Amber Stokosa Photography | No Photographers Allowed

No Photographers Allowed

November 04, 2013  •  21 Comments

One of the worst feelings for a concert photographer is standing there with a camera hanging on your shoulder, watching a great show with great lighting, and not being able to take any photos. 

That's what happened a couple weeks ago at The Loft in Lansing.

It's a pretty intimate venue, even when at its maximum capacity of 400. It's a great place to see a show, but one of the down sides is its lighting (read about it here).

No camera policy exists at The Loft, so professional cameras are allowed. Out of the 15+ shows I've secured "credentials" for there, only one or two actually required photo passes.

Needtobreathe came through last month and I was coming out to support their opener The Wild Feathers

Usually, when the opener has media come out, the headliner agrees to let the outlet stay to cover their set as well.

Not in this case.

When I arrived I was told that if anyone was caught taking photos of needtobreathe with a professional camera they'd be kicked out.

Needless to say I was a little irritated. But it gets worse.

The lighting for The Wild Feathers' set was The Loft's typical lighting (they have no barricade and the show was packed, so I was on the "upper level" in the back of the venue):

The Wild FeathersClick to open gallery

But as soon as needtobreathe started it was evident that they brought some of their own lights. It was brighter than I've ever seen it with light yellow and white lights. Here's an iPhone shot:

needtobreatheFrom my iPhone

It really killed me! I had a chance to get some better-than-usual shots that would make both The Loft and the band look great, but I couldn't take it. And I'm a fan of needtobreathe so I wish I could have enjoyed the show a bit more.

So ultimately the point of this post is why would a band have the "no photographers" policy? Can someone please answer that for me?

The only other band I've ever heard of doing this was Maroon 5, but even they allowed house photographers.


Kristen, when I asked for photo creds for Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel), they stuck by their no photo policy. But they did offer me a press pass if I'd write a review for my website. It would have been nice to see him for free, but it would have been dishonest of me to take the pass — as my site is primarily about photography, I turned them down.

OTOH, Of Montreal were happy to have me come up and take pictures at the same venue.
Zach, the guy who grabbed you was breaking the law. It's illegal to detain you and it's also illegal to confiscate your property. Even the police aren't allowed to do that without 1st charging you with a crime, which you clearly did not commit. Head over to for a primer on the legal issues.
Oh and the wanting to control content thing... It can't be done. And so by not letting in professional cameras that would actually take nice pictures and not require the use of a flash, you have cell phone flashing going on all over the floor and horrible cell phone photos circling the internet. I don't see the logic in this.
This has happened so much to me lately, that I've found a good point and shoot that does well in low light and shoots great concert pics.. but fits into my bag. I went to a show in Albany which mixed 3 of my favorite bands... Opeth, Steven Wilson and Katatonia... and the sign outdoor says "No photography allowed for Steven Wilson"... so we can take photos of the other 2 bands.. but the band in the middle if they saw a camera, they would toss you from the building. How stupid!
I was shooting Wilco in a beautiful old venue when they came to town and they had Mavis Staples supporting. First 3 songs only for both bands... I had to stand at the back of the crowd slinging my camera whilst watching Jeff joining Mavis on stage for a romantic duet... Then I sat above the stage watching Wilco perform the rest of their set (as a guest of a friend of the band) and all the magic moments under the threat of "If I see your camera come out of your bag I will kick you out" even though their sound guy had said it'd be fine. Tour managers are often on ego trips with things like this.
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