Stevie Wonder

In November of 2007, Stevie Wonder played a show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. His press rules are as follows:

PRESS RULES:        STEVIE WONDER – “A WONDER AUTUMN NIGHT TOUR”
Photographers shooting time:
•         First 5-10 seconds of the entrance
•         After first 5-10 seconds refrain from shooting until the first song starts
•         Ok to shoot first 60 seconds of the first song, then publicist will escort from pit
area and exit through security
***All photographers and crews will be escorted from concert after photos and video***
PHOTO & VIDEO RELEASES MUST BE SIGNED BY ALL THE DAY OF THE SHOW
All photographers/crews must be able to present written proof of assignment from an approved
media outlet or wire service
The way Stevie is situated on stage, there is a very small opening between his two banks of keyboards, which allows a photographer from the pit to see most of his face and nothing else. I can only imagine a large group of NY photographers lined up in a row shooting over each others heads to try to all capture the same boring photo for one minute.

The New York Times printed all fifteen of the frames that their photographer captured (all the same and really boring!) in a grid to accompany the review. In a separate article, the following was discussed:

Capturing the Moment With Fewer Minutes
By FELICIA R. LEE  Published: November 19, 2007
Pop stars have kept photojournalists in check for a long time now, having them restricted to pens or escorted from concert halls after only a few songs. But lately some leashes have been especially short. At Stevie Wonder’s concert at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, photographers were told they could shoot only the first 5 to 10 seconds of Mr. Wonder’s entrance and the first 60 seconds of his first song. Then they had to leave.

Further along in the article:

“It’s harder for me to find that amazing shot,” Michele Romero, a photo editor at Entertainment Weekly, said of shooting only the beginning of a show. “If something happens, it happens at an encore or halfway through a concert. Imagine if Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar and no one saw it. That kind of photography doesn’t happen anymore.”

Accompanying that quote was the famous photograph that Jim Marshall took at the Monterrey Pop Festival in the late 1960’s, showing Jimi Hendrix on his knees with his guitar on stage in front of him in flames.

The article concluded with a quote from Stevie’s publicist:

LaTanya Marble, the publicist for Mr. Wonder’s tour, said that photographers are getting what they need. The 5-to-10-second shooting time is “more than enough,” she said, to capture his entrance. After that, photographers are asked to wait until the first song so that Mr. Wonder has time to get situated at his piano.We’ve been on the road since August, and we’ve had no problems,” Ms. Marble said. “This is not new at all. It’s just been our rule.”

What the article failed to mention was that later in the set Prince joined Stevie on stage for a song, as did Tony Bennett. Too bad no pictures were taken of those moments!
There are many more examples of this craziness. It seems that the first three songs, which used to be a huge problem, is now a luxury!
Last summer, I asked for photo access to Taylor Swift, at a free city sponsored concert in downtown Chicago. I was told that that was no problem, although the restrictions would probably keep me from bothering. When I asked what they were, I was told that I could shoot the first 30 seconds of the show. If that wasn’t bad enough, I would have to shoot those 30 seconds from the sound board, about 50 yards away. Luckily, there was a good football game on television that afternoon, that could much better occupy my time! (Beyonce also has that 30 seconds from the soundboard rule!)

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