I shot an alternative/pop band last night. I was told there would be a photo pit, but there was not. This was my experience...
When the time came, I looked for the entrance to the pit...only to find that there was no photo pit. I was fucked. I looked around for a better vantage point when I spotted an opening at the front of the stage. I waited a minute to see if anyone would occupy it and no one did. So, being the burglarhobbit that I am, I maneuvered my way through the crowd and slid into the vacant gap. I wasn't there for 30 seconds before I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the woman standing slightly back from the stage. "I saw that," she said. I told her that this is my job and I promised her I would only be there for three songs. She didn't care. She just wanted to tell me that she was amused and impressed with how easily I moved through the packed crowd, and since she could see over my head, I wasn't bothering anyone. The man next to me was not so amused or understanding. He was furious that I took "his spot." Except, it wasn't his spot. He was occupying the space next to the spot that I took. He was angry that he had been standing there since the doors opened and I am just now showing up to get the same view. I politely told him I had sat in 5 hours of traffic to be there for my job, showed him my official photo pass, and assured him I would only be shooting three songs (as per my agreement with the band's publicist). "You're going to be standing in front of me for THREE SONGS?!?!" I honestly couldn't tell if he was more drunk or angry. Probably drunk because I wasn't actually in front of him. His wife was really sweet, and annoyed that he was making a fuss as she clearly understood that I was working, and had no intension of intruding on their night. His wife then reminded him that they have seen this band dozens of time, and I would only be there for three songs. The amused woman behind me took that opportunity to point out that everyone behind me can see over my head, and that I wasn't disrupting their view...but he would absolutely disrupt mine. Once the show started, he was still next to me, with nothing taken away from his evening other than what he took away from himself.
This really is a grey area. On the one hand, manners, I am never trying to take experiences away from people, but I also have a job to do and if there is no pit, I have to be at the front of the stage. I am literally five feet tall. I can't see or shoot through people. It's just not possible. I do my best to be as polite as possible about it but at the end of the day, this is what I have to do and I'm not really asking for anyone's permission. Look, this is not an ideal situation. I don't like it, you don't like it, but it's where we are. We can both be jerks about it and potentially soil our evenings, or we can both understand that this is tough but work through it reasonably and rationally so that you can see the show and I get my shots and everyone wins. I'm taking my shots regardless, so the attitude of our brief interaction is up to you.
If you look at another person who might need a little understanding and compromise due to things beyond their control like height or disabilities, (and no, you are not entitled to a medical explanation before you should be compassionate) and you refuse to share a space at the front of an elevated stage and stealing their experience because "I was here first", "I paid for this", or "That's not my problem", then you are not a good person at all and you don't deserve nice things.
I was at a show at the Whisky not long ago. I had already shot the opener. I had "claimed my spot" for the headliner when a man in a wheelchair made his way to the front. He asked if he could get in to the spot I was standing in so he could see. Of course I moved. Everyone moved for him. He needed to use the bathroom and asked everyone around if we wouldn't mind holding the spot for him. When a couple unknowingly tried to take that spot, a group of women who had been behind me for the opener had told them that it's reserved for a man in a wheelchair. The couple quickly relinquished this spot. These woman would not let anyone steal this experience from this man, even though he was a stranger. The other people at the front of the stage saw what had happened, and opened spaces for me so I could work, knowing I wasn't going to steal the experience from them. Metalheads are really the best people.
Music should be a shared experience. Not one of MEEEEE. Move for others. Let them enjoy the music same as you. Dance with them. Drink with them. Sing with them. Be the story that they tell their friends the next day to make them wish they were there to meet you. If someone falls, help them up. We are all at the same place to experience the same band we all have the same love for. If you want a private experience where it's all about you, YouTube has all their videos. You don't have to put on pants for YouTube.
Come with me on some awesome photo adventures and a few wild shenanigans.