There has been a lot of talk recently about photo contracts. Jason Sheldon called out Taylor Swift for her hypocrisy and photo contract. Then Washington City Paper refused to sign Foo Fighters photo contract. Norwegian photographer Jarle H. Moe wrote a great blog post about journalistic integrity as a concert photographer.
But the problem is several decades old and unfortunately only getting worse. Now, imagine a band playing at a venue where the contract stated:
- No guitars in your music please, we do not like them.
- You can only play guitars for the first 15 minutes.
- If you play guitar we have a right to confiscate them.
- You can only perform facing the audience at a 45 degree angle, that is the only angle we allow.
- The songs you play at our venue you can never play anywhere else, we have the rights to them.
- Oh and we are recording your set and have the right to do whatever we want with the recording. For free. Thanks.
No band in the world would agree to this. Why do musicians expect photographers to agree to similar terms? The same musicians who would probably by outraged by anyone trying to force the same restrictions on them. If you do not want photographers at your show, that is your right. But if you allow photographers to document the performance, do not control how we choose to shoot.
This has to stop. Musicians have to stop this censorship. We concert photographers have to stop signing these contracts. But it will probably become worse before it gets better.