How To Become A Concert Photographer

How to Become a Concert Photographer: A Complete Guide

Dreaming of turning your passion for live music and photography into a fulfilling career? You’re in the right place! This comprehensive guide will walk you through the exciting and competitive world of concert photography, helping you understand the crucial steps needed to make a name for yourself as a professional concert photographer. Our expert advice and insights will show you how to effectively develop your skills, immerse yourself in the music industry, and establish a successful concert photography career.

Key Takeaways

Understanding Concert Photography as a Career

Concert photography isn’t just about capturing live events; it’s a demanding career that necessitates a blend of technical skills, creative vision, and business acumen. This section explores what a career in concert photography entails, including potential income streams, challenges photographers face, and the intrinsic rewards of capturing music history as it happens.

Embarking on a concert photography career involves immersing oneself in the vibrant world of music photography. The role of a professional concert photographer often extends beyond snapping impressive shots during live performances, but how does one assess whether this career is a suitable fit? Consider the following aspects:

  1. Commitment to continual skill improvement, including mastering various camera settings and techniques
  2. A deep understanding and appreciation of diverse music genres
  3. Adaptability to the unique challenges posed by different venues and lighting conditions
  4. A strong network within the music industry and photography community
  5. A business-oriented mindset to handle marketing, negotiations, and income generation

Like many creative professions, a concert photography career offers both challenges and rewards. Some of these challenges include:

  • Competitive market, making it difficult to establish a name and secure regular gigs
  • Inconsistent income streams due to the project-based nature of the work
  • Physically demanding, with long hours and frequent travel
  • Dealing with difficult lighting conditions and unpredictable live events

Despite these challenges, a career in concert photography can be deeply satisfying, offering the following intrinsic rewards:

  • Opportunity to capture iconic moments in music history
  • Close proximity to favorite musicians and live performances
  • Chance to work in diverse environments, from small clubs to massive festivals
  • Opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals and creative individuals

To ensure success in this field, it is crucial to explore different aspects of the career and develop a versatile skill set while continuously refining one’s photographic style and understanding of music.

Diving into the World of Music Photography

Music photography is a diverse field that requires understanding various music genres and the dynamic environments of different venues. In this section, we’ll delve into strategies for capturing the essence of each musical genre and adapting to venue specifics, from intimate clubs to expansive outdoor festivals.

Genres and Venues

Different music genres often involve distinct atmospheres and audience energies, impacting the photographic approach. Let’s take a closer look at how to adjust techniques for genres ranging from rock to electronic dance music and explore how different venues can affect camera settings, angles, and interactions with the crowd.

  • Rock: Featuring high-energy performances, rock concerts call for fast shutter speeds to freeze the action while maintaining sharp focus.
  • Electronic Dance Music (EDM): EDM shows are visually dynamic due to the synchronization of lighting and sound. Utilizing slower shutter speeds can create an artistic blur effect, conveying a sense of movement.
  • Jazz: Jazz performances tend to be more subdued. Take advantage of low-light techniques and slower shutter speeds to capture the intimate atmosphere.
  • Country: Country concerts often combine storytelling with energetic performances. Find a balance between capturing candid moments and high-energy action sequentially.

The Photographer-Musician Relationship

Building a rapport with musicians can be crucial in capturing candid shots and gaining access to exclusive shooting positions. Let’s discuss the importance of understanding the artists’ performances, conveying their energy, and respecting their space, leading to powerful imagery and potential long-term collaborations.

  1. Research the artists: Before photographing a show, research the musicians and their performances to understand their style and become familiar with the emotions and moments you want to capture.
  2. Convey the energy: Good music photography should make viewers feel like they are at the concert. Capture the intensity, emotion, and energy of the musicians and audience alike.
  3. Respect their space: Be aware of how close you are to the musicians and ensure you respect their personal space. A good photographer knows when to step back and let the performance unfold naturally.
  4. Build relationships: Establishing a relationship with musicians can open doors to future opportunities. Attend meet-and-greets, offer to shoot promotional photos, and share your work with them on social media to create a bond.

Essential Skills for Aspiring Concert Photographers

Mastering concert photography requires a solid foundation of essential skills. From technical knowledge to creativity and adaptability, these skills will set the stage for success in the field. This section will cover important elements, including camera settings, capturing the moment, post-processing, developing an individual style, and handling low-light situations.

  1. Technical knowledge of camera settings
  2. Understanding optimal camera settings is crucial for producing high-quality concert images. Beginner photographers should develop proficiency in various parameters such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to tackle challenging lighting and movement conditions.

  3. Anticipating and capturing fleeting moments
  4. Concerts are dynamic events filled with spontaneous and emotional moments. Aspiring concert photographers need to hone their instincts and reflexes to be ready to capture these instances in a fraction of a second.

  5. Post-processing techniques
  6. Editing plays a significant role in perfecting the final images. Learning essential post-processing methods, such as color correction, noise reduction, and image sharpening will enhance the visual appeal of your concert photos.

  7. Developing an individual style
  8. Establishing a unique visual identity is vital for standing out in the competitive world of concert photography. Techniques like composition, perspective, and lighting can contribute to a distinctive photography style.

  9. Adapting to low-light situations
  10. Concert environments often involve low and erratic lighting. Mastering low-light photography is critical, as it enables photographers to produce clear and sharp images even in challenging conditions.

concert photography tips for beginners

Essential Skill Description Importance in Concert Photography
Camera Settings Knowledge Understanding aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Enables optimal image quality under various lighting and movement conditions.
Anticipating Moments Training instincts and reflexes to capture spontaneous events. Produces memorable and emotional images that resonate with viewers.
Post-processing Techniques Editing skills to refine and enhance images. Improves the final quality of your photos and elevates their visual appeal.
Individual Style Creating a unique visual identity through techniques and perspectives. Helps establish recognition and stand out in the competitive market.
Low-light Adaptability Mastering techniques to work in challenging lighting situations. Allows the capture of clear and sharp images even in poor lighting conditions.

By developing these essential photography skills, aspiring concert photographers will be better equipped to handle the challenges of this exhilarating profession, increase the quality of their work, and build a reputation in the industry.

The Role of Networking in Concert Photography

Networking is a cornerstone of any successful concert photography career, playing a vital role in starting a career in concert photography. This section will address how to build a strong network within the music and photography communities, and the impact of professional relationships on obtaining access to high-profile gigs.

Building Professional Relationships

Building professional relationships is more than exchanging business cards. It involves nurturing connections with other photographers, music industry professionals, and artists. Here are some tips for effectively engaging with these key individuals through social media, music events, and collaborations:

  1. Attend music events and industry gatherings to seek out and introduce yourself to potential connections.
  2. Be genuine and approachable in your interactions with others, ensuring you leave a positive impression.
  3. Connect and engage with people on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Share your work, comment on others’ posts, and be responsive to messages.
  4. Collaborate with fellow photographers and musicians on projects to expand your network and develop new skills.

Maintaining an active presence in both the music and photography communities is essential. Below is a table illustrating the potential benefits gained from forming and maintaining strong professional relationships in these areas:

Relationship Type Benefits
Other photographers Learning new techniques, getting advice on equipment, finding support, and opening up potential job opportunities.
Music industry professionals Gaining insider knowledge of events, getting press access to concerts, and building credibility within the industry.
Performing artists Developing long-term collaborations, expanding your portfolio, and potentially gaining exclusive access to backstage areas and VIP events.

As your network grows, so does your potential for new opportunities and a successful career in concert photography. Building relationships takes time and effort, but the benefits, such as increased access to high-profile gigs, make it well worth the investment.

Getting Started with Concert Photography Tips for Beginners

Starting your journey in concert photography can be both exciting and intimidating. This section will offer practical advice for beginners on how to begin, from attending local shows and practicing with smaller acts to understanding the etiquette of the photo pit and setting realistic goals.

As a beginner, it is essential to immerse yourself in the world of concert photography, and the best way to do that is by attending local shows. Start by looking for events in your area that feature emerging acts, as they tend to have less restrictive policies for photographers, allowing you to practice and build your skills.

Local Venues Benefits for Concert Photography Beginners
Small clubs and bars Opportunities to practice in intimate settings with easy access to performers
Musical theatre productions Structured performances with consistent lighting and well-defined scenes
Open mic nights Low-pressure environment and a diverse range of performers to photograph
Outdoor events and festivals Increased visibility and varied opportunities to capture different styles and genres

A crucial step in starting a career in concert photography is understanding the etiquette of the photo pit. Consider these essential guidelines:

  • Always be respectful of other photographers and their space.
  • Refrain from using flash, as it can be distracting for both performers and audience members.
  • Move quietly and mindfully to avoid disturbing the performance.
  • Know when to step back and let others have their chance to capture the perfect shot.

Setting realistic goals for your concert photography journey is essential in measuring progress and staying motivated. It’s crucial to recognize that success will not come overnight and that it takes time, patience, and perseverance to establish yourself in the industry.

  1. Build a strong portfolio of your best work.
  2. Develop a unique and recognizable style.
  3. Network with other photographers, musicians, and industry professionals.
  4. Continuously strive to improve your technical skills and knowledge.
  5. Stay up-to-date on industry trends and advances in photography equipment.

concert photography tips for beginners

Mastering Concert Photography Techniques

Refining your concert photography techniques is crucial in capturing visually stunning and memorable images of live performances. This section will delve into advanced techniques that can elevate your music photography skills, encompassing creative methods for utilizing stage lighting, movement, and capturing the essence of the venue and the audience.

  1. Panning
  2. Zoom Bursts
  3. Utilizing Stage Lighting
  4. Capturing Atmosphere and Emotions

Incorporating these techniques will set your work apart, as you master the art of concert photography and create images that truly convey the energy and excitement of live events.

concert photography techniques


Panning is an advanced technique that involves tracking a moving subject, such as a musician, while keeping the camera’s shutter speed slow. This results in a sharp subject against a blurred background, effectively expressing the motion and dynamism of the performance. To master panning, practice tracking subjects while slowly releasing the shutter, being mindful of the balance between capturing movement and maintaining sharpness.

Zoom Bursts

Zoom bursts can create a dramatic effect in concert photography by emphasizing the performer or a specific element in the frame. To create a zoom burst, set a slow shutter speed and gradually zoom in or out while taking the shot. This technique can take some time to perfect, so experiment with different shutter speeds and zoom speeds to find the perfect balance and achieve striking results.

Utilizing Stage Lighting

Rather than fighting against unpredictable and varied stage lighting, embrace it as a vital element in your images. Look for moments when the lighting enhances the performer’s expressions or creates interesting silhouettes and shadows. Pay attention to the rhythm of the light show and anticipate changes to capture well-timed, compelling images.

Capturing Atmosphere and Emotions

While the primary focus of concert photography is usually the performers on stage, don’t overlook the importance of capturing the atmosphere of the venue and the emotions of the crowd. Wide-angle shots can help showcase the setting and audience, while close-ups of fans’ faces help convey the emotional impact of the performance.

Technique Description Benefits
Panning Tracking a moving subject with a slow shutter speed Conveys motion and dynamism with a sharp subject against a blurred background
Zoom Burst Gradually zooming in or out with a slow shutter speed Creates dramatic emphasis on the subject or specific elements
Stage Lighting Embracing and adapting to varied lighting conditions Enhances expressions and creates compelling silhouettes and shadows
Atmosphere and Emotions Capturing the essence of the venue and fans’ reactions Adds context and emotional depth to concert photographs

Mastering these concert photography techniques takes dedication and practice. As you become more comfortable with these methods, you’ll find your work taking on a dynamic and impactful quality that truly reflects the energy and excitement of live music events.

Choosing the Right Concert Photography Equipment

The right equipment can significantly enhance a photographer’s capabilities in a concert setting. In this section, we will provide insights on selecting the best camera body, lenses, and additional gear optimized for concert photography’s unique challenges.

concert photography equipment

Camera Selection

Choosing the right camera is crucial for concert photography. Key features photographers should prioritize when selecting their primary camera include sensor size, ISO performance, and speed. Some recommended camera bodies for concert photography are the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Nikon D850, and Sony α7 III. These models offer exceptional low-light performance, fast autofocus, and high-quality image resolution essential for capturing live performances.

Lenses for Different Stages

Different lenses offer various benefits in concert photography—from wide-angle lenses for expansive stage shots to telephotos for close-ups of artists. Here is a breakdown of ideal lenses for capturing the vibrancy and dynamism of live performances:

  1. Wide-angle lenses (16-35mm): Perfect for capturing the entire stage and creating a sense of space and scale.
  2. Standard zoom lenses (24-70mm): Versatile for diverse situations, offering a balance between wide-angle and telephoto focal lengths.
  3. Telephoto zoom lenses (70-200mm): Ideal for capturing close-up shots of musicians, capturing facial expressions and details of instruments.

Investing in fast lenses with a wide aperture (f/2.8 or lower) is crucial for low-light concert photography situations, allowing you to shoot at faster shutter speeds and keep your ISO settings lower for better image quality.

Extra Gear That Makes a Difference

Beyond cameras and lenses, there’s extra gear that can aid concert photographers, including ear protection, camera straps, and bags. Below is a list of additional tools that can make the job easier and help photographers stay organized and prepared in any concert environment:

  • Ear Protection: High-fidelity earplugs are essential for protecting your hearing during loud concerts.
  • Comfortable Camera Strap: A supportive strap enables you to carry your camera for longer periods without stress on your neck and shoulders.
  • Camera Bag: A spacious and organized bag ensures you can carry all your concert photography equipment safely and efficiently.
  • Extra Batteries and Memory Cards: Having spares on hand ensures you don’t miss crucial shots due to battery drain or full memory cards.
  • Monopod: Convenient to use in tight spaces, a monopod provides additional stability for sharper images.

By selecting the right concert photography camera gear and equipment, you can boost your chances of capturing stunning images that convey the energy and emotion of live performances.

Recommended Concert Photography Settings

Choosing the right concert photography settings is crucial for capturing stunning images in unpredictable and challenging lighting conditions. In this section, we will offer recommendations on aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, as well as tips for shooting in manual mode to ensure optimal exposure and sharp images amidst the action.


Aperture plays a significant role in controlling the depth of field and the amount of light entering the camera. In concert photography, wide apertures (low f-numbers) are preferable as they allow more light to enter the sensor and create a shallow depth of field, ensuring the main subject remains in focus.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed affects both the exposure and motion blur in your images. For camera settings for live music, use faster shutter speeds (e.g., 1/250 or faster) to freeze movement and minimize motion blur while capturing the energy and action of a live performance.


High ISO values enable better low-light performance but may introduce noise into your images. Striking a balance between acceptable noise levels and correct exposure is essential when determining the ideal ISO settings for concert photography. Generally, ISO values between 1600 and 3200 work well for minimizing noise while ensuring proper exposure in low-light conditions.

  1. Aperture: Wide apertures (low f-numbers) for increased light and shallow depth of field.
  2. Shutter Speed: Fast shutter speeds (1/250 or faster) to freeze motion and minimize blur.
  3. ISO: Values between 1600 and 3200 to minimize noise while ensuring proper exposure.

Shooting in Manual Mode

Shooting in manual mode allows for greater control over exposure settings, enabling you to adapt to varied lighting conditions and capture the dynamic atmosphere of a concert. Manual mode is particularly beneficial for concert photography settings, as it allows photographers to fine-tune their images for optimal results.

Setting Recommended Value Benefits
Aperture Wide apertures (low f-numbers) Increased light and shallow depth of field
Shutter Speed Fast (1/250 or faster) Freezing motion and minimizing blur
ISO 1600 – 3200 Minimizing noise and ensuring proper exposure

Keeping these recommendations in mind, experiment with different combinations of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO based on the unique conditions of each concert venue and performance. This will help you find the ideal concert photography settings to capture the energy, emotion, and atmosphere unique to live music events.

Building a Portfolio for Concert Photography

A strong concert photography portfolio is essential for showcasing your work and attracting clients. Selecting your best images, constructing a narrative within your portfolio, and utilizing online platforms are crucial steps in enhancing your visibility and reach. In this section, we will explore each of these aspects to help you create a powerful professional presence.

Online Presence

An online presence can vastly extend a photographer’s reach. A professional website, the use of social media for connecting with audiences and clients, and leveraging online tools effectively will contribute significantly to building your concert photography career. Here, we discuss each of these factors and their role in effectively showcasing your skills online.

To establish a strong online presence for photographers, consider the following components:

  • Creating a professional website
  • Utilizing social media platforms
  • Employing additional online tools

Creating a professional website is the first step in crafting your online presence. Your website should showcase select images that best represent your work, along with information about your background, experience, and pricing. It acts as an online business card allowing potential clients to learn about you and your work.

Utilizing social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can help you expand your reach and connect with fans, clients, and other photographers. By consistently posting and interacting with your audiences, you increase the likelihood that your work will be noticed and shared with a wider network, potentially leading to new opportunities.

Employing additional online tools such as portfolio builders, photo-blog sites, and networking websites tailored for photographers can further showcase your concert photography portfolio. Research and choose the most relevant tools suitable for your specific needs and goals, to ensure your work reaches the right audiences.

When deciding which images to include in your portfolio, it is important to be selective and mindful of the story you want to convey. Display a balance of your most impressive and diverse shots, to highlight both technical skills and creative vision. Refrain from overloading your portfolio with too many images, as it may detract from the impact of your strongest photos.

In summary, having a well-crafted online presence enables you to showcase your concert photography portfolio to the world. By thoroughly considering each aspect of your online presence strategy – from websites to social media channels and additional tools – you will significantly increase your chances of reaching the right clients and opportunities.

Launching a Career in Concert Photography

Breaking into the concert photography scene requires a combination of skill, networking, and strategic career moves. By focusing on the following actionable advice, budding photographers can approach concert photography as a business, develop a distinctive brand, and understand the significance of perseverance in establishing a name in the industry.

1. Develop a Distinct Photographic Brand: To stand out in the competitive field of concert photography, it is essential to develop a unique style and brand. This involves not only honing in on your photographic skills but also creating a cohesive aesthetic that can be recognized across all your work, social media profiles, and website.

2. Network with Industry Professionals: As highlighted in previous sections, networking plays an integral role in launching a career in concert photography. Building and maintaining relationships with other photographers, music industry professionals, and artists can lead to new opportunities and collaborations.

  1. Attend music events and conferences.
  2. Participate in online forums and groups.
  3. Engage with professionals on social media.

3. Create a Diverse Portfolio: Showcase your concert photography skills and unique style by creating a diverse portfolio. This should include examples of different music genres, performances, and venues to highlight your adaptability. A strong portfolio will not only attract clients but also demonstrate your dedication and professionalism.

4. Learn from the Experts: Tap into the wealth of knowledge offered by established concert photographers. Attend workshops, seminars, and even apprentice with respected professionals in the field. Learning from the experts can provide invaluable insights into the inner workings of the industry, and help you avoid common pitfalls faced by beginners.

5. Strategize your Career Moves: Becoming a professional concert photographer relies on strategic planning and persistence. Set realistic career goals and work diligently to achieve them, embracing challenges and potential setbacks as learning opportunities.

Short-term Goals Long-term Goals
Shoot at local shows and events Work with renowned musicians and festivals
Develop a diverse portfolio Establish a strong online presence
Network with local industry professionals Create long-term collaborations with musicians and magazines

By incorporating these advice into your journey towards becoming a professional concert photographer, you’ll be poised to navigate the competitive landscape and establish your presence in the music photography industry.

Finding Opportunities and Gigs

One of the biggest challenges for concert photographers is finding consistent work. There are various traditional and unconventional methods for securing gigs and concert photography opportunities. From promoting your services to working with music publications, learning how to leverage each successful job into future opportunities is key to building a sustainable career in concert photography.

In this section, we will explore several methods for finding photography gigs in the concert photography world:

  1. Local music venues and events
  2. Networking with music industry professionals
  3. Working with music publications and websites
  4. Social media promotion
  5. Collaborating with bands and artists

Table: Pros and Cons of Different Methods for Finding Concert Photography Gigs

Method Pros Cons
Local music venues and events Offers direct access to concerts, allows you to build a local reputation and network Pay may be lower, may require more initiative and persistence
Networking with music industry professionals Gain access to exclusive opportunities, receive recommendations from trusted sources Requires time and effort, results may not be immediate
Working with music publications and websites Provides steady work and exposure, possible travel opportunities Competition can be fierce, may require strict adherence to publication guidelines
Social media promotion Wide audience reach, cost-effective, enables direct communication with potential clients Requires consistent effort, success may be slow
Collaborating with bands and artists Exclusive access, potential for long-term partnerships, possible travel opportunities Relies on building strong relationships, not guaranteed to lead to consistent work

Local Music Venues and Events

Local music venues and events are excellent starting points for finding photography gigs. By offering your services to venues, coordinators, and artists in your area, you can build a strong local reputation. As you demonstrate your skills and professionalism, you’ll begin to form valuable connections, expanding your network and increasing your chances of securing more gigs.

Networking with Music Industry Professionals

Establishing and maintaining relationships with music industry professionals is another important aspect of finding concert photography opportunities. Attend music events, network with bands, managers, promoters, and other photographers, and always be prepared to showcase your work. Music industry professionals can recommend you for gigs or even grant you exclusive access to events.

Working with Music Publications and Websites

Securing assignments from music publications and websites is a tried-and-true method for finding concert photography gigs. This route provides exposure, steady work, and, potentially, travel opportunities. However, competition may be severe, and working with publications often requires adhering to strict guidelines or deadlines.

Social Media Promotion

Promoting your concert photography through social media channels can help broaden your audience reach, attract potential clients, and showcase your skills. By regularly engaging with your online followers and sharing your work, you demonstrate your professionalism and dedication to your craft, which can lead to new gig opportunities.

Collaborating with Bands and Artists

Building rapport with bands and artists is essential for securing exclusive concert photography opportunities. Establishing trust with musicians can open doors to one-of-a-kind shooting positions and create potential for long-term collaborations. By knowing the artists’ performances style, conveying their energy, and respecting their space, you can solidify your role as their go-to concert photographer.

In conclusion, finding photography gigs and concert photography opportunities is a crucial aspect of a successful career in this field. Leveraging various methods, networking effectively, and consistently showcasing your skills will improve your chances of securing consistent work and making a name for yourself in the concert photography industry.


Embarking on a successful concert photography career is an exciting and challenging journey, requiring passion, dedication, and resilience. By honing your skills, building a strong network, and understanding the unique challenges of music photography, you can steadily establish yourself in this ambitious field.

Mastering advanced techniques, leveraging the right equipment, and cultivating a distinctive style will distinguish your work from the competition. As you build a stellar portfolio and maintain a robust online presence, more doors will open, allowing you to capture unforgettable moments in music history.

The insights shared in this comprehensive guide, along with your unwavering commitment to growth and improvement, will serve as the foundation for your journey as a professional concert photographer. Embrace the challenges and celebrate the triumphs ahead as you navigate the thrilling world of concert photography.


What skills are necessary for concert photography?

Essential skills for concert photography include technical knowledge of camera settings, the ability to anticipate and capture fleeting moments, post-processing techniques, and developing an individual style. Low-light photography skills are especially important in concert settings.

How can I build a strong network in the music industry?

Networking involves nurturing connections with other photographers, music industry professionals, and artists. Engage with these key individuals through social media, music events, and collaborations. Building professional relationships can lead to access to high-profile gigs and opportunities for growth.

How do I start my career in concert photography?

Begin by attending local shows and practicing with smaller acts to understand the etiquette of the photo pit and set realistic goals. Develop fundamental skills, build a strong network, and create a compelling portfolio to showcase your work and attract clients. Be persistent and open to learning from each experience.

What equipment is essential for concert photography?

The right equipment for concert photography includes a suitable camera body with good ISO performance and speed, lenses that cater to different stages (wide-angle, telephoto, etc.), and extra gear such as ear protection, camera straps, and bags to stay organized and prepared in any concert environment.

What camera settings are recommended for concert photography?

Recommended concert photography settings include a wide aperture, fast shutter speed, and a balanced ISO that adapts to the lighting conditions. Mastering manual mode is crucial for ensuring optimal exposure and sharp images while capturing the dynamic energy of live music.

How do I build a concert photography portfolio?

Select your best images, construct a narrative within your portfolio, and utilize online platforms to showcase your work. Maintain a professional website, utilize social media to connect with audiences and clients, and optimize your online presence to display your concert photography skills effectively.

How do I find opportunities and gigs in concert photography?

Secure concert photography gigs by promoting your services, working with music publications, and leveraging each successful job into future opportunities. Explore traditional and unconventional ways to find consistent work and expand your presence in the music photography scene.

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