Famed Music Producer Responds to Photography Community Backlash

Famed Music Producer Responds to Photography Community Backlash

A few days ago I covered a story here on Fstoppers about an online altercation between a massively popular music producer, Diplo, and a Canadian based photography collective under the name of Visualbass. Diplo has recently stepped forward and has made a statement on Fstoppers about the incident.

After the article was posted it was met with the ire of concert photographers in the industry. Diplo came forward on the post and made himself available to any questions that our readers may have had. Below is a direct quote with his general response to the article.

Photo by: David Graff Photo by: David Graff

 

 

"i couldn't figure out how to post under neath the questions…

but i want to say I understand this is awkward and i have no disrespect to photographers, i created a book with an amazing photographer 2 years ago… http://www.amazon.com/128-Beat... (@shanemccauley)

I've built many relationships with great photographers and video directors and I take pride in my photography as we..

its awkward to discuss this online but i didn't crop out the photo on purpose.

my instagram is run some time by mgmt, we posted over 1000 pics on my IG an sometime they aren't credited.. some are just JPGS.. my instagram is not a credible source of information its more of a tumblr page ..

but when the photographer attacked me online ( this photographer ..he has my email .. he sent pics to me before)..

but to attack me online to create a lil buzz for himself.. its unprofessional. i could shave resolved it immediately but for him to call me names online , i just took it down, i didn't try and do anything maliocuos. i know about artists. at the end of the day i consider myself a visual artist first…u may not believe but thats how i started .. but when people tell me a pit photographer made me where i am today that just ridiculous. i have lots of photographers on payroll for shows .. live DJ photography is a lot different then a fine art fashion or digital editing in my opinion..

for people to tell me i owe him my career i could care less if you like me or not.. its obvious that u have made your mind up. .i didn't come here to be attacked i came to make music that i love. this side of it is not interesting to me at all. i t would shave been resolved quickly if he just contacted me directly, i don't know where most of these photos come from at this point , many times they are just google images with the watermarks already cut out!
at least 5 photographers u posted in this article have my contacts and i know them and have requested more work from them.. but not visual bass.. if anyone on this site would like to photograph our parties in toronto next year that would be nice too.. just don't go round calling us assholes it hurts our feelings..

& those of you posting that DJs are worthless.. i feel u.. but lets just be honest what more boring then photographing a DJ.. probably nothing.. maybe a plant?

but yes I'm proud of my job and my art i hope one day u check it out beyond this controversy" - Thomas Wesley Pentz (DIPLO)

 

 

Photo by: DKOphotography Photo by: DKOphotography

Along with the general quote he also responded to a few questions that our readers had.

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Photo by: Tyler Hill Photo by: Tyler Hill

 

I want to first point out that the fact that Diplo took the time to respond is incredible. Usually when artists face negative press their PR teams automatically take over and the artist is told to stay silent and not comment hoping that the whole issue will blow over. Diplo did not take that route, and that in itself deserves a little respect. I also want to point out that he recently had a death in the family, so taking the time to respond during a difficult time just shows how much he cares about his career and public image. Kudos to you Diplo for that.

 

I am going to break down his general response and reply with my own opinions on the matter.

 

"my instagram is run some time by mgmt, we posted over 1000 pics on my IG an sometime they aren't credited.. some are just JPGS.. my instagram is not a credible source of information its more of a tumblr page .." -Diplo

I think the free use of images on social media is a huge misconception with not just artists, but people in general. Whether the photo is a JPG, PNG or RAW is irrelevant. I'm going to assume that when he says JPG (JPEG) he means simple snapshots. Regardless if an image is a quick snapshot or a photograph with full production behind it doesn't give anyone the right to take that image and use it without proper credit or license agreements. It's this type (and I hate to say it) ignorance that is a huge problem in this new age of digital photography. I'm not saying that Diplo himself is ignorant (on the contrary), but many people just don't understand how image copyrights or the idea of fair usage works. Although, I will say that his management team should know better. That's their job, after all.

 

Photo by: Chris Sullivan Photo by: Chris Sullivan

 

"but to attack me online to create a lil buzz for himself.. its unprofessional. i could shave resolved it immediately but for him to call me names online , i just took it down, i didn’t try and do anything maliocuos [malicious]."- Diplo

I don't think Visualbass made his initial tweet as a scheme to get more attention to his name. No, I think like a lot of concert photographers, after seeing his work used without credit, was just frustrated. Wouldn't you be after working in the industry for over ten years and having artists constantly stealing your work (whether intentional or not) to promote themselves? I do agree though that after the initial response from Diplo whether it was pleasant or not should have been handled at that point privately through an email to his management team. At least that's how I (and most concert photographers) would have handled it. The fact that this did get as much attention in the media was not because of Visualbass's comments, but Diplo's himself.

 

"but when people tell me a pit photographer made me where i am today that just ridiculous." - Diplo

Before I say my opinion on this statement from Diplo, let me first explain what he means by "pit photographer". Unlike other photographers of other genres of music, EDM (electronic dance music) photographers work a little differently. Just as in normal concert photography you have house, venue, and artist photographers, but with EDM photography if you hold one of these positions you normally get more access to the artists. EDM photographers are not usually stuck in the pit unless you are shooting for press or the artist has strict rules. Most concert photographers are stuck shooting from the photography pit of a venue no matter what position they hold, because of the nature of the show. We as EDM photographers have a lot more freedom to move around the stage and can get very close to an artist while they are preforming. That's one of the reasons why I love shooting EDM. That freedom allows for some amazing imagery of the event. Like the photo below.

 

 

I'm going to assume that he's referring to a press photographer, as Visualbass was at the particular show Diplo is referring to. In the hierarchy of EDM photographers, press photographers usually get the least amount of access. Only a few people caught on this in the original article, but in Visualbass's comment he admits to sneaking in backstage to get the shots.

"I was given a media pass at the gate but not a AAA [All Access] pass and there was no contract of any sort to sign when I got the pass. I was able to go into the media pit and everywhere else but NOT BACK STAGE, but I snuck back there anyways because I had a lot of friends who are artists and I just wanted to say hi.” – Tobias Wang (owner/photographer Visualbass)

I can tell you and hopefully speak for other professional photographers in this industry that behavior like this is deeply frowned upon. We are given certain access because we are hired to do a job and when another photographer or any person for that matter sneaks onto the stage it can become pretty frustrating if not dangerous for both us, the stage personnel (like the stage manager) and to the artist, as well. So, I can understand Diplo's irritation, but while I in no way think we are directly responsible for his success, we are the ones responsible for making him look as good as he does and for keeping his visual image in the spotlight. I mean, that is after all our job.

 

Photo by: Max Kaplan Photo by: Max Kaplan

 

"live DJ photography is a lot different then a fine art fashion or digital editing in my opinion.."- Diplo

How so? This comment honestly makes me a little sad. So, is Diplo trying to say that the type of work concert photographers do is worth less than a fine art fashion photographer or retoucher's? Why? Because it's over saturated? So is retouching. Heck so are all aspects of photography. Because he assumes that the amount of work behind concert photography is less? I am both a respected commercial photographer in my area and an EDM (electronic dance music) photographer. I am proud of both aspects of my work. Concert photography is hard. People assume that it's easy, when in fact you have to be on top of your game and shoot from the hip under some of the most undesirable lighting conditions not to mention work with a wide range of personalities. Just because the industry and non-professional concert photographers undervalue our work (which is pathetic) does not negate the work that we do. I'd like to have any EDM artist try to tell that to Rukes who is an EDM photography industry leader. Then again, Diplo has the right to his opinion.

 

Photo by: Steve Pham Photo by: Steve Pham

 

"at least 5 photographers u posted in this article have my contacts and i know them and have requested more work from them.. but not visual bass.. if anyone on this site would like to photograph our parties in toronto next year that would be nice too.. just don’t go round calling us assholes it hurts our feelings.." -Diplo

Every photograph that was posted in the original article and in this article was submitted by members of the EDM Photographers group on Facebook. I created that group back in February of 2013. Honestly I created the group on a whim for local EDM photographers in my area to come and chat. I never in a million years thought it would be as successful as it is today. Within a matter of weeks after I created the group we had some of the best in the industry join from across the globe. In my career of being a professional photographer I have two things that I am particularly proud of; first being a contributor here at Fstoppers and second for running the EDM Photographers group. We have a strict screening policy that potential members have to go through before being accepted to ensure not only that everyone there is an EDM photographer or videographer, but to make sure that we have the best of the best there. We are ridiculously active and have come together as a tight-knit community. We are an online family. We respect one another and we support one another. We also have a sister group just to cater to EDM Filmmakers.

It was the group that tipped me off to this story. It wasn't the fact that a photographer didn't get credited, we're unfortunately used to that by now, but it was Diplo's tone in his tweets that caught us off guard. Yeah we were like, "what the hell" at first, but once we caught wind of the fact that Visualbass was selling mass prints of Diplo our concerns switched to the legalities of selling prints. For the most part we don't call artists "assholes", we know that we have to deal with some very strong personalities in the EDM industry and we make due just fine for the most part. By the way Diplo by not crediting us, you're kind of hurting our feelings, as well.

Photo by: Scott Roth Photo by: Scott Roth

"& those of you posting that DJs are worthless.. i feel u.. but lets just be honest what more boring then photographing a DJ.. probably nothing.. maybe a plant?"- Diplo

Oh come on now, Diplo. I don't know whether to take this a simple attempt at poking fun of yourself or saying that what we do is boring. Surely he's just being facetious and not ornery. Diplo if there is one artist in the EDM scene that is boring to shoot it certainly isn't you. Major Lazer is one of the most awesomely-insane shows I have ever had the pleasure to shoot, and I got the pleasure to shoot them twice! I would love to shoot them again, because they keep me on my toes as a photographer and are all over the place to the point that it can be disorientating. By the end of the show you're exhausted! I will be the first to admit, shooting a Major Lazer show is an experience.

Photo by: David  J. Miller Photo by: David J. Miller

I want to end this article with a huge thank you to Diplo, no matter your opinions based on us concert photographers. The fact that you took the time to address this controversy says a ton about you. I hope that after this incident that you can see our work as more than just some guy/girl hitting a button on a camera and that you will see the worth in the services that we provide to you. I hope in the future that you treat us with the same respect that we treat you. If you are ever in need of our services (we have over 300 members in the group) let me know and I will connect you to not just a photographer or videographer, but a true professional.

Rebecca@EDMphotographers.com OR Rebecca@Fstoppers.com

-Rebecca Britt
Staff Writer for Fstoppers.com
Owner/Admin EDM Photographers

All images used with permission.

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89 Comments

Wow, that was great to see Diplo respond like that. Respect is a two-way street, especially between artists.

- Joe

Randy Curtis jr's picture

WhaAaAA you agree? Hows that different from a makeup artist ,model and other team members collaborating ? Who owns that image

Kayzar Bhathawalla's picture

I don't know how it works in the US, but in Australia, the law is pretty clear. If you press the button, you own the image. Unless you sign the rights away in a contract, including an employment contract.

Who used the other person's work without permission first? In this case it's a one way street.

There is an argument to be made that the photo in question was a collaboration since the image maker is using the performance of the other to create the image. I think this is where the confusion lies. Both sides assumed some level of ownership.

Bob Bell's picture

Yeah, Kudos to Diplo.

Interesting read, and made me think about the parallels between the two mediums, or rather how they're perceived. Although buttons are pressed, there's a tonne of experience and, like Diplo says, hard work gone into making this music (and visuals, too) beforehand.
Same with djing, nowadays the gear's more affordable and it's fair to say anyone can call themselves a dj but try showing up at the club with no experience or knowledge of what moves a crowd. Won't mean jack, even with all that fancy gear. I'm pretty much obsessed with electronic music so I know this too well, and see the old "he's just pushing buttons! No skill!" argument to the point of annoyance, but I suppose if you're not into it then that's how it can be seen.

I trust that we're on FStoppers you can see how this works both ways?

Can he BE more insulting to us?

Douglas Sonders's picture

Diplo made good points, I think its time to open our minds and consider both sides. I speak as a music video producer and still photographer in the EDM realm

He did make good points. And he was insulting.

There are also deeper issues with usage/expectations and digital sharing. Such as what can be shared and what can't be. Obviously, Diplo understood the problem with sharing one kind of photo, but not another (which he has poorly defined). And the truth is, there are certain photos out there that people make and post specifically to share without expectation of credit.

The "rules" right now are unclear because of this.

insulting is a delicate way to put this. he was downright condescending.

No he didn't... He came across as rude and self-aggrandizing. My takeaway from his response is that photographers should be grateful to have their work stolen by his marketing team and used for his PR purposes.

Yes, Kudos to Diplo who had the guts to come on here and talk about how victimized he is and how the haters should stop being so mean to him. As he said, it wasn't like it was real photography, just jpegs from Google. BTW, should I know who Diplo is? I feel so uncool sometimes.

David Vaughn's picture

Only if you're Canadian.

Wow. not only he writes a statement filled with typos, but he hides behind someone else that manages his IG AND pretends that social media is a licence to use the work of other freely.

This guy is a moron, and a true testament that to succeed you only need a bit of talent and the right phone numbers...

Unbelievable..

Peter Timmer's picture

"This guy is a moron, and a true testament that to succeed you only need a bit of talent and the right phone numbers..."

This guy is a moron for really thinking he got this far with that little he should do some research....

Rebecca Black also got pretty far dude. don't start on that again :/

apart from his funny and (in his own word) "unprofessional" writing styles and juvenile typos; his entire reply and all of his responses was dripping with condescension and "i'm-holier-than-thou" attitude.

what he calls "attacking him" to create "a lil buzz" was not true in anyway. if you see the twitter chat, the photographer asked him why he used without credit or paying him? he replied, "how about don't come from next time" .. ! who the hell was attacking? it was very clear what he thinks about photographers.

why he didn't say "ok, sorry." .. and change his instagram?

it is clearly because he was condescending towards photogrpahers and didn't think he deserved a mention..

imagine that person .. without his makeup artists, backstage team, electricians, light artists, and above all, video and still photogrpahers and Audio team ..
he'd have been NOTHING.
The big words about "my hard work only" would have evaporated away from his sorry A. No real artists will disrespect other artists. what he

Great job fstopper to bring this to light.

Whoever gets 'bent out of shape' over this is a damn virgin. I remember seeing Diplo in the late 90's in Philly. That was 15 years ago. Anybody that has put in work that long in a business that doesnt pay, much like photography, deserves respect. And to be a beast at what he does. Im sure he has better things to do then bicker with a bored publicist trying to eat off him. But, its 2014 and the way of the world. Much respect to Diplo for even responding. But for some people its just never good enough!

David Vaughn's picture

Although I do think it's good for him to step up and say something, and he doesn't seem to hold any malice against photographers, it does kind of seem like he's saying "bro I didn't even do anything wrong. yall just dont understand."

I'm not saying he should go into a heartfelt, sappy apology, but still...relinquishing any responsibility by saying that his Instagram is more like Tumblr so it's totally cool is kind of...weak...In my opinion.

I do have to give him respect though for responding civilly, however.

Oh come on ... you know, when he produces music for other artists he doesn;t get paid either right? He doesn;t get paid, no rioyalties no credits on albums ... right ...

The second I;d use one of his songs without permission I'd be served court papers so fast I;d get whiplash.

So take note photographers, in the future instead of addressing the issue just contact your lawyer.

I am not defending him, but I don't see it as simple as that. First off, there was no money changing hands, or expectation of money.

To demonstrate the complexity, instead ask this question: If he recorded you cheering on your favorite sports team (or an interview with you on the street) and used that on one of his tracks, would you feel you have the right to post that on your website? He used your voice. Shouldn't you be able to share that on Vine or Youtube?

Money has nothing to do with it. Think about it this way ... you make copy songs off Napster or bit-torrent or whatever. No money was exchanged between you and whoever was on the other end of the download ... yet you are still guilty of copyright infringement.

Hell, if I BUY A GAME and circumvent the copyp[totection on it cause it's forcing me to use the disk and I cfind that annoying, I've just violated the DMCA ... but I PAID for the game!

Also, being the subject of the photo grants you absolutely no stake in the copyright of the image. There are restrictions in terms of what the photographer can do with the image (no more than 200 fine art prints or it;s considered commercialization, can;t use the persons image in a commercial way like promoting a service or ideology) but that's all covered under other laws that deal with privacy and the right to control your likeness.

I admire your passion on this subject.

Where I differ with you is on your certainty. I think you, and a lot of other people here are looking for concrete, black & white answers (or someone to vent your frustrations on). But the law doesn't guaranty certainty. Copyright law is argued on a case by case basis. They often require months to sort out. Yet, many people believe that reading this (arguably biased article) they already have it sorted?

Ownership is also ambiguous. Authorship is usually on the side of the photographer and authorship is usually all that is necessary for ownership, but when photographing another trademarked image or performance things get less certain. If you have ever had to wade through a theatrical licensing contract you could appreciate that.

I also think you are confusing copyright, reproduction rights and usage. They are different, sometimes overlapping, things.

Lenn Long's picture

Just out of curiosity, I notice lots of various images were used in this and the previous article. They were used here on a commercial website that we all love. However, just to illustrate a point about today's blog/media world, were these images of this DJ that are show above purchased? Or were they found online through search and used for free after obtaining permission from the photographer by the writer? Or were they just found through search and used?

All the photos used in both articles were from express permission from the photographers in the EDM photographers group.

Jaron Schneider's picture

It was expressly stated they were all used with permission.

I think its great that an artist takes time to respond to an article about him. I think his response would have been far more credible if he would have used proper english to express his views though. In any case i still think he needs to learn some manners… and some basic grammar/spelling

Tony Carter's picture

I'm just gonna put this out there: yes, photographers should be respectfully recognized for their work just as much as anybody who uses their own resources for anything. But for every photographer who complains that they don't get credited how they'd like to, there are 25 others who could care less, especially if they see their pictures being used. That's just the state of the industry due to the plethora of non-pro photography being used for social advertising. If a pro-photog has issues with how they or their work is being treated, they will become EASILY replaceable, unfortunately.

"But for every photographer who complains that they don't get credited how they'd like to, there are 25 others who could care less, especially if they see their pictures being used."

The fact that tfor every photographer who has an once of respect there are 25 idiots doesn't change the LEGAL ASPECT OF THIS QUESTION.

Speeding is a crime, that won't change because everyone speeds.

- Un-licensed usage of images is a crime.

- Cropping out a watermark is a crime (both in terms of copyright and in the US for the DMCA's provisions on copyright management information removal).

"If a pro-photog has issues with how they or their work is being treated, they will become EASILY replaceable, unfortunately."

Re-read that statement ... do you really think it makes sense? So you are basically saying that coipyright shouldn;t exist or be enforced? Cool, so I'll go over to your website and I'll download all your images and sell prints, sell them as stock ... you won;t have an issue with that right? Same with Dilpo right? He won;t mind if I start using his music without his permission right? When he produces music for other artists he doesn;t get paid, he doesn;t get royalties right?

Tony Carter's picture

Yes, you're right. Please re-read. Something must've been misunderstood because I was not saying that I agreed with either side of this situation, nor was I even including the legalities or penalties of what was done. I was simply referring to what practically happens...that pro-photogs w/ legalities are being easily replaced by non-pro-photogs without legalities.

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