How To Photograph Church Musicians

Photographing your church’s musicians or worship team members is an excellent way to showcase some of your church’s culture. With the right approach and techniques, you can capture the atmosphere of your worship services.

In general, there are five keys to photographing church musicians; lighting, composition, post-processing, capturing the right moment and being respectful. The combination of these five essentials will ensure your church photography is impactful.

Keep reading as I explain why these essentials are important and how to use them to take stunning images.


One of the most crucial elements of photography is lighting, particularly when photographing church musicians. Worship services tend to be in low-light environments, which adds to the atmosphere. This means it’s essential to configure your gear so you can handle low-light conditions.

Using a fast lens is a good way to handle low light while taking beautiful photos. This means a lens with a low aperture, which could range from f/1.8 to f/2.8. The lower the aperture, the more light hits your sensor, creating a beautiful bokeh. Bokeh put simply, is the blurry background you often see in images.

If needed, you can raise your ISO to help compensate for a lack of light, though be aware that the higher your ISO is, the more noise will be introduced into your image. Noise can be taken away in post-processing, but it often leads to an artificially smooth, plasticky image.

If possible, add light to avoid raising your ISO too high. This will also allow you to control your depth of field. Though it is best to use natural light when possible, church services often don’t give photographers that option. A flash is a great way to add lighting for your shots, though it comes with a caveat. Photographers should never use a camera flash during a church service. To avoid this, show up to the worship team’s rehearsal to get some pictures. This will also allow you to get closer to the team without disturbing a service.


Composition is another key element of photography; just like lighting, it’s essential for church musicians. When composing your photos, consider the overall message you are trying to convey and how the musicians add to it. One common misconception is that the musicians must be the photo’s subject. You could focus on their instrument, stage gear, or anything.

Try capturing the musicians from different angles and perspectives. As mentioned before, showing up to rehearsals is the best way to get great photos. Use longer focal lengths for tighter shots, and try using wider focal lengths to capture more of the room’s atmosphere.

Another critical aspect of composition is to use negative space wisely. Negative space is the area surrounding the subject that contains no discernable information. It can help set focus on the photo’s subject or even be the subject itself. If you plan on using your photos to create graphics, using negative space as the photo’s subject can be helpful.

Since it is so important, I wrote an entire article on how to improve your church photography with composition.


After you have done the hard work to capture beautiful images, you’ll want to edit them to ensure they look the best they can and match your church’s aesthetic. This means adjusting exposure, white balance, contrast, or removing unwanted elements from your photos. This can be done using industry-standard software such as Lightroom or Luminar Neo.

When editing your images, be aware that you can drastically change the mood and tone conveyed. This can be used to your advantage but can also disengage your images if the tone doesn’t match the message.

Left ImageRight Image

Consider the first photo; the greens are paler and more muted. The overall image is more natural and less saturated. The second photo, on the other hand, is more saturated and has a heavy vignette. Both have their place, and both look good, but the tones of the two are vastly different.

Capture The Moment

When you’re capturing church musicians, you will likely be taking photos of them while they practicing or playing worship sets; because of this, it’s crucial to capture “the moment.” There are two ways this can be interpreted, which I’ll explain in terms of photography.

The first way to think about this is to imagine a wide shot of the entire room or stage during a worship set. This “moment” is a combination of everything happening in the room working together to create an atmosphere contained in one image. How you photograph this is to carefully consider the room’s atmosphere and try to capture its essence into your image. For example, if a highly reflective, deeply impactful song is playing, try to capture the musicians’ facial expressions or movements to show the room’s emotion.

The second way to think about “the moment” is to imagine a tight shot focused on one event happening at a specific time. This “moment” is, instead of everything happening in the room, one single thing happening in the room is shown in depth. Let’s go back to the same reflective atmosphere as our last example; one of these “moments” may materialize as a person on their knees in worship or being prayed over.

Capturing the moment means understanding these two schools of thought and knowing when each is appropriate. It is also just one part of capturing emotion, a crucial skill to master for church photographers. Check out my article explaining how to capture emotion in church photography.

Be Respectful

As a photographer, it’s essential to remember that the primary focus of the service is not your photos. This can be a tough concept, especially if it’s your church you’re taking photos of, but it’s crucial nonetheless.

First of all, you must ensure you have permission from the church to take photos. It’s different if you’re pulling out your phone to take a shot or two while attending the service. If you plan to do an entire shoot, you must first have permission from the church and its team members. Generally, if you have been asked to take photos from someone in a leadership position, they will communicate that to any teams involved, so you don’t have to.

Second, you have to ensure you have permission or have notified anyone you are taking photos of. This could be in the form of a consent sign outside the entrance to the service or other permission notices. Check your local regulations, and always get parents’ permission before taking pictures of children, even if it is in a group photo.

Jeremy Goh

Jeremy grew up volunteering at church and has also worked in a church setting. Along with working as a freelance creative, Jeremy is studying for a business degree in finance and international business.

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