On April 11, 2013 Rihanna brought her “2013 Diamonds World Tour” to San Diego and I was there as the venue photographer to capture it. The first 3 songs of it anyway. This was a really interesting shoot. It was both the best and worst of concert photography and a great example of why planning is important. This was a soundboard shoot, that means that the photographers were stacked up at the soundboard or FOH (Front of House) which was located at the back of the arena. We couldn’t move at all. Which means that we have no control over the composition of the images. All these things suck when you are trying to create unique images at a concert. On the plus side, I had the right gear. Instead of the 70-200mm or the 300mm f/4 I was using the 400mm f/2.8 and for a while I added the 1.4 teleconverter for a 550mm reach at f/4. I also made sure I had something to stand on that gave me a view over the fans. This allowed to get in closer and gave me some more options in post production. Now, I didn’t get the official word that it was a soundboard shoot until the day before the show. But I had done my research and looked at the images from the previous shows on the tour. They all looked like they were taken from the same spot, the soundboard. This allowed me to get a longer lens in plenty of time. Research does pay off.
Lets talk about what made this a great concert shoot. The stage production was huge and really well lit. Having lots of light made it possible to shoot at higher shutter speeds at lower ISOs. Rihanna moves around the stage a lot, giving the photographers something other than just one look.
Now for the bad… The first thing was that the show started really late. Rihanna took the stage at 10:15pm and the crowd was not all that happy. At least were were all in position to shoot before the show started. The other thing was that it was a soundboard shoot and no matter how great it is to have a long lens, you just can’t get the variety of shots compared shooting from the pit.
And yes, for the rock fans out there, that is Nuno Bettencourt on guitar…
In the end, my two favorite captures from the night were both images of Rihanna alone on the stage.. The first shot in this post and this image which was the last shot I took at the end of the third song. It was taken with the 70-200mm f/2.8 on the second body. In a huge building full of fans….. Rihanna just looked alone.
Here are the rest of my picks from the show…
One last thing.. Having the photographer return the photo passes to the publicist… That sucked..