LIGHTS on Fan Photographers


Introducing the “Lights Live Pass” on her last tour, a group of lucky fan photographers were given the opportunity to shoot her entire set, regardless of their equipment and past experience. Right before taking the stage for two sold out nights in London, Stitched Sound’s Rachael Dowd sat down with the wickedly talented Lights and she opened up about fan photographers and why she would like to continue her “Lights Live Pass” for future tours.

I stole the idea from the Arkells who are friends of mine and I have taken them out on tour a few times. They did a version of it on their tour where basically a fan photographer could come and shoot the show and they had these amazing photos they could post every night without a huge commitment from a photographer. It gave someone the opportunity to do something they love for a band that they are into.

It seemed like this really cool symbiotic thing – every night they were able to post great photos of their shows and the best way to promote a tour is through social media and showing people what they are missing. That was what I hoped it get out of it and that is what we did. Every night, someone would come and shoot the show and the next day, give us the photos they took and we would be able to post them on social media and promote the next night. It was fun and some people were better than others, but the fact is that people are getting experience shooting the artists they love and that’s what matters. It’s the fans that know the most – like the moments in the songs and during the set. If you were to just get a random photographer in, they wouldn’t really know what to shoot or what people want to see. It was a great opportunity for everyone. All of the photos were really personal because they [fans] know what they want to see at the show and what they want to take photos of.

I will probably do it again because it was a really fun experience. Just seeing the photos after and seeing what people captured was really great. Hopefully, they take something away from it too and get some experience out of it.

I think more artists need to do it. The photography world is really competitive so it’s important that everyone gets as many opportunities as possible.


Her brand new acoustic album, Midnight Machines, drops April 8th and is available for pre-order here. The music video for her single “Meteorites” can be streamed here.

Our full interview with Lights will be in our upcoming spring digital issue!

Photo and Interview by Rachael Dowd

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3 thoughts on “LIGHTS on Fan Photographers

  1. It’s all well and good Lights getting fans to shoot her shows, and I know one of those fans who shot her show who also happens to be a regular gig photographer, but it does appear from that statement that maybe Lights doesn’t understand what she would get from using a professional or experienced amateur (let’s face it, so few of us can get paid these days) gig photographer, or what we do.
    A) Experience: A good gig photographer will be able to turn up at any show and produce great shots under almost any condition. They also won’t fangirl/fanboy during the shoot.
    B) Quality: Good equipment doesn’t make you a good photographer, but it does help get better images if you know what you are doing, and professional-level cameras will be able to deal with almost any lighting condition. The photos will also be properly colour-corrected, in focus and not blurry (unless done so for creative reasons).

    If Lights is happy with fan photos, that’s her prerogative, and, sadly, an increasing number of the public are happy with bad photos too. Musicians rely on fans to make a living, and if that helps engage with fans and build her fan base, then maybe she doesn’t need use pro photographers for her shows. And it’s not as if there are no other shows to shoot.

    Whether or not the fans go on to become music photographers after the experience of shooting her shows I couldn’t say, but they may be disappointed to find out that getting access to the pit at shows of bands they are fans of is not as easy as that, and shooting badly lit gigs in small venues does require a lot of dedication.

  2. “If you were to just get a random photographer in, they wouldn’t really know what to shoot or what people want to see”.

    That’s why you need to accredit professional concert photographers my dear. We DO know what people want to see, and we know what NOT to shoot.

    Sadly, more people just don’t want to pay for the benefits of high quality imagery, or even let professionals shoot the concerts at no cost to them, but let the photographer syndicate the images to any publication they want.

    Why pay for quality when you can get crap for free on social media? 🙁

  3. In Lights defense, she is creating exposure for photographers who need it. They might be fans, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the desire or initiative to be professionals. It is the same criticism given to Amanda Palmer when she had guest musicians that were not paid for that one tour after her kick starter. As a musician and knowing the feeling of working my ass off because no one knows who I am, an opportunity to play my instrument with Amanda Palmer or have my photos credited to me and shared by Lights is not something I would pass up on for my own résumé. And I think it is knowing that she is helping those photographers who even though they are fans might not necessarily be total amateurs.

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