Photographers at live gigs

I’m pleased it was someone else who snapped.

Just as everyone’s a critic these days, everyone is also a photographer. The Twitter feed of Stage and Express theatre critic Mark Shenton (@shentonstage) explains that he bravely took on the not undaunting presence of Bianca Jagger (above) for indulging herself with flash photography during the premiere of the London run of Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach at the Barbican last night (five hours, no interval). I’ve been tempted to do the same thing when photographers invade quiet listening gigs, particularly at one or two North London venues. I’m mild-mannered, but the sight and the sound (a loud shutter, AARGH!) of someone jumping up and down throughout  a gig gives rise to violent, even murderous thoughts.  Venues could be more vigilant: on current trends it’s only a matter of time before a serious photographer rage incident.

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7 replies »

  1. Professionals photographers are suffering of the often indecent behaviour of these amateur photographers. Venues are not enough vigilants to who they give credits for photographing during live jazz concerts. The obvious consequence is that the punishment is then for ALL the photographers

  2. I can see your point Carlos, however as an amatuer photographer I feel this is a little harsh! Having said that I dont use a phone or a flash to take photos… Also I have been known to explain to other 'photographers' how not to use a flash… It is inevitable that people will take photos at gigs, mainy pop artists activley encourage it at gigs, this combined with everyone owning a camera phone is the reason we are having a plague of flashes. Having said this I havent really enountered the same as the twitter feed shown.
    Maybe if it is out of hand then club owners and photographers should get together and issue guidelines how not to be disrubptive to other audience members and of course the band?

  3. Last night's gig at RFH with Marcus Miller: irritating to see a sea of blue screens throughout the audience, with people photoing and videoing. Audience members: you're there at a a great gig – why not watch it?! Experience the here and now!! Your photos will be rubbish – leave them to the professionals and stop p£$%@$g off those of us who are experiencing how damned annoying it is to have the person next to you constantly taking photographs! Whatever happened to the idea of, I don't know, …… memories?

  4. It is not professional v amateur photographers: it is people who show consideration to others in the audience against those who believe they have a right to disturb others.

    I frequently take photographs at gigs. I believe I am sufficiently sensitive to the music to minimise disturbance to those around me: my camera's screen is switched off so there is no light pollution, the autofocus aid is switched off so there are no red dots illuminating musicians, I don't hold my camera above my head to get in the way of those behind me, nor do I stand (unless it's a standing gig!).

    I don't take photographs in quiet passages with my SLR, I NEVER use flash (musicians hate it – it momentarily blinds them, dreadful if they are reading the music), I try time my photograph to the beat and, most importantly, if I feel I will disturb anyone, I don't take don't take the picture. If it is apparent I am disturbing those around me, I stop.

    If possible (ie small gigs!), I ask the musicians if they mind me taking pictures – I have only once been asked not to, because the musician in question wanted to control copyright of his image, and I happily complied.

    Several musicians have told me how much they appreciate the photos I have taken: several have used them on their websites or CD covers.

    I have frequently been disturbed at gigs by those given official sanction to take photographs – you may call them professional, but their attitude to the audience is one of disdain: they move around during numbers, get in people's way and make a lot of noise. They often appear uninterested in the music.

    (Patrick Hadfield. The website doesn't recognise my login…!)

  5. Guidelines is a great idea.

    We could extend it to all the audience, asking – telling! – people not to talk! Or use their phones. Or… 😉


  6. A further thought, though: it doesn't happen a classical concerts. I don't take pictures at classical concerts, except when the orchestra or soloist is taking a bow.

    This is partly because one can't add much to orchestral concerts: I doubt the pictures would be very interesting.

    But it is also something about the culture: it isn't really the done thing.

    That said, the BBC retweets audience pictures during the Proms…!

  7. My colleague and fellow Patrick, Mr. Hadfield, has it right, and is to be commended. Good shooters are there to document the scene (creatively, one hopes), not to make a scene… More than once have I been scolded, while sitting in the front row, for getting a few available-darkness frames with my Leica M (much quieter than any SLR), to which my favorite response is to hand the self-appointed arbiter of etiquette a card saying 'You're making far more of a disturbance than I am,” which usually shuts them up; some have even blushed.
    In the larger context, common sense and common decency are one and the same, though, as Mr. Hadfield also points out, not all of our professional colleagues behave in a professional manner, and, alas, we will all be judged by the conduct of our least attractive fellow shooters, pro or no. Within those legions of the rude with lenses, I find myself feeling far less hostile toward the oblivious amateurs than the inconsiderate professionals, and with the advent of digital technology, the former now far outnumber the latter. Oh for some gigs with none of either in attendance…

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