Pictures On the Wall, They’re All Friends of Mine

How do you feel about taking photographs and video at shows?  Today Anna Ross commented about the recent request from Kate Bush that no video or photos be taken at her shows – suggesting that she would prefer to connect and engage with the audience, not their phones.  Here’s the article.

I know that Duran fans have gotten into quite a habit of bringing out the phones and cameras at shows. Searching YouTube, one can find nearly video clips from every concert date the band has played in recent years, and in some cases – entire shows worth of material. When I attend shows and I’m anywhere aside from the first several rows, I have to duck down under the barrier of arms and hands holding up phones and cameras to actually see the stage. 

Last year, while attending a show for The Killers in Anaheim, I was probably about 5 rows back on the floor (GA), and I literally had a space of about 2-3 inches to peer through so that I could get a clear view of Brandon Flowers. At one point in the show, he looked down and saw me peering through the arms and chuckled – it was obvious he saw the insanity. I asked one guy if he actually watches the show and he told me no – it’s too difficult to watch when he’s filming. He told me he’ll watch it all when he gets home. That show was the worst I’d been to as far as cameras and mobile phones went, and there were several points during the show where I decided that venues SHOULD stop allowing them because they ruin it for everyone else.

For many of who were brought up in the 80’s and prior, getting cameras into the shows is sort of a new thing. I can remember when one of the major threads on any message board was whether ______________ venue allowed cameras. It wasn’t until after the reunion that I ever had the opportunity to take a camera into a show, and believe me, I was overjoyed to be able to say that I took my OWN pictures of Nick, Simon, Roger, John and Andy (and of course later on, Dom as well!). I would imagine that many other Duran Duran fans felt similar. It was new to be able to have these photos, and for a while, I snapped pictures right along with everyone.

It wasn’t until a show at the Sears Center in 2006 that I truly realized what I was missing from behind a camera lens. At this particular show, Amanda and I were running very late. When we got to the venue, we flew out of the car, grabbing our tickets and running because we didn’t want to be trying to find our seats as the lights went down.  Once in the venue, we realized we’d forgotten our cameras in the car. I suppose we could have gone out, gotten them and returned, but we agreed that we’d just get our seats and not worry. I’d forgotten how nice it was to watch an entire show without the distraction of switching lenses, changing batteries, or worrying about getting that perfect photo. I danced, I sang, and I had a great time. After that show, I stopped worrying so much about taking pictures and worried more about having a good time.  The experience matters more to me than the pictures.

That’s not to say I never take a single photo. Of course I do! There are certain points in the set where I’ll snap a quick picture or two, but I’m really at the point now where I’d rather watch the band with my eyes and not through a screen. It’s not enough for me to “watch it on YouTube when I get home”.  I’m right there. I paid for the tickets – I want that LIVE experience.  I’m sure there are many who will argue about the video – they want it and it’s not their problem if holding their arm up in the air blocks the view for others. I can’t argue with those people, because if they’re bound and determined to take photos and video, this blog isn’t going to stop them. Kate Bush certainly won’t stop them, and I know Duran Duran didn’t stop them when they requested similar for their UK”rehearsal” gigs prior to their AYNIN world tour in 2011-2012. 

What I’m wondering though, is how other fans really feel about such a request?  Is it crazy to ask fans to leave their cameras, cell phones, etc in their purses or at home?  


10 thoughts on “Pictures On the Wall, They’re All Friends of Mine”

  1. Definitely think that enjoying the experience of the concert is key to this. When I went to outdoor concert with teenage daughters last year we had phones to take pictures but actually they were more interested in dancing and enjoying the whole atmosphere. Interestingly Manchester United Football club have banned ipads and tablets from matches at Old Trafford this season stating it is for security reasons.

    1. I don’t mind taking photos occasionally, but I agree with you Debbie. I like just being able to go and enjoy the moment. Interesting about ManU – I never realized that people took video of football matches like that, but I guess it makes sense. We’re so dialed-in any more, I kind of like the idea of being forced to unplug and WATCH once in a while. -R

  2. One thing is thinking of the DD guys as people really tuned into hi-fi tech: they do welcome anything futuristic, any odd new toy, so the request from this perspective would sound odd.
    The other thing is thinking of them as musicians that do their job on the stage, which is their second natural habitat after the studio: if they asked to stop taking pics, I’d respect their request. I never took any picture, I both in my only two concerts (Andy in 2005, Dom in 2012) had my hands free to clap … and to dance.
    Let’s say, in general, I feel that musicians should try to ask their fans to use less frequently their cell phones: it’s a matter of respect to the artists and the fans would better absorbe, so to speak, the show.

    1. You do know that the band HAS actually requested fans not take pictures and/or video of them before, right? So it’s not entirely that odd of a request from them. As I mentioned in the blog, they did this in 2011 at the UK rehearsal gigs. I know the request was largely unsuccessful, because I’ve seen photos and video from those gigs. Their reasoning at the time was exactly as Kate Bush – they wanted to connect with the audience, not the technology. The shows were in small, intimate venues. I could understand the reasoning, even though I knew that someone would take and post video eventually. -R

  3. My pictures are always terrible, but I have a few keepers from the shows that I just love. I think it is more enjoyable to leave the phones and cameras, and I definitely have better sight lines when others do the same. Maybe they need to bring camera drones to the shows…

  4. I would be completely fine with them banning cameras at the concerts. As a person of short stature, it’s hard enough seeing the show WITHOUT all of the cameras in my face. An occasional photo is fine, but I’ve never really understood why people video the entire show. How can they even enjoy themselves. What a waste!!

    1. That’s the truth…I don’t know how people could video the whole show. I can see doing it from a balcony I guess, but I think that if you’re going to those types of extremes you’re probably not videoing it for personal use anyway. If they banned cameras, I’d be OK. I have enough pictures of them onstage now anyway. I’d like some WITH them. Ha. Keep dreaming, Rhonda. 😀 -R

  5. I remember the days when tickets would say no camera or photography allowed, you know, those pre-cell phone days! And you would see them actually take cameras away at shows. (I am dating myself by saying that I am sure.) But in this day and age of technology, no way are you going to enforce a no recording rule as much as an artist would like to. Broadway shows and theatre is probably the only place where that still happens.

    Personally, I do think it detracts from the pleasure of a show. I have a very good friend of mine who takes phenomenal concert photos at every show he goes to…that’s his thing, and you have to see the incredible pictures he takes (including the ones on the last Duran tour). We recently went to see Taylor Dayne, and a friend of ours who was with us said, you know, I wish he would put down the camera and just enjoy the show. I suppose he gets enjoyment by taking pictures, but that’s not how I enjoy myself at a show. I took maybe one or two pictures, realized I take awful pictures, and wasn’t going to spend the night with a camera in front of my face trying to get that perfect shot (especially since I knew he would) when I could be dancing and having a great time. And even if he weren’t there taking pictures, I would have put the camera away anyway.

    As a band member, I wonder how it must feel to play in front of a sea of cameras, rather than a sea of faces. Instead of seeing the expressions on people’s faces and reactions, you see nothing but camera flashes.

  6. As someone who would love to bring a camera to have her own pictures, I would be happy, if my ticket allowed me access to a website, where I could download “official” photos from that show. I think if a band gave a little back, there would be less whinging. I certainly would not want to be stuck behind the person holding up the ipad for the entire show.

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