There’s nothing more annoying to me than flash photography at concerts and theaters.
Venues do their bit to announce that “Flash photography is forbidden” but it’s as if this just reminds all the douches in the audience that they have cameras, which they should immediately pull out and set to “Flash Auto”.
What these inconsiderate fools don’t realize is that the flash on their iPhone or Cybershot has a range of maybe 5-10 meters tops, and it is not going to illuminate the stage of Madison Square Garden from the back of the mezzanine, no matter how many times they try. The best chance of them getting a decent picture is if they turn off the flash, bump up the ISO, and stop bothering everyone around them. Perhaps the venue announcement could say “The secret to good photos is to turn off your flash.”
You just know that for every good photo you see on Flickr, there are thousands of terrible ones, completely black with a few overexposed heads, and possible a few people who were given epileptic fits without even a good photo to show for it.
Event organizers know they can’t realistically ask everyone to leave their cellphone cameras at home, but heaven help anyone who brings a DSLR to an event. You’d have better luck bringing a concealed weapon into a theater than a telephoto lens. Yet what people fail to realize is that DSLRs are hardly annoying anyone. People using DSLRs generally know how to turn off their flashes and beeps, and they look through a dark viewfinder instead of a bright LCD screen.
Event organizers are a funny lot really, because their attempts to stop photography at events are completely futile. They just can’t stop huge crowds. And it’s about to get worse.
At this week’s CES 2011, Lady Gaga and Polaroid showed the GL20 glasses – glasses which can take photos. They’re not exactly subtle, but imagine where this technology will be in a year or two. Normal looking glasses that record everything you see? Cameras in your earrings?
Want to film the crazy person on the sidewalk, but don’t want them to see you reaching for your camera? No longer a concern in the future. Just look at them, then walk around the corner, pull out your mobile phone, use Bluetooth to grab the last 30 seconds of video, crop out the funny part and tap “Upload to Facebook.”
Once it’s impossible to tell who is using a camera, event organizers may as well embrace the fact that people will be recording all the time. Use the free publicity, and realize that their market has been, and always will be, those people who actually value being there even if they can see a video of last night’s event on the Internet.
But if organizers want to stop people using their flashes, the answer to me is simple. The announcement when you arrive should be, “We have a professional photographer here, and you can download her photos and videos for free afterwards if you want to remember the show.” I’d certainly pack my camera away if I knew that.
I look forward to the day that everything we see is automatically recorded, so that we always have the truth in case of a dispute, and the ability to share interesting experiences we would’ve otherwise missed capturing. But most of all, if we knew everything could be seen later anyway, we’d actually sit back and enjoy the experience, and not be constantly fiddling with our cameras.