Slayer @ Mayhem Fest

How was Slayer's set? In a word: Epic. These guys have been crushing it for almost 30 years, so it was a pleasure to see that they still have the chops to pummel a crowd of thousands with the metal hammer.

Photographer's Notes:

After we wrapped up a quick 3-minute 43-second portrait shoot, Slayer took the stage and I jumped into the photo pit. The epic thrash-metal four-piece got to work, and, armed with my gear, an all-access pass, and 33dB NRR earplugs, I did, too.

Overall, the band was very spread out on the huge amphitheater stage, so group shots were few and far between. Even shooting the full set, there were only a handful of times when Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King played together.

Even fewer were the times when Tom Araya could be caught in the same frame with either King or Hanneman. And behind his massive kit, drummer Dave Lombardo was an elusive target to photograph solo, let alone with any of his bandmates.

Lighting for this concert was very tricky, as mono-color washes dominated the stage treatment for much of the performance. The times there was white light to be seen, it flared up from the sides of the stage and weakly from the back, so guitarists Hanneman and King were subjects that made the most of this effect. To combat the difficult lighting, careful timing catch the flares of white light was key.

In the middle of the stage with red/orange gels over his uplights, Tom Araya was a very tough subject for any “clean” lighting. Even when the uplights were off, Araya was bathed in washes of green, blue, and orange from above.

I shot this set with the Nikon D3 and D700 with the usual suspects: the Nikon 14-24mm, Nikon 24-70mm, and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8.

End Notes:

If you haven't checked out the portrait shoot we did with Slayer, you can see that here. The other sets from Mayhem Fest are coming up soon, so stay tuned.

Also: Dave Lombardo, I'm sorry.

My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon Z 7:
I use two Nikon Z 7 for my live music photography. A true do-it-all mirrorless camera with amazing AF, great speed and fantastic resolution.


Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8S:
The 24-70mm is my go-to lens. The range is ideal for stage front photography and the image quality is superb.


Nikon 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 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.

See My Full Kit for Concert Photography

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