Photographing a Christmas Concert.

There is nothing like a well lit photograph.

There is nothing like a well lit photograph.

The Yule Log Fireplace channel is now available on TV. That must mean Christmas is coming. My wife and I also just received a call from my son to tell us the date of our granddaughters’ school Christmas concert. And with that festive event, it’s final – Christmas is on the way!

Last year my wife and I joined what seemed to be about five hundred parents, siblings, and, of course, other grandparents in a large hall. We had arrived early because my daughter-in-law said the seating would be limited and as it turned out, it was standing room only for those who arrived late.

There were many people holding their cell phones or little digicams, and I think I saw someone with a DSLR away in the back, but mostly they just sat in their chairs waiting, hopeful their cameras would make wonderful photographs of the childrens’ concert. I heard a parent near us complain she hadn’t charged her batteries.

I had a centre isle seat near the back that was perfect from which to move around. And before everything started I made several exposure tests so I would know my exposure and where to stand to get the best shots.

When the audience lights were lowered and teachers positioned themselves to coach (and coax) the children as they sang I remember looking around watching people holding out their cell phones and digicams at arm length to photograph those on stage.

Flashes on those tiny devices only have a reach of approximately 15 feet, and even if the small figures on the stage were visible in the pictures, everything in the foreground would be extremely over exposed. The person with the DSLR was at the back of the audience with a telephoto lens, but no flash, foolishly relying on her camera’s high ISO. I expect the resulting images were much the same as the digicams with inconsistent exposures.

As the concert began, and before my granddaughter appeared I stepped into the isle and made some shots and as I expected, they were not to my satisfaction. Yes, I could see the whole group with their teacher, back to me, gesturing, but the children were too far away, and although some parents may be interested in their children’s classmates, I selfishly only cared about getting good pictures of my granddaughter, so I moved up close. My technique for being in front of other people is to select my spot, kneel down out of everyone’s view until I am ready, then I stand up, take my picture, and kneel down again.

With my camera and lens pre-set, I only needed to work around several parents sitting on the floor holding their digicams at arms length above their heads, and the one grandparent kneeling and wildly waving.

The concert was fun and my granddaughter was excellent (in my opinion anyway) and I took lots of pictures of her while she was on stage, and downloaded the image files from my camera to my computer when I got home. I edited, re-edited, then edited again for a final selection that I liked, and finally was down to a couple that I really liked. My opinion is that anything but the best is just wasting space and I never want people to see anything but my best photographs.

As I left the concert I could hear people saying they wish they could have got better photographs, and of course they blamed their equipment or other people, but not themselves. Soon the season will be upon us and for photographers the decision should be easy; every photographic opportunity should be thought out and they should always take the time to produce quality images. At last year’s concert most people had inadequate equipment or poor locations, whereas I had a DSLR with a flash attached and had spent some time preparing and selected the best position I good get in that overcrowded hall.

I really enjoy everyones comments. Thanks, John

My website is at



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.