Despite Eric Clapton, Jackson Browne is the oldest artist I’ve shot (born in 1948). It seems as though the older the artist, the more restrictions they have for photographers capturing the event. There are a few theories for why this occurs, but the most obvious is that the publist/record label wants the artist to look marketable for the thousands to millions who might see the photographs. With higher quality cameras and monitors, it becomes more difficult to hide the reality of an image in grainy black and white images. The way the “suits” see it is the older the artist, the less flattering they look close-up, so what better way to fix this problem that to just put the photographers back farther away that might limit them to a medium or wide shot instead of a close-up. Restricting the number of songs also allows the artist less time to become sweaty and unattractive. For Eric Clapton, we photographer folk had to shoot by the soundboards for the first 2 songs only (typically the norm is 3). With Jackson Browne I was able to at least shoot from the pit, but was still limited to the first 2 songs and I also had to sign a release stating I would use the photos for press and review purposes only. Now, let me first say that most music photographers you see out there if not working for press are likely not getting paid for shooting the event. The way they make their money is primarily by selling the images to the band’s publicists, the concert promoters, or the fans. Therefore, signing these horrid documents are the last thing a photographer wants to do, but for the sake of illustration I signed it as you can see pictured below. I might note that the primary purpose that these documents exist is so that the photographer doesn’t use the photos to create bulk merchandise and profit from it. Thus, if you meet with the publicist and inform them that you work for little to nothing and selling prints with releases allows you to pay your mortgage payment, then they might be willing to let you slide without signing the release. The types of releases vary, but I’ve even seen some detailing that by signing the photographer forfeits all copyright to the publicist or record label, allowing them to profit off your images! So kids, the lesson of the day is that if you do end up signing a release, then make sure you read it very carefully and request a copy for your records. It’s one thing to give away your images, but it’s another to allow others to profit from them.
All images copyright 2009 Cody Mulcahy / Middle Gray Studios / DCF Concerts.