Live Band Photography – Know Your Light Rigger – Or Find One Quick

| March 2, 2009

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Jay Farrar – Son Volt. Dan’s Silverleaf, Denton, Texas.

One of those unknown facts is that if I hadn’t found the lights for Dan’s Silver Leaf sitting on a pallet [ppw id=”133618151″ description=”Photography” price=”.10″]

at a UNT auction barn, top shelf musicians would still be playing in the dark. And even though Dan bought the whole pallet, the electrical circuits would apparently only handle a couple of them.

Then there’s the problem of having lights, and not knowing what to do with them. If they turn them up artists complain (poorly positioned directly in front of who they are lighting), so we shoot in the dark most of the time. The Son Volt show at Dan’s last week was exceptional in that I actually photographed it – a no smoking show! – but the norm by lighting standards. Shutter speeds rarely exceeded 1/15 sec., and that is with a 1600 ISO!

You may be able to see the lights were not adjusted for the position of the musicians. They simply lit nothing, the spaces in between the musicians. No one is responsible for lighting, so nothing was done, and as a consequence I shot 353 images in 19 minutes, and have roughly five images that survived. Who wants those kind of odds every time they step into Dan’s?

The photography is part of a long-term project I am collaborating with Dan on – a non-profit book with the net proceeds going to a Texas Musicians healthcare organization.

So the moral of the story, if you have to shoot live, make sure you have someone on your sides (instead of working against you) to run lights for the quality of show the fans and the musicians deserve. If you know anyone who knows anything about stage lighting, have them contact me and we can talk to Dan about this debacle.

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Category: Music, Photography

About the Author ()

I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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