Shot in the Dark: Put Down Your Phones and Watch the Show

MCA BLACKIE may 11.jpg
Photo by Mark C. Austin
B L A C K I E at Free Press Summer Fest
Take a picture, they say. It'll last longer. But fans weren't always able to do that. Only in the last five years or so, with the rise of digital cameras and smartphones, has photography even been an option.

Even now, some artists insist on no photography at their shows, and a few venues still ask customers to leave even purse-size digital cameras in their car, but it happens less and less. There are just too many of them -- and people need their phones, like for emergencies and stuff -- that many places have decided they just don't need the hassle.

So you go to see your favorite band and you want something to remember them by besides a T-shirt, so you bring a digital camera or take some video on your iPhone. And you're far from alone. But why? Sometimes all those flashes and LED screens all at once make a cool visual effect, but most of the time, to those of us who are trying to just watch the band (or, perhaps, take notes for a review), it's just annoying.

SITD logo may 11.jpg
Graphic by Monica Fuentes
And pointless, we would imagine. Do people really take the time to upload all that video they take to YouTube, or to watch them on their phones later?

Considering the quality of smartphone photography and sound (good for some things, not so good in environments like a dark room with a bunch of stage lights and a loud band nearby) and especially video, why would anyone besides you want to watch that stuff?

These are the kinds of questions that keep us awake at night. Rocks Off was curious about what our professional photographers think about the sea of iPhones and point-and-shoot cameras they're confronted with each time they shoot something for us, so we asked them. We also asked them to send us one of their favorite pictures of a Houston or Texas artist they've taken in the past year or so.

If you want to see some better pictures than you can get on something that fits into your pocket, come to our Shot in the Dark photo show next Thursday, May 17, from 7 to 10 p.m. at War'Hous Visual Studios. We hope you can join us. Remember, it's free -- complimentary beverages, too, and music by DJ Elroy Boogie -- but we'd still like you to RSVP.

Mark C. Austin: It can be rather frustrating to see a sea of camera phones. Not because it gets in my way, but rather that those people should be watching the show with their eyes and concentrate less on taking some terrible photograph. You spent $150 on tickets, $40 on beer and $60 on T-shirts.

At least try to enjoy the show. If you need to try to remember the show, just get up the next morning and go to Rocks Off and get a professional recap including photos. We gotta eat too.

Location Info


War'Hous Visual Studios

4715 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: General

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Yes, stop with the picture taking already. You can't rock when you're trying to stay still.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith

If it was the Jane's Addiction show that prompted this blog - I'm right there with you.  There were a lot of people down front with me that were recording way too much.  I think it's ridiculous to record song after song onto your phone.  No one's gonna watch that!  And for sure, turn the flash off your camera!  Take a few shots then enjoy the show.  I like to take a couple of shots with my phone to send to facebook and show off to people where I am, but then I put it down and relax.

Denny Angelle
Denny Angelle

Nice comments and mostly true ... but look at Facebook. Artists are posting fans' videos and photos, not necessarily those from the pros. The grassroots aspect of it is pretty cool from the standpoint of most artists. They know, and you know: stuff shot by fans is nowhere near the professional quality stuff. So their images go on Facebook and yours appear in magazines, blogs, etc.

Yeah, it's annoying when people record entire shows on their phones but that's not the most irritating thing about Houston concertgoers ... I'd rather they tape a show quietly than keep running their mouths the whole time. 

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault