Last week I photographed Recoil and the LA based band Spence at the Rogue Bar in Scottsdale, AZ. For 90% of the show, the stage was completely illuminated with either all blue or all red lighting, making my subjects resemble blueberries or raspberries. This can be very frustrating because, without enough light, my camera can’t take a picture. Even when I bump up the ISO, drop the shutter speed (I don’t like to go below 150 because there’s too much movement), and increase the aperture, it sometimes still not enough. I refuse to use flash because it distracts performers, and I feel that as a photographer, my goal is to capture the moment, not disrupt it.
For this particular show, my only recourse was to move around until my camera registered that there was enough light to capture an image. On the bright side, I did manage to get quite a few photos, but many were too blurry, slightly noisy, and completely washed in blue or red hues. I did my best to repair the images in Lightroom, but I wouldn’t call these my best photos.
Even though I enjoy photographing musicians, the primary reason that I keep putting myself in these situations is that concerts provide a variety of challenges that force me to up my game. Lighting itself is so crucial to photography. But what happens when you don’t have control of the lighting, and the lighting quality isn’t good enough? Lighting isn’t the only challenge at concerts, but it is certainly a significant one. It’s a challenge that I haven’t completely overcome.
I don’t have all the answers, but each time I encounter these challenges I learn more about photography and about myself as a photographer. As I make my way through the learning curve, I will share my experiences.