« Distributing the Wealth | Main | Another Decade of Lolla in Chicago »



I like what Jeremy said and I believe that's true...I've come to believe just about every important moment in life (atleast on stage anyways) happens after the third song...many bands really take that long just to get warmed up and show any hints of passion. And now, we are being increasingly limited to two, even one song of shooting...what's next? They are going to time us in seconds?

Another thread topic...lighting at shows...it's turned disastrous lately...this idea that you can just maybe be in front of someone and get all the shots you need for one song doesn't happen to me often...that would be a sweet wondrous world where the birds fly you to work and it's never freezing cold. Most of the time for me, I'm putting wear and tear on my camera throughout a set just hoping the lighting gets better...it's been especially bad lately. Even the bands and venues that say they love photographers have no idea what anguish they put us through. Cameras are like plants...without light, they can't produce and blossoms.

Amanda's comment reminded me of one of my favourite gig photography moments.

I was shooting Sutcliffe Jugend when they opened for Merzbow earlier this year at ULU, but I couldn't really get completely up against the stage because this crusty punk with big dreads and a G.G. Allin jacket was leaning on it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/daveknapik/2447804925 . Fair enough: he was there first and I was able to get plenty of good shots of the band from just behind him.

He happened to turn around, see me with the camera, and motioned for me to take his place. I was a bit shy about it, so he moved aside, grabbed me and shoved me in there. I snapped away for a few minutes and then turned around, thanked him and gave him his spot back. He threw his arms around me and gave me a massive hug.

This proved something I learned when I was 16: punks are the subcultural salt of the earth. They fucking rule.

When I'm shooting a gig without a pit, how much I shoot is related to how crowded it is. If I get in late and the place is packed, the most I can do is ask nicely for someone to let me in for a song and promise I'll be out quick. Most of the time, if you ask nicely, people will oblige, as long as you're true to your word. Though there have been times when I've been completely ignored, tapped people on the shoulder, craned around so I know I'm in their line of vision, and they still pretend you're not there. I'll still go in and shoot for one song and then get back out - fair is fair - but I think people like that are just as nasty as the types who shove you around.

Photo pits make life easier, but they aren't nearly as much fun.

Thanks for all the comments, everyone.

I think we all agree that if every person at a gig could try that extra bit harder to be aware of their surroundings, they'd enjoy themselves more and so would everyone else. I see Rory's point when he says that perhaps all of this—from the drunks to the dancers to the photographers and the security—is all just perhaps a "part of live shows... part of dealing with a room full of people". You went outside and decided to listen to music with other humans who you don't know and didn't get to personally select: it's not going to be as cozy as your living room.

Jeremy: "It bothers me when concert goers interfere with my enjoyment of shooting a show that I did not pay for." LOL. Well said, sir, well said. :) I agree that the three song limit severely limits the chances of getting a truly magical shot. When I shot Yellow Magic Orchestra at Southbank Centre, all three of them stood together at the end to bow for the audience. As soon as I saw that coming, I ran down the aisle to get it, but security stopped me and I lost a group shot of three electronic music innovators together in possibly their last UK performance ever.

I think the Pitchfork piece that John references had more to do with the explosion of point-and-shooters and mobile phone photographers turning gigs into a sea of electronic devices raised in the air. It was a well-written article that touched on the way we often mediate our direct experiences of live music via gadgets a bit too heavily and possibly lead ourselves into a less engaging, less immersive experience as a result. While I agreed with many of its points, here I was focusing a bit more on how photos and videos from amateurs have now become a fact of gig life. Venues can either choose to clamp down hard to stop it, or they can find a way to support what is possibly just another evolution in how we interact with the live performance.

I heartily agree with Dave on Corsica. I'd second-guess attending that venue in lieu of going to either other venues or another city to see a particular show. Their comment was low, or at the least poorly phrased.

The 3 song rule, I'm cross about. If there's a massive amount of photographers for a larger venue or show, sure there should be some regulation but I feel the song limit is both right and wrong. It's right in the way it limits a large number of photographers from turning the show into a strobe fest. But on the other hand, a photographer who is waiting for a song they know will produce great shots (this is how I operate) will be at the whim of a limit. Gogol Bordello, for instance, has amazing shooting opportunities such as with their lit drums. Miss that due to a limit and you miss one of the most memorable moments people will be looking for.

A while back Pitchfork had a similar article, but more focused on the influx of photographers that seemed to sprout out of nowhere. Granted they probably exaggerated, but I agreed with them (and the current comments) that photographers should be absolutely respectful and unobtrusive as possible to the concert experience. I have always tried to obtain permission from either merch or band themselves, out of respect. If I don't get it, that's fine-I'm there because I like the band.

The comments to this entry are closed.