On 9th September 2012 at 11:34 Silverback wrote...
Funny article and for a few seconds, I thought you were being serous.
Ashley Battye on snapshot photography at gigs and festivals.
Oh how I love festivals. Live music, beer, late night debauchery, the wonderful scent of cannabis in the air and, now that ticket prices are so high, hideous track-suit people can't afford to get in and ruin your good time. Of course a few smelly hippies still manage to get through the gates, but in my experience their stupid dreadlocks and ridiculous ideals are no match for a sharpened stick with a bit of soap on the end.
As I'm sure you're aware, the Leeds Festival has just finished. For lots of boring grown-up reasons I wasn't able to go, but many of my friends did, and this brings me onto an issue that I wish to address: Amateur photography.
Let's start with Facebook. I don't particularly care for this social media site, and the only reason I have an account is because it's where my friends plan nights out and invite each other to various events. But this week, instead of being invited to a party or offered tickets to see Jimmy Carr, I have been bombarded with thousands of crap photographs taken at last weekend's Leeds Festival.
Professional photographers are allowed on or near the stage so that they can get an exciting action shot of Dave Ghrol screaming into the microphone or Tom DeLonge pulling a funny face, they also use a proper camera instead of a Smartphone. My friends, and most likely you, on the other hand are not professional photographers; instead you're sat four miles away from the stage on an old tablecloth having just sunk your eighth beer of the afternoon, trying to figure out how to work the app for the camera on the latest piece of tat from Apple.
I must point out that I take very few pictures of anything, yes if I see a funny sign or an enormous ginger woman fall over then I might be tempted to get the camera out, but for a concert, a wedding or a birthday party? Not a chance. I have a memory, I was there. I don't even take pictures of my son - my wife does and she sometimes sends them to me, but I can count on no hands how many times I've looked at them. I see him every day in real life, why the hell would I need a snap shot?
I know I'm not alone in my hatred of amateur photography; social media has increased the problem immeasurably, and because everyone has to have Twitter and Facebook accounts for fear of being a social outcast, we effectively have this infuriating dreariness forced upon us. Seriously, I'm really not the slightest bit interested in seeing your dog asleep, I have a dog, it sleeps all the time, and unless you went on vacation to a naked supermodel beach, I would honestly rather look at your scrotum than your holiday snaps. Your children smiling, your husband dancing, your mate being sick, your new car, your new tattoo, your lunch, your curtains, your garden, your haemorrhoids - I couldn't care less!
In many ways, music festivals bring out the best in us: We welcome strangers into our lives without mistrust, we dance, we drink, we take drugs, we throw caution to the wind and forget the tedium of work and paying the bills. But to you amateur photographers, they present an opportunity to indulge in your deluded ambition to become the next Ansel Adams. Through your eyes, the photograph you have just taken of Hayley Williams is a masterpiece good enough to grace any billboard or magazine front cover, but for all I know it could be Dawn French up there or a bunch of
unpleasant roadies setting up for OFWGKTA, whoever they are. If you had managed to get backstage and photographed Hayley in her post gig shower, then I might have been impressed, I may have even given you some money. But you didn't, and I'm not. Like everyone else, you were stood too far away, at the wrong angle, in the wrong light and with a hopeless camera. It's rubbish, and yet the rest of us have no choice but to see it.
God (evolution) gave us hands with opposable thumbs for many reasons: Shooting guns, building houses, playing Fifa on a PlayStation, holding pint glasses, rolling spliffs, punching Eric Pickles etc., but for most of us, holding a camera wasn't one of them. So please, if you are planning on going to a gig in the near future or to a festival next year then leave the camera at home, or better yet, sell the damn thing and use the money to buy something useful, like a sling shot, because you never know when you might bump into Bono and, instead of taking his picture, you could make the world a brighter place by firing something at him.