What you think you know, but don’t

I’ve been extremely busy behind the lens over the last few weeks. Busier than normal. It’s been a great couple of months entertainment-wise in Sault Ste. Marie and I’ve been very proud of the resulting photo galleries published at work.

Students from Rosedale Elementary presented their own version of STOMP at the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre; the Sault’s own Frank Deresti and the Lake Effect shot a music video at Bellevue Park that I not only photographed, but also took part in; the band later celebrated its debut release, This Time, at Loplops; our local metal music community came together to honour Woods of Ypres front man Dave Gold during the first annual Ypres Metal Fest which included a KILLER performance from Kittie; and Sault born and raised blues guy Al Wood released his second CD, Right On Cue, with a showcase at the Water Tower Pub.

I also photographed some really cute dogs. I love dogs.

Bigger arena shows, too, have kept my trigger finger happy. Johnny Reid returned to the Essar Centre with a near sold out performance that easily captivated his adoring hordes. He’s an amazing entertainer and extremely fun to photograph. While I’m not a huge fan of his particular style of music, I do appreciate his voice. I hope in the future he gravitates more towards the R&B and soul side of the scale to which his pipes are more akin to. That linked article, FYI, is the most fun I’ve had writing anything in quite some time.

Bryan Adams also returned. He’s not nearly as fun to photograph. The reasons for which I’ll explain in a minute. I’ll admit that I’m quite proud of that cover shot, however.

And just this past Thursday, I was privileged enough to have been permitted to shoot the entire first hour of Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam. The performance had me so astounded at times that I actually wept. Not kidding.

Yes, it’s been fun. Busy, but fun. And a lot of sorting, cataloging, editing, storing, backing up, and backing up the back-ups. Lightroom and I have grown increasing close, and my external drives were humming with activity.

Of course, with all these articles and photo galleries comes douchebag know-it-alls. I learned years ago to ignore internet comments. They usually do nothing but piss me off and make me sad for the future of humanity. It was easy to ignore these people when they were all corralled in one little corner of SooToday. But since we’ve added the in-line comments on all our news stories, this task becomes almost impossible. *sigh*

On my Quidam piece, ‘OddOne’ wrote:

“While I agree wholeheartedly that Quidam is beyond words, did your photographer not hear the announcement that taking photos during the performance is dangerous to the performers??? I saw the flash go off during the silk aerial act. The photo is beautiful but I think it is irresponsible of you to take these photos when we were expressly asked not to.”

‘biaaatch’ commented on the Johnny Reid piece:

“As for the photographers just my opinion but if you wanted more photographs of Johnny, you should have taken less of everything else that was taken”

Comments such as these made me realize that Joe Public has no idea what it is that I do. So, here I am to dispel some photography myths and set the record straight. It’s really just going to be one big bitch session, but whatever…

  • Photographers DO NOT have free reign at concert events. In fact we’re quite restricted. It’s the norm to only be permitted to shoot the first three songs. 10-15 minutes. That’s it. Then we either have to leave the show or lock our gear up in the office.
  • Sometimes we’re not even allowed to shoot that much, as was the case with Bryan Adams. He gave us one song. Yea. Great. Thanks.
  • Sometimes we’re not permitted to take photos at all, as was the case with Bob Dylan and Joan Jett. That seriously irks me. In many cases where media is denied photo accreditation, any schmo in the front row with a shitty point-and-shoot or camera phone can snap all the pics they want. Yep. Irks me to no end.
  • Photographers are only allowed to shoot from the pit, and normally from nowhere else in the arena. So, you know what? If I’m standing in front of you in the pit, and the show hasn’t even started yet, and you feel like bitching at me that you can’t see, just chill the fuck out. Why? Because a) you’ll be able to see just fine thanks to the really high stage, b) I’m only there for 15 minutes, tops, and c) if I didn’t get photos of [insert over-rated artists name here] to include with the write up, you’d cry and whine and complain that I was being lazy or something like that. Besides, it’s a concert. Get the hell out of your seat and show a little appreciation!
  • Sometimes photojournalists are even more limited when it comes to where they can shoot from. Bryan Adams required us to shoot from the right side of the stage only. Apparently he only wanted photos of the left side of his face. John Mellencamp made us shoot from the FOH (Front Of House – where the sound board is set up) which meant I had to run out and spend a wad of cash on a new long lens. I was displeased with pretty much being forced to spend money I didn’t really have at the time. Surprisingly, Bret Michaels didn’t want us to shoot from the pit at all, but invited us on stage to photograph the show. That was pretty cool.
  • When I shoot a concert, regardless of who it is, I always try to get sots of every band member. They work just as hard as the main attraction and deserve some recognition in my books. Drummers can be challenging, however. Sorry drummers. I do my best.
  • Absolutely NO photojournalist worth his/her weight would use a flash during an arena concert. First of all, we’re specifically instructed not to. And if we ever want permission to shoot that artist ever again, instructions are followed to the letter. Secondly, it’s completely unnecessary to use a flash at a large concert. Arena lighting is awesome and dramatic and plenty bright enough to go without a flash. If you see a ‘photojournalist’ using a flash to photograph an arena concert or show, they have absolutely no clue and should look for a new line of work immediately.
  • All photojournalists shooting a show have been granted express permission to be there to do so. We don’t just walk in off the street and do what we please. It’s often quite a bit of work to gain accreditation. So please, don’t get mad at us when security takes your point-and-shoot away from you at the door. We have a job to do and we’re there to do it. End of story.
  • Back stage and/or meet-and-greet access is rarely granted to photojournalists. Only four times in almost seven years have I been permitted back stage – KISS in Sault Michigan when they were presented with a Key to the City in 2007, Gordon Lightfoot‘s April 2009 Sault appearance, the Harlem Globetrotters‘ first Essar Centre showdown in 2009, and Bret Michaels‘ 45th birthday concert at Kewadin Casino in 2008. Oddly enough, I was actually granted an interview with the Scorpions when they toured through Sault Michigan in 2007. Unfortunately following their performance, the band apparently got into a huge fight, nearly broke up, and left the venue before I had the chance to conduct the interview. I was bummed to say the least.
  • No, as a photojournalist, I can not get you into a concert for free. No, as a photojournalist, I can not get you back stage access. I get these requests ALL THE TIME. Please stop asking me. I have absolutely zero pull when it comes to such things. Kthanks.
  • About 30-40 percent of the time, photojournalists are required to sign a photo release before shooting a large concert. This means I am extremely restricted as to what I can do with my photographs. I’m allowed to post the shots to SooToday.com and that’s it. I’m bound by contract to not print, display, distribute, publish, sell or reproduce these particular photographs by any other means. It blows goats, actually. One particular artist required that the photos be posted to SooToday.com for six months and then be removed from the site. I didn’t. They’re still there, years later. Nothing was said. I guess we’re not important enough to care about.
  • Regardless of what you believe, photography is art. I work very hard at it, and sometimes it can be extremely challenging and difficult. If you send me a request for a photo of [insert artist’s name here], you’ll have to pay for it (if it happens to be one of the artists I was not required to sign a release in order to shoot). If I had painted a portrait of said artist, would you expect me to give it to you for nothing? …I didn’t think so.

So, There you have it. And now you know.

And for absolutely no reason whatsoever, here’s a picture of a calf licking his nose…

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