Tips for photographing Warped Tour

Vans Warped Tour, Photography, Photos, Live Photos, Concert Photos

Vans Warped Tour, the summer camp of punk rock. Every year many people get their start shooting shows by covering Warped Tour. I didn’t get my start shooting Warped, but covering it did prepare me for how to handle shooting an all-day music festival in the scorching heat without water. It’s an experience unlike any other and sort of a right of passage for music photographers, especially for those in the punk/alternative field. I’ve decided that not doing a tutorial guide on how to shoot warped tour would be irresponsible, so here are some of my tips (I know Todd Owyoung has a great article on the same thing and I purposely haven’t read to avoid any plagiarism).

Gear (Technical and Professional):

You can shoot warped tour with almost anybody and any glass. You’re shooting outside, and your equipment doesn’t need to be top notch. Afraid of using your kit lens because of its aperture limitations? Bust it out! You’re shooting in daylight!

Remember to bring extra cards, and batteries. It’s an all-day event. Sometimes we all need a reminder to bring extra cards and batteries.

Warped tour is an all-day event. Make sure you have sunscreen, comfortable sneakers, and appropriate clothing. And please wear deodorant, your pits will smell at the end of the day when you’re shooting verticals

Check out smaller bands:

The reason for this is simple – the little bands are the ones that are going to get big next year. Imagine having photos of Katy Perry from that one summer she spent sweating it out with the best punk had to offer on Warped Tour. I wish I did!

Last, but not least, be creative.

If you shoot vigorously like I do, then you can shoot 10+ bands at Warped. Do something different. Yeah, that jump shot is great, but the only way to separate warped photos from you and every other person shooting Warped is to be creative and different.


Nick Karp is your favorite photographer’s favorite photographer. He captures the moments the rest of us miss. Follow his work.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.