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Photographing a Festival: What to Pack

Cameras, Lenses & Extras You Need to Photograph a Festival

By Sophia CareyPublished 10 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - July 2023

Festival season is well upon us in the UK and as a live music photographer, I wanted to talk about some of the things I pack when it comes to shooting festivals.

Let’s jump straight into it and start with the camera bodies themselves:

Camera Bodies

Personally, I try to shoot festivals (and most live gigs) with two camera bodies. This is in case one of them fails but also it means I can easily switch between using two lenses without having to change the lenses themselves.

I mostly shoot festivals with a Sony a7iii and a Sony a7iv.

I opt for a mirrorless system, which works great in low-light conditions and is also much lighter than other systems so is easier on your back and your feet. I also like to have cameras that have a dual memory card slot, meaning that you can back up your photos onto two SD cards as you shoot, minimising the chances of losing work before delivery.


When it comes to lenses, I like to take with me a nice range of lenses so that I'm prepared regardless of the situation. My usual go-to's include a mixture of prime lenses and zoom lenses:

Sigma 35mm 1.4 for Canon (used with an MC-11 adapter for Sony)

This lens has been my go-to for years, all the way back to when I was a Canon shooter. Not only does it stop down to 1.4, making it perfect to use in low light situations, it's also a focal length which is very similar to what the eye sees, meaning it's easy to translate what you see into the photos you take.

Shot with the Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens
Shot with the Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens

I find that the Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens is perfect for everything from artist shots to crowd and front of house photography.

Shot with the Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens

Samyang 18mm 2.8 for Sony

This Samyang lens is a great choice if you're looking for a wide-angle lens that is relatively fast and won't break the bank. I use this a lot for situations where I'm on a stage, maybe on small or cramped stages or with multiple artists.

Sigma 28-70mm 2.8 for Sony

The first of the zoom lenses, this Sigma 28-70mm is a great lens if you need to be able to quickly switch between wide angle shots and closer cropped images. I use it a lot when shooting from the pit on smaller stages.

Sony 70-200mm 2.8

This zoom lens is a lens I consider to be the holy grail of music photography. I rented this lens for a long time before I took the jump, as it comes with a hefty price tag, but it's well worth the price if you're going to be shooting shows that have larger stages, from either in the pit or from front of house (the sound desk, for example).

Shot with the Sony 70-200mm 2.8 lens
Shot with the Sony 70-200mm 2.8 lens
Shot with the Sony 70-200mm 2.8 lens


When it comes to editing, I use my MacBook Pro 2015 and a series of SSDs (my go-to being the Samsung T7). I edit mostly in Adobe Lightroom, with the occassional use of Adobe Photoshop too.

Batteries & SD cards

When it comes to batteries and SD cards, I usually take with me four batteries (two per camera) as well as a battery charger so that I can charge the batteries I'm not using whilst I'm shooting. For SD cards, I take four SansDisk 128GB cards (two for each camera) as well as a mixture of spare 128GB and 64GB cards.


I usually take a Godox V1 flash with me to festivals, mostly in case of needing it for backstage portraits, as flash during live music is often prohibited at larger events.


The "extras" are arguably the most important things to consider when shooting a festival. They range from technical items, such as extension cables to ensure you stay powered up backstage, to spare socks and a hoody.

I always take a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. Other health-related items that are great to consider are plasters, tissues, earplugs (very important if you value your hearing) and suncream.

In terms of camera bag, I use the WANDRD PRVKE 21 Litre bag, which I recently did a review of on Vocal.

Knowing what to pack for a festival can be a series of trial and error, but hopefully you can learn from what I take with me, and over time you'll be able to add onto this list from your own experience.

If you're interested in learning more about live music photography, you can access my Skillshare course for free with a free trial.


About the Creator

Sophia Carey

Photographer and designer from London, living in Manchester.

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Comments (6)

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  • Abdullah6 months ago

    Nice information thanks

  • Great article 👏 Well written and informative. And great photos!!!!

  • D. ALEXANDRA PORTER10 months ago

    Sophia, this fascinates me. I am very interested in photography and videography. Alas, I am not even up to the level of amateur. Thank you for reminding me to do more than dream. Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Dana Crandell10 months ago

    Very informative and your work is excellent. Congratulations on Top Story!

  • Babs Iverson10 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!!! Loving the photography details and learning what to pack. Packing for any kind of trip, can be a challenge!!!♥️♥️💕

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