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.
"i couldn't figure out how to post under neath the questions…
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)
Along with the general quote he also responded to a few questions that our readers had.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"& 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.
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.
All images used with permission.