Down in Front!

[This post is part of the 500 Words feature. Check the archive here, or submit your own to whatis[at]thedangersound[dot]com.]

Effective immediately, I am not taking another picture at a concert.

I sincerely hope I can hold true to this statement because my Shows/Concerts photo album has been a source of pride since I started logging concert pics, and although I believe I’m not contributing to the problem, this may be an opportunity to become part of its solution…

Concert photo taking (especially if you are using the “Statue of Liberty” method) is a very selfish move as the action blocks views from fellow concert attendees and creates a visible distraction for anybody in eyeshot. It’s bothered me for a while, and I’ve tried to keep my phone below my already tallish height, but it wasn’t until I started hearing complaints from artists that I wanted to keep my phone in my pocket.

The turning point for me was Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 where Björk posted a simple and polite message asking people to refrain from recording during the show. She cited the fact that it’s distracting and people rob themselves of the optimal live experience. It created a noticeable difference in my enjoyment–I felt a responsibility was lifted because I tend to want *one* good picture, and that comes with varying levels of difficulty.


While reading Lollapalooza interviews, one of my all-time favorites, Foals, didn’t understand why so many fans were on phones during shows. It didn’t necessarily bother them, but I get how it might feel odd seeing fans paying more attention to their phones than reality. Then there was the report from the Newport Folk Festival when The Lumineers literally stopped their mega hit “mid-Hey” and requested people enjoy the moment instead of capturing it.

Most everyone respects the picture taking requests of dramatic theatre and live comedy performances. Why are musicians not extended the same courtesy? When I look at it from this perspective, having never considered taking a picture during a comedy show, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to quit.

More importantly, I realized I’m just being a show braggart. For me, it started with Instagram in December 2009. Since then, I’ve been using it to keep record (no pun intended) of which shows I have attended. I can accomplish this through other means (the leading candidate: taking a picture of something off the band’s merch table) that won’t negatively affect the experience for the performers or fellow concertgoers.

Quick clarifications: I have never recorded video at a show. Recording entire songs at shows needs to be stopped and punished to the fullest extent of social embarrassment. I’m also referring to fellow amateurs – not professional photographers with better equipment and credentials. DO312 couldn’t have summarized my viewpoint any better:


I’m not asking you to stop taking pictures. Hopefully all pictures you snap are taken with the respect of everyone else in mind. This is something I think will make concerts better for me, and it’s the selfishness that first started my picture taking that’s going to make my new practice successful.

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