Making Professional Stage Photography

Stage photography is a complex practice that can be rewarding in terms of money and valuable experience. Making good professional quality stage photography, however, is no cakewalk and requires specialized camera equipment. It is also essential to be able to identify good positioning and achieve ideal timing with the shutter.

Here are a few essential tips and tricks to create professional quality stage photography.

Equipment and Settings

Depending on how the stage is set up and lit, you will need at least a single lens reflex or DSLR camera that is fitted with a zoom lens. You will need to use a shutter speed of anywhere between ISO 800 to ISO 3200 coupled with a high-speed film. A higher ISO number will allow really fast shutter speeds, but also make your pictures much more grainy and fuzzy at higher zoom levels. About three rolls of high speed film with an ISO rating of 1600 should be good for your stage photography adventure.

You might also need to use a telephoto lens. This kind of lens will allow significant zoom levels with high shutter speeds. Stabilization can be a problem at low shutter speeds for a telephoto lens. This will allow you to avoid and remove distracting elements and noise from the photograph. Also, if the stage and indoor conditions are dark, you must use the largest aperture setting. The f-number needs to be between 2.8 and 4.0. However, please bear in mind that such a setting also calls for adjustment of shutter speed to avoid exposure and motion blurs. Also, usage of a good flash is advised.

If you are trying to use a compact digital camera, you will find that it is very difficult to use it for stage photography because of the limitations on zoom and exposure settings. Also, you will need to rely only on stage lighting, as the flash will interfere with other camera flashes. A compact digital camera will also need a tripod to avoid motion blurs.


You will need to position yourself to avoid the crowd distraction and light noise. Being near the stage edge is an ideal choice along with balconies and staircases. Position yourself as close to the subject as possible without getting too much flash in his face. You do not want the white wash effect on your images.


A critical element of stage photography is the timing with the shutter button. This is as important as the steps discussed above. You will ideally want to click the shutter button when a performer is in midst of hitting a long pause and is in the spotlight. Photographing the stage at the time of audience applause and artist introduction is also a good time.

You will find that photographing complex and rapid movements is almost impossible in absence of professional lighting equipment.