Friday, April 2, 2010

MY BANNED PHOTOGRAPHY!


All photographs (C) 2010 Heather Harris. All Rights Reserved.

One of Retrokimmer's great historians of the Detroit/Ann Arbor area's regional rock legacy, Big Rich Dorris wrote of sitting out a dream bill of terrific Michigan acts (excepting the MC4) to photograph locals because "no cameras were allowed so I stayed in the lobby." This is why most of the music photographers who started out four decades ago when I did simply have stopped doing it: no artist wants a noose ever-tightening around their neck until you're strangled as a job requirement. Nowadays, if you're not the official band photog, you're not allowed to shoot a whole show: even Associated Press is subjected to a two or three song maximum.

What a world- great performances onstage and no cameras allowed at events which are hardly the rarefied sanctums
of, say, theatrical plays, requiring reverent silence and non-disturbance for any enjoyment whatsoever. As for disruptive potential, no one ever even remembers me there shooting. When did commemorating raucous rock for posterity become damage control, and why did cameras become equated with machete knives and other weaponry insofar as concert-goers are searched for both upon entry?

Actually, it began in the early 1970s with British managers and minders banning onstage photography so that a) only their own hired hands' shots would exist for editing and b) to launch the artificial frenzy of restricted access that paparazzi so highlight amongst celebs. Yes, spin control works this way: Ronald Reagan's presidential handlers created the "POTUS emerging from the landing helicopter press conference" specifically so that press they deemed unfriendly would have to shout their questions and sound foolish or be unheard (ignored) altogether. This lesson in P.R. is taught in universities now.


Above is Mick Hucknall of Simply Red in the early '90s disproving claims that he's not a singer of grand exertion onstage; in fact, he's sweating up a storm which makes this back-lit silhouette photo far more interesting graphically. But this shot couldn't have been taken before the three song limit expired.







To the left is Wendy James and her band Trans-vision Vamp in the late '80s taking a break on the set of an American network broadcast television show I had been assigned/hired/authorized to shoot. They were all decked out in their "iggy and the stooges" post-punk finery, but before I could pipe up that I had photographed the originals, their minders banned me from their personal image-mongering.


To the right is Mary Kay, then of (Motley Crue's) Emi Canyn-led female metal-ers She Rok alongside Jessica Hahn, then of smokin' hot evangelical scandal, at the filming of Penelope Spheeris' film "Thunder and Mud" (the one just before her breakthrough "Wayne's World." Somehow it doesn't tend to show up on her filmographies.) This is one of the few times I conspired to set up a shot, which I deemed okay since I had given Mary the "Bad Influence" shirt from Nashville in which she claims credit for leading Jessica to a Road to Ruin. I was authorized by the band and the production to be there and shoot them but days later the P.R. company representatives harangued me about same with many an implied threat. So I had a moral choice: sell this photo for big bucks of a person who was very much in the tabloids with her purported scandal and possibly get my friend who had secured my authorization to be there in the first place fired from her band, or dump the then timely snap. Answer: this is the first time this photograph has been seen in public, almost two decades after I took it.

10 comments:

RetroKimmer said...

This may explain why the agressivemess of the paparazzi has stepped up so much in the last 2 decades. You ever cordial and polite not wisaing to ffend, this new breed of photography has taken all the fun and spontaneity not to mention creativity out of shooting rock n rolls bands. They block more talented photographers to support the hand picked versions. That's why I want to create my own events then shoot whatever the heck I want. I love having many photographers because you have so many more opportunities for a wide selection fantastic shots. EGO destroys so many creative people. I have always avoided celebrity wrangling for that same reason. Great post loved it.
RK

D R Y B A B Y said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fast Film said...

I'm glad people now use the word "paparazzi" for this kind of picture-taking now instead of "photographer." Did you know the etymology of the former word? It's from a character in a Fellini movie, who obviously was one!

I saw someone taking pix of Mike Watt and His Secondmen where he spent the whole gig setting off full-on flash in Watt's face not 2 feet away from him. Why would he do that to and blind a musician he admired? I, on the other hand, bounced the flash off the ceiling of this dimly lit stage, and I probably got better pix for it too.

Fast Film said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deniz said...

Dear H,
I respect and admire your integrity. Thanks for posting this commentary and the photos. I dont comment often but this struck a note.
Sincerely, D

Fast Film said...

Thanks Deniz, that means something coming from you, who've seen so much...

C R Y B A B Y said...

it looks like D R Y B A B Y has an axe to grind. An entire website devoted to slagging Wendy? Did she rebuff his advances? Steal his money? Steal his cover art? BTW, photos 'time-code' can be faked.

Seems like a jealous tool to me. Get a life, other than this one, that is.

Fast Film said...

Here's another accurate appraisal that the emperor is unclad from a music photography pro, summer 2011:
http://www.onlinedigitalpubs.com/display_article.php?id=765378

Fast Film said...

Despite my fervent belief in freedom of the press, I finally deleted Drybaby's comments that could have fomented litigation against yours truly as well as this embittered soul... A respected British journalist friend found out the hard way that one can be sued for someone else's comments!

Fast Film said...

Lastly, RK you are so right about press photography and even its "management." Many times I've made arrangements to give a band a few photos in exchange for being at a desirable-to-shoot show. You would think all management would see this as win-win, particularly with a bevy of photographers present.

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