The Matisyahu Incident and Taking Photos at Concerts – A Commentary

Posted by The G on December 24, 2011 under The G Spot | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by G.



Earlier this week, performer Matisyahu made headlines for a couple of reasons.  The Hasidic Reggae singer first shaved off his trademark beard ahead of his Festival of Lights concerts in New York.  During one of his performances, he allegedly grew tired of a photographer snapping photos in the front row and took matters into his own hands (and feet in this case).  An online blame game has since ensued with the photographer alleging “you’re a performer, you should be used to photographers.”  Matisyahu has apologized for his bad behavior, but added that photographers should be more sensitive to the performer. You can read all of the he said/she said nonsense here.

As someone who sees hundreds of bands a year, here’s my two cents on what photographers and performers should realize on a going forward basis:

– To the perfomer:  We live in a digital age.  Nearly everyone at the concert has some sort of photography device be it a legit camera or a cell phone.  Lame as it might be, it’s 2011.  This is what is really going on. Get over your need to try and control your image because regardless of “the rules,” people are going to take pictures.  It’s a fact of life.

– To the photographers:  A press pass does not entitle you to forget that there are paying customers who are not interested in trying to watch you become the next Cindy Sherman.  Please be conscious of the performers as well as the audience around you.  If you have to contort your body to get your shot, in an age where with most cameras, the most complicated trick is learning how to turn the power on, you might need to stop going to concerts and go to photography class!  It’s not that hard!

– To the iPhone photographers.  ALL of your photos are going to look like shit!  Shit!  It doesn’t matter if you are in the front row or the cheap seats.  PLEASE don’t hold your phone over your head, blocking the people behind you to get crappy pictures.  Get a real camera if you are trying out for the Ansel Adams photography contest.

– To performers and photographers – Use COMMON SENSE!  How many photos of the same scene do you need?  There’s a good chance you are not backstage at the Pink Floyd reunion, so please keep that in mind as you are snapping thousands of photos of the same exact thing.  As a performer, if you find the constant photo taking to be annoying, STOP THE SHOW!  Point out the offending photographer to the audience and I am sure the crowd will take care of the perputrator.

– To blogs/websites that use outsourced concert photography – Shouldn’t the photographer take the time to research the names of the band members before submitting their photos?!  Going to a website and seeing a guy holding a bass guitar with NO NAME on the photo caption does nothing for me!  Seeing a closeup photo of a chandelier that was hanging at a concert also does nothing for me.  Do you think I am going to understand the feeling of the show by looking at a quasi-artsy photo of one object that was present at the concert?  Not happening!

This public service announcement was brought to you by a lot of concert-goers who feel the same way but don’t have a public form to express themselves.  You’re welcome!


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