Concert Photography: Photo Pit Etiquette

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Be Professional

I’ve gotten to the point where I recognize other people in the photo pit but they’re usually the people I steer clear from. It’s funny how I remember people I hate, more than people I like. While I do remember the photographers who are nice enough to let me switch spots, say hi to me, or even rest their telephoto lenses on my head because I’m five feet tall (good substitute for a tri-pod!), I don’t remember these people as well as I do the unprofessional people.

I cannot stress this enough: You are in the photo pit for a reason and that is because you are working. This is a job and you are representing someone higher than you. Don’t make a mockery out of the entire situation by floundering about, doing the Bernie Dance, showing off your holy piece of fabric, chugging a beer, fist pumping, or obstructing the view of the fans who paid to watch the show.

Don’t Ruin It For The People Who Bought Tickets

Do you think you’re a badass because you have a sticky piece of fabric? Well, my five year old daughter could do that and let me tell you, she’s not the brightest bulb in the tanning bed. So why don’t you go back to night school in Mantino and learn a real trade.

Juno quotes aside, the fans standing behind the barricade paid money to watch their favorite artist perform and they got to the venue early enough to get those spots. They’re more badass than any photographer in the pit if they can manage to be front row at a sold-out show. Don’t be a douche and ruin the show for them.

Be Nice To Security

Not only should you respect the concert goers but you should also respect the security. You may encounter rude, power-trippy security guards but they’re only doing their job. Also, imagine how many assholes they must encounter day in, day out. I always greet the security, show them my pass, and thank them once they let me into the pit.

It’s important to remember that security will be saving your ass from crowd surfers! They’ll be looking out for you while your attention is faced towards the stage. So if someone is flying towards the stage and security catches the person before they land on you, not only are security guards saving your expensive equipment from possible destruction but also your life. Who wants to say they got a concussion from a teenaged crowd surfer anyway?

Lastly in regards to security, when I leave I always shake hands with security and thank them for their time. This has gotten me on good terms with many guards and some even remember me at the venues I frequent. This can work to your advantage!

Don’t Hog Spots

There’s really no point in hogging one spot in the photo pit. Getting different angles is great for variety but allowing other photographers to use your spot is a nice gesture that will most likely returned. A simple tap on the shoulder or an exchanging look is enough to do so when you usually can’t hear each other over the speakers. Most photographers really don’t have a problem with switching spots either.

No iPhones

Lord help me if I see you in the pit using your iPhone/camera phone AND wearing a photo pass. You suck as a person if you received credentials and are using an iPhone. Good luck going through life as yourself.

If I see you in a pit photographing with an iPhone, I will take a picture of you and post it to the internet.

No Flash Photography

I wrote a dedicated blog post about this. This is not only distracting but you’re showing that you have no respect for the performer if you’re willing to use a flash in their face. Read my blog post here: turn off your flash

Go to the next article in our Concert Photography Series: Tips & Tricks
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. (She's basically 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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