Photo-subjective: Festivals – the sad truth

A photographer’s blog – phlog? – containing observations, tips & tricks & hacks or just some random stuff concerning the art of ”capturing a moment in life”. Or something like that.

In my Nummirock report I had mentioned ”the most brutal mosh pit” happening at the show of the least likely contestant in the festival-line-up. Later I realized this was not quite true.

Because this is most brutal Mosh Pit of them all, where it’s all about sheer survival, ”in case u stumble and fall you’d be trampled to death”-dangerous, and you can feel lucky to get away without toe-bones crushed, teeth knocked out, equipment damaged or bruises and black eyes:

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Yes, the PHOTO PIT.

Thank you, Markus Laakso, for donating this snap shot from the center of Tuska’s main stage photo pit. Which means, same view from Markus’ left… btw, in case you spot a dot of red hair somewhere in the lower middle / right, this is probably me…

The photo pit – no place for the faint hearted, the shy, the polite. It’s all about size, ”who has the biggest one ” (lense, camera) and physical height. The slightly challenged in this aspect, people like me barely exceeding 1,60m, or even tinier, have already a huge disadvantage to cope with, especially when then stage itself is about 2m high.

And you need to develop ”sniper skills” – training your body to find the right position, to keep your arms perfectly still, finding your mark, keep pointing at it – no-matter-what – and when the right moment comes, you need to stop breathing so not the slightest vibration impairs the result, and then you SHOOT …

The only difference to a sniper is, your target is much more likely to survive than you are.

Because for you it’s ”be quick or be dead” – you only get the first 2-3 songs time for the pit (when photographer numbers are restricted, you get only 1 song before you have to make room for the next group). If you come too late (you need to queue about 10min before the gig starts in order to get a decent spot) or too many ”colleagues” are blocking your view, pushing you around, or you are too close to the fans behind you and get hit by their fists or heads – well, it’s over. Done. Out. No photos.

And because all this would not be challenging enough – you are not allowed to use a flash. NEVER. So if the lighting situation is insufficient – even for ISO 1600 setting – or the band uses way too much fog effects, well, bad luck. I nicknamed results like this ”Gorillas in the mist” *.

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(Oceanwake @ Bäkkäri Helsinki, Mayhem @ Nummirock)

Hence, a true veteran of modern trench warfare is no longer interested in any circle pits, moshing or wall of death any more.

”Child’s play”, the veteran mumbles, while watching from a safe distance …

… maybe with a tear in his/her eye, remembering the good old days when young and innocent, simply enjoying a gig as such, still untouched by the manic thought ”this would be a nice image” every 2min of any concert, the urge of capturing ”the perfect shot” like an extreme close up of a pearl of sweat on the drummer’s forehead – and not even getting paid for all this …

So when after reading all this, you are actually still interested in joining the toughest troopers of them all, I suggest some gym training, as those huge lenses are really heavy; lifting and keeping them steady for 10-15min requires indeed some work-out beforehand. And even with an average equipment like mine, after a whole day of sniping you might feel sore arm/shoulder muscles … Then: combat boots, elbow covers and maybe mouth guard, stilts (when only 1,50m) and a bulldozer-attitude. Or better, a certain Zen attitude, as even with the best equipment ever, there’s still the amount of sheer accident – target, lighting, focus all in the right moment – in order to capture ”the perfect shot”.

Therefore: Good luck!

*title of Diane Fossey movie
PS: Need to mention that Nummirock had provided HUGE photo pits, so taking photos there was a real pleasure – thank you for that!

Klaudia Weber

Klaudia Weber

reckless and merciless dictator, so KNEEL! In other words, editor-in-chief, translator, website and ad admin, "Jane of all trades" - - - addicted to books (everything between Lord Of The Rings & quantum physics) and music, mainly Metal made in Finland. Furthermore, there's painting, drawing, movies, theater... so you can expect some variety on this website too.

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