Sunday, May 2, 2010

Eagles Concert at the HP Pavilion in San Jose

On Friday evening I had a chance to shoot The Eagles band - my first rock concert as an official photographer. The experience was different than I expected and the shooting was tough. Although I did come away with some decent images, I was frustrated by the restrictions set forth by the promotions company.

Basically, most of the promotions companies now restrict photography to only 3 or 4 songs. That means that you are escorted into the venue right before the concert starts, you shoot for 10 or 15 minutes, and then immediately escorted back out of the venue. And...if there are warm up bands, you are walked back to a holding area (in some back office somewhere) where you wait for PR people to come get you for the first 3 or 4 songs of each band. Not very glamorous!

For The Eagles concert, they did not have an opening band, so it was 15 minutes of shooting and "see ya later". To make matters worse, the first 3 songs were all pretty short. I was hoping for at least one long song with some cool lighting or special effects. Nope, not on this night.

This is was from the first song ("Seven Bridges Road") and the lighting was cool for a wide shot. Thankfully, I brought two cameras, one with a 100-400mm lens and one with a 24-105 lens. Thsi was captured at 65mm.

Shooting a concert is not easy, as the light is constantly changing and, like Friday night, the photographers were required to shoot back from the sound board (not in front). That required a long lens and steady shooting in low light. It is imperative to shoot using spot metering, otherwise the image lighting is all over the place. Thank goodness for the ability to shoot at ISO of 2500 or 3200, which is what I relied on.

Like so many other events that I have shot, I end up concentrating so much on the photography that I really don't experience the event. When I shoot a hockey game, I rarely "see" the game as a spectator would, and the same was true with the 15 minutes of the concert. Somebody asked me how they sounded, and I had a tough time answering the question. "I think they were good" is what I said, but I really was fighting with the camera and lighting and not enjoying the music. They ended playing for 3 hours - I saw 15 minutes behind a lens.

At least now, I know what to expect when shooting a concert. Hopefully next time I will have a chance to shoot from the front of the stage and maybe for a little longer.


Paul Schlacter said...

Great info! I'm so excited to hear that "The Eagles" concert was announced and they are the top sellers this week! I have ordered The Eagles tickets from and got great discounts!

Anonymous said...

Jeff..Great pix. You think your job was tough....try wasting $900 on four Eagles tix. I have been to 6-7 Eagles concerts, and first bad one. Ban some what flat, and the venue was the worst. The promoters has Nazi police making everyone in the front 25 rows sit down most of the time, and if you took a picture, they threatened to turn you in to the San Jose police department. One block head security guard tried to throw a lady in front of us out of the concert for texting. Eagles get an B-, HP Pavilion gets A-, concert promoters and security gets a straight F.

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