Concert Photographer: Where Did Your Integrity Go? (Or How Concert Photographers Handle Contracts In Norway)

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The last couple of weeks, the matter of photo contracts once again has been debated. First came Jason Sheldon’s blog post, calling Taylor Swift out on her hypocrisy when attacking Apple for demanding musicians give away their music for free while doing the exact same thing to concert photographers in her photo contracts. If you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware of that whole ordeal, so there’s no need to get into it further other than to say that I fully support Sheldon’s views.

His post made some waves, the latest being The Washington City Paper refusing to sign Foo Fighters infamous contract. Honorable as it may be, as pointed out by Kevin Bergin, their way of solving the problem, will make matters even worse for concert photographers. Petapixel’s Michael Zhang calls the decision a brewing revolution in the world of concert photography, but, I’m not so sure. Right now, it’s “viral”, so there is an immediate payoff, but, as soon as the story fades, so does the will to make change among the decision makers. After all, this is not the first time we’ve seen an “internet riot” against photo contracts, and yet, they are breeding. Well… except in Norway, but I’ll get back to that.

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Standing up for the concert photographer, by standing on his neck

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Earlier this week, the Washington City Paper made a stand against what it considered an unfair concert photography contract presented by the Foo Fighters with an article entitled Why We’re Not Photographing The Foo Fighters. Concert photographers everywhere stood up and slow clapped for the headline and main idea of the article and the stand it took on photographers rights. In the last paragraph of the article however, the Washington City Paper did something even worse to photographers than the Foo Fighters ever could have; they called on the fans to submit photos of the show, and they offered to pay for them. Instead of simply not covering the event and saying “Screw you, Foo Fighters” as the article’s title might make you believe, they’re saying “Screw you, concert photographers” and created a new class of concert photographer; the front row, amateur, on spec, freelance iPhoneographer. The ramifications are going to be far reaching to the concert photographer, the concert attendee, the artist, and the publications themselves.

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Major Irish Newspaper Didn’t Photograph Taylor Swift’s Dublin Concert Due to “Exceedingly Restrictive” Contract

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It seems like Taylor Swift has had a spot reserved for her in the headlines lately. First it was positive press for standing up to Apple’s music streaming service and defending artists’ rights, but then came along a concert photographer calling the singer a hypocrite for exploiting photographers that cover her concerts.

Then came her agent’s response to the photographer’s accusations, quickly followed by the photographer’s response to the agent.

Making valid points and drawing attention to a touchy subject for photographers, Jason Sheldon got people talking about the problem, but it was just talk.

Today, however, that changed when the Irish Times covered Swift’s Dublin concert but didn’t include any photos of her performance. Taking it a step further, the news outlet also posted an article on its website explaining that the star’s contract didn’t leave them another option.

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Jason Seldon’s Response To Taylor Swift’s Agent

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After my public response to Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple, I didn’t quite expect the phenomenal reaction it received. I knew it was provocative, I knew it was going to be risky and could possibly harm my chances of getting access to other concerts in future. but it needed to be said – out loud. When I thought hard about the possible consequences, and restrictions on my access to future work, I asked myself “What point is there in going to work if I can’t be paid for it – yet everyone else gets to benefit from my labour?”. The answer?

There was nothing left to lose. When you’re faced with a choice of working for free to save a millionaire having to pay a reasonable fee, or not working at all. what would you do?

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Taylor Swift Responds to Photographer’s Open Letter

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Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple, claiming artists shouldn’t be asked to work for free, gained tremendous attention and lead to a change in the company’s policy.

It wasn’t long before concert photographer Jason Sheldon sent the singer a letter of his own calling her a hypocrite for pretending to stand up for artists’ rights, while photographers working at her concerts are forced to sign an unfair contract that could lead to them working for free as well.

Swift’s UK spokesperson was quick to respond to Sheldon claiming that he misrepresented the contract.

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An Open Response To Taylor Swift’s Rant Against Apple

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[Editor’s note: Taylor Swift letter to Apple saying that it is unfair for artists to go unpaid, seems to have made make Apple take a (somewhat limited) U turn and Apple’s swiftly responded (no pun intended) with a promise to compensate artists.]

Dear Taylor Swift,

I have read your open letter to Apple where you give your reasons for refusing to allow your album ‘1989′ to be included on their forthcoming Apple Music streaming service. (For reference)

I applaud it. It’s great to have someone with a huge following standing up for the rights of creative people and making a stand against the corporate behemoths who have so much power they can make or break someone’s career.

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Concert Photography: 7 essential Tools to get started

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Concert photography is probably one of the most challenging fields in photography, but also one of the most rewarding. I can clearly remember the first time I stood in the photo pit, getting ready to shoot the alternative band, Tv On The Radio. I was still trying to figure out the right settings on my camera when suddenly the lights in the venue went off. The band got on the stage, hundreds of people started screaming behind me and I thought, “Am I dreaming or is this real?” Then it hit me – damn, it’s real and I’d better get back to reality quickly and take some great photos! That was how concert photography felt for me the first time I did it. 7 years later, every concert I shoot still gives me an adrenaline kick and there´s always a new challenge to deal with.

Concert Photography is the dream of many passionate music and photography lovers out there. However, there isn’t much information around detailing how to succeed at concert photography. You won´t be able to find many books about concert photography. Something else that holds people back from starting to live their dream is thinking that they need the expensive gear that pro photographers use. In this article, I’m going to show you 7 tools that will help you to get started and bring your concert photography career to the next level.

Your 7 must-have tools in concert photography:

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Linkin Park Reaches Out to Live Photographers, Launches Contest to Shoot for Their Tour

A while back there was some pretty bad news circulating the blogosphere involving live photographers – specifically in music. I thought it’d be cool to shed in more of a positive light in current relationships between musicians and the artists that photograph them. A few months back, Los Angeles-based band Linkin Park announced their upcoming tour across the US, and they just recently announced a contest targeting photographers who want to have a chance at shooting for their shows.

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Tour Manager for Three Days Grace Speaks Out On Concert Photography

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Two days ago, controversy was bred after a clash over social media between photographer Rohan Anderson and the pop-punk band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus; the band began a crusade of defamation against Rohan after being called out for posting his picture up without permission or credit. In return, Rohan sparked a wave of protest from the online community by posting the entire story online, and publicity for The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus expectedly took a plunge.

Now that the story’s been gaining widespread coverage over the online photography and music community, the tour manager for the band Three Days Grace decided to weigh in on the topic.

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Interview With Rock/Concert Photographer Adam Elmakias

Jared Leto of 30 Seconds To Mars at Rock For People Festival in Hradec Kralove CZE July 2nd, 2013

Adam Elmakis is one of the best concert/band photographers I know. He was kind enough to “sit” with us for an interview. I had no idea how demanding his job was.

DIYP: Can you tell us about your background and how you got into photography?

AE: I was born in California, and my parents moved us to Madison, WI when I was young. My family was normal-ish (I like to think). I got into photography in high school.

I started shooting in 2005 when I was a high school sophomore in Madison, WI. School wasn’t really my thing, but I took a yearbook class that I really liked. We were given an assignment to shoot self portraits, and when the school counselor saw my photo he convinced me to give photography a try.  Eventually I signed up for dpchallenge.com and shot around for that site, and the same teacher was able to convince someone from the community to generously give me a camera.  I’m very competitive, so it dpchallenge was a fun way to get inspired! You can see some of my early work there.

Most of my time outside of school was spent going to local shows, so I started bringing my camera to concerts for fun. Eventually I became friends with local promoters and was able to trade photos for free admission, and from there I scored gigs with online publications that allowed me to start shooting bigger shows from the photo pit.  My [parents’] house became a crash pad for touring bands, and we would usually do quick press shoots the next day around town. I went to college for a semester, but ended up deciding it wasn’t my thing. Was making pretty decent money doing press shoots for bands. So yea, stopped school, and started touring. [Read more…]