Pro Photog Jason Sheldon: My Response to Taylor Swift’s Agent
My response to the statement follows:
Firstly, of course Taylor Swift, and any other artist, has the right to protect the use of their name and likeness. That is not in dispute, but protect them from what?
We’re concert photographers, not paparazzi. I have no interest in publishing an unflattering photo of an artist. For one thing, it would do far more harm to my career than it would theirs.
Artists like Taylor Swift grant press photographers access to photograph their shows in exchange for the expectation of helping to provide as much positive coverage in the media as possible — coverage that they are expecting their paid publicists to achieve. That is a mutually beneficial “something for something” exchange. She gets coverage, photographers get to earn a living.
P.S. People think concert photography is easy, unskilled, and living off the fame or talent of the performer. A few years ago, a newspaper called me and asked if I’d taken shots of Leonard Cohen the night before. They needed a picture for their review. I said yes. They said they couldn’t pay but could offer me a credit (that old chestnut). So I said no, they could have a picture if they licensed it, but not for free. So they ran this photo that the reviewer took instead:
Compare that to what they could have had for a modest license fee: