On Friday, 3/12, I photographed a great band called Silversun Pickups. Having met them before, I knew they would treat me right. I got to the show right before soundcheck, and was informed by the road manager that the headliner was making all photographers shoot from the soundboard. He suggested that I jump up on stage during soundcheck and get what I needed, because I probably wouldn’t get much during the show. I did and got some great shots of the band, and posed them in front of the drums for a group shot before everyone went to dinner.
I probably should have gone home, but I wanted to stay to hear the band play for real, so I mooched a great dinner backstage. After dinner, I went out to the soundboard to catch the show. Right before the show, about 10 photographers were escorted to the soundboard and were shown a line that they couldn’t cross. The back half of the floor was pretty empty, but the whole front of the floor was people standing. From where I was, next to all the photographers, I couldn’t see the stage at all. When the band started, I could see the top half of their bodies. When the audience put their hands up, I could only see the band members heads! I saw photographers standing on the floor with their camera and 300mm lens over their head trying to aim at the stage. No way would they get anything that they could use. At the end of the set, one of the photographers walked up to me and said “That was a complete waste of time.” My question, if he had not walked away, would have been- “I agree, why do you even leave the house and pay $20.00 to park to be treated this way?”
I was talking to some friends at the board when they lead all the photographers for the headliner (Muse) to the same spot. A friend of mine, one of the best newspaper staffers in the city, leaned over to me and said, “This is a complete waste of time. Nothing will ever change until people refuse to accept this.” The irony is, because he is a great photographer, he got at least one good image, which appeared in the paper this morning. So once again the band won- they got the coverage they were looking for, and can say “Why should we let anyone shoot us the right way? That picture in the paper is perfectly fine!” My answer would have been- “Yes, but you just staged one of the most spectacular stage shows that I have seen in recent times, with 200 foot towers with elevators in them that the band members played on, and none of that will appear in print anywhere. The only picture I saw was a tight shot of the singer.” But nobody asked me.