“With a Camera, You’re 50% There, Right?” — Kate Bush Wants to Perform for People, Not iPhones, iPads or Cameras

Ever had the feeling that being busy capturing life’s most beautiful moments one is doing the opposite, namely missing life’s most beautiful moments? Right, a photograph keeps a moment for eternity. Or so my wife always says when snapping every bit of food in a restaurant. Just don’t tag me again! Too late… Obviously camera-shy Kate Bush, grand lady of eclectic, poetic rock, has similar issues with all-too-present photography. For the first time in 35 years she’s back on a major live stage, asking fans beforehand: “It would mean a great deal to me if you would please refrain from taking photos or filming during the shows. I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras.”

“I know,” she continues, “it’s a lot to ask, but it would allow us to all share in the experience together.” Together. Saying modern-day photography disrupts the experience and separates people because they’re “not sharing together.” That’s why she has “purposefully chosen an intimate theater setting rather than a large venue or stadium.”

Photos above everything... artists hate it.
Photos above everything… artists hate it.
Refraining from iPhonemania is what most artists prefer the audience to do, not only for copyright reasons. Live gigs are about the only way left for singers, bands and musicians to make money in this day and age of piracy. Just imagine the possibilities if photographers could give live shows… Seriously, true artists perform for the soul and passion of it. Not for tiny LCD screens.

With her message to fans Bush joins a number of musicians who have either politely requested or demanded that fans refrain from viewing their performance through a tiny screen, inevitably disturbing the experience of others nearby (or at least of the few weirdos left who don’t hold an iPhone above their heads…).

Just imagine, some people have to be told explicitly to not take pictures or videos while holding up their camera phones that block other people’s view or otherwise hinder other fans concert experiences. Or its plain artist vanity, requesting to putting down cameras and phones to prevent the spread of unflattering pictures or inferior video recordings on social media.

Or take ring tones during live performances. Mozart and Haydn killed by cell phone. Search in on YouTube. Lots of videos. Cameras as a nuisance. It’s not only highly disrespectful towards the artist, it also shows there is little respect left among many people for the efforts behind creativity and art.

Prince introduced a “no photography, no video recording” rule at his gigs. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs posted a blunt message on a sign outside venues: “PUT THAT SHIT AWAY as a courtesy to the person behind you and to Nick, Karen and Brian.”

The London post-punk band Savages offer a philosophical justification: “We believe that the use of phones to film and take pictures during a gig prevents all of us from totally immersing ourselves. Let’s make this evening special. Silence your phones.”

Roger Daltrey, The Who singer, said it was “weird” to face an audience watching through a lens: “I really feel sorry for them. Looking at life through a screen and not being in the moment totally — if you’re doing that, you’re 50% there, right?”

The requests are often ignored. There are a few artists who have threatened to halt a show as a result of flashing camera lights, smartphones above heads and video recording. Neko Case is one of them. “Just put away the cameras. It isn’t going to kill you, but it might kill me,” she told an audience during a moment of frustration.”

Click here for Kate Bush’s new album 50 Words for Snow.

(via The Independent)



  • Personally I’ve witnessed photographers being sent away by the artist on the stage, because they were making noise with their clunky pro DSLRs. And I could go on shooting because my m43 camera is silent enough.
    Just an example.
    Then there are those who ask you not to take photos with cameras, but let people take pictures with their smartphones.
    Perhaps some artist prefers to “protect” the official photographer of the band and let people snap hundreds of crappy pictures.
    Then again there are musicians like Keith Jarrett who stop the concert because of camera flashes (and right now noone can take photos at him during his gigs).
    He also asked a coughing guy to leave the theater..

    I’m sorry, but I think that the “shy” reason is just an excuse.
    I understand flashes are a pain for someone performing on the stage, and people should know that smartphone flashes are useless (and photographers don’t use them).
    On the other hand times keep changing and it’s quite common to see an arena looking like a starred sky because of smartphone screens.
    Years ago people used to hold lighters. :)

    • Ahhh, those lighters, how often did I burn my fingers… Personally I despise those in the audience snapping left and right. Not only disturbs the artist. Disturbs the audience as well. Want photographs? Get a backstage pass or do what you paid for: enjoy the show.

      • As I wrote, times keep changing.. Now it’s cool to post a shot taken with an iPad (facepalm) and post it on a social place like instagram or facebook. I find it sad.
        And really annoying for those sitting behind.

        Not to mention that stupid selfie fever: you have the chance to shake hand and chat with an actor and all you think about is taking a stupid photo with him/her as if both of people are trophies. (A famous hotel in Venice has a “selfie corner” for guests and famous actors, during the incoming Film Festival..)

  • PWL

    I’m sorry many musicians feel that way. I’ve been doing live concert shooting for years, and for me, shooting IS part of the experience. I get to hear really great music and photograph–doing two things I love at the same time.

    Also, I don’t shoot to be a PITA. I shoot a lot of musicians who don’t get the recognition their talents deserve, and I want to make a record so they don’t just vanish into
    obscurity. See myself as “keeping the flame,” so to speak. And some of them have asked for, and used my photos….

    • Depends on the setting. In a more club- or bar-like environment or with indie bands playing photography is part of the gig’s charm. In organized arenas though with seat numbers and stuff, well, cameras become nuisances. Why not as an accredited photographer, problem solved. And you, PWL, shoot a Leica, the most inconspicuous of cameras. You know how to move and behave. Problem solved.