Actually, the Seaport Music Festival Requires Photo Passes

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I want to make it very clear to any aspiring/established photographers that in order to photograph a show during one the Seaport Music Festival, one must be credentialed with a photo pass. Now it may sound as if I’m responding to something, and I am. I received an email today insinuating that photo passes are not necessary for these Seaport shows and that photo passes are “stupid.” No, no. That is not the case. How wrong you are dear sir.

Photo by Cory Smith
Photo by Cory Smith
I think my biggest gripe with this comment is that I know how important being given a photo pass is for concert photographers. First, it gives you the ability to go into a venue that most likely has a ban on DSLR cameras. Secondly, having access to the photo pit is probably the best thing for a concert photographer behind ideal lighting. The photo pit has no fans in it. It’s empty and most times large enough to allow a plethora of photographers to walk around enabling them the chance to experiment with angles and perspectives that you wouldn’t be able to get from anywhere else in the venue. And my own personal reason for understanding the importance of a photo pass is that it proves that whoever granted you that sticky little piece of fabric trusts you and your ability to create compelling images in a timespan of about nine minutes, and under unpredictable circumstances.

So no, I don’t think photo passes are stupid. They allow us concert photographers the chance to record a moment in time, maximizing our own creative perspectives, for a discipline in photography that I think is very undervalued. Moreover any outlet that wants the best coverage of a show should put in the effort of writing up an email to get their reviewer a photo pass should they desire it and/or have the equipment to do so.

“They allow us concert photographers the chance to record a moment in time, maximizing our own creative perspectives, for a discipline in photography that I think is very undervalued.”

It’s also worth noting that the space between the stage and the audience in this photo is pretty freaking big. Security guards exist for a reason. Not any Tom, Dick and Harry can waltz on in there, otherwise the barricade wouldn’t be there in the first place. (Go attend a show at Bowery Ballroom if that’s the case.) So unless your reviewer/photographer (who has no photo credentials) brought a zoom lens with them, good luck getting decent photos from that far back. Also I hope that person is either front row or tall enough to not be blocked by other concert-goers. But then again, who can debate the power in an iPhone’s zoom capability.

Just because a show is free, it does not mean that photo passes are any less important or not worth the effort of obtaining.

Follow Nancy Hoang:

Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (Basically, she's a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.

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