Photographing Live Shows…


As someone who’s been photographing live musical acts from up-and-coming artists in and around L.A. for quite some time now, I usually haven’t had trouble bringing my high-end digital camera into smaller venues, which have included the Hotel Cafe, The Fold (Tangiers, El Cid), The Derby, The Echo, The Silverlake Lounge, Spaceland, and Temple Bar.

At other venues like the Troubadour and Key Club, security will stop you but if the artist is cool with photography, then it’s okay.

But there are non-camera-friendly venues like Largo and The Roxy. The only reason I was able to get my gear in last night to shoot Kate Earl was because I ran it through her management ahead of time. Even then, after checking in with security at the front door, I still went in and talked with the head security guy inside so I wouldn’t get hassled during the show.

Did you know that The Roxy has a policy where they charge videotapers a fee of $100.00 for a VHS videocamera and a whopping $500.00 for a higher-end (i.e. Mini-DV) videocamera?

8 thoughts on “Photographing Live Shows…”

  1. Oh yeah…the Roxy…they suck about that. I remember when they first got their new manager and implemented this policy. I was working for a record label at the time and we rented out the upstairs for an aftershow party for some artist and hired a photographer to take photos of folks with the artist. The club manager tried to put the kabosh on it saying that they had a no camera policy and i had to whip out my most annoying, persuasive powers to get him to turn a blind eye to it. Seriously…I had to follow him around arguing for about 45 minutes until i think i annoyed him so much he just steered clear of the afterparty.

  2. I’ve never had any trouble at Largo. Granted, I don’t have a large, high-end digital SLR, but I’ve never been secretive about what I was doing. I’ve seen lots of others shooting photos, too. Even taping some shows (Glen Phillips, mostly) with high-end digital equipment with microphones on tri-pods on the table. I know they do frown on flash photography, though. They hassle you?

  3. House of Blues can be fairly draconian…even if you have a pass from the band, HOB makes you sign a form saying you can’t use the photos for ANYTHING other than historical documentation. By far, the most friendly venue, if you’ve got a pass, has been the Knitting Factory. I’ve shot a decent number of shows there and they’ve always treated me well, never had to sign my life away or anything like that.

  4. Burns!: At Largo, there used to be a sign on the podium, that the host stood behind, that said something to the effect of no photography. That being said, I haven’t had trouble shooting there after the first time I showed up with my gear, told them that the artist in question was cool about photography, and assured them that I don’t use flash. I got the impression that they weren’t happy with a lot of the photos that had seen, but they were cool with the ones that I had shot there, and I became a regular customer there so they were comfortable with how I operated there (plus I made sure to tip the waitress heavily). Maybe their policy has since changed, but that’s what it was in the latter half of 2004.

  5. Haha the Roxy sucks, its one of those places that you’d thought had gone down when the whole pay to play scene in LA disintigrated back in the 90s’ but alas there it still is! Majority of the hollywood establishments on the strip have lame ass policies regarding taping/filming but then again I don’t usually see bands play in those kinda of places so I don’t care.

    But really why do you need pics of performers? My friend always lugs around a camera to takes pics but i have never seen them, ever! And do really think you are going to sit down one day, click through your pics on your harddrive, and reminice about that time that dude with B.O. blocked out your stage view with his stinky white boy fro?

  6. I usually talk to the door about it, and my absolute reason is always that my camera was far to expensive to hit someone with it. That’s as far as they are concerned. Otherwise clubs in Berlin are pretty liberal and allow everything.

  7. “But really why do you need pics of performers? My friend always lugs around a camera to takes pics but i have never seen them, ever!”

    Marquischacha, Koga spams my inbox with all the photos he takes. :D

    J/K He doesn’t spam me. He sends all of them in one email, so that email takes 30 minutes to open.

    Har har, keep ’em coming, Koga.

  8. MarquisChaCha: Shooting live events initially became a hobby, but has now turned into a regular gig. I have a blast shooting up-and-coming artists, and the great thing about them is that they’re usually quite receptive and enthusiastic about it. I’ve also discovered that it’s a great way for me to build up my portfolio. As for what I do with the photos afterwards, I usually post them to my blog, and I’ve even gotten some paid gigs as a result of my efforts.

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