Photo Pit Etiquette
So there are some unspoken rules of the photo pit, and this is mostly intended for newer photographers who might not know. Some of these are more obvious, some of them are less obvious. Basically, the golden rule of working in a photo pit is don't be a jerk. The second rule, silver rule, is to respect everybody. Respect security, respect the rules, and overall, I feel everyone is equal the photo pit. There is no place for judging someone based on their camera, what they wear, if they're dancing, if they have a photo pass, it means that the publicist has approved them, they have the same access as you, they have the same level of clearance and someone thought it was a great idea for them to be in the pit, just like you. So, again, don't be a jerk, don't judge people. Judge people on their images, not on if they're shooting even with an iPad, because they're there with a purpose, seemingly. Other elements we'll cover will be behavior, movement and space, hail mary's, and using a flash in...
the photo pit. You have to respect the security, the fans, and your fellow photographers. This is kind of a golden rule, and it's gonna serve you well, because people want to work with people if they're easy to work with, they're gonna want to give you more access if you're obeying the rules. The momentyou're stepping out of line, not respecting others, is when you're gonna get flagged, you could get pulled out of the photo pit, you could even get the entire photo pit cleared if you're being disruptive. Rule of thumb: be respectful to every single person. You don't know who the tour photographer is going to be, or who might know who, and you know, music photography and the music industry in general is very small, so respect everyone under the assumption that maybe they can do a you a favor in the future. Second rule, mind your gear. Being that the photo pit is often a narrow space where you're not going to have a lot of room to move around, you don't want to enter it with a big, bulky backpack, or cameras that are on really long straps where they're swinging all over the place. You want to be able to keep your gear as close to your body as possible, to shoot with the smallest footprint possible. You know, keeping camera straps is one way to do that. Moving and holding your cameras is another. Third point, the courtesy tap. Simply tapping someone on the shoulder, or on the middle of the back, if you need to get by them, will let them know, without being too disruptive, that you need to pass, as opposed to just barreling by, bumping their camera, getting in their shots. Just take a minute to assess your surroundings, know who's around you, tap them if you need to get by, and move when the timing is right. This relates to the second point, stash your backpack. When you have limited space, you don't want to be moving with a huge backpack in the pit. You should have all your camera gear on your person, as much as possible. If you need to use a sling or something, where you can have the camera bag in front of you, that's better, because obviously if you're shooting in this position, you're not taking up additional room front and back with your lens projecting in your front, and the backpack behind you. So simply stashing your backpack, getting all your lenses that you need out, is going to be ideal. If you need to stash your backpack off to the side of the stage and you can't carry everything you need to at the time, just make a trip to the side of the stage, change lenses if you want to, and then come back to the action. Shoot or get out of the way, this one is pretty self-explanatory. There's gonna be a limited time, limited space, get your shot, and if you're not shooting, if the spirit moves you to dance, if you just want to take in the show, it's your favorite artist, just move to the side, move to the back of the pit, if it's a festival and there's space. But don't stand in the prime spots, don't just stand there kind of looking at the band. Be there with a purpose, and if you're not shooting, move out of the way. Move with purpose. If you're moving, move conscientiously, move with respect, move politely so you're not hitting people, you're not getting in someone's way. Just overall be mindful, be respectful. Now, the use of hail mary's, or holding your camera above your head to get that shot. Let's say you're shooting with a wide angle lens, or a fisheye, or the stage is tall. Sure, sometimes we've all done that, you need to get a shot, you need to get above somebody, but it's really disrespectful to do that at the front of the photo pit, when you're getting in someone's way potentially, and certainly if your MO is to do this constantly, if you're not looking through the viewfinder at all, you might be doing something wrong. You might rethink the way you photograph a concert, and if you must do this, move to the back of the pit, to the side of the pit, so that if you're raising your camera above your head, you're not blocking someone's shot. Because I think any music photographer who's photographed shows knows how disruptive this can be, so it all goes back to that number one rule of being respectful, to your fellow photographers in this instance. And also to the fans, if you're constantly putting your camera up, you're blocking someone's view, whether it's a photographer's or fan's, so just try to do it as minimally as possible. Along the same lines, if shooting with a speed light on your camera, again, for the most part, three songs, no flash, you're not gonna be using flash in the photo pit unless you have special access. And even then, if you're a tour photographer, just take your flash off, because it's gonna add that six or eight inches of height above you, and it's gonna block someone's view, especially if you're a taller photographer. So, be mindful, be respectful, take your camera flash off if you're not using it, and stow it in your bag. And everyone else will thank you for it. This tip: when in doubt, wear black. Music photographers, kind of famously, or humorously, wear all black. And it just goes back to a notion of stage black, and this is if you've noticed at a concert, all the roadies, the guitar techs, the stage hands, they're wearing black, and that is to minimize and reduce their visibility for a show. You know, if you're working a show, you're part of the crew, you're part of the press, even if you're just a photographer, you want to be as discreet as possible, and wearing black is simply a way that can help accomplish that. It's not going to distract the artist, it's not distracting the fans if you're moving in front of 'em, and especially if you're a tour photographer, or have all access, you're not on stage wearing, you know, dayglow yellow or a white t-shirt and really standing out. You're gonna be discreet, you're gonna blend into the shadows, and just not be part of the show. So, wearing black, music photographers, just do it.