Opinion: The Woes of a Concert Photographer

Written by Patience Buehler

There’s no better feeling than seeing the world through the lens of a camera. There’s a feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes with shooting a photograph. But those good feelings can soon be drained from you thanks to the neglect those around you, especially at a live show.

As a female photographer for the metal and hardcore scene I have seen my fair share of distractions, rude bands, and rowdy people at shows. I have been in situations where my camera has been kicked out of my hands, seen my work go without due credit, and I have been in situations where the complete lack of respect from venue owner is loud and clear. Through all of this I still apply myself with every show that I shoot and give the same amount of respect to the person who is in the wrong for the sake of professionalism.

Lately I’ve seen different arguments online about how you don’t belong in the hardcore scene if you’re not comfortable with the violence that it holds. Wait, so you’re telling me I don’t belong in the scene for not wanting my hundreds of dollars worth of camera equipment destroyed because you can’t keep your anger issues in check? Yeah, I don’t think so.

In a study done in 2014 by the “Hardcore Group Enthusiasts” concert photographers stated they would rather quit photography than keep draining their pockets to buy new equipment damaged while doing something that mainly benefits the bands playing. There’s a video that went viral from the popular event “This Is Hardcore” where a man intentionally spin kicked a camera right out of a photographer’s hand; that is not acceptable in any situation. I honestly don’t understand why people in the scene pride themselves on how hospitable they are during shows, yet could care less when a photographer can’t do their job. Seriously, dance all you want but watch out for the photographers. We’re there to help the bands, not to throw down.

And look, I know photographers should stand at the side when shooting, but even when standing to the side of the stage I’m in constant fear of someone trying to show off their “pitting skills” and wrecking equipment. Seriously, I shouldn’t feel like I can’t do my job because other people are taking things too far. Now don’t get me wrong, I have done my fair share of throwing down in the pit, but what goes on in the pit should stay in the pit. When I have my camera and I’m standing stageside I should be able to do my job without someone making an effort to distract me or pull me into the frenzy. I mean, if I wanted to do something that would drain me of hundreds of dollars and disappoint me I would just go to a Justin Bieber concert.

With all that being said, concert photographers deserve a lot more respect than they’re getting. I mean, I get it, shows get crazy, but we’re there to do a job and that’s support the guys on stage. No one should be purposefully distracting a photographer or going out of their way to break their equipment. We deserve our right to expression as much as the people in the pit.

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