Why in Music Photography Do You See so Many Black and White images?
Anyone browsing the internet for band photos or even looking at the walls in venues will find various music photos of bands or musicians. The non-photographer might presume that the use of BW is solely to convey an old fashioned image that may take folks back to days of London clubs like Marquee. That may partly be true, as BW does convey a meaningfulness to a shot that colour may not. However in the majority of cases BW may be the end product because the lighting conditions are so complex. Lets get this straight. I do not consider myself to be a gig photographic expert but merely someone who has photographed bands in the real world. If you are fortunate enough to shoot at the O2 or large venues then things will be very much easier and lighting friendly. So whats the issue?
- The venue is essentially dark. ISO speeds under 12800 are not so common and as we know that leaves a potentially grainy image.
- Lighting is variable across the stage and is rarely if ever even. So the light conditions on the stage may often be divided into 9 different squares or more.
- Lighting colour also varies with usage of multiple coloured lights and different lighting colours in different parts of the stage.
- Traditionally the photographer gets three songs to take their shots. I have no idea where this magic number comes from
- Not all, and in fact few small venues , have photographer areas at the front, so often one is mingling with a pushing/heaving crowd, that for reasons that have escaped me sometimes throw beer everywhere.
So the working constraints are harder than many presume, that includes fellow photographers.
On the positive side gigs are rich in photographic opportunities with band members rarely looking dull and movement can be amazing. I would encourage all photographers to do a few gig shoots, the smaller bands are usually more than happy to use photos after, hence building reputation.