I personally try to execute in a shot like this. Great. (camera shutter clicking) Expression wise, it's all good expression wise? Yeah, you're all good. Yeah, you're good. Even if you want to have like an attitude, when you throw your head up a little bit, you know, looking, yeah, oh I love it, perfect. Nice. (camera shutter clicking) Great. Looks good. (camera shutter clicking) Great, one more like that. And John, eyes to camera. Cool, I need you to cock your head a little but to the side, yeah, perfect. Little, like that, nice. (camera shutter clicking) And then, last couple shots. Matt, just for a little, you know, visual, can you just like pop your hand on the collar and just kind of grab it, yeah. And like whatever feels comfortable like that, okay, cool. Or even on this side of the jacket if it's like, just like the, on this side, yeah, yeah. Again, just to get your hand a little higher. (laughter) Do a little Napoleon, like that. No! (laughing) Alright, looking good. Cool, perfect. Now right here. Nice. (camera shutter clicking) Perfect. (camera beeping, shutter clicking) Looks good, everyone's perfect. John's, look off, that's perfect. Nice. Uh, lean back a little bit. Yeah, looks great. (camera shutter clicking) Perfect, nice. (camera shutter clicking) Looks good. Last shot right here. 1, 2, 3. (camera shutter clicking) Great. Great, so we just wrapped this location. It's a really tight space, so there are obviously limitations in terms of the angles, the shooting distances, so for this shoot I was pretty much racked at 24 millimeters for the entire time. For a band like this it's, um, gonna be essential to make sure that there's no distortion for anyone. You don't want anyone to be, kind of, too close to the lens where other members are farther back. You want to kind of present everyone fairly equal. So with wide wide angle lenses, that can be an issue but the 24 I think we're looking good. No one's too close to the lens so we're kind of avoiding those issues. Now after we've completed these two interior location shoots, we're gonna move outside and pick up a couple of spots and see what the band looks like outside.

Class Description


  • Learn how to price and license yourself as a music photographer
  • Work in even the darkest of venues
  • Capture variety with a band during a short set with limited space
  • Utilize speedlights within a performance
  • Work with performers to pose portraits that capture their music
  • Post-processing techniques to take your image to the next level


With the lights, energy and creativity behind each concert- it’s no wonder that music photography continues to be a dream career. In this course, created in partnership with Red Bull Photography, Todd Owyoung walks through how to get into the music photography business by working with bands, venues and albums. He talks through licensing and pricing your time and your images to publisist, venues, magazines and more. This course goes in the field with Todd and three different bands to walk through how to capture a variety of images in a small amount of time. He teaches how to set up and direct portraits with the band in green rooms and between sound checks. Todd explains how to make even the smallest and grungiest venue make a band look mainstream. This course will teach you composition, working with flash and natural light, directing the band and performers and things to never forget when photographing a live event.


  • Music Photographers
  • Event Photographers
  • Beginners


Todd Owyoung is a music photographer with over a decade of experience specializing in music lifestyle, musician/celebrity portraits, and concert photography. If it rocks, he shoots it. Based in New York City.

He’s obsessed with nailing those rockstar moments, the images that fans love to see of their favorite bands. Whether the venue is a 200-capacity club or Madison Square Garden, shooting for a major brand or on tour, his images place you in the front row.

His clients range from bands and festivals to magazines, lifestyle brands and ad agencies. In 2012, Complex Magazine named him #3 in their list of the "Greatest Music Photographers Right Now".

He’s a Nikon Ambassador for Nikon Camera


Alexandra U

I highly reccomend this class for any one who would like to get started or dip their toes in the concert photography scene. This class has many useful tips and trick for any level of photographer, not just beginners. I have been in the music scene for over 10 years and I was able to gather so much information in every chapter. Watching this video boosted up my confidence as a photographer because it validated that I am already succeeding in my concert career. Thank you for this amazing stream. It sparked my creative soul once again.

Kris Comer

Wow, this was awesome! I have been a concert photographer for almost 3 years now and I still learned some great tips! I loved that he covered different ideas for promo shots which is one of my weaknesses. Any beginner should definitely check out this course! It is straight and to the point with all of the most important steps.

a Creativelive Student

I have been taking Creative Live classes since 2010 and this is at the top with the best classes t I have taken. This may have been the first time Todd taught a class, but you would never be able to tell. He doesn't just brag about the high profile clients he has shot, he also makes sure to relate to the photographer just starting out. I really enjoyed the two live shows as well as the additional portrait shoots. His concepts on location scouting, playing with distortion, multiple poses in one spot, speedlights, etc. can be applied to all kinds of photography, not just music photography. Highly recommend!