[BTS] No.3 Photos VS The Experience

We Are Scientists, Exeter, Devon

We Are Scientists, Exeter, Devon

Late last year something random happened. I was scrolling through Facebook and an image stood out to me, it was a photo of a band I love in a pub that's in my home town. The band in question were We Are Scientists, a brilliant brilliant band who I have listened to for a long time. I was confused, what the hell are they doing here in town!? Sure enough, they added a stop on their UK tour with little notice. I looked it up, found the venue and time and I knew how I would spend the rest of my night, but now I had a question to answer...

Do I want to photograph the concert? Being a wedding photographer I quickly put together a small bag, just a DSLR and a couple of lenses, and put it by the front door, but I was in two minds. Should I try and capture some images of a band I've followed for years OR do I go empty handed and just simply enjoy the show?

I picked up my bag twice and put it down again. I don't know what rules they would have for photos or how close I could even get to the stage etc... I made my choice, I went without!

I arrived at the venue but the doors were still closed and I ended up chatting with some other fans. It turns out one of them runs a concert photography business, and he's shooting the show and telling me it should be decent access. Regret starts to sink in, I wondered if I had enough time to get back home for my bag? But I didn't, I head inside, get my hand stamped and wait for the show to begin.

The Gig

Regret phase two: I am right up front! I mean, able to touch the mic stand right up front. I would have no one blocking my view, I'm now thinking I've missed out big time! The band come out to a big applause and start the show, and what a show it was! I quickly forgot about what images I could have got, and simply just take in the performance.

Now, I couldn't not get anything, so for half a song, I got my iPhone out to get something to record this event, and the image above is the best I got. We all know that smart phones don't do well in dark spaces. The image is grainy as hell and is barely sharp on the face, but it's something. I put the camera phone back in my pocket and sang (term used loosely) the night away.

I walked away so happy, it was an amazing gig and I'll never forget it, but why do I bring this up? Because in the end I chose to experience the gig rather than shoot it. I know that if I had a camera on me I would have kept on trying to improve from the last image, and as a result miss the experience.

Guest Photography At Weddings

Later that week I'm back at the computer editing a wedding collection. An article pops up about 'unplugged' weddings, where the guests are asked not to photograph the day, but just enjoy it. It's fair to say this is often 'pushed' by wedding photographers looking to make their jobs easier (and sometimes thinking about the bride and groom).

I'm not going to say here what anyone should or shouldn't do on their wedding day, that's their choice and my job is to work within that. People want photos of the day, that's great! But what they could be missing out on is the experience (see where I'm going?).

At a recent wedding a groom's father was planning on videoing the ceremony, with this in mind I offered a tripod to place the camera in the corner of the church, leaving him hands free with no distractions. The tripod ended up slightly hindering my shooting position, BUT he got to take in the ceremony, rather than looking at the screen, and later he thanked me for that decision, which was kind.

So, to wrap this all up. If you want to take a shot, go for it. But make sure you also SEE what's happening right in front of you. Enjoy it!


Lee Maxwell is a Devon wedding photographer available for weddings across the UK and abroad, say hello.