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Tricky and Lee Scratch Perry at the Meltdown Festival, London 2003

My specialty is live event photography using available light only. While it's possible to get photographs with more fine detail using a flash to fill in the deep shadows that stage lighting sometimes creates, I have chosen to avoid flash photography mainly for two reasons.

Firstly it's distracting to the performers and the audience. The performance is the reason those people are all there, and most people in the room will have payed money to be a part of the event. Excessive use of flashes is just rude.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I want my photographs to be a representation of what the audience saw at the performance. If the performance was dark and moody, the photographs should reflect that. The best performers choose lighting carefully -- it's as much a part of the presentation as their appearance and the sound quality.

As an example, here are two photographs from Tricky's performance at the Meltdown Festival. The one shot with flash shows more detail and was typical of the photos that appeared in print after the performance. The other shot is, in my opinion, a much better picture. You don't see as much of Tricky, but neither did the people who were there watching it. The flash photograph is, in essence, a lie.

The picture below is a better example of the intensity and feeling of the performance that night.


Tricky and Lee Scratch Perry - Meltdown Festival, London 2003  photo©2003 Adam PW Smith