Opinionated Metalhead: Photographers vs. Fans …the battle of the small venue stage

As a fan when you are going to see live music at a venue with a stage and you pay for tickets, you expect that experience to go without being pushed back by a barrage of photographers. There are some venues where there is a photo pit. For those venues this is generally a non-issue.

Recently I have seen photographers getting more and more aggressive at shows. Some are polite and say excuse me …give you that eye contact like “do you mind if I grab this shot and capture this moment in time? ” While others act entitled, figuratively shoving their press credentials in your face like you are a green room bouncer.

So as a fan I asked my good friend and show photographer Winona M Thompson to sit down with me and talk rules of engagement.

Rule #1: First 3 Songs and Thems the Breaks

For most venues photographers are given the first 3 songs of each band’s set to shoot. This enables there to be balance between press and fan experiences. The press gets some shots the fans get to enjoy the rest of the band’s set. Everyone goes home happy unless you’re a whiny little bitch.

Beauty Bar, Backstage Bar & Billiards, The Dive Bar & Count’s Vamp’d are examples of venues that do not currently have this rule. These are smaller venues with no photo pit. As a fan however, this kind of takes away the balance of me being able to enjoy the intimate experience of a smaller venue.

Rule #2: Photographers…Be Nice 

If you need someone to move, give them a tap on the shoulder. Don’t be that dick pushing people out of your way to get that golden shot. Just because you have a press pass does not mean you are above anybody else who paid to be there whether by buying a ticket or buying drinks at the bar.

I’ve personally witnessed a couple of photographers push some fans out of their way quite aggressively at Count’s Vamp’d at some recent shows. There is absolutely no excuse for that kind of behavior. If they won’t move when you ask them politely then you should try to find a different spot/ angle.

Rule #3: To the Fans…. ALSO BE NICE

This is this person’s lively-hood. If they politely ask you if they can get a shot don’t be that douche that says fuck no and is rude about it.  I can tell you…if you are a regular in the scene … you won’t be making friends by having a tree growing up your ass. You wouldn’t want someone to walk into your office and block you from being able to sit at your desk and pay your bills, would you?

I’ve seen this happen. If you’re rude to a photographer that is being polite, hope that I don’t see it. I will come up in that shit like a preppy ninja. I will be all sweet about it, get in front of you all polite and then WHAM I’ll let them do their thang. You won’t even see it coming!

Rule #4: No Cellphones!

From the photographer side, it is becoming more and more difficult to make a living shooting shows. Why? Because everyone has a camera in their pocket. Why do bands or venues need to pay photographers if they can pull 500 or more photos taken by fans off the internet where they tagged their event. There are some bands and venues that have started to realize this and have gotten behind there being a no cell phone policy during shows.

I personally am a fan of this. Everyone having a smart phone to take photos during a show can be just as detrimental to the overall fan experience. When you are short like me (5′ 3”) having a 6-foot-tall dude in front of you with an additional 3-foot arm and smart phone up in the air blocking your view of the stage is extremely frustrating. It’s not just “nice shoulders bro” it’s “dude your armpit is in my face annnnnd I can’t see a fucking thing”

Soooooo can’t we call just get along? Photographers and fans should be sharing in the experience of the music while getting what we both want out of it. Fans getting the memories of an awesome live music experience and photographers being able to put foot on their table at the end of the day.



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