Just Shoot Me

August 6th, 2010

If I pointed my camera at you, what would you do? What if you were Ashton Kutcher? What if I was Ashton Kutcher? What if I was Ashton Kutcher and pointed it at your kid? What if we pretend I’m Ashton Kutcher and you’re Demi Moore…. Sorry, what was I saying? Oh, right. In a previous post I discussed the legality and ethics of photographing regular people living their lives. But what about celebrities and the would-be famous?

I’ve photographed heavy metal rockers performing live. Point the camera at them and they will walk right up to you in the pit and freaking showboat. I also shot an emo band where the guitarist turned her back on me. I talked to the lead singer afterward. Do you want people to know about you or not? You’re only supposed to pretend not to want to be famous.

Robb Flynn of Machine Head

The same goes for visual arts. When I go to an art exhibit I take a camera with me. (I always have at least one camera on me anyway, in case of alien invasion.) If the work is interesting I’ll take a shot of nearly every piece, plus the price sheet. Usually no one bats an eye. Occasionally they take issue with it. Their response seems to be tied to the experience and sophistication of the responder.

I was taking pics at a recent 1st Thursday opening at a prestigious gallery in SF and the gallery manager said, “I’d prefer you just look at the hi-res images on our website.” I explained this was for purposes of review, and he graciously bid me continue, as well as adding me to his Press distribution list and offering to send me additional info. Spot on.

At another recent group exhibit where I was taking photos of the art an artist came over and asked, “um, are you taking photos of the art?” Duh. I responded, “yes, it’s for purpose of review.” She continued, “some artists get nervous about having their work photographed.” That conversation should have been over by now and I was getting bored. I reiterated, “it’s for purpose of review,” and kept shooting.

At another exhibit I interviewed the artists and then started shooting their work, and one of them still asked me why I was taking photos. I mean, really? It’s so I can study them while writing my review, and maybe include a shot in the article. Duh. I might also download an image from your site and use it for purpose of review. It’s called “fair use” and something the artist and curator should be happy about.

What are they afraid of? That I will sell snapshots of their work online and rob them of a sale? That I’ll take it into my studio and do it better? Or, heaven forbid, they might get famous? If you are a curator or an artist and see someone shooting your work, take it as a compliment. It probably means they like it. They may show it to other people or write about it for people who will like it enough to buy it.

Besides being an art reviewer I am also a photographer. As a matter of fact, I’ve got a group show opening at K Gallery at Rhythmix Cultural Center in Alameda next week. Please, come photograph me and my work. I will freaking showboat for you.

Michael Singman-Aste
Postdiluvian Photo

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