Music Hall of Williamsburg: NYC Venues Broken Down

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As a part of our Concert Photography series, we’ve previously listed all the New York City concert venues categorizing them based on whether or not those venues had photo pits. Now for this next installment, we’ll be breaking down specific venues and including our personal experiences.

Tyler the Creator
  Photo by Emily Korn

If it’s your first time venturing over to Brooklyn as a Bowery Presents fan, you’ll likely find yourself at this venue (what many have perceived as a slightly hipper take on the Bowery Ballroom—indeed, expect to be wowed by what appears to be an almost exact/mirrored layout). If you’re planning on photographing at this venue, you’re in luck if you have a ticket. That’s right, no press pass needed. This is great news for anyone looking to start a career in concert photography, while grabbing some substantial artists to put in your portfolio (Foster the People, Lauryn Hill, Tyler the Creator, Blink 182, Disclosure, Icona Pop, Skrillex, Phoenix, Pixies, LCD Soundsystem, are just a few of the acts—in recent memory—that have/will grace its stages). If you’re working press, simply grab a spot on the guest list and enjoy the evening’s festivities.

Depending on which act you’re seeing, you may need to arrive at (or shortly after) doors to grab a good spot. In my experience, the greater the teen fan base or the longer a band has been around, the lesser your chance at grabbing a spot near the front—I’ve seen people camped out in the freezing cold/rain since the wee hours of the morning (bands like Pixies, and acts like Tyler the Creator, will lead to lines around the block). Once you’re in, you’ll likely see a few options for clear shots of the stage: there’s the front row, the sides of the venue on the main floor (which hold raised platforms for unobstructed viewing), and the upstairs balcony.

“be willing to move around—but please don’t be inconsiderate about it”

Situate yourself and prepare for the elements. The lighting tends to be dim in this venue, unless you’re catching a rock band or hip-hop act (generally speaking, you’re probably at MHOW to cover an indie band). Come prepared with low-light lenses, and be willing to move around—but please don’t be inconsiderate about it, there’s nothing worse than a photographer willing to push their way through/in front of fans who have camped out/claimed their spot inside the venue (I don’t care if you’re only grabbing a couple of shots, you’re really tarnishing other people’s experiences).

“one of the better venues for grabbing interactions between the artists and their audience”In my estimation, this has been one of the better venues for grabbing interactions between the artists and their audience—and since you probably don’t have a three song cap on shooting, plan on sticking around as long as you can to grab these shots (not only do they contextualize the atmosphere of the concert, but they have the ability to remind us that even some of the greater acts to grace this stage, had very humble beginnings).

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Emily Korn is a photographer based in New York City and Colorado, specializing in concert photography and celebrity portraiture. Her work has been published in CMJ, QRO, SPIN, SuperGlued, Teen Vogue, VIBE, The Waster, XXL, and more.