Best Show Seating Area for Pictures?
July 9, 2009 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Best seating area for photo opportunities at a show?

I am surprising my super-amazing photographer boyfriend with tickets to see one of his favorite bands for his birthday. Bonus: I checked ahead, and the venue permits pictures. Perhaps this seems like an obvious question, but, not being a photographer, I have to ask: what presents the better location for decent photo opportunities: regular standing-room floor or mezzanine? My first thought is obviously standing-room floor, but one never knows.

Thanks in advance for your help!

P.S. In case it matters, the venue is The Wiltern in LA.
posted by teamparka to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
I really prefer to be as close to front as possible and to one side. There's only so much zooming a lens can do.
posted by rhapsodie at 12:36 PM on July 9, 2009

If he's got some seriously big glass (like a 300mm 2.8 lens) then the mezzanine might be good. If he's like most mortals and his fastest lens is a 50 or 80mm, he'll better off really close. I'd prefer to be to the left of center so that the band members are seen looking to the right, which is 'forward' in Western countries. That's a pretty small detail, though.

Are you sure that he wants to take pictures of them? When I'm an event of whatever kind, I find I can either participate in and experience the event, or I can document it. Not both. If I got the chance to see my most favoritest band ever, I'd leave the camera at home, no question.
posted by echo target at 12:42 PM on July 9, 2009

Response by poster: echo target: No, I'm definitely not sure he does want to take any pictures, and that's a really good point! I do know he's brought his camera along to some shows he was pretty excited about in the past, though, so I figured I would try to leave the possibility open.

Thanks for the feedback so far. This is confirming my immediate common-sense idea that regular old standing room is probably best.
posted by teamparka at 12:47 PM on July 9, 2009

It's also worth noting that, if you're using a long telephoto from the mezzanine, there's a greater chance you'll need a tripod given the sort of lighting typical at a concert venue - even if it's a fast lens with image stabilization and all that jazz. The venue might allow cameras, but would they allow you to set up a tripod somewhere? Probably not. Short and fast prime + higher ISO + closer seats might be the best combination.
posted by jal0021 at 1:57 PM on July 9, 2009

I would definitely go with standing room. Mezz shots are not half as fun as floor shots.

You don't mention what your BF is shooting with--I presume SLR--but you might confirm with the venue whether the venue has any restrictions on the camera to be used. I know here in Boston, the Paradise allows photography, but they do NOT allow SLRs--only point and shoots.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:59 PM on July 9, 2009

When I go to events, I'm able to balance my enjoyment with my documentation of the show: I don't have the camera to my eye every minute. But even if I got a front-row seat, I still use my 300mm zoom lens to get really close up.
posted by rhapsodie at 2:09 PM on July 9, 2009

I checked ahead, and the venue permits pictures.

I hate to rain onto your parade but they are most likely thinking about point and shoot cameras and cell phones, which they cannot prevent anyway. they are most certainly not thinking about that 300mm lens like echo target is talking about. you should call them up again and ask about professional equipment: a heavy SLR with a large lens, at least if that's what he uses. you should also let us know what band this is. the only large act I am aware that permits DSLRs is Nine Inch Nails and it's a pretty big deal that reznor is allowing that.

alas, I doubt any serious photographer would show up with an f2.8 lens. a 50 or 85mm f1.2 is more like it. he could be fine at the wilterns with that but I got kicked out there once with similar equipment and am not vouching.

but basically: as close to the stage is always great when shooting pictures.
posted by krautland at 2:32 PM on July 9, 2009

If you get close enough, you don't need a whole lot of zoom. But does he like to shoot the close and intimate pictures, or broader stage shots? I shoot wider, mostly because my dinky camera doesn't have a great zoom, and I hate being smashed in the front crowds (plus I'm tall, and I feel like a jerk when I block other people's views). Also, there are some really neat stage visuals that those up-close shots of the singer's face miss.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:57 PM on July 9, 2009

I'm not a photographer, but upstairs at the Wiltern is terrible. Even if he had a great camera/lens/whatever, he'd be unlikely to have a decent line-of-sight to the stage. Always go for the floor.
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 4:32 PM on July 9, 2009

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