Kimmer photo: Larry Leitner

A photographer I know sent me this article and I have to tell you it is such an eye opener! As a blogger I photograph and shoot video of lots of topics. Music, Art, News, and cool stuff that I think my readers would like. I do not ever have to ask for a "photo pass". If I had to... I would go shoot a different gig.. But the plight of rock photographers is not lost on me.

Even just 3 short years ago... I would go to a gig and I would be the only person shooting pictures or video. Not now... EVERYONE has a camera on their phone! These photos are blurry and grainy at best. They may get one or two good shots out of 30 pics.

It is infuriating when I am invited to shoot a band and the house demands that I turn off my nice video camera and then I see tons of amateurs shooting video off a cell phone YUCK!!!

It is also so mean and greedy of people to swipe photos and share them on facebook as their own... I hang with a ton of photographers and all they ask is photo: credit.. Meaning just add their NAME under THEIR photos. Please read the full article.....

The Battle for Music Photography
By Paul Natkin

From early cave drawings to the digital cameras of today, civilization has been recorded. When anything happened, someone documented it, and these records have preserved history and culture for future generations.

In the 20th century, photography became a prime means of documentation. As culture became more interesting to the masses, photographers gravitated to it—it was exciting, and a lot safer than documenting wars. Music photography is seen as an exciting profession, but if we examine the monetary component, “exciting” takes on a different significance.

Today, I go to a shoot with about $20,000 worth of equipment. Another $10,000 in computer equipment waits for me at home. Most publications pay in the range of $50 to $250 per photo. Even today, shooting digital photographs, a photographer could make $150 for about seven hours work (including getting to the show early, waiting at the box office for a pass that is not always there and a few hours of computer time at home to edit, archive and email the shots). That’s a little more than fast food workers make, and Burger King purchases and insures their equipment.

In the 1950s, music photography started to become an acceptable form of journalism. A group of photographers, most prominent among them Jim Marshall, Henry Diltz, Herman Leonard and David Gahr, began establishing the standards for the art form. Given unlimited access to musicians from all genres, they created bodies of work which will never be equaled. From live concert photography to formal and informal offstage work, they set the standard for any photographer.

In the late 1970s, the music business exploded. Musicians became Rock Stars, and publications started covering them more closely, especially magazines like Rolling Stone, Circus, Hit Parade, Teen Beat, and the best of them, CREEM.

These magazines had a limitless need for photographs, and more and more photographers leaped into that black hole to supply them with images, including west coasters Neil Zlozower and Jeffrey Mayer, east coasters Ebet Roberts, Lynn Goldsmith, Roberta Bayley and Laura Levine and Midwesterners Bob Alford, Ross Marino, myself and many others.

Typically, one or more photographers would befriend the new bands and “grow” with the band as they became well known. We built up a trust that would be broken if we sold an unflattering photograph, so we didn’t do that.

Publicists were friendly, recognizing that if they gave us access, whether a photo pass to shoot the whole show or a posed photo shoot, our pictures would make the band look good, and potentially turn a two-page story into a four-page story. It was our job to make the artist look good. Our work also helped many magazines put together special photo issues, publicizing the band even more.

As the ’70s became the ’80s, many more magazines started covering popular music, including People, Us, Newsweek and Time. Rock magazines, especially Circus, started to demand a certain kind of photography (Circus publisher Gerry Rothberg stated that all photos in his magazine had to be taken with a flash, so that skin tones would be normal).

Flash opened the door for amateurs who knew very little about photography. At times, magazine photo editors would obtain a photo pass for a friend, load a roll of film into a camera, preset all the settings, tape them into place and, after a short lesson in focusing and advancing the film, send their buddy to a concert.

After the roll was used, the “photographer” would sit back and enjoy the show. He brought the camera back to the office where the editor would unload the film, have it processed, and end up with three or four usable shots.

The magazine’s bonus was that the photographer/pal knew nothing about copyright or ownership, so the magazine would have three or four photos to use multiple times, free.

Circus established a policy to “buy” one or two rolls from a photographer for $100, which yielded many photos to be used over and over.

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