I spent Saturday evening photographing a concert by the Chichester City Band and it got me thinking about the way I work in such situations.  

Ted Howard conducting Chichester City Band

As many of you will know, I spend much of my life working as a professional musician, playing the recorder in concerts (solo and orchestral) and conducting various ensembles and recorder orchestras.  As I photographed the concert last night it occurred to me that I wasn't just using my photographic skills, but my musical ones too.  

Before the concert I went through my usual checklist I use when shooting musical events - working out the best vantage points to shoot from and checking which focal lengths would be best for wide angle and close up shots from the various positions.  I also took time to read through the programme to see which solos were being played and made a point of finding out where the soloist would be standing so I could get a decent portrait of them in action.

Principal trombonist Bob Ainsworth stands up to play a solo

Thanks to my musical training and twenty odd years of listening to brass bands my other half has played in I was remarkably familiar with much of the concert repertoire and this undoubtedly helped me as I had a fair idea which sections of the band would be playing at crucial moments.  My decades of playing under various conductors stood me in good stead too.  Timing is everything when photographing conductors in action, especially if you are shooting them from the side or behind.  It's no good taking a photo while their hands are in front of the body because all you see is their torso and it can almost look as though they've lost their arms altogether!  Instead I used my knowledge of the music and conducting patterns to ensure I only pressed my shutter button as his arms were outstretched.  As a conductor myself I also had a fairly good idea of when Ted might give a particularly expressive gesture and knowing the intricacies of the music meant I was ready at the crucial moment.  

A close up of Ted in action

I don't profess to have reinvented the wheel here but I do wonder just how many photographers are able to employ musical as well as artistic skills when shooting concerts.  I'm willing to bet there can't be too many of us who can photograph such an event and know that they've done all three jobs, as player, conductor and photographer!


You can see the full collection of photos from Saturday's concert by Chichester City Band below: