Gig photography etiquette is something both musicians and photographers should be aware of, yet somehow, sometimes, we lose track of it. With the rising awareness on the rights of concert photographers (as we have seen in the scandal involving Arch Enemy ), it seemed like a right time to write this article. Both of us have been gig photographers for years now and we have seen our share of situations. Let’s talk a bit about gig photography, what rights photographers have, and the proper etiquette for bands when it comes to handling such topics.
As a band you can be in control of your performances and how your show looks like. You can also choose to hire a photographer for your performances or rely on the ones present at the event for shots of the concert. In theory, unless previously discussed or unless there has been a signed agreement, the photographer holds the copyright to their shots as well as the distribution rights to a certain extent. If you want to use any of the photos taken during a concert commercially (to print on merch, a flyer, put on your website, anything related to selling your brand) you need to discuss with the photographer ahead of time. Likewise, if you want more photos from your concert, or any details you are unsure of, best thing to do is to approach the photographer and have a conversation with them.
Theoretically, posting on social media also falls under something that photographers should be asked for permission beforehand. However, in Europe, most photographers are happy to see their photos shared by the artist and don’t mind. Keep in mind though that if you want to be on the right side of things, asking for permission goes a long way in regards to building a nice working relationship with the photographer as well as showing you care.
When sharing on social media it is very important to be careful in regards to copyright matters. Photos need to be re-shared exactly the way you found them without any alterations (filters, crops, watermarks removed etc). Furthermore, crediting the artist is the second most important thing. Forgetting to credit the artist could result in said photo getting removed from your profile or receiving upset messages from the photographer. Rightfully so, photographers work really hard on their art and mentioning them is the least one can do.
Typically, photographers will take photos for the first 3 songs during your performance unless given permission to stay longer or unless there are special effects during the gig which would be dangerous for the people in the front. Keep in mind that if you want beautiful photos you need to ensure that the conditions are right for them to happen. Having poor lighting all through the first 3 songs will make it terribly difficult for them to do their job. Likewise, if your performance is very energetic, keep in mind that the people in the front have very expensive equipment so perhaps hold off on pouring water over your head and headbanging after or spitting etc until they leave.
If you have hired a photographer for a particular gig, make sure you and them are on the same page in regards to the final result. It may be best to draft an agreement just to make sure everyone knows exactly what is expected from both parties.
There are many big artists who hate photographers for one reason or another (for example Marilyn Manson has been known to share his negative opinions about gig photographers) however treating people as individuals in the creative industry goes a long way. You could have negative encounters with some artists from all types of fields and it may give you unpleasant thoughts when it comes to concert photographers. However, if you want beautiful concert photos, respect and treating people as equals is a great attitude to have!
Keep an eye out as we are preparing to write a continuing piece on this article looking at the other side and discussing gig photography etiquette for the gig photographers! Leave us a comment if you think we forgot anything about this topic below.
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