The current COVID-19 pandemic has really put a damper on local music scenes and musicians. We carry on, we’ll be back in music venues soon enough.
I started photographing live music here in Eugene in 2016. I went to shows every weekend. There was a lot of good music coming through town and combine that with all of talented local bands, that made for a great music scene.
When I was out photographing these local bands I would rarely see other local music photographers. When I did see others taking pictures it would be inconsistent. Which is in stark contrast to the Portland music scene. That scene has more venues for local bands, but there were always other photographers out shooting live music. I was always out meeting other photographers when I was shooting in Portland.
Here, the only pro photographers I would see at shows were only at the high-profile events. It’s like those guys couldn’t be bothered by the local acts. It seems like those photographers aren’t interested in maintaining a vibrant photography scene either. I’ve experienced a lot of ego from those photographers.
The Current Situation
We’ve lost a couple of venues before the pandemic and we’ll see if the music scene can actually recover. I felt like the music scene died down in the last half of 2019. Especially with the closure of Hi-Fi Music Hall, later to reopen as Sessions Music Hall. My sense is, when the real fall came when the Black Forest Bar closed. There were hopes that it would find a new space with the same kind of punk rock charm. That never materialized.
I have photographed a lot of shows in town and I can’t wait for shows to come back. However, it’s doubtful that I will photograph any more shows here, there is only one venue that uses any kind of lighting, and it’s hit or miss whether or not if they use them. I’m tired of photographing in the dark.
When the bars get back to putting on shows, I would like to see them invest in at least minimal lighting. Venues and local bands for that matter don’t really understand how important lighting is for a live show. When you have been to as many shows as I’ve been to, you see that show goers can get bored when their eyes aren’t entertained as well as their ears.
I put together a collection of my favorite images from late 2016 to 2019 in a Zine called EUGMUSIC.
Here is a small gallery of pictures, some of these are not in the Zine .
Tom Chamberlain is a photographer and content creator. He was a junior-high / high-school band-geek and later studied classical guitar. He studied commercial photographer in art-school and eventually found a love for music photography. Tom has photographed musicians all over the country, but has a special love for the music scene in the Pacific Northwest. Tom is a photographer, writer, blogger, video maker and all-around image creator. Lover of all things analogue.