I’m headed out to Warped Tour again this summer with the Natural High team! We’re kicking off our summer starting in San Diego today then making our way through Pomona and Ventura for the next couple days. In the past, I was asked a lot of questions about shooting shows, so with Warped Tour now in full force I figured this would be a perfect time to compile a guideline to photo pit etiquette.
5 Tips for Warped Tour Photo Pit Etiquette
01. Be Mindful of Others
Everyone in the pit is trying to do a job. It might feel like survival of the fittest in there, but looking out for each other and being courteous of personal space is key to living harmoniously in the photo pit. Try to take up as little room as possible, with both your gear and your body. Big bulky camera backpacks are obnoxious because you’ve likely smacked five shorties like me in the face without even realizing it. And keep your elbows and other extremities close to your body while shooting. There’s nothing worse than aiming for that near-perfect shot of the frontman screaming into the mic only to find someone’s arm has made a debut across the image. It should go without saying, but keep your camera near your face. Holding it up in the air and shooting randomly hardly ever results in a good shot; you just end up in the way of everyone else’s.
02. Courtesy Tap
The pit gets loud, crowded, and everyone is focused on getting their shots. If you need to pass someone, a simple tap on the shoulder should get you by. The Courtesy Back Touch (don’t make it creepy) is also a good way to let someone know you’re passing by so they don’t back up into you. In the chaos of the pit, these simple gestures maintain some form of order.
03. Give Others a Shot
Before the band even starts their first song, it becomes very obvious which spots photographers like to flock to in hopes of getting their best shots. You’ve got three whole songs to get your shots, so don’t be a spot hog. Give others a chance and move on to explore other angles. I’ve always greatly appreciated it when another photographer taps me on the shoulder and offers to let me swoop in their spot, so I make sure to pay that forward to other fellow photogs whenever I can.
04. Don’t Be a Dick to Security
Some people may get a little caught up in the “Eff the Man! Eff authority!” mantra of Warped Tour, but if security tells you to do or don’t do something, don’t be a jerk about it. These guys are just doing their job and you throwing a bitch fit won’t change anything, except possibly get you thrown out of the pit. One time (not at Warped), the band wanted me to video their third song, but the bouncers kicked all the photographers out after only the second song because the crowd was getting too rowdy. Because I was kind and courteous to the bouncer before hand, I explained the situation, and he let me stay for the extra song and made sure everyone was out of my way. A smile and friendly conversation goes a long way.
05. Just Be Nice
All in all, general respect and common courtesy for everyone around you, including your fellow photo and press, security, and the crowd, is what makes for a pleasant pit experience. Make friends with the people around you before the set; look out for each other during the set; and respect when security tells you it’s time to leave. Follow this basic guideline and it should be smooth shooting for you and everyone around.
✳︎ Shoot at a smaller format
This is just a personal preference, but since I will shoot thousands of images throughout the day, I opt for shooting in medium RAW so I don’t burn through my memory as quickly and have as much footage to archive later.
✳︎ Keep hydrated
Too many people pass out from heat exhaustion at Warped. When bringing in your own water bottles, security usually won’t allow open containers or they’ll take your cap. Bring an extra cap with you if you plan on buying water at the venue so you can refill and reseal.
✳︎ Douse in sunscreen regularly
Unless you like looking like a lobster. I like bringing those quick dry spray kind from Costco so dust doesn’t stick to me when applying and a friend can easily get my back for me without having to rub me down.
✳︎ Get yourself a pair of ear plugs
Trust me. If you want many more years of enjoying shows, protect yourself from jacking up your hearing. And when you’re that close to the speakers, ear plugs actually filter out excessive sound so you can hear the music better.
✳︎ Look out for flying objects and flying people
Because there will be lots of them.
Any tips I’m forgetting?
Let me know in the comments below if you have any other questions about Warped Tour guidelines, show etiquette, or live shooting tips. Hope everyone has fun this year! Come say hi at any of the SoCal dates if you see me at the NH tent or in the photo pit! In spite of my bitchy resting face, I promise I don’t bite. :)