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Why Can’t Photographers and Musicians Get Along?

Why Can’t Photographers and Musicians Get Along?

Musician PhotoTwo bands, less than a week apart, found themselves in the midst of heated exchanges with photographers and the photography community at large.

First, the band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus used a photograph taken of the band’s guitarist on their Facebook page. When the photographer demanded that the image be removed, the band said that he had “no legal claim as the photo is credited and not posted for a monetary gain and features our likeness and image.”

After the exchange became a heated topic on photography forums, the band eventually backpedaled but then posted a separate update that said, “We believe ALL forms of art should be FREE!” with an announcement that they were making their discography free on July 4th.

The band later amended the statement to read “We believe most forms of DIGITAL art should be FREE!”.

Just a few days later Shawn Hamm, the tour manager for the band Three Days Grace, posted on Twitter and Facebook saying that “If you’re a concert photographer, listen up! It’s BS all these “photographers trying to sue bands these days.” He went on to say that if a band uses to a photo taken of them with watermark and credit attached on social media, the photographer should be grateful that the band is promoting his work and not threaten to sue them.

He also encouraged bands to force photographers to sign waivers of rights for photographers the get access to shows.

While the two incidents have captured headlines, they are hardly the only incidents of bands trading barbs and threats with photographers.

In 2012 photographers organized a boycott of The Stone Roses after the band agreed to pay only £1 for the rights to photographer’s works. That same year Alter Bridge publicly refused to pay a photographer for his work and created a firestorm on social media.

Of course, this says nothing about the bevy of performers and events that have barred photos at their concerts including Zooey Deschanel, Prince and even the Unsound Music Festival among many others.

While there have certainly been times bands have stood up for photographers, such as The Cortege standing up for a ridiculed photographer, the climate between photographer and musician seems to be more hostile than ever.

So what happened, when did a symbiotic relationship between photographer and band so routinely turn to open blows? The answer is long and complicated but the relationship between photographer and musician has changed, likely forever, and old understandings have been thrown out the window.Continue Reading