Dominique James, Photographer

It's all about the pictures …

The demanding art of photographing live stage performances

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Jazz legend Charles Lloyd performs at The Concert Hall for the JVC Jazz Festival \'08 in New York City.

Jazz legend Charles Lloyd performs at The Concert Hall for the JVC Jazz Festival


Without a doubt, one of the most demanding and exacting forms of photographic documentary is taking pictures of performing arts. The challenge is in being able to perfectly capture the highlights of the performance without being intrusive. A professional photographer becomes an invisible force moving around and shooting, without anyone noticing his movements or getting distracted. As you might imagine, it is far easier to shoot rock concerts because the music is too loud to mask the noise created by the mirror slap of the DSLRs. But in stage plays and jazz concerts, the degree of difficulty increases. Photographer are very much constained and they time their shooting so that it does not take away from the drama of silences or quiet moods. It’s like shooting with one hand tied to the back. The only time that a photographer can shoot, even if he is using a very quiet camera, such as rangefinders, is during moments of applause and moments of high auditory signals. This has been the kind of challenges I always face when shooting live performances. From the stage plays of Tony Mabesa and Alex Santos at Dulaang UP’s Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero Theater in the Philippines to the JVC summer concert series featuring jazz legend Charles Lloyd at The Concert Hall near Central Park in New York, I am always so careful not to disturb, hence, affect, the enjoyment of the stage performance by those who paid to watch it live. In the end, concert and staged event photography brings back the drama and magic of the live peformance to be enjoyed by more people. Click here to see more of the Charles Lloyd stage performance for the JVC Jazz Festival ‘08 at The Concert Hall in New York. To learn more, email Dominique James at or phone 912-246-1131 for inquiries.


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