We recently saw the Kodo Drummers–it was a Christmas gift for the family, so we splurged on great seats. It was a wonderful performance, though the segment where they wailed on the big drum went on just a bit too long. I’m sure my perspective on the duration is tainted by the fact that the drummers were wearing sumo-wrestler style attire–call it a thick g-string–and nothing else. For American sensibilities, it was just a bit too much man-ass. Yes, I get that it is a cultural experience and all, but still.
Anyway, the attire of the drummers really isn’t the subject of this post. The subject is the common prohibition of photography. I’ve ranted about the before, and I still think event promoters are incredibly short-sighted in declaring that photography is 100% verboten. Allow me to demonstrate just how different the world is right now from what it was just a few years ago. Perhaps you’ve seen this picture:
This is a comparison between 2005 and 2013 papal introductions, and the difference is striking. Today, EVERYONE has a camera with them, all the time. And people LOVE to take pictures of the things that are important to them, and share those pictures with everyone they know.
Clearly, this kind of scene would be distracting at a performance like the Kodo Drummers. So I’m not arguing that people should be allowed to take pictures in any way they want. I’m suggesting that rather than having an announcement (and prominent signs) saying “Photography is not allowed” and “Cameras Prohibited” (which they didn’t attempt to enforce on cell phone holders), they should say something like “There will be an opportunity to take pictures at the end of the performance. As a courtesy to the performers and other audience members, please do not take pictures until that time.” Then, during the bows and the encore, let people take pictures, encourage it, and even suggest hash-tags. Then it won’t be a big deal what kind of camera someone uses, because EVERYONE will be taking pictures.
Yes, I broke all the rules by taking the picture that leads this post. But because I was doing it surreptitiously, with my phone, I got just one or two frames, and the result is pretty crappy. On the other hand, one of my coworkers, to whom I had attempted to describe the performance before we went, told me that he really appreciated this picture because it helped him understand what I was talking about. Considering that the theater was only about 70% capacity, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have your audience do as much marketing as possible?
But, no. The prohibitions and policies are stuck in 2005 where “camera” was understood to be a stand-alone device, and few people carried one everywhere. Today is very different, and event promoters are foolish to ignore that difference.