Sonic Youth

Concert Photos: Sonic Youth

Playing at sunset under dappled skies, alt-rock granddaddies Sonic Youth laid it all out for one of the best free concerts of the Live on the Levee music series under the St. Louis Arch. The glorious light lasted just one song, and after another we were out.

Concert Photos: Sonic Youth

Concert Photos: Sonic Youth

Concert Photos: Sonic Youth

Concert Photos: Sonic Youth

Concert Photos: Sonic Youth

Concert Photos: Sonic Youth

Concert Photos: Sonic Youth

Concert Photos: Sonic Youth

Photographer's Notes:

When Sonic Youth hit the stage, there was an awesome combination of warm sunset glow, a pale sky, and the spotlights on Thurston Moore. Of course, this didn't last, but it made for a fleeting and lovely treatment for the iconic rockers.

Before the show, there was a short period when it looked like there was going to be a copyright grab – AKA, a photography release that would have forced me to relinquish my copyright of all the images I made. Fortunately, this was not the case for this show, and there was nothing at all to sign for the show.

The stage for this concert was relatively high, so angles were relatively limited. I relied on the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 on the Nikon D3 for most of the shots, since a row of monitors lined the stage and blocked off the performers from the thighs down. Shooting from slightly farther back in the photo pit (which was ample) helped flatten the perspective out for these conditions.

While there's always an urge to get in as case as possible at a concert, sometimes the most flattering shots and the best angles come from taking up a little distance between the stage and the lens. This cuts back on very acute angles, and for stages that are relatively tall, as they were for this show, the negative effects of someone getting in between you and the stage are minimized unless they stand right in front of you.

As far as shooting, Thurston was a relatively easy subject, as he stayed fairly close to the mic and just rocked out. Kim Gordon was slightly trickier, mostly due to her movement on stage and tendency to hang back a little more. Of course, this situation was made easier when Gordon was up for vocal duties and tethered to the mic during the second song.

Since there was “plenty” of light for this gig, being outdoors at sunset, I shot at a luxurious ISO 800. Shutter speeds hovered around ISO 1/400 or so.

My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon Z 7:
I use two Nikon Z 7 for my live music photography. A true do-it-all mirrorless camera with amazing AF, great speed and fantastic resolution.


Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8S:
The 24-70mm is my go-to lens. The range is ideal for stage front photography and the image quality is superb.


Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.


Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.

See My Full Kit for Concert Photography

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