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Getting Started in Music Photography with Red Bull Photographer Todd Owyoung

Lesson 18 of 24

Photographing Live Shows - Low Hums

Todd Owyoung

Getting Started in Music Photography with Red Bull Photographer Todd Owyoung

Todd Owyoung

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Lesson Info

18. Photographing Live Shows - Low Hums


  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

Photographing Live Shows - Low Hums

Now with Low Hums, just like any band shoot, we're looking to capture, great shots of the band themselves playing on stage. So the drummer shot, lead singer, guitars, all the main instruments, obviously, a great shot of every member of the band always priority. But in addition, we're looking to capture the fans, their energy and any band fan interaction that happens, capturing images that really capture and tell the whole story on the show. (slow rock music) ♪ Down in 101 ♪ ♪ Before the golden sun ♪ ♪ My hair's down ♪ ♪ There's magic around. ♪ So in this live shoot with the Low Hums, two main challenges existed. One was the lighting. This was the band's own show and so they had control over the lighting and lighting design, and they were opting for a more vibey look as most bands would. It had a lot of kind of reds, kind of magenta cast to the front lighting and side lighting, and overall was a dimmer look. Which kind of suited their music. To address the challenge of the low light a...

nd kind of the color cast of the band preferred. I just rolled with it, shot and raw obviously to address any flexibility issues, be able to push those raw files a little bit more, correct the color if I wanted to. But in addition, we set up speed lights on stage and so these were basically mimicking the same positions of the existing stage lighting. Two speed lights at the rear, two from the sides, and then one speed light that was placed underneath the drum kit, and using speed lights for a live show it's kind of a get out of jail free card because it allows you to create the light you want in quantities that may not exist on stage. So the speed lights may allow you to shoot at a lower ISO, preserve a little more quality, and obviously give you the benefit of either using gels if you want, or shooting with them bare, for the natural kind of white stark white look. Which is what I tend to do. ♪ Bring your music my magic to me ♪ ♪ Tell it to me tell it to me ♪ The other main challenge was that the Low Hums are a five piece band and on the stage of our boza, which is relatively small, it was a pretty cramped setup. Where you know, there's five members of the band, not a lot of room to move around, both for the band themselves and for me as a photographer. to deal with the cramped quarters on stage, I wasn't just jumping on stage very often, often I would go through the side entrance door to the stage that the band would come on from. And this allowed a more discreet way of operating for the show, it didn't disturb the band. Ideally, it's not going to disturb the fans too much, and just kept my presence to a minimum which is always my goal as a music photographer. ♪ It's nature light ♪ ♪ 'cause when the sun set we're out all night ♪ ♪ Making music what magic to me ♪ ♪ And tell it to me tell it to me ♪ ♪ And tell it to me and tell it to me ♪ ♪ And tell it to me tell it to me ♪ ♪ And tell it to me tell it to me ♪ Another challenge was never having worked with the band before, and so, kind of feeling out what was appropriate in terms of working with a band. We had stage access but obviously when you're kind of feeling out a relationship with the band, you want to be respectful of their space, kind of see how they move on stage, certainly not be in the way or be part of the show, and so I was more tentative with working for Low Hums than I would be with a band that maybe I had a working relationship with, I knew the band members, was friends with the band members, and so forth. So for this performance, I stayed til the bitter end, and I was so glad that I did because I got a great shot of the bass player, and it was something where he was, you know, he's playing it cool for the most of the show, and for the very last song he put his foot up on the wedge and was kind of like, you know, playing to me a little bit and rocking out and that's the kind of energy and vibe you want from that finale, because this is when the band's laying it all out on line. It's their last song, they're giving the fans everything they have, and it's a much different energy from when a band might certainly be in the middle of set and even at the beginning of set, because, you know, it's the last song we're going to leave the audience with kind of their, their most up tempo rockin song, and that's what you want to capture as music photographer. And the benefit of shooting in small venues like this, is that you get that opportunity. Unlike shooting larger venues and larger artists, you're not going to be kicked out after just three songs, and so having the opportunity to shoot the entire set is really a huge benefit of starting small, starting local, photographing local bands. Just like the Low Hums here in Seattle.

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!