In the good old days, a photographer was given pretty much total freedom to get his/her best angles. The only restrictions were:
Don’t disturb the show.
Don’t get in the way of the audience’s view.
This created the ability to search for angles that brought out the best in the photo. Such as:
-If the singer stayed close to the microphone, a side angle separated his face from the microphone
-If the band was dressed in black, isolating someone in front of a set piece on stage or a light separated the person from the background.
In a photo pit or aisle in front of the stage, this was easy to accomplish as you could move around and find that angle.
But- the rules have changed! Many artists are now requesting that photographers shoot from the sound board, or the back of the arena. This is problematic for a number of reasons:
1. To get a fairly decent (but still not very good) photograph, one has to invest about $5000 in a 400MM or longer lens. This will still only get at best a full length or ¾ length photograph.
2. Depending on the luck of the draw, odds are you will be instructed to shoot from a position where the microphone will be directly in front of the face of the singer, unless he or she turns to the side. This makes for an unusable shot in most cases.
3. Because you are now shooting from a straight-on position rather than a position shooting up at the performer, the performer will look much smaller than he or she actually looks. Seeing as many performers are not that tall to start with, they now look short and insignificant
4. When shooting from the front photo pit at a 45 degree angle up at the performer, the lights at the back of the stage come into the photograph. This provides a three dimensionality to the photograph, as the light give the background context. When shooting from the soundboard, straight on at the performer, the actual lights do not come into play in the photo, so the performer looks flat and two dimensional.
Maybe this is what the publicists are going for- short, insignificant, two dimensional depictions of their artists!
Finally, a quote from Andy Warhol:
“My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and of a famous person.”
Maybe that is all people are looking for in the 21st century. Maybe taking a good, or dare I say great photograph is a thing of the past.