What I want to address today is the topic of audience etiquette related to show photography and videography. I am often hired as the professional performance photographer for dance shows. The event coordinator wants me there to capture the magic of the show, so that YOU, the audience member, are able to simply enjoy it! There is always an announcement that there is a pro photographer and/or videographer there, and it includes specific rules for the audience on photography and videography.
But time and again, I will come home to find photos and video of shows online that this announcement has been made at -- not once -- but several times. I know that with the advent of the cell phone, we now all have a camera that can take stills and video at any given time, and that the temptation to do so is great. But even though phones and tablets CAN take good photos, the quality of the pictures or video footage from these devices is bound to be lower quality than the work of a pro specifically hired for the event. This is also not necessarily how the performer wants, or has consented to be, captured. Many performers expressly ask for no video or photos from the audience, and this should be respected.
The actions of people taking photos or video can also be incredibly disruptive and or distracting to the performers, or to other audience members who are trying to follow the rules and enjoy the show. I’m sure we’ve all been stuck behind the person who is taking pictures or video with their phone or, worse, tablet, and it’s incredibly hard to see through a sea of arms raised in the air. Inappropriate use of flash photography may also create safety issues for performers and be an unwanted distraction for the audience, not to mention that it may unwittingly degrade the quality of the work of the photographer or videographer hired to record the event.
So, please… just as you wouldn’t play zils, or talk, or get up and walk around during a show, if there are specific directions given at a show regarding photography and videography, please follow them. Part of our responsibility as audience members is to be considerate of the pleasure of others, a responsibility fulfilled by quietly attentive and self-controlled behavior. Be in the moment. Put your phone away and be there with the performers to enjoy!