Music festivals like Coachella bring you the best acts in the world, but they also bring you undisputed spectacle. Millions of dollars are poured into stage setups you’ll never see anywhere else, larger-than-life art pieces, and the infrastructure that keeps the whole place running. Since only the press is allowed to bring in DSLR cameras, you’re going to be relying on your mobile device to capture your memories in the most accurate, artistic way you can. While no photo will compare to the incredible time you’re about to have (trust me, this is my fourth year), here are some tips that will help you capture the most epic music festival photos.

Look for spectacle.

Coachella is larger than life, a pop-up town of over 80,000 people complete with flashing lights and a backdrop of the Santa Rosa mountain range that might as well be an oil painting. Coachella looks best when you exaggerate your subjects through interesting angles and dramatic perspectives. Try to follow the contours of the art pieces. Get up close and personal with Coachella’s unique accents. Or hey! Stay back and capture just how huge the, say, Sahara Tent actually is. We’re talking the back of the stage instead of the fourth row. You want to show people that this ephemeral place couldn’t fit anywhere else.

how to take great music festival photos
By @nanette_pa

Turn around for sunset.

One of the most magical moments of Coachella is sunset. “Sunset Sets” are special because each stage faces west, meaning that the sun will casting a warm, desert glow across the stage and its spectators. While you’ll definitely be enamored by whoever’s playing, take a moment to turn around during a small break in their set to look at your surroundings. Your fellow concertgoers become silhouettes and the mountain range will never look more like an oil painting, palm trees swaying in-between them. This is an iconic scene you don’t want to miss.

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music festival photos
By @cartergee_pa

Use a shallow depth of field for portraits.

Get in close when photographing your friends and blur out the background. Coachella is absolutely filled with color, movement and commotion. All of that can be very distracting. With the background blurred, your subject will fill the frame. And if your camera isn’t doing exactly what you want it to, don’t worry! You can always create that macro feel by using PicsArt’s Blur Effects!

music festival photo tips
By @cartergee_pa

Quick tips for great night photography.

Night photography is tough on a phone, but the following tips should help you get the best shots possible:

  • During dusk, focus closely on a piece of art or the mountain range. Too many people (who are silhouetted against the background) will create unnecessary detail that will make your photos noisy.
  • If you’re shooting a stage at night trying to capture the vibe, lasers look great and strobes will wash out your images.
  • Selfies aren’t going to look great without enough light. Try to get all your photo taking of you and your friends in during the day!
coachella photo tips
By @nanette_pa

Know when to not take photos.

And, finally, before you get too carried away with your music festival photos, ask yourself… Is my favorite song playing? Are you losing your mind dancing? Do you know that this moment is super, duper special? Enjoy it. Don’t take your phone out. I know. A whole tip devoted to telling you not to take photos in an article telling you how to take photos. Trust me. Your memory is going to be a lot more important than anything you capture on your phone. Live in the present. There’s always the live stream to watch when you get home.

Make us jealous with your music festival photos this season! Share your shots to the PicsArt photo editor with the hashtag #MusicFestival.