I’ve been going to concerts long enough to watch the rapid infiltration of the camera’s LCD screen into the concert-going experience. When I first started going to shows, the only digital cameras around were bulky affairs with poor low-light performance (like, say, the Apple QuickTake 300). But over the years cameras have gotten smaller and better, to the point that everyone could be a concert photographer. Like many, I’ve often felt like I’ve watched a whole concert through the LCD screens of cameras and camera phones in front of me.
But lately I’ve noticed that cameras (more accurately camera phones) are in the air, and blocking my view, for far less time. And I attribute this to Instagram. Back when Flickr was king of photo sharing, people posted a lot of photos, they filled out whole sets. Flickr encouraged the documentarian. So photos from a concert would go from the band taking the stage to the last stagger of the encore – and every guitar change in between.
Instagram, however, prizes that single, lo-fi, in-the-moment shot. There are no photo sets, so people want their one shot to be seen and loved (Instagram users seem more concerned about “like dilution,” i.e. the chance that if they post six shots of one thing, their “likes” will be distributed amongst multiple photos, instead of applied to one). And the blur, glare, and artifacting – that’s just part of the instant aesthetic – so there’s less perfectionism. It’s enough to say, “I was there. And this is what it felt like.”
Of course, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just accustomed to the field of LCD screens now (or I don’t go to enough shows, or – shudder – I’ve joined a concert-going age group that just doesn’t care about photographing everything). I’d love to know what you think.
And hey, if you’ve taken some great Instagram concert shots, think about putting them into a Blurb book.