Photoletariat: Poor Editing is Ruining Concert Photography

My latest article at The Photoletariat:

I can't hold my tongue on this subject anymore: there are too many competent, talented and creative photographers shooting themselves in the foot by neglecting to edit their work.  There are also many developing photographers who are not progressing because they can't tell their good work from their bad.

The Current State of Things:

Music photography and how it is being used on many websites and blogs runs against good judgement and taste. Music websites and blogs have an unlimited appetite for content, and it doesn't really seem to matter what the quality of that content is. I'm not sure why this happens, but probably in the race for clicks and S.E.O. rankings, images are being exploited to serve as Googlebot fodder and snarky comment bait.  A photograph's power to beautifully and bluntly get to the heart of the matter is being lost and abused.

Read the rest here.

Baaba Maal at SummerStage - photos

Senegalese master Baaba Maal threw down something heavy at SummerStage on Monday, June 14. Playing For Change opened. Baaba was accompanied by his band Dande Lenol featuring long time talking drum companion Masamba Diop and was joined later in the set by Somi and practically half the audience at the end.

When Baaba took the stage I was close enough to smell him: incense, smoke, earth and roasted meat - other worldly. It was a high energy set from start to finish and the title song of his new album, Television, sounded amazing. Baaba periodically pointed his mic at his drummers and singers, bequeathing the royal power of his presence. The first time Masamba went to stand on the railing of the photo pit, he saw me climbing up to take a photo and grabbed my shoulder as ballast.  At the peak moment of the show, crumpled singles, fives and tens flew over the pit to the stage - any that fell below we dutifully delivered to the rightful recipients.

Please enjoy the slide show.  If you are with media and are looking for images, please contact me. Click on any image to go directly to my archive.

10.06.14 Baaba Maal SummerStage - Images by Jacob Blickenstaff

Sharon Jones + Dap-Kings live at the Apollo - photos

Sharon Jones at the Dap-Kings played two sold-out nights at the Apollo Theater to celebrate their homecoming from Europe and mark the release of their fourth album "I Learned the Hard Way."

I attended both nights to shoot for the band. The Apollo is an important and historic venue, symbolically chosen for it's connection to James Brown and countless stars of soul that have established their reputations there.  Sharon truly commanded that stage with a pacing, intensity of performance, humor and joy that surely did her musical forebears proud.  It was great to see her put so much heart into it and share the evening with the band and all the friends, family and behind the scenes people who work at and with Daptone. The second night especially, the band was in razor-sharp form and the highlight for me was watching Sharon feature nearly each and every one of the 18 pieces on stage in a fun and energizing round of introductions.  There was definitely a shared pride among the 'family'.  Congrats to everyone. - J


Night 1 - With the Mellowmatics:

Night 2 - With Naomi Shelton:

Chubby Checker - Midsummer Night Swing Lincoln Center

Just for fun, and to scope out the scene for next week's Ponderosa Stomp shows, I went to check out Chubby Checker on the second night of Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing. Chubby rocked harder than I expected with a tight little garage-y band and even did a little set of authentic hard country. The set was padded with a few unnecessary covers but once again, it was a lesson that the first wave of rock 'n rollers still got plenty to give. Enjoy the Pictures, link to gallery below...


Band Photography - A Survival Guide


The Economics of the Photographer / Band / Media Relationship in Music Photography

By Jacob Blickenstaff

One of the biggest problems in music photography is the misunderstandings by both bands and photographers about the ecosystem we both are trying to survive in.

Photographers starting off get caught up in the excitement and start giving away too much as fans and attention seekers instead of seeing themselves as fellow creatives, let alone creative business people. Bands, through innocence at best and exploitation at worst take this and run with it. The media is happy to go along as it’s getting fed free content.

In the big picture, there's 3 parties that need to walk away happy - 1) the Band, and that includes their PR person, Label Person and/or Promotion Person, 2) the Photographer, 3) the Media.

The following scenarios apply to work that was created independently by the photographer, i.e. stuff that is already ‘in the can’.

SCENARIO #1 - The dream/exploitation cycle spins on…

(the most common) Band loves photos, wants to use them for their press shot, website, myspace; solemnly promises credit - frequently makes promises to ‘do something together’ in the future.


BAND - is very happy, they have a great photo that they got for free, didn't have to set up a shoot, and have an extremely helpful visual nugget that conveys something about who they are, crucial in establishing an identity to the public.

MEDIA - is very happy, they make money selling ads next to their content, and they love THIS content 'cause it’s GOOD and FREE.

PHOTOGRAPHER - may be initially flattered and excited to be deemed worthy, but later starves to death when he tries to exchange a photo credit for groceries at the A&P. To add insult to injury, he finds it difficult to sell usage of his work to the MEDIA after band has already given it to them gratis.

SUMMARY: Media wins, Photographer starves, and without any paperwork protecting him or the band, there is a high potential for bitter feelings and litigation. MESSY! FAIL!


Band likes pictures, and negotiates a rate with the photographer to license them for promotional uses.


BAND - is still happy, they had to invest a little money* in their own publicity but they have the freedom to send out good photos to all the magazines and websites that are gonna come asking for a picture. Band sees high rate of placement success in local/regional papers who don’t usually have a big budget for that stuff and frequently need images ahead of time to promote an upcoming show, release, whatever.

* Somewhere in the range of $200-$1,000 depending several factors: indie label/major label size, duration and scope of agreement, etc.

MEDIA - is still happy as a pig in filth, they love good content that is free to use, and guess which photos they like to run…. FREE ONES!

PHOTOGRAPHER is happy after putting some money back towards his credit bills** and can sleep at night knowing at the end of the license term (a year, two years, etc) he controls his creative work exclusively. He also enjoys seeing his work published with credits.

** Any decent photographer in the digital age has a significant cost of doing business. Lets take a look:

Professional digital camera - $2k-5k (needs replacing every couple years)

Professional Lenses - $3k-6k - these last a good bit longer, thank God

Computers, Software, Storage - $3k-6k (needs constant upgrades in hardware and software)

Health Insurance for the self-employed - $3k / year

Commercial Insurance for gear / liability - $1k / year

Photographers need to make $15k a year, JUST TO BREAK EVEN, and that's not counting rent, groceries and all the other essentials.

SUMMARY: Everyone acts like a grown up, fills out a little paperwork, throws around a little bread and the machine grinds on. Win win win!

EQUITABLE SCENARIO #3 - I’ll Keep It With Mine

Freelance Photog shoots, deals with media directly, retains all control over his images and hopefully nobody shoots themselves in the foot.

BAND - Optimistic, but has lost a bit of control over their own publicity, more at the mercy of the photog and media not screwing things up. Still getting coverage if they are legit/worthwhile.

MEDIA - A little bit hassled by having to chase things down, but they have someone called a ‘photo editor’ whose job it is to find and license images depending on 2 opposing factors: price and quality. Will huff and puff about having to pay for something, but ultimately will do the right thing, but if they don’t and the photog walks, then the band is kinda screwed.

PHOTOGRAPHER - is navigating things on his own, selling a license for use of photo is in the range of $50 (indie weekly) to $200 and up (national magazine) per image depending on size of reproduction and readership of the magazine. Upside too is that he is building his contacts and relationships with editors directly.

SUMMARY: Band has more beer money but might lose out on some opportunities, photog is T.C.B. and Media is reminded that once upon a time, they paid for content. A little complicated but that’s life.

Guide to Record Shopping in NYC and Brooklyn

New York City is a great place to shop for vinyl with dozens of independent vinyl-only shops concentrated downtown and in Brooklyn. From years of browsing and digging, I’ve found that each shop has its own personality and its best to get into the flow of each place to find something interesting. EAST VILLAGE

Gimme Gimme Records 325 East 5th Street New York, NY 212.475.2955 Myspace Profile

Dan Cook always stocks some good stuff –Low key and unpretentious; almost always some good titles in excellent condition at more than fair prices, what more do you want? Open only on (sometimes Thursday night), Friday, Saturday and Sunday 'til around 10PM.

Broad range from country, blues to 12 inches and punk. A solid section for most tastes.

Good Records NYC 218 East 5th St. New York, NY 10009 212-529-2081 www.goodrecordsnyc.com

A small and tidy shop that opened a few years ago across from Mama's Restaurant and later moved to a larger spot on 5th Street. I've only been here once but found them to have a concentrated collection of nice records at fair prices.

Tropicalia In Furs 304 East 5th St New York, NY 10079 (212) 982-3251 www.tropicaliainfurs.com

Cool little shop run by Joel Oliviera. Interesting place to look for foreign picture sleeves and Brazilian music plus moderate sections of jazz, soul and rock/psych.

Exotic incarnations of Psych Rock 45’s and Brazillian LP's.

Good photo essay on Joel here.

Academy Records 415 E. 12 St. New York, NY 10009 212.780.9166 www.academy-records.com

Great bread and butter shop with nice people, lots of turnover on inventory and a broad scope of music. The wall usually has some nice rock, soul and jazz records. Academy should be a first stop for jazz collectors, as that’s the bulk of their inventory and usually have original pressings, Japanese and French issues and domestic second pressings.

Check the sizable new arrivals bins for fresh and affordable picks.

Turntable Lab 120 East 7th Street New York, NY 10009 212.677.0675 www.turntablelab.com

A good, no-hassle place to buy gear, needles, bags and more at prices lower than the big guitar stores. Check out the website for a well organized list of inventory with prices and reviews.

Big City Records 521 East 12th St. NY, NY 10009 212.539.0208

Off-shoot of Sound Library - Still a DJ and producer shop with Rare Groove soul, sample/drum records and jazz. Place to go for hard to find goodies. Prices in line with rarity but fair. A-1 Records 439 E. 6th Street New York, NY 10009 212.473.2871

Crate-diggers paradise with tons of grungy hip-hop vibe, large inventory geared towards DJ’s but good things can be found in the rock, blues and international sections sometimes. Be wary of some LP’s that come in kinda beat up.

Other Music 14 East 4th St. New York, NY 212.477.8150 www.othermusic.com

A venerable fixture in the downtown indie-rock scene, Other Music concentrates on new and experimental music and has a small used LP section. Place to go for latest indie vinyl releases and the walls sometimes have interesitng finds in Psych, Avant Garde Jazz and Experimental music. 

Downtown Music Gallery 13 Monroe Street New York, NY 10002-7351 212.473.0043 www.downtownmusicgallery.com

Main focus is experimental Downtown jazz and Avant Garde music. Carries CD's and vinyl and also run their own label.

Rockit Scientist Records 33 St. Marks Pl. New York, NY 10003 212.242.0066 myspace page

Rockit Scientist is one of the remaining semi-cranky East Village fixtures. It's about as much record store as you can cram into a basement level nook on St. Marks place. Records bust out of the bins and climb up the wall onto the ceiling, don’t lose your balance. Lots of out-of-print UK soul and blues comps and the occasional original treasure.


Sound Library 165 Orchard St. New York, NY 10002 212.460.4800

Specialized shop for DJ's and producers, I haven't seen the Orchard St. Location but they always had good stuff.

Mercer Street Books & Records 206 Mercer St. New York, NY 10012 212.505.8615 www.mercerstreetbooks.com

A second hand book store with some records, mostly rock and jazz. A worthwhile place to flip through, you probably won’t find anything that out of the ordinary, but for the most part the vinyl is clean and priced on the lower end. Good stuff may turn up at random and you will probably be able to pick up some cheap staples.

Generation Records 210 Thompson Street New York, NY 10012 212.254.1100 myspace page

Primarily a CD store known for its selection of hardcore, punk and metal. Down in the basement level is a moderate selection of used vinyl, plus a large bin of new pressings. This is another good place to pick around for the random record. There were some interesting records displayed on the wall (Jazz, Soul and Psych, British Invasion, etc.) at fair prices. Sister Store to Bleecker St. Records

Bleecker St. Records 239 Bleecker St. NY, NY 10014 212.255.7899

On the top floor eagle-eyed collectors crane their necks to scan the ridiculously high record display that sometimes has some good stuff, usually priced on the high side. Little dayglo handwritten signs explain the provenance of each piece. Wall features folk, vocalists, 50's and 60's rock and other genre's that have gone out of fashion with most collectors. Downstairs is all vinyl, sometimes original sealed LP's get mixed in with contemporary reissues.

Bleecker Bob’s 118 West 3rd Street New York, NY 10012 (212) 255-7899 www.bleeckerbobs.com/

Legendary or infamous depending on who you talk to, this shop of 30 years gets written off quickly as a tourist trap. From personal experience, I believe the place has more to offer. A boggling array of categories and sub categories makes it a bit difficult to flip through, but it tells me that the store is held together by musical knowledge and not just shlockery. Good place for 45s, they got boxes of every conceivable genre, just ask at the counter.

Strider Records 22 Jones St. New York, NY 10014 212.675.3046 www.striderrecords.com

One of the dying breed of old-school record shops, Bob Noguera has been running this place for almost 30 years, the pricing hasn’t kept up with current trends but I don’t think he means anything shifty by it. Worth a peek inside, if you can fit.

Housing Works Used Book Cafe 126 Crosby Street New York, NY 212.334.3324 www.housingworks.org/usedbookcafe/

This is a great organization that sells used books, cd's and records, profits going 100% to AIDS and HIV programs. They have small, tidy used LP section in a beautiful space in Soho. Worth stopping in for the random records, the atmosphere and the cause.


Academy Annex 96 N. 6th St. Brooklyn, NY 11211 718.218.8200 www.academyannex.com

Similar approach to the original Academy in the city with frequently refreshed new arrivals and broad inventory, just a lot bigger and a bit more “williamsburgy” with less emphasis on jazz and more on rock, soul, dj stuff and reissues.

Halcyon 57 Pearl St. Brooklyn, NY 11201 718.260.9299 www.halcyonline.com

Typically not much for the collector, but a good resource for the DJ. I do miss the old spot on Smith St. that was a cafe, used furniture shop and great hangout.

Earwax Records 218 Bedford Ave Brooklyn, NY 11211-3234 718.486.3771

Sound Fix Records 110 Bedford Avenue Brooklyn, NY, 11211 718.388-8090 www.soundfixrecords.com

Fills a similar role as Other Music in the city, Sound Fix is a community center for indie rock. Not a lot of vintage vinyl but a good hangout.

The Thing 1001 Manhattan Ave Brooklyn, NY 11222 The Thing on Myspace

Digger’s rite of passage - catacombs of to the ceiling crates in a smelly basement in Greenpoint. Bring a dust mask, seriously. The truth behind the Thing is that this is where A-1 sends most of their junky stuff to be sold off by the pound. Great bizarro atmosphere.

Joel Dorn Tribute Lincoln Center

Last night there was a tribute to Joel Dorn, a producer for Atlantic Records who helped bring into the world recordings by Roberta Flack, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Les McCann and Yusef Lateef among many others. He had a knack for bringing great work out of unique artists, producing music that was often a hybrid of soul, jazz and experimental music. Many of the artists he had worked with over the years were present. I'll let the pictures say the rest. FULL GALLERY HERE

The Ghost of Joel Dorn presided over the evening:

Roberta Flack

The Horns from Black Heat

Hugh Masekela

The Persuasions

Cornell Dupree

Adam Dorn beneath a projection of Joel

Les McCann

St. Louis Record Stores pt. 3 - Record Exchange

Record Exchange 5320 Hampton Ave.

St. Louis, MO 63109



hours: M-Sa 10 AM - 9PM, Su 12PM - 6PM

E. Nor. Mous. This cavernous space in South City was formerly a branch of the public library. The presence of the original Calder mobile in the entryway is almost drowned out by the cliffs of used VHS cassettes and 6 foot wide 45 cutouts hanging on the walls. Depending on where you wander, you will encounter not just records but stacks of old amplifiers and tape decks, reel-to-reel machines, 78’s, boxes of yet unsorted LP’s, shrink wrapped music magazines featuring Elvis, concert posters, guitars, drum sets, Califone turntables with Airforce bomber-grade earphones. Most days you will see the calm eye in the center of the storm, Gene (or Jean?), who somehow manages to sort, organize and price the records in this 10,000 sq. foot store.

For the 45 junkies, there is a separate room upstairs with over 10,000 singles laid out in rows, separated into various categories: pic sleeves, colored vinyl, soul, rock n’ roll, 80's, Elvis, Beatles, etc. The upstairs also has a section of collectible LPs, skewed predominantly towards 50’s and 60’s ‘oldies but goodies’.

Hunting Strategy: First you must submit to the reality that you will never know or acquire every record in the universe (or even just the good ones). Like the Louvre, you won't be able to see it all in one day. Focus on a genre and flip through large swaths until the interesting things pop up. When you find yourself getting tired and cranky, its time to whittle down the pile and go home.

Strengths: The proletariat source for any recording on any medium. Several record players around the store for listening. The 45 room is unlike anything I've seen before - possibly a treasure trove for 7" specialists. Relaxed, friendly and low-key place, if you bring a hefty stack up to the counter they will often cut a discount off the top (without having to ask) and anyway, the prices are very reasonable to begin with.

Weaknesses: The system of classification here runs on a more antiquated line of collector’s aesthetics i.e. 50's centric, kinda white, goldmine guide etc. But to me, the un-hipness adds to the appeal of coming here.

In Summary: The record shop at the end of Dylan’s Highway 61. Bring a snack.

PS - a great place to poop!