How to do stage photography well

Bullfighting rider-Spanish flamenco-the Austria's world Dance

Whether you want to record the wonderful moments of a performance with a camera or take a souvenir photograph of a performing child or friend, you need some basic stage photography skills.

Unlike general subjects, the subject of stage photography and the changes in environmental conditions are very rich and uncontrollable. You must solve some problems that usually do not occur in shooting.

Be in love with-The first act of fourth field snow Country -The Ballet Nutcracker

I have sorted out some of the most important issues in stage photography, hoping to be useful.

1. Photometry and Exposure Control

The stage lighting has a strong artistic effect in the arrangement and design, and will change at any time according to the needs of the performance content. You need to choose the right lighting mode according to the actual situation of the stage.

Flutter and soar high-Ballet Swan Lake

If the stage brightness is relatively balanced, the central focus light metering function can be used; if it is to shoot a tracer lamp or the background is smaller, it is necessary to use point light metering to avoid the influence of environmental brightness, and to determine the exposure according to the actual brightness of important objects.

The fifth act Steal immortal-Kunqu OperaMadame White Snakeâ€

Therefore, when shooting scenes with large and small subjects, such as solo singing, solo dancing and solo dancing, it is necessary to use point photometry; when shooting large scenes with many actors performing at the same time, as long as the main body concentrates on the relatively central part or occupies a larger proportion of the screen, the central focus photometry or the more average photometry mode can be used.

The best exposure mode is to choose the shutter first, adjust the shutter speed immediately to adapt to dynamic and static subjects, and then open the automatic ISO function to set a higher "maximum sensitivity" value.

Clara favorite-The Ballet Nutcracker

2. Adjust shutter speed to shoot "dynamic" and "static"

High-speed shutter snap moment

It is not necessary to adjust the shutter speed deliberately when shooting general singing or musical instrument performance, but when shooting fast and changeable content such as dancing and acrobatics, you need to set a higher shutter speed manually and use the high-speed shutter to "solidify" the instantaneous action.

Proud of the four little swan dance-ballet Swan Lake

When shooting subjects with large motion range and moving range, it is better to use continuous automatic function. Half-press the shutter, pre-lock the main body, and then shoot.

If it is professional or commercial stage photography, it is best to participate in rehearsal activities first, to understand the content of the program, actors' movements and trends and other key contents. This can make the shooting twice the result with half the effort.

The swan family

When shooting some particularly intense actions, such as jumping, rolling and spinning, you need to use a shutter speed of no less than 1/250 seconds.

At such a high shutter speed, even if the aperture is opened to the maximum, it may not guarantee normal exposure. It is better to manually improve the sensitivity, or turn on the automatic ISO function, and set a higher sensitivity upper limit.

Low-speed shutter recording motion

With low-speed shutter shooting, the image will appear "shadow", and bring out the blurred trajectory of motion. Such a picture is very dynamic, and has a sense of illusion.

When the action is faster, the shutter speed of 1/15 seconds can produce a significant "shadow". If the exposure time is properly prolonged, the "shadow" will be extended and more dynamic.

However, it is not the slower the shutter speed the better. If the exposure time is too long, it may cause the "shadow" range to be too large, or even make the shadow disappear, which is counterproductive.

As shown below, the shutter speed is too low and the trajectory of the actors has become "inhuman":

Stage Phantom-Martial arts

3. White Balance Issue

The stage lighting, color temperature and intensity are rich and varied, which bring a lot of trouble to shooting. Even if you know all the white balance modes very well and can quickly determine "what kind of white balance is needed in the current scene", the rapidly changing lighting effects can make you scramble.

It is suggested to use automatic white balance (AWB), which is criticized for its similar operation to "mixing mud" and can neutralize bright colors, but in stage photography, automatic white balance can reduce color bias and facilitate later adjustments.


Even if the color bias is really serious, it is true recording of the atmosphere and feelings of the scene, which is to some extent a "scene reproduction". So you really need not be too entangled with this problem.

Snow elves-The first act of fourth field snow Country -The Ballet Nutcracker

In order to shoot good stage art photos, apart from preparing photographic equipment and skillfully using them, we should also be familiar with the content and characteristics of stage performances and determine the shooting method, which is to shoot with live light or flash, organize the pendulum shooting in rehearsal, or capture in the course of performance, etc.


1. Familiar with the plot

It's possible to watch the rehearsal before filming. You can talk to the director, actors, lighting and beauty dancers to understand the plot and be familiar with stage facilities, lighting arrangement and so on. Another situation is to arrive at the theatre ahead of time, get the program list to see the introduction of the plot, and at the same time refer to the preliminary shooting plan of the picture on the program list.

Whisper-Beijing Opera: Farewell to my concubine

2. Choose the shooting position

Generally, photographers will choose the angle of the front of the stage, or slightly left or right, but they still need to avoid the microphone and the speakers and lamps on the stage. The first row is the most ideal, the tenth row is the most suitable for big scenes, and the first row on the second floor is also a good shooting point, with distinct layers of characters on the stage. Of course, the pictures taken from several angles in a play are much more vivid. However, the objective environment does not allow photographers to move frequently, which requires a flexible operation of the specific situation.


Some other things besides photographic skills

1. Organizing shooting is possible only for those full-time performance photographers, because rehearsals are for photographers to take pictures and scenes are shaped to meet the photographers’ requirements. When a scene is not well, filmed, they can do it again. But this method is not ideal, because the actors’ expressions are rigid due to the lack of audience, and also because it is not a formal performance, the actor's mood can not been invoked for the lack of atmosphere on the scene.

Curtain call-Tail

2. On-the-spot snapping

Although organizing shooting is also on the spot, there are differences between shooting methods and snapping. Capturing depends on the photographer's keen observation and foresight, as well as photographic skills. Live snapping is the best method of stage photography. Although it is more difficult, it is useful to train photographers for excellent works. In order to produce works, we should pay attention to the following points:

1) Pay attention to the dynamics of the actors. High shutter speed or slow shutter speed can be used in dynamic dancing, and the dynamic effects of the two are quite different.

2) Pay attention to the expression of the actors. When shooting an actor, the actor's vivid expression can best depict the character's manner.

3) Pay attention to the change of music structure. Actors' movements change with the change of music structure. If the dramatic accompaniment of music appears, there must be the appearance of actors.

4) Pay attention to the foreground. Sometimes shooting in full accordance with the structure and shutter synchronization will lag behind. Only by properly pressing the shutter in advance can we grasp the actor's brilliant moments.

5) Pay attention to the climax of the plot. No matter what kind of drama, the performance will have a gentle lyric, high and urgent. When the climax arrives, it is a better shooting opportunity.

6) Pay attention to the continuous shooting mode of the camera. For actors who change greatly, quickly, rotate at high speed and jump, the use of continuous shooting device can successfully grasp a certain instant.

To conclude, I’ve been a stage photography enthusiast for many years, and have accumulated some experience. I wish this could be of some help to you. My gratitude to the platform for giving me the opportunity to share. I am very happy to know you.

Your Friend: Mengtianhan

Photo credits: Mengtianhan.

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April 11, 2019


wow wow, these are amaaazing photos. Great talent, you are!

March 15, 2019


great pictures,congrats.

March 10, 2019


Thank you so much for your encouragement. At present, only you are very encouraged.

March 09, 2019


Very useful article! Your beautiful images in addition to very attractive colors, are characterized by a remarkable dowry of composition!

February 15, 2019


Very excellent photography illustrating your article! William

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