Taking Photos of Bands in Bars

sneaky-pete.jpgAnd now for something completely different. Recently I’ve taken photos of fellow musicians here in the San Francisco Bay area. In addition, a college of mine here at work has taken really professional photos of me, including a band I played in last night. So I have plenty of PR photos now for the next ten years. I think here has been taken more photos of me the last month than going back twenty years in time.

Anyway, I have really good gear I could borrow, cameras such as Nikon D3s and D700 that have crazy ISO values going up to 6400 and beyond, including built-in noise reduction, so there’s no need to take those annoying flash photos of people on stage.

Still, it’s a pain taking photos in bars and so on. To start with, most bars have these annoying plasma TVs anchored everywhere, especially above the heads of the musicians playing. So it takes a lot of effort to mask out the plasma TVs. Not to speak of beer posters and similar crud that is placated everywhere on the walls.

Also, of some reason most bars assume that the perfect light show for bands are three or so red-colored lights beaming down on the face of the artists. Or, sometimes three separate light sources, one red (always red!), one blue and one green, just to make the photos look really weird concerning lightning conditions.

Similarly, there’s so much stuff in front of the band, pool tables, ATM machines, you name it. I wish there was a huge crowd in front, but most places are not designed for people dancing in front of the band, of some reason — space is a premium.

Despite all these challenges, taking photos with these high-end cameras is fun as you could really capture how the lights and the band members look like in such crowded areas.


  1. Kent, thanks for taking the photos of us at our trial gig. I like the different contrast of colors of lights the stage presented, it is as it was, and something about these high end cameras captures it nicely…it can’t be the camera man ;-)


  2. Yes, the scene had a green light on you, a strong yellow on the female singer, and the obligatory red light on the other guitar player.

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