Back in the day, we had to get accredited to take a camera into a concert. We’d wear our dorky press passes around our necks and lug any amount of gear into the arena, entering through a door reserved for VIPs.
We weren’t VIPs. We definitely weren’t revered as the gods and goddesses we thought we were. Most of the time, we were treated like crap by roadies, band managers and security.
We were allowed to stand at the front of the stage. In a small town — where you’re shooting Great Big Sea before anyone knew who they were — you’re the only shooter, no competition, no jostling for spots and angles. In the big show, you see your buddy from the other paper — er, at least when there was still two papers in town — and roll your eyes at each other because Hootie & the Blowfish was so friggin’ lame.
We were given three songs, and three songs only to shoot. No flash. That’s tough with entry-level gear and pushing 400 ISO film to 3200 to get the best light possible.
Some bands were better than others, playing for the camera. Then there was that one guy whose work I stopped listening to for a while. He was as boring as all get out right up until I stowed my camera and took my seat to enjoy the rest of the show.
Then he lit up like a stick of dynamite and I swear he even smirked at me once, gloating that I never got the perfect shot.
(He’s since left the hit Canadian band, which recorded the theme song for one of my favorite sitcoms.)
Meanwhile, the common folks went through security checks, watching as any recorded device was confiscated. You were lucky if they still let you in. Luckier if they let you pick up your camera at the end of the night. Luckier still if it was there waiting for you.
It all seems like an entire lifetime ago. I have no idea what it’s like to be a newspaper shooter now. I got pitched from the business 10 years ago this June and it’s even longer since I did any general news or entertainment reporting.
Do it your way
Today, everyone carries a recording device with him wherever he goes.
Many of us see concerts through the screens of our phones as we attempt to get that one shot.
We record video and upload it to YouTube, free of penalty.
We scroll through our galleries and post it all on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
I write this not to admonish anyone for participating. You might think this was going to turn into a good, old days lecture to put your camera away and enjoy the show.
Nope. I’m guilty. Guilty of it all. Even selfies. Especially selfies!
Whether it’s the former journalist who feels the need to keep recording history or the jerk who has to show off how close her seats were, I take pictures and video.
And encourage you to do so.
You get to be the gatekeeper of your memories now, instead of waiting until tomorrow to see someone else’s grainy shots in the paper the next day.
(Small caveat: digital cameras are so good now, you don’t get any grain from pushing the ISO.)
You get to hold onto those moments and put them in your own version of a digital scrapbook, whatever platform that may be.
You get to have the One Shot.
(Seriously, the pictures I took last night with my phone are better than I could ever do with the crappy lenses I had for my Nikon F back in the day.)