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12 April, 2005

Concert photography

I've frequented online discussion groups dedicated to various bands for a long time; approaching a decade, which is more than enough to be aware that there are only so many topics to cover, combined in rather more permutations according to specific events but still fundamentally the same, irrespective of band, music or circumstances.

One which arises every time any band tours is whether it's possible to take photographs at concerts: whether the band permits photography, whether a specific venue does, whether specific practices are advised/permitted, and other concerns.

Aside from these practicalities, the point I've yet to grasp is why anyone, apart from professionals on assignment, would wish to take photos during concerts. I know that when I see a band I like, my full attention is entirely fixed on the performance, as it occurs, not on ****ing around trying to capture low-res memories for later. That has to be so distracting (to the photographer, not only the band), sacrificing attention on the now for a diminished, almost vicarious experience later.

I suppose it depends what one wants from a concert. I can only presume that there are people for whom being able to say "I was there", and have photos to show-off to prove it, is more satisfying than the experience itself. I'm not one of them.


Wembley Arena allow them in the seated areas but not in the pit below the stage, and even then you cannot take in "professional" equipment. They do, however, sell overpriced single-use cameras with film development.

When I saw The Darkness last year I took quite a few photos (which would have come out better had I read the camera manual first...), mainly to complement my memories. You can only remember so much in your head, having something like a photograph helps you to remember more.

Posted by Neil T. at April 12, 2005 08:57 PM

Ah; arena shows. When a majority of the audience can only see tiny specks on a distant stage or are obliged to use the video displays to make out anything of the concert anyway, that's already a vicarious experience!

I'm sure there's a spectrum of (perfectly valid) motivations in concert-goers, but the impressions I like to come away with are a bit nebulous not so much fixed images as a feeling, which a camera couldn't capture anyway. I already know what my favourite musicians look like, and usually manage to find unofficial audio recordings of the music, so by attending I'm looking for something more, something less definable; to just absorb the ambience.

And I say there's no religion in my life. ;)

Posted by NRT at April 13, 2005 10:29 AM

It's not just concerts though is it? I'm constantly amazed by the legions of people who seem to experience everything they go to through the viewfinder of their camcorder.

Posted by Siobhan at April 13, 2005 11:40 AM
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