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.

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  1. I didn’t realise concert restrictions were so wide spread? It doesn’t take long to realise that the first three song rule is everywhere, but a couple of the contracts I’ve been asked to sign recently have been extreme. To put it in context I take photos for my University’s student newspaper and in a way I thought both that maybe this was just something that pros had to put up and that surely no one would ask a pro to sign this. Put restrictions on the student who might take a load of rubbish and make the band look bad? At least that has some sense to it.

    But what should we do? Especially those of us who are not pros? Should we stand up to it and say “no, I won’t sign that”? I doubt any tour manger is going to care in the slightest if I take can take pictures or not and it makes you feel so powerless.

  2. I recently shot the Dave Matthews Band and was told 90 seconds of each of the first three songs. Hey Nikon, how about a stopwatch in the viewfinder of the D4x???

  3. God knows how many times I’ve had to rant over the over-complications of taking pictures of ‘big name artists’. “You can shoot the first 10 secs from the corner…and such and such” whereas you have the thousands of fans with their camera phones (which by the way, the resolution just gets better!) and taking vids and posting them up on the system. When Beyonce came down to the UK, ‘togs were told only the first 30 secs. Not worth my while, so I boycotted it. That’s why I like snapping the old time musicians and artists. Now they are a joy to take shots. Shame on S.Wonder’s people. Never had this problems while shooting ‘The Blind Boys of Alabama’.

  4. I think that before I became a father, I might have been able to help with bereavement photography. It sounds like an amazing gift you can give to these devastated families. Now, as a father of a 2 year old son, I don’t think I would be able to function. Kudos to those photographers who help.

  5. Not only was there 60 seconds for Stevie Wonder, but look at the crap angle the ‘togs had! What’s the point? The worst one I had was Leonard Cohen, who we could shoot for 1 minute from the time he arrived on the stage…and we were waaaaay at the back of the venue. To be fair, it wasn’t an artist restriction, but a venue restriction, yet still ridiculous. Initially, we showed up and weren’t allowed to shoot at all, but after putting up a huge fight we got our glorious minute.

    And then there are The Killers, who are so incredibly special that they don’t allow photographers at all. Bob Dylan they ain’t!

  6. The every concerts I’ve shot have had this limited press coverage in place. From what their PR people have been telling me, they don’t like seeing dozens of cameras fixed on their every move.

    Last time I checked, Stevie Wonder is blind.

    /Just sayin’

  7. There are several reasons they don’t want you there forever:

    1) A professional there, on assignment, can get what they need in a minute or two. I’ve had 30 second restrictions imposed. While I don’t like it, because it twarts my opportunities, I can get the job done for my client.

    2) Too many people, before this was imposed, were getting credentials and hanging out for the whole show – and getting in the way of the actual “working press”. They’d dance and holler at the artist!

    3) The artist usually looks their best, and is lit the best (note, I said usually), at the beginning, when they’re not sweating up a storm.

    4) When you have so many photos, the possibility that those images will be used commercially is much greater.

    5) Too many amateurs thinking their on-camera flash can light better than 100k in lighting. Further, those flashes are a distraction to the artist.

    6) Too many amateurs up there with their point-and-shoots. Get out! A requirement should be that you must have an SLR to get in the well/buffer.

  8. Wow, that infant photography article was powerful. After shooting my daughter’s birth last week, it was hard to imagine such a situation.

  9. The Illinois High School football tournament is asking for newspapers to sign away all rights except for publication in the actual newspaper before they will give credentials.

    Papers are not sending photographers to the games as a result.

  10. just wanted to say thanks for the Gilbertson link. THAT is a photographer whose work is worth looking at. one evening with gilbertson is a great antidote to the ‘I should get paid if I fart in your direction’ attitude I get from some of my colleagues (and that I probably have sometimes, too).

    every time I think I’m having a bad day on the job, I realize that no one is trying to kill me as I work.

    would love to see your thoughts/posts about ashley, nachtwey and other living, breathing war photogs.

  11. in case anyone is interested, here’s a link to the group that does infant bereavement photography:

    I’m a member and I encourage other photographers to consider joining if they don’t get enough meaning out of their assignments.

  12. John Harrington:

    “3) The artist usually looks their best, and is lit the best (note, I said usually), at the beginning, when they’re not sweating up a storm.”

    This is true, but for certain bands they haven’t even warmed up in 3 songs and are way more intense towards the end. I enjoy shooting shows in a VFW hall/basement due to the general insanity/passion/emotion you can get out of it. Granted I’m sure bigger artists may not want it, but I’d rather see images of The Police (for example) rocking out and sweaty, over shots of them just standing there going through the motions.

  13. Jason wrote:
    >>>I’d rather see images of The Police (for example) rocking out and sweaty, over shots of them just standing there going through the motions.

    Agreed, BUT, the bands, and their PR machines, do NOT want that, so, since it’s their show, and they control it, they do what they want. I’m not saying I like it, I’m saying that’s the way it is.


  14. I found the juxtaposition of the Stevie Wonder story with the Iraq experiences of Ashley Gilbertson interesting. Specifically Ashley’s comment that “This is one of the most restrictive war zones that has ever existed.” Which is surely true, and yet i cannot think of another war in which we would have access to photos like this guy’s:
    Similarly, while i was kicked out of an Angelique Kidjo concert in Morocco because i was taking photos with an SLR, several hundred other people were tolerated taking pictures with cellphones and point and shoots…ever greater restriction and ever greater coverage, fear of the latter driving the former, perhaps. Difficult to imagine the military acting differently but i think artists’ management are being shortsighted with these policies.

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