Free speech!!

A few weeks ago, the Chicago Reader published an article entitled:

The Picture Police

Do festivals like Pitchfork and Lollapalooza have the right to restrict photography in a public park?

The article talked about a fan who bought a ticket to Pitchfork, and was refused admittance because he brought his camera bag with him. When the guards searched the bag, they stated:

‘Bad news. It’s not your lucky day.'”

The guard was referring to the Nikon D5000 camera with detachable lens in Vaca’s bag. It turned out Pitchfork had a rule—no “professional” cameras, no detachable lenses. “I didn’t know that rule,” says Vaca. “Or believe me, I wouldn’t have brought that lens.”

He told his girlfriend to go in, and proceeded to walk to a deserted area, where he threw his camera bag over the fence to her. He got caught!! She was kicked out, and they both went home. GOD FORBID he had taken a picture of a band that day- maybe the world would have come to an end.

The article went on to quote Mike Reed, the  director of the festival, who said:

“All artists have different policies of how they’d like to be represented, photographically speaking, and most only want high-quality photographs coming from approved media outlets. Point & Shoot cameras allow fans to get the shots that they want of themselves and the artists they’ve come to see, but don’t allow high-quality photos they could later sell to profit off the band’s appearance.”

So many things wrong with that statement!!

1. Anyone who reads this blog regularly remembers me describing the scrum of “Approved” photographers who were ushered in to the photo pit to shoot one song of Pavement and then asked to leave the premises. No good pictures could have come out of that!

2. So Mike is saying that the only pictures that the bands want taken are really lousy ones with point and shoot cameras!

3. As the article goes on, the subject turns to whether the festival has a right to disallow freedom of speech on public property that they are renting from the city for the weekend. Many competing viewpoints are discussed, but the only point not discussed is:

Since when did we become the enemy? Why is it that the only people that have the equipment and the ability are not allowed access? What are the legal rights if the event is free on public property? I believe that they can restrict access to the barricaded photo pit, but I wonder what would happen if a group of photographers were to go to a free public event, get there early with reading materials and food, and set up right in front of the stage with all of their professional gear and shoot the performance without asking for a photo pass.

Two nights ago, I went down to the Chicago Jazz Festival to photograph Ahmad Jamal. Upon arriving, I was given a photo pass and told that I would be allowed to shoot the first seven minutes of his set from a seat in the front row, which had been reserved for photographers. There were several open seats in the second row. I thought about moving back a row, and removing my photo pass and shooting the whole set, but decided not to cause a scene and instead left and went to a really cool party!

4.  Recently an English blog I read had an interesting article:

A writer went to a music festival that posted these rules:

‘Cameras are normally permitted for personal use. Cameras with detachable telephoto lenses will not be allowed through the three arena entrances. Professional cameras and video/audio equipment are strictly prohibited. Live video/audio recordings made without the permission of the artiste/promoter are prohibited.’

He went on to bring up a great point. Have they checked out the zoom capabilities on a high-end compact camera?

Last summer, Stevie Wonder played a free concert in downtown Chicago on public land. Photographers were told that they could only shoot one minute of the show, and needed a signed letter from the publication that they were working for to be given a pass. The daily papers said they weren’t going to cover the show, so, of course they were allowed to not sign any contracts, but still only allowed to shoot for one minute (Ironic, because both papers sent freelancers, who could then turn around and send their images to any agency they wanted as soon as they were published!)

Anyway, a friend of mine was riding his motorcycle downtown with his Canon G10 in his pocket. He parked and walked into the park. He found a seat in about the 10th row, took out his camera, and proceeded to shoot anything he wanted. With the excellent zoom lens and the ability to shoot RAW files, he was able to shoot magazine quality photos throughout the concert!

So maybe we should all go out and buy “Amateur” cameras! It would certainly be good for my back!!

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.