Dear Fans: Please, Put Down Your Cell Phones

Atmosphere during Steve Aoki's performance at the Pageant in St. Louis on February 1, 2012. (Todd Owyoung)

This is a public service announcement and an open letter to fans who insist on shooting photos and video at concerts, despite the fact that they look awful. Dear fans: Please, put down your cell phones.

Dear Concert-Goers,

Please, put down your cell phones and stop shooting blurry photos and awful video at concerts. Wait – how rude of me. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Todd Owyoung. I'm a professional music photographer.

I've photographed everyone from Aerosmith to ZZ Top. I've been published in Rolling Stone, SPIN, the New  York Times, Billboard, and a bunch of other totally impressive-sounding publications.

This is just a friendly reminder to say: Don't worry about photographing the show with your phone. In fact, I've got it covered for you. This is my job and I swear, I'm awesome at it. So are my friends.

Let's be honest – your phone takes mediocre snap on a good day. I'm not blaming you (I, too, have an iPhone) – but your phone's camera sucks. Besides, no one behind you wants to stare at your upheld arm unless you're throwing up metal horns. And maybe not even then.

Listen. I've got the telephoto, the wide angle, and yes, even the ultra-wide angle. I've got the big ass cameras. But more to the point, I'm going to make your favorite bands look awesome.

I'm going to nail the jump shot, the stage-dive and the part where the singer is screaming and you can see spit flying out of his mouth. Even if some gets on my gear or flies into my own mouth – promise.

Go ahead, post my images to your Facebook page. Link to them on Tumbr. In fact, make them your desktop background. I'm psyched already.

After all, I do it for you, the fans. My job is to make the images you love of the bands you love, even if it means you steal them. But whatever you do, just please, put down your cell phone. You might just enjoy the rock show a little more.


Todd Owyoung
Professional Music Photographer

End Notes

You know this is just in good fun, guys. The proliferation of cell phones with cameras means that they're a constant fixture at concerts – this is evident to any fan at a show. At any given moment during a even a club show, there seem to be at least a dozen phones raised up. It's kind of an epidemic.

The real point of this letter is simply that if you want to hang out at your next show, and raise up the devil horns instead of your phone, or hold a beer instead of being glued to your phone all night long, go ahead. Music photographers all over the world have probably got you covered.

As Rob Zombie put so eloquently at a show I shot, “Let me show you how to be a badass. Put your cell phone down and put it in your pocket. You can watch shitty videos of this on YouTube anytime you want later.”


However, if you're on the other side of the fence, please check out my article how to shoot better photos with your phone:

How To Shoot Better Concert Photos With A Point and Shoot

PS: I am not actually advocating that you steal my images. But whatever.

 (Todd Owyoung)

My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon Z 7:
I use two Nikon Z 7 for my live music photography. A true do-it-all mirrorless camera with amazing AF, great speed and fantastic resolution.


Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8S:
The 24-70mm is my go-to lens. The range is ideal for stage front photography and the image quality is superb.


Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.


Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.

See My Full Kit for Concert Photography

Help Support

If this article or any other content on was helpful to you, please consider supporting this site and grabbing your next photo gear purchase through one of my affiliate links:

Simply clicking through any product links on this site helps me bring you free content like the photography tips and gear reviews regularly posted on, and naturally it doesn't cost you a cent more.