Stage Presentation and Lighting

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”
― Coco Chanel

The art of lighting the stage consists of putting light where you want it and taking it away from where you don't want it.

-  Max Reinhardt

I have been photographing local musicians for a little over two years. In this short time, I have noticed a lack of understanding concerning the importance of stage presentation and lighting. Both elements are critical to the photographer but also greatly impact the interpretation of the musician's performance by the audience. The quality of the sound is critical but how a musician is interpreted must not be neglected. We see first then, if intrigued, listen.
We live in an age of immediacy. It is more important to be noticed than that which we are being noticed for. It is more important to be first than the quality or subject of what we are presenting. As a result, musicians are presented, too many times, as pink lollipops or smurfs and does not object because they are being noticed or because they think there is nothing they can do about it. You may not be able to stop the posting, but you can impact the next posting.
Talented musicians, with dynamic voices, walk upon the stage with clothing that gives the appearance of having just gotten out of bed or cleaned the house. Your audience wants to be entertained. Quality music is the ice cream, but lighting and stage presentation are the sprinkles, nuts, and cherry on top that make the experience memorable. Poorly done and your performance is in competition with everyone else. Correctly done, you will have given your audience a memory that they will not forget. They will bring others to see and hear. See and hear, in that order. There is only one thing that differentiates your music live from being heard on the radio, your presentation. So, make it count.
Paraphrasing, Gordon Bethune, “If a passenger sees a dirty tray on our plane, they will then question the quality of the work on the engines.” Subconsciously, the same is being made of the musician(s).
I have 20+ years of training medical providers on software and know, from experience, that the assessment of their investment was made the second I entered the door to guide them through the intricacies of their purchase. My presentation could only enhance or detract from that starting point.
Venues have a responsibility too. Many venues have the equipment but not the knowledge to utilize it correctly and as a result, groups are bleached out with a fiery red or hidden by the overuse of strobes and shadows. A recent experience by this photographer recorded 90 sequential seconds of black shots because of strobes. Many amazing shots of incredible performances taken by this photographer go un-posted because the effort of overcoming the poor lighting is too much. The venues and the musicians both suffer because an opportunity to present them has been wasted. Many venues will not be revisited by this photographer because better shots can be taken elsewhere in the same timeframe.
The purpose of this page is to make available, to musicians and venues, resources of experts to enhance the journey of both to success.
Seven Pillars Photography is honored to be a part of the live music environment of the greatest entertainment city, Austin, Texas. The "Live Music Capital of the World" must not only be heard but seen.


I enjoy creating lamps because lighting really changes my mood.

- Rohit Saraf

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