From the realm of "how not to be a professional" comes the story of a concert photographer who violated venue rules, put the musician at risk of a medical issue, and did little to help his case after the fact.
Ryan Adams was headlining the 2017 Gasparilla Music Festival, when Joe Sale, a Tampa photographer, caused him to stop the set. Adams has Meniere's disease, the symptoms of which can be set off by flashing lights; thus, he strictly forbids flash photography at all his concerts. Adams is so adamant about the policy that security guards at the festival patrolled the crowd to remind fans not to use flash.
Adams noticed Sale using a flash from behind the soundboard and called him out via an improvised song and a request to security to remind the crowd of the policy, at which point, Sale flicked the musician off. Afterward, the feud continued on Twitter, with Sale tweeting (from a now-deleted account): "I used the flash from 2,000 feet away. I shot the 12 other bands over 2 days w/o flash. You lived... write a sob story about it."
Adams minced no words in his reply, unleashing a (justified, in my opinion) tirade on the photographer: "No, a**hole. It says NO FLASH! Because I have MENIERES DISEASE and have SEIZURES!!!! Ok, Ansel Adams?" In speaking to the Tampa Bay Times the next day, Sale said he thought it was unfair to be expected to know of his condition ahead of time and noting that he would never use a flash near the stage and asserting that it had no effect on the musician. Nonetheless, Festival Spokesperson Michelle Gutenstein noted that every photographer was notified of Adams' condition in advance. Furthermore, most anyone in the concert photography industry knows about Ryan Adams and flash photography.
Sale eventually attributed his behavior to frustration over being forced to shoot from the soundboard instead of a dedicated pit:
When it comes to trying to photograph somebody and get a decent shot, and then you’re told you can’t do the work you’re there to do, why is it up to him?... I didn’t use flash for all other 12 performances because you don’t use flash when you’re close to the stage.
Sale has shown no remorse for his actions or regret due to the social media backlash he has received. Nonetheless, Gutenstein has noted that Sale will not be invited back, nor will the festival use any of his shots, and has said she will discourage colleagues from issuing him photo passes.
Personally, I think Sale's is a selfish response. As a musician myself, I know it's important to be respectful of the requests performers make to ensure that they can achieve the level of professionalism and artistry they desire, but when those requests are coupled with a medical issue and are well disseminated by the venue, there's really no excuse. What're your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.
Lead image by Flickr user Drew de F Fawkes, used under Creative Commons.
[via Tampa Bay Times]