And so last night we went to see the Pet Shop Boys at Manchester Apollo. I’ll blog about that in a bit but this is a little more of a grouch, so deserves its own blog entry. Actually no, it’s a full-on rant.
PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PUT YOUR FUCKING CAMERA PHONE DOWN AND WATCH THE GIG YOU PAID A FORTUNE TO COME AND SEE.
I am absolutely sick to the back teeth of paying a fortune for concert tickets to go and watch a band, purely to have some village idiot in front of me holding his camera phone sky high so I can either watch his arms or see it all through the back of his LCD display. This applies especially to large concert venues with stalls, gigs with lots of visuals, or places where we’re all crammed together and dancing.
So, tips for aspiring photographers at gigs, please:
- Remember people are standing behind you – they don’t want to see you fiddling with your camera all the way through. They paid just as much as you for a ticket (and may be shorter in stature as well).
- If you do want to take a few photos (which is fine, I do it myself with the Canon G9 occasionally), don’t do it throughout the entire gig. At some gigs I get asked to photograph, I’m restricted to a couple of songs where I can take pics then I have to sod off (or at least not get the camera out again) – take the lead from that, the rule’s there for a reason.
- Feel free to stand in the aisles, in front of a stairwell, next to a wall, somewhere like that and hold it high if you want – at least you’re not pissing anyone off behind you.
- If you’re not backed by a wall, aisle, etc. then hold the camera at head height, not a foot and a half above.
- If all else fails and you do want photos, take your pics in the cheering, applause, etc. when there’s no major performance going on – folks can’t really object to that when they’ve got their hands in the air cheering!
- Turn the flash off! You will get shit photos with the flash on, probably of the backs of the heads of the two rows in front of you and unless you’re an aspiring hairdresser this will not be what you want.
- Likewise they don’t want to smell your armpits. It’s hot in here, don’t make the experience worse.
- Avoid taking video – the sound will be terrible (loud, distorted), the quality will be awful, and the bloke standing behind you will miss an entire song.
- Hey, you might be on a hide into nothing anyway: unless you have brought a reasonable point-n-click your phone photos will be rubbish – blurry, lots of movement.
- The gig photographers will do a better job than you, why not look on Flickr for the event tomorrow morning instead (I found some pics of last night’s gig which are lovely)?
- Remember YOU PAID HARD EARNED DOSH TO SEE THE BAND, NOT HOLD YOUR CAMERAPHONE UP.
So, last night I finally said something to the guy in front of me: “‘Scuse me feller,” says I. “Are we all going to have to watch the gig through your phone screen?” “Er, no. Sorry.” he stammered. At least he did shift it, and was suitably embarrassed. It’s just thoughtless.
This may strike you as hypocritical considering I profess to be a reasonably competent gig photographer (and get frequent requests from bands to take photos for them). Fair one. However, I try and be careful not to get in the way and I think I do that pretty well (doing stupid things like crouching next to million-decibel speaker stacks, and less stupid things like turning off the LCD) – OK there’s been one transgression (knocking a mike stand, thankfully in an almost deserted pub) which I duly beat myself up over for days afterwards but by and large I’m there to get in the way as little as possible.
Ergo, I’m not saying “don’t take photos” – I’m saying “don’t let it get in the way of other paying customers’ enjoyment of the gig.”
In other words, just be considerate eh?