Tutorial: Hearing Protection for Concert Photographers (and others)

A tutorial on hearing protection? Really? Yeah. Really! I’m going to try to write tutorials on all kinds of photography related stuff and somehow this is going to be my first topic! Keep in mind I’m not an expert on in this case hearing, but I’d like to share my experience with it nevertheless.

Hearing protection is probably the most boring thing ever but it’s so, so, SOOO important! When you’re a concert photographer, and I see you without earplugs I will probably offer you my ‘emergency’ pair. Yeah I carry an emergency pair. Really. I will present some options for you so you can never say ‘I didn’t know!’.

My emergency pair usually looks like one of the above. They cost absolutely nothing and are a bit of a hassle to get in but they can be real lifesavers. The one on the right (with pink in it <3) is shaped a bit like a cone and therefore easier to get in. You can get these for no more than €2,-, they are for sale at every music venue and music store, and I see no reason why you shouldn’t get a pair (or ten)!

These little mushroom shaped plugs are option number 2! These cost around €20,- and are for sale at most music stores or you can buy them right here (click).

They come in this nifty little box with all kinds of extras (they even give you an extra plug in case you lose one). The tiny little round things are filters. They vary in how much noise they reduce! Superhandy if you’re say, visiting a metal concert on day 1 and a singsongwriter on day 2, no?

In case you’re wondering what on earth the tiny plastic thingy is for: it helps you get the plugs in your ears!

Now. For the real deal! If you wear your earplugs a lot, like I do, you might want to consider investing in something that’s made to fit to your ears and where you have a say in how much filtering is exactly going on. I’m on my second pair now (sadly your ears change and grow a lot!).

These two are my first pair. I got them at Schonenberg (lots of fun with all the elderly people there). These cost €180,-. I know. Gulp. But they’re really worth it.

They have an L and an R on them so you know which one goes where, and a mysterious number I really can’t explain to you (boyfriend edit: the numbers relate to the ‘print’ they make of your ears, so you can have them remade in case you lose one!).

This little thing contains my second pair! YELLOW plugs. Yes. I got these by the awesome and kind people from InEar.

The red dot goes in the right ear, the blue.. in the left :) I must admit, in stage-lights I’m usually a bit clueless as to which goes where. The black L and R were much more practical! BUT, these are yellow. And when I drop one (clumsy that I can be at times) I can at least find it back without having to clear the room. I wanted pink ones, but they were out of pink :(

This is what the inside looks like! You get a tiny brush-thingy with it, which you can clean the plugs with. Comes in handy… Really. Ew! :)

So! Lets conclude some stuff here!

– Get foam earplugs if all else fails! They will do the job. I’m afraid they will start hurting a bit if you wear them for hours on end. But it’s better then becoming that annoying grandparent later on in life with the TV turned up to 11.

– Get the ‘mushroom’ plugs if you’re short on budget, but need something that will not annoy the living daylights out of you. Also get another box to transport them in, this one will not fit in your pocket (if you’re wearing skinny jeans at least, like me..).

– Get custom made earplugs! Really! I can SLEEP with these things. Also the people at InEar can help you with what type of filter you need, and in my case I got these measured in the backstage of Paard van Troje. No trouble at all!

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