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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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The “First Three Songs” Photo Rule Should Be Universal Concert Law
Thursday, July 24, 2014

Anyone who’s had a photo pass for a concert is extremely familiar with the phrase, “First three songs, no flash.” What this means is that photographers can be in the photo pit, taking non-flash photography pictures, for the first three songs of an artist’s set.

After going to hundreds of shows over the years, and seeing crowds filled with cell phones held high at the end of raised arms, taking copious amounts of pictures and video footage, I’d like to make the “first three songs” rule universal concert law.

Cell phone concert photographers are plentiful, and, to be blunt, they’re annoying. Not only do their outstretched arms block people’s vision of the stage, these Ernie Paniccioli wannabes are missing the entire point of going to a concert.

You go to a concert to have an experience, to enjoy a band you love, and to create a memory. The problem these people have is that they’re so busy trying to capture the moment that they don’t spend any time creating a memory to associate with it. Sure, they have a hundred pics from the concert they just went to, but, “Remember the time I held my arm up for 45 minutes” is not a good concert memory.

I totally understand wanting to have a picture to commemorate the night, but it’s important to make sure the night is something worth commemorating past “I got this picture.”

Many times when I cover shows I’m given a photo pass. I’m pretty sure it’s because when a venue is told I’m press they’d rather just give me a photo pass than go through the process of asking what kind of press I am. Regardless of the reason, I’ve found myself in numerous photo pit situations over the years, and let me tell you, the “first three songs” rule makes a show a much more enjoyable experience.

A few weeks ago I covered the Summerland Tour, and while I loved getting a few great shots of Eve 6, Soul Asylum, and Everclear, what I loved even more was knowing I had those shots, putting my camera away, and enjoying the rest of their sets as a fan in the crowd. It was a crowd which, incidentally, had far fewer cell phone photographers thanks to most everyone being in their 30s, and having attended concerts well before the advent of the cell phone, let alone the cell phone camera.

The “first three songs” rule has also been a staple of Warped Tour every year I’ve covered it, and, just like with Summerland, I get my pics of each band I’m checking out, then enjoy the rest of the show. That second part is what so many concert goers who are on an epic quest for the perfect shot are missing out on, enjoying the show.

By applying the “first three songs” rule to everyone, fans would have ample time to get a picture to remember the show by, and they’d have memories that involve more than an arm cramp, some crappy video footage with garbled audio, and being called an asshole by the person standing behind them.

Let’s get back to enjoying the concerts we go to. Put your cameras away after the first three songs. There’s a show going on up there, and you’ve been missing it!

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