18 February 2012

when lighting is not a blogger's best friend

I generally do not use this blog as a place to rant but reading my TGTF email gave me pause today, from a commenter named "Paul" in regards to my recent DC9 Slow Club live review:

"Mary- turn off you [sic] flash. It's rude."

I've had a look through all the photos I took that night. Of the 94 photos I took of all three bands, 5 were with flash. This comment is particularly annoying to me because I was not being annoying and using flash for every photo. What was the problem then? I can tell you the problem. DC9, due to its size, isn't large enough for professional lighting rigs. I can usually get away with no flash at the 9:30 Club (look at this Erasure live review as an example) because the lighting onstage is enough to light up the bands on stage.

I realize flash is annoying not only to the artists but also to the fans. If I didn't, I would have used flash on every photo. Did I? No. When possible, I try to use whatever lighting is available, and try to make up for it with the exposure settings on my camera. The provided lighting ALWAYS makes a photo look better compared to one with flash. I'm no expert but I've gotten some good shots over the years that I'm proud of, so I would consider myself a functional gig photographer. Provided I get to the gig early enough to be up front.

That said, I would like to point out something about the way I blog, and how blogging is done in general. There are three types of people who cover live gigs:
  • people who contribute only writing to blogs, so when they cover live gigs, they only provide a write-up
  • people who only take photos and don't do any write-up (general professional photographers, some of whom actually get paid by print or online publications)
  • people who take photos and do a write-up (very rare' some are like me and aren't using fancy SLRs, and even more rare, the folks with fancy SLRs that do awesome write-ups: not common at all)
I give as an example the photos taken by a photographer of a DC-based blog at the same show. Her photos are better than mine: that should be expected as she's a photographer and has a way fancier camera. I'm not. Peter, if you think I used my flash too much, you should bring your complaint up with her also. She also used flash but for *every* photo. I should know. Half the time she was either in front of me or near me and I tried desperately to look away from her when possible because her flash was going off. I'm not even counting any of the other fans who were there, taking photos with flash also. It happens.

I don't really care if someone doesn't like my photos. Feel free to rip on them all you want; I take photos at gigs not because I have to, it's because I like to and it's for the promotion of bands. That's what each of the three types of contributors above are trying to do.

The reason why there are better and better bands coming to DC as the years go on? It's a direct result of what we bloggers do. Have a problem with what I'm doing? Come and see me about it. But I doubt you would, would you?