Dennis Scott, photographer of local shows


Check out Dennis Scott’s exhibit Angkor Views at Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, 2015 J Street, from February 9 to March 5.

Chances are, if you’ve been to a show with any one of Sacramento’s many local bands, you’ve probably seen Dennis Scott taking pictures. After retiring from the California State Parks and Recreation department in 2007, the 67-year-old former architect took to photographing local bands’ performances. He burns these photos onto a CD or DVD and then gives them to the band the next time he sees them. He’s been snapping photos most of his life. In fact, he has a photo show—not a music one—coming this February at Viewpoint Photographic Art Center.

How many shows do you hit each week?

It might be one on one week, but there’s three the next and then you have to add in some festivals. We’ll call it two.

What was the first band you photographed?

It happened in 2004. It was the band 2Me. Reid Foster, who’s not with them anymore, asked me when I was at work at the state parks and recreation, to come photograph his band. That’s how I got started. I was working in the architecture section. Reed worked at the front desk. He knew that I took photos. They played at a place in Old Sac.

Has your style changed since you started?

I look back at my old stuff and compare it to my new stuff and I’ve improved. I’ve learned a lot. I don’t get in the way of the audience. A lot of photographers don’t understand that. I try to shoot from the side. You never want to interfere with a show.

Who are your favorite bands to photograph?

One of them is the Three Way. They’re very active, very fun on the stage. There’s a photo of them right now on exhibit at Viewpoint Gallery. I have a photo of [guitarist-singer] Justin Forcione from a juried exhibit. It’s called the Twelve show. He stepped off of stage out on the dance floor. I went on the stage and shot down at him. He’s leaning back, playing his guitar. This was over at PJ’s Roadhouse. The other band that’s fun to photograph is Tha Dirt Feelin from Davis. They’re the best band in Davis. They call themselves hip-hop, but it’s more like fun rock ’n’ roll, with kind of a hip-hop touch to it.

Shoot anything besides bands?

I’ll be having an individual show on Cambodia at Angkor in the back gallery in Viewpoint in February. It’s pictures I shot at the Angkor complex in Cambodia. I went there last February. I did a lot of architectural photography, and I shot a lot of people there, street photography. I went up to merchants there. I’d say, ‘Do you want to do a photograph?’ One of the things I’ll do is I’ll go buy something and then talk to them and then get the photograph. When they know you’re doing it, it’s sort of set up. It’s called an environmental portrait, but I’m using the natural light there. I’m using the shop as part of the story.

Favorite photograph of yours?

One of my earliest environmental portraits was at the old Mayflower Warehouse, which is where the MARRS complex is now on 20th street. There was this mechanic there. This would have been 20 years ago. He was about 70 years old, and had been the mechanic for Mayflower Trucks for almost 50 years. He had this really interesting garage. He had all his stuff in there. He had this fantastic old Jeep, which they eventually gave him for his retirement. He had old pinups from Playboys from the ’50s and things like this, calendars and stuff. It was just a fascinating photograph.

Do you charge bands for photos?

I don’t charge the bands because local bands, they can’t afford this stuff. They’ll usually let me in the gate, even if it’s a low turnout. Sometimes I’ll pay to help them along because my retirement is adequate. This allows me to do my hobby and give it to somebody that wants it, instead of being tossed in a closet and nobody sees it. So I go out, have some fun, listen to music. It keeps your old bones young feeling. It keeps you in touch with the younger people. I have young friends as well as old friends. I’ve gotten really close to one musician, Jake Jarzemkoski. He’s a bass player that’s played with Zuhg and several other bands. He now plays for a band called Rubbidy Buppidy. He’s 36 years old. I would have never crossed paths with him were it not for this.

Do musicians ever not want their photos taken?

I’m probably one of the first people that photographed Jackie Greene without him being bothered. He doesn’t like to be photographed. He’s gotten used to it now. But in the early years, he really didn’t like it. I knew about it beforehand. I got to know Alex, his brother, from Walking Spanish. I was able to shoot him because I know how to take photos without being a nuisance, standing back a little bit, get over in the corner out of eyesight. It was really the first time Jackie Greene was photographed.