A look back at 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival


Charles Neville, saxophonist and founding member of the Neville Brothers Band passed away yesterday. I was fortunate to photograph the band with Charles many times over the years and most recently in 2008 at Jazz Fest. As I often do when a musician dies, I look through the photos. My search for images of Charles Neville after hearing about his death led me to the second weekend of Jazz Fest 2008. In honor of Charles and in the spirit of Jazz Fest 2018 which started today I would like to share a selection of photos from a decade ago.

This is a few years after Katrina and the city is slowly rebounding. The energy and talent of these artists was an important factor in this process. Many of the musicians shown here are no longer with us.


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Walter Payton

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Walter Payton with dancer

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Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Ian Neville

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John Boutte

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Brett Dennen

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John Bell

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Kermit Ruffins

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George Porter Jr.

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Stevie Wonder with daughter Aisha Morris

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Trombone Shorty

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Art Neville

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Michael Franti and John Butler

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Uncle Lionel Batiste

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Benny Jones Sr.

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Aaron Neville

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Herlin Riley

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Shannon Powell

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Jonathan Batiste

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Diana Krall

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Jimmy Buffet

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Chick Corea with Bobby McFerrin

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Bobby McFerrin

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Snooks Eaglin

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Stanton Moore

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Big Chief Bo Dollis with June Yamagichi

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Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn

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Jack White

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Carlos Santana

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Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi

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Charles Neville

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Cyril Neville

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Carlos Santana with Charles Neville and Aaron Neville

Looking back at these images after 10 years and so many of life’s twists and turns. I can honestly say this was a great lineup.






I woke up on Thanksgiving morning with a sense of calm and I was so excited to have a much needed day off from work. Then I remembered how much I love the process of preparing the Thanksgiving feast. I also remembered how much I used to enjoy photographing food. With a rented 100mm macro lens from a shoot earlier int he week I decided to pick apart the meal frame by frame. Here is a glimpse at the process of getting the meal on to the table.

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Everything starts with a clean cutting board and a sharp knife.

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A few ingredients for the apple pie

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These beautiful cranberries ended up int he food processor with dates and an orange

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Thanks to SRSLY Bread we had a delicious gluten free stuffing this year

Thanksgiving 2015 05

Need I say more?

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We did not actually eat these pumpkins but they were so cute on the counter I had to make a picture


Thanksgiving 2015 07


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Cabbage salad

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Fresh Thyme

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Thyme, sage and salt for the stuffing

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Yukon golds sautéed in butter

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Starting young with some knife skills

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This 14 pounder is still feeding the family

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Don’t forget about dessert!

Behind the scenes: A Blue Note Records photo shoot

With the upcoming release of a new album featuring Bobby Hutcherson, David Sanborn, Joey Defrancesco and Billy Hart I was hired by Blue Note Records to do a photo shoot during a recent gig at the SFJAZZ Center

The individual and group portraits of the band were for publicity and a possible feature story in Jazz Times Magazine about Bobby Hutcherson.

The May issue of Jazz Times released yesterday features a cover story about Bobby Hutcherson and the new album by this superb quartet will be released in June.


I rarely get to see what I look like while working and thanks to Stephanie Pappas I have a some photos of myself during the shoot


Another good day on the job shooting jazz musicians at the SFJAZZ Center.  Some days are just work and others are worth writing about.

For more photos and information visit Scott Chernis Photography

A week in the life of a freelance photographer

As a freelance photographer I often have the feeling that the job I am currently working on will be my last, at least for awhile.  I also go through stretches when I am so busy that it feels like I won’t be able to accomplish all that I have taken on.  This is the dilemma that we go through as freelancers.  “Feast of famine”, “When it rains it pours”, “Make hay while the sun shines”.  These cliches creep into our conversations, they litter my thought processes and while all of this is true there is still no job I would rather have.  I love the rush I get when I’m working 15 hour days for multiple days in a row.  I thrive on the controlled chaos of managing three different projects at the same time.  Then there is the possibility of some great project just showing up in your inbox or the last minute text message that refocuses your energy and renews the passion.

I just completed a long stretch of daily shooting, 12 of 14 days, some days being quite long.  I survived and even created some decent images and now I know a little bit better how to manage a stressful schedule.  Let’s look at one week in this stretch of work.  Seven days in a row of photography work, six different projects and six different locations all in San Francisco.

Saturday, January 25th at 9:00 am at San Francisco International Airport:

The brand new terminal 3 is opening to the public and the SFJAZZ High School All-Star band is playing as part of the celebration.  This is a small job and I shoot for a couple of hours while the band performs for the community.


From SFO I race up to Moscone Center where I am starting a 4 day project photographing a conference on medical simulation.  The IMSH brings together thousands of doctors, nurses, paramedics and hospital administrators to learn about and practice on the latest medical simulation technologies.  This is fascinating stuff with mannequins that breathe and have severed limbs all so that medical professionals can practice before they need to work on a real emergency.  I shoot a lot of Industry Conferences and as far as they go this one was pretty cool with some amazing technology to photograph.


Saturday was not over yet and while I still had many days left of IMSH I had one more job at night.  The UC Davis College of Engineering was hosting an annual awards dinner at the St. Francis Yacht Club which is where I headed next.  Awards dinners are not very exciting to photograph, lots of people standing around and talking, dinner and of course the awards presentations.  UC Davis calls from time to time when they are having alumni events if the Bay area or need a portrait for a campus publication, tonight it was dinner and I was a few minutes late due to the other jobs of the day.  When I arrived the sun was setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge and I got to work.

UC Davis

The next few days were spent working on IMSH at Moscone Center.  More stage presentations and exhibit hall photographs with daily edits being done at night.  On Tuesday night, January 28th I photographed the San Francisco Waldorf High school Eurythmy performance.  I won’t try to explain what it is but I’ll show you a pretty picture.

SFWHS Eurythmy Performance

I was dragging on wednesday morning when I arrived at Moscone Center for the final day of IMSH.  It was a short day, just a few hours in the morning but I started another conference that afternoon at the Parc 55 Hotel.  After finishing around 11:30 I treated myself to an acupuncture session at Yerba Buena Community Acupuncture and I was refreshed and ready to go.  Optical Document Security is not sexy and it is not visually interesting either.  However, it is impressive to hear about the many different technologies that go into to safeguarding currency around the globe from counterfeiters.  Those holograms and color shifting numbers do not happen without some intense brain power. I love being a fly on the wall in these rooms that I have no business being in other than the camera hanging from my shoulder.

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As ODS 2014 wrapped up on Thursday evening I was looking forward to a much needed rest and the upcoming weekend was free of any work commitments other than some editing.  Thank you Cory Barlow for all your help in that department.  I met a couple of friends for a drink and that is when the week got flipped around.  It is always nice to know people with friends in the restaurant business, especially 5 star restaurants.  When we walked into Fleur de Lys and received a house special cocktail I knew the night would be fun.  After appetizers and a short walk down the street we were treated to a DJ set spun by Chef Hubert Keller at the Starlight Room.  I had to grab my camera for this one.

Chef Keller and Marcus Garcia at Starlight Room

Let me rewind a bit.  I said I was looking forward to some much needed rest and a weekend off.  During our snack at Fleur de Lys I received a text message from Marshall Lamm publicist for SFJAZZ asking if I could photograph Dave Chappelle that weekend.  I said yes.  Sometimes rest has to wait and when a project arrives to balance out the mundane shooting of some other jobs it is a gift.  The photography business is tough most of the time, but sometimes everything just falls into place.  Six shows over three nights with Dave Chappelle and an incredible list of friends was the project I needed to close out a hectic and beautiful week.

Dave Chappelle at SFJAZZ

For more on Dave Chappelle at SFJAZZ check out http://www.scottchernis.com/data/web/Dave_Chappelle_Gallery/index.html

For more on Scott Chernis Photography check out http://www.scottchernis.com

Another great musician moves on


George Duke at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival May 2013

It seems like we are losing musicians every other week these days.  Some are old and others just may have lived too hard, but each loss closes a chapter in the continuum of music.  As a photographer I have photographed many musicians over the years and I have missed the opportunity to ever photograph many more.  My heroes of this craft Jim Marshall, Michael P. Smith and Herman Leonard are all gone now but their images live on.  It is these photographs that I study and try to learn from, but I know that I will never photograph the legends that have shaped the music I attempt to document every time I go out  to a show with my camera.  A few months ago I began to collect images of musicians that I have photographed who are no longer with us and I wanted to share this collection.  George Duke passed away on Monday and I saw him for the first and last time this past May in New Orleans.


Al Grey at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1999.  He died the following year.


Alice Coltrane during her last concert Masonic Auditorium 11/4/06, she passed away in January 2007


Earl King’s funeral 5/1/03

I never photographed him alive but with Aaron Neville singing over his open casket I had to include his photo


BJ Pappa at the Gathering Cafe in North Beach around 1998

BJ was a local San Francisco legend and a good friend of mine.


Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown at Cafe Istanbul in New Orleans 1997

This is still one of my favorite photographs.  I was young and inexperienced when I a shot this image but with the help of a full lighting set up from a video production I got my shot.  I was able to give a print to Gatemouth a few years later when he came through San Francisco.


Dave Brubeck at Masonic Auditorium for SFJAZZ


JohnLee Hooker at the San Francisco Blues Festival around 1995-96

I remember squeezing up to the front of the crowd to get this shot.  I had no access so I had to work hard for this mediocre shot.


Merl Saunders at The Marin Music Festival


Uncle Lionel Batiste showing off during a second line in New Orleans


Vince Welnick at Truckee Amphitheater


James Durant of Rebirth Brass Band at North Beach Jazz Festival

James Durant died way too young


Mike Houser from Widespread Panic


James Moody at Stanford Jazz Festival


Marva Wright at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival


Abbey Lincoln at Herbst Theater


Allen Woody of the Allman Brothers Band and Govt’ Mule


Coco Robicheaux at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival


Etta James

She could barely walk, but she could still sing


Max Roach at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival


Percy Heath at Stanford Jazz Festival


Ronnie Mathews’ hands on the piano at fantasy Studios in Berkeley

This turned out to be Ronnie’s last recording session


Martin Fierro of Zero and many other bands

When I first moved to San Francisco in 1995 Zero was big and this image along with a few others of the band helped me get started.


Ed Kelly at Coit Tower for The North Beach Jazz Festival


Allen Smith at The Palace of Fine Arts


Ruth Brown at The Stanford Jazz Festival


Snooks Eaglin at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival


Mulgrew Miller at Stanford Jazz Festival


Ron Stallings at Intersection for the Arts

Collecting URLs -No More Tear Sheets

I am not an old photographer, but I have been shooting long enough to have a file cabinet full of film and a few storage boxes filled with magazines, postcards, brochures and many other incarnations of printed materials.  I can honestly say, these “tear sheets” that I have collected over the years are a nuisance.  They take up space, they are chaotically filed and they are beginning to show wear from years of neglect in my garage.  I have considered going through the boxes and scanning the documents or individual magazine pages to store them on a hard drive and recycle the boxes as well as my print legacy, but I can’t seem to follow through with this personal threat.  Instead my old “tear sheets” collect dust in my garage and I collect URLs for all of my current and likely my future projects. Occasionally I will see a printed piece with my photos and magazines still publish stories with pictures, but more and more of my work and visual content in general ends up online.  A recent story in the magazine Fast Company about Energy Recovery, Inc., a company I  have been working with for the past year made me think about this process in a new way.  While more people will have access to my photos if they are published online, I still feel a sense of nostalgia for the printed image.


This Jazz Times piece covering the opening of the SFJAZZ Center features 10 of my photos http://jazztimes.com/articles/71542-sfjazz-center-is-open-for-business

Would it have been better to see 2 small photos in the print version?

Today the majority of my work is destined for the web.  Every business needs a website and every website needs photos.  I am happy to oblige and fill webpages with my photography.

If only I could find thetime to update my own website http://www.scottchernis.com/

Here is a sample of recent shoots for new website designs






The clear space saving benefit of digital publication is worth noting.  The exponential reach of the web published piece is irrefutable but I do like to see a poster or billboard every once in awhile.  Perhaps my recently published book “10 Years With Intersection The Jazz Series” will satisfy this need for the short term, although the press release is only viewable online


San Francisco at the center of jazz world

ImageSan Francisco is known for many things, but until last week jazz was not one of them.  This is not to say that the local scene is not filled with talented and passionate musicians, pushing boundaries and creating music worth checking out.  What I mean is that San Francisco has not received the respect and has not fostered an environment where young musicians want to stay and build a career.  On January 23, 2013 the SFJAZZ Center opened its doors with and all-star concert and has firmly planted San Francisco at the heart of 21st century jazz.  Built from the ground up as the only performance space in the world specifically designed to showcase jazz music, the SFJAZZ Center is an incredible venue and I was fortunate enough to attend and photograph the inaugural performance.

With Bill Cosby acting as master of ceremonies and veritable who’s who of jazz taking the stage in various configurations throughout the night this concert will reverberate through the industry for many years to come.  I do hope these photos will help to highlight the evening in all its glory.




The Bay has been teeming with activity in preparation for the America’s Cup World Series in San Francisco.  http://www.americascup.com/en/events

I plan on documenting the events of the America’s Cup over the next 13 months and this practice session on Wednesday is the first glimpse.

Stay tuned http://www.scottchernis.com

Golden Gate Bridge Turns 75

When I first moved to San Francisco in 1995 I would photograph everything, but it was not until I spied the bridge through the Waldo Tunnel heading south toward San Francisco that I thought abut photographing it.  I actually walked into the tunnel a few days later with my camera on a tripod, balancing on 6 inches of curb while cars whizzed past at 60 mph.  I believe I got off three frames before I heard the police sirens.  The image was not worth the $50.00 ticket, but the story still takes me back to a time of black and white film and youthful naivete.  Over the years I have photographed the Golden Bridge in a casual way and I have collected a sample of images to share in celebration of 75 years and still standing.

Golden Gate Bridge as seen from China Beach

No on 209 march across the Golden Gate Bridge

A ship travels under the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise

Golden Gate Bridge as seen from Fort Point

Golden Gate Bridge as seen from north parking lot

A heart left on the Golden Gate Bridge

On the Golden Gate Bridge looking up

View from the Marin Headlands

Portrait of Tom Kiely for California Meetings and Events Magazine

Night time view from Marin headlands

Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point with a fisheye lens

Golden Gate Bridge last night before the fireworks

Golden Gate Bridge at start of fireworks show

Last night the Golden Gate Bridge celebrated 75 years

Last night the Golden Gate Bridge celebrated 75 years

Last night the Golden Gate Bridge celebrated 75 years

For more work from Scott Chernis please visit http://www.scottchernis.com