Firefly Music Festival Photos 2014

I had a blast photographing the Firefly Music Festival this past weekend. A lot of my main shooting was for a sponsor of the festival, but I also had a little free time to capture a little of the festival atmosphere as well. I always enjoy doing this sort of festival photography, as it gives a little sense of what it was like to be at a festival beyond the standard live shots. Here are some of my favorite Firefly Music Festival Photos.

Photographer's Notes:

Cameras Used:

Lenses Used:

Computer Gear:


This was a great festival. A very nice, chill vibe. I also has the pleasure of meeting up with a number of photographers at the festival, which is always fun.

For Firefly, I kept my kit pretty basic. While I brought along the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, I never used it. Somewhat counter-intuitively, ultra-wide angle lenses can be a little too wide for large outdoor events like this. While the stages are massive, one is very often far enough away from subjects that 24mm on a full-frame camera works for most uses. In addition, the use of a third lens means having to use a belt system or other camera bag, which is another order of magnitude more complicated than just using two bodies with two lenses on a Black Rapid Double Strap.

With 80,000 attendees over the weekend, a huge amount of dust was kicked up into the air during the festival. Add in riding around backstage in a golf cart on dusty gravel paths, and keeping gear clean was a major issue. Not changing lenses kept my kit in good order, thanks to the weather sealing of the D800s and Nikon pro f/2.8 lenses.

As far as other gear, I was doing an edit right after my sets for this job, so that mean on-site ingest, edit and delivery. For this, I used an Apple MacBook Pro 15″ with Retina display. I used Photo Mechanic for the ingest and Adobe Lightroom for processing.

My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon D750:
I use two Nikon D750 for my live music photography. Amazing high ISO performance in a compact body with tons of pro features.
nikon-24-70mm-f28-lens-squareNikon 24-70mm f/2.8:
For most gigs, the 24-70mm is my go-to lens. Exceptional image quality at wide apertures and super-functional range.
Nikon-70-200-squareNikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.
nikon-14-24mm-f28-lens-squareNikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.
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There are 7 comments

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  1. Robert Altman

    I just shot the Gov Ball festival in NYC- same set-up… 2 bodies (Nikon D800 and D600), a 24-70 F2.8 and an 80-200 F2.8. Didn’t even bring my wider lens (the 17-34)- figured I would use it so rarely that it wasn’t worth the weight/bag space! At Gov Ball one stage in a tent is low and close enough to use the wider lens-but I never missed it… 3 full days and stages far apart (and no golf-carts like I heard people had at Firefly!)-have to think lean and practical.

  2. Ralph Arvesen

    Thanks, the photos are great as always. I have a basic question… do you ask for permission or have any conversations before or after taking photos of individuals in the audience? For example, the girl with the peace sign, the girls in the hammock, girl with black hat, etc. Or do they see that you are a festival photographer and don’t mind, or even want, their photos taken?

    • Todd

      Most all of these are people I talked to about photographing them. I spoke with the girls in the hammock and the girl in the black hat. With the girl flashing the peace sign, I was photographing and she saw I was shooting, made eye contact and put up the peace sign.

      People who don’t want their photo taken don’t usually make for very good photos like this — I am always trying to showcase the positive energy of the events, and if they’re not into being photographed, that’s not usually going to happen.

      • Ralph Arvesen

        Thanks Todd, I appreciate the response. I would like to capture more photos of people at events but I don’t want to take photos without asking, and I’m hesitant to approach them and ask. This is an area (along with others) that I can improve. Thanks again.

        • Todd

          Hey Ralph,

          I think you just have to get in the right mindset. There are certainly times when I’m not in the mood to photography people. I’m not naturally inclined to approach strangers and chat them up, but I think if you focus on the images you want to make, it can be easier. Try to approach people who are naturally having fun anyway. You’d be surprised how successful you can be with just a little politeness and confidence.

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