Bold Concert Photographer Criticized for His Disruption, But the Results are Impressive

The argument over whether or not to use a flash when shooting a live concert comes down to two distinct issues, one technical and the other ethical. On the one hand, using a flash in a low light setting gives you a tremendous advantage over your environment for capturing quality shots. On the other, there’s the knowledge that the flash is distracting and annoying, to the performers and audience members alike. As a live music photographer myself, I’m of the opinion that the ethical question is the more important one and that this guys’s doing it all wrong:

To be fair, the band—Sleeper Effect—asked photographer Aelle Lucà to shoot this gig, and Lucà asked them up front if his technique would get in their way. The band gave him free reign to do as he pleased, and that’s exactly what he did. Sleeper Effect and Luca are both very pleased with the results, and scores of photographers came to his defense, pointing to the photographs themselves as proof Lucà is legit.

But at least one person in the audience was annoyed enough to shoot this video and post it on YouTube with the title “How not to be a photographer at a gig.” And it seems that for each person who praises the photographs, there’s another who thinks that shouldn’t matter, and that the band did a disservice to the few fans who showed up by allowing it to happen in the first place. Take a look at some of Lucà’s photos from the gig, linked from his website below, and let us know what you think. Was it worth it?

Aelle Lucà Sleeper Effect

Aelle Lucà Sleeper Effect

Aelle Lucà Sleeper Effect

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10 Comments

  1. Fred says:

    “using a flash in a low light setting gives you a tremendous advantage over your environment for capturing quality shots”

    No it doesn’t. It just ruins the stage lighting, which is most of what’s interesting about shooting a concert. The only thing you couldn’t get w/o the flash is the last shot which gets the motion blur and freezes the shot at flash time. A shot I think stinks but that’s a personal preference. The others ? Try getting a faster lens and not annoying everyone else present.

    On the photographer, what an a-hole. I don’t care what the band told him, that is totally unprofessional. What is annoying isn’t just the flash it’s where he is standing and his movement.. You could never get away with that sh$t at a “real” concert.

  2. Weegee says:

    I like it. I have been blending flash and ambient for quite some and it works well but it is pretty tricky to master.

    You gotta lot of rules fred. I don’t like rules.

  3. Jessica says:

    I think that it needs to be looked at from a situational standpoint. If that photography style is what the band requested, and the photographer was hired by the band to get those shots, then that photographer was working in a perfectly professional manner. Whether the BAND chose to be professional in what they had hired the photographer to provide them with and had agreed to with prior warning by the photographer of what it would involve is an entirely different story. The fact is when you are at a paid gig you are there to please the client, not the crowd. And, not to split hairs, but this was obviously a small gig (perhaps, one might guess, without an entrance fee for those in the audience?) and was likely chosen because of those factors. Who knows.

    As for the shots, they are decent promo shots for an unsigned band. I wouldn’t say that they are technically fantastic, but they get the job done and it sounds as if the clients were more than pleased.

  4. Tanja says:

    I have shot plenty small gigs from musician friends, and since I made the switch to digital I stopped using flash. First of all, as commenter Fred already pointed out before me, it totally ruins the atmosphere. Taking pictures at a concert for me is not so much about getting hundred percent sharp images of my friends – if I want that I take them in the studio or in daylight. It’s about capturing the scene and the atmosphere of it, and if there’s a little movement visible on my pictures that’s just part of it. (I do always make sure, though, that the shutter speed is always short enough that *I* am not adding to that movement.)
    Second of all, one of the huge advantages of digital photography is that you can take as many shots as you like without spending any money. For me, in a concert shooting that means, keeping the finger on the release till the camera buffer is full and it stops taking pictures. Which makes it way easier to get good shots of somebody singing, or playing a wind instrument. So, no, I can’t say I like the results, and I don’t see how they were worth making everybody mad.

  5. Sarah says:

    The photographer did what the band requested with their permission. Anyone who is critical can stay home.

  6. David says:

    If someone find these results “impressive”, then they really should stay home! Like there’s only 3 photographs shown, i suppose they are his “best” shots.
    Anyway, being an ashole with your flash is something, but his position too and general attitude. I guess nobody saw something decent of that “concert”.
    But at the same time, if you get paid for and get the white card to shoot at your taste… why not! Not sure if you ever would get such an opportunity to be a paid ashole :-) Wouldn’t you make use of this opportunity ?

  7. Don says:

    I don’t usually comment on this type of photography, however, I could not pass this one up! 1. Totally wrong, if the “band” wanted shots for ad work, what would have been wrong with having the shot done during the final dress rehearsal? All the stage lighting and moves should have been finalized by then and you would not have risked upsetting your few fans. 2. Photography wise, I guess 2 out of the 3 posted might be OK. Again, doing them before the show would have been more in line with keeping the fans happy, and they are ones the band is counting on to pay the bills!

  8. Impressive results? Is this a nome? These are terrible shots, flash kills all the ambient lights and he annoyed the people who attended the gig with his behaviour, which is something a real music photographer should never do

  9. Dave Eagle says:

    As the writer of this post, I’m going on record to say that I didn’t write the title. I didn’t want to make this post a preachy “This Is How It’s Done” kind of thing, so I tried to present both sides of the issue and get people talking. Still, you’ll notice that in the body of what I wrote, I do say that the photographer is “doing it all wrong.” The original title of the post was just an open ended question: Photographer Ruins the Concert for Everyone—Or Does He?

    I’ve been shooting live music for 20 years and have NEVER used a flash, even when I could only afford 2 rolls of film and every frame was precious. The photos are lifeless and flat, and I think the band disrespected the handful of people who even knew who they are. For the record.

  10. Kevan Stuart says:

    I don’t normally get involved in these sorts of things, but I had to mention that where I’m from (South Africa), the live music venues seem to have a competition to see who can have the worst lighting for photography. And that just plain sucks for everyone!

    Now, personally I don’t use the flash, but I can understand why someone would in SA.

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