I'm strongly considering the idea of adding my career title to Lighting Consultant to go along with being a Music Photographer. I don't know the budget of a restaurant/bar that offers live entertainment. But having proper or decent lighting is an investment needs to be looked into further for the performing artists that play there at least. I'll give two examples.
Example one: this past Tuesday I photographed the band Chase The Jaguar at Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company in South Beach. The establishment is very cozy, has tremendous ambiance and does have live entertainment. The only issue is that when a musical act performs there, hardly any light is on the talent except for the ambient light. In my camera bag I use three lenses and two of them (50mm & 85mm, both F1.8 by the way) are fast lenses which can be used in low-light situations.
I would only use my flash for extenuating circumstances like Sweet Liberty when the ambient light is VERY low. The band did have a couple of strip lights but those were positioned on either side of the drummer pointing upward. But still there wasn't sufficient light to properly light the entire group. So I had to use my flash. I was at Sweet Liberty a couple of months ago to photograph singer Angela Laino. There was a little more light on her and the band but I did not use flash on that occasion.
Example two: for Cinco de Mayo this year I went to Cafeina Wynwood Lounge in the Wynwood District of Miami to photograph two bands: Uma Galera and Elastic Bond. The open air lounge has a great atmosphere and plenty of room to enjoy and see live in entertainment. My first experience at Cafeina was November 2015 when singer/songwriter Raquel Sofia played there a week before the Latin Grammys (Yes, whenever I mention her name her song "Yo Te Amo Idiota" immediately comes to mind.). Anyway, back to the Cinco de Mayo experience. When I arrived I was expecting there to be stage lights to some degree. Boy was I wrong.
When Uma Galera got on stage there was only one light and that was on the drummer. The rest of the group was in the dark, literally in the dark. I even posted an image of it on Instagram. I asked Cafeina management if anymore light can be used and directed towards the band. He brought out a small round light fixture, plugged it in and directed it towards the microphone from the ground up. That effect causes a horror movie lighting reaction, which is not the best lighting especially when you have to photograph a woman in a band. So in that circumstance I had no choice but to use flash.
From those two examples, I've never forgottenwhat Milton Ponce, percussionist for Uma Galera, told me two weeks after that performance. He said to me that bands (playing in Miami) have the option of bringing in their own sound engineer and/or lighting engineer. The facility will not provide either unless it's locations like Ball & Chain in Little Havana where they provide both. I understand that you want to keep the mood/ambiance of your facility, but it's also nice to see who is performing in front of you.
I repeat, I don't know what a restaurant's budget is for live entertainment much less having the lights for the talent. But it does make for good exposure (pun intended) when decent lighting is placed on the talent. It also makes my job as a photographer, along with other photographers and videographers, better and effective when there's proper lighting on the talent to get the best image of the performing artist. Better lighting = better images/videos = better performances and performance memories.
Each establishment is different and their respective budgets are equally as unique. I'm not saying that those businesses need to shell out thousands of dollars in lighting like a concert hall. But just a little bit of light to showcase the talent so the audience can see them better will go a long way.