Sometimes I wonder whether Live Music Photographers are gluttons for punishment or there are some higher forces at work that have it in for us. I honestly do. Now, before I kick off this rant, I am not implying that the world should stop for us and pander to our every need. However, some consideration that we are there to do a job would be nice. Oh, and also that we are NOT paparazzi but have actually been asked to come and do a job.
So, late yesterday night I made my way down to the O2 Arena to go and cover the band ‘Madness’. I was under no illusion that it would be that easy or difficult, considering I’ve done a couple of gigs at The Indigo. I met the PR contact, Claire (nice lass!) for my photopass & ticket. As soon as I got the details, that’s when the madness began. Since I had no idea where to go, I did the obvious thing: I asked a member of staff where I was to go. “Oh, you have to go upstairs!” ‘Go upstairs??’ Unless there’s a floating pit for us to take pictures from, why would I want to go upstairs?? Fair enough, I go upstairs and obviously I was sent to the wrong location. After going on a wild goose chase in a giant maze that is the 02 Arena which lasted nearly 15-20 minutes, I finally get to the pit only to be stopped by security that the photo-pass “ain’t the right one, mate”. Please explain to me how it’s the wrong one when there is a photocopied print out stuck on wall which indicates what pass is valid? “It’s not the right colour!” Of course it’ll be the wrong colour! The pass is yellow and what you’re looking at is a photocopy of what the real McCoy should look like!!
After that was finally cleared up, We were told that it was the usual first 3 songs, no flash. Well, that’s a given these days. The pit in question was more like a coffin to move around in and big burly security guards. Because the stage is in the middle of the auditorium, it’ll be rotating around, so you’re hoping that when the performers do come on, you’ll be at the right angle, with the right light, and within the time frame of either 1-3 songs to get the shot. Man, if Live music photographers had a Genie in the Lamp to make our wishes come true, no amount of rubbing is going to bring him out!!
The band finally comes on stage in complete darkness while the first track is going on. Since we can’t use flash, we can’t take pictures so we wait till the light really comes on, and that’s during the second track. Now, as a photographer, you have to be versatile. That’s what makes any kind of photography challenging. But it is frustrating when you have too much white light burnt into the face of the performers, the stage has rotated around by the time that you think you’ve got the shot, and when it does come around, the performers, despite performing right in front of the TV cameras on stage, point blank refuse to even acknowledge we exist. Before we realise it, the ‘3 songs’ are up and we’re told to get out. Before we could even protest that the 1st song was in darkness, a big aped sized tattooed gorilla security guard tried intimidating us to get out. Nothing personal against the guy in question, but come on!!
So, did I get the shots that were needed? Well, no. All my close up shots were out of focus because, well, it’s kind of hard to focus in the dark and I categorically do not trust Auto-focus. At least I got one shot…(after some considerable dodging on the face via photoshop!)
And this shot was taken from the top of the auditorium using me trusty old 70-200: