Last week, exactly 2 months after the Superbowl 'Unflattering photos' fiasco, Beyoncé started her 'Mrs. Carter Show' world tour. As someone who followed the 'Unflattering' story very closely, and as someone who is a big fan of hers, I had no doubt Beyoncé and her publicist will learn from their mistakes on how to deal with bad pictures taken of her, and wont make horrible mistakes again. I was wrong. Beyoncé banned all professional photographers from her shows, hoping this way no unflattering photos will make it to mainstream media. She was wrong. What happened is that media outlets purchased low-quality and not-so-flattering images taken by her fans.
Beyoncé's publicist, the same one who emailed and asked websites to remove images she didn't like few months back, decided that this time they wouldn't allow photographers to shoot her shows. Instead, they would provide 3-5 pre-approved images their own photographer shot for the media to use after each show. They wanted to control what images the media had access to. But we all know how media works - they will do anything possible to get images that other publications don't have. If they can't send a photographer to give them original photos, the next best thing they can do is buy photos from fans in the front rows in the arena (cameras were not allowed, but no one can take away phones). It's the next best thing for them, and a huge nightmare for Beyoncé and her publicist.
Beyoncé The Mrs. Carter Show 2013 World Tour guidelines for Photographers (via Music Photographers):
They thought by not letting photographers in, they will have full control over the photos shown in the media. Huge mistake. Now not only is the mainstream media showing unflattering photos of her, they are showing bad-quality unflattering photos of her.
I think Beyoncé has a lot to learn from Mckayla Maroney, who decided that instead of being annoying and asking people to stop using her 'not impressed' photo from the Olympics, she joined the party and made fun of herself. Not only she gained points in the public's eye, she also gained positive momentum for her career. Yes, I know, Beyoncé doesn't need anything to boost her career since she is so popular, but she should start making the right decisions before people get tired of her diva-ish actions.
Her publicist has to understand something about what happened in the Superbowl: In such events, photographers who work for photo agencies shoot like crazy and give their memory cards to someone on their team who runs to download the images and upload them directly to the server. No time for too much sorting or retouching. So yeah, in events like that, some photos might not make it as your next album cover. But in almost any other event, such as normal concerts, photographers have time to go through the images, get rid of the bad ones and send out the absolute best. Generally speaking, no one wants to post bad pictures. Banning professional photographers from all shows is simply stupid. Beyoncé needs to use the media to her advantage, not fight it. Playing games with the media will cause more harm than good. If they didn't learn this from what happened two months ago, maybe this time they will.
Beyoncé is an awesome person and an amazing performer- one of the best of our era. I hope she's going to learn from her mistakes this time and deal with the press as a pro should. Note to Beyoncé: I'm available if you're looking for a photography-related-issues adviser. Just call and i'll be there. No joking.
What do you think of her decision banning professional photographers from her tour? smart move, or another bad mistake on how to deal with the media?