Zooey Deschanel the Latest Musician to Impose Anti-Photo Policy


Zooey Deschanel is the latest performer to weigh in on concert etiquette, with signs posted at concerts by the actress/singer’s indie pop act She & Him asking fans to ditch their cameraphones and refrain from snapping photos.

“At the request of Matt (musical partner M. Ward) and Zooey, we ask that people not use their cell phones to take pictures and video, but instead enjoy the show they have put together in 3D,” according to signs posted at a recent Toronto stop on the current She & Him tour.

While the request is politely worded and seems more about preserving the aesthetic experience than greed, fans didn’t take kindly to way it was implemented. “Security guards…are now flashing flashlights in the faces of fans in the first few rows who dare pull out their phones,” tweeted concertgoer Rob Duffy.

Other fans had more humorous things to say:

The band did allow a handful of pre-vetted photographers to shoot the show.

While the policy was credited to Deschanel, Ward is an even more outspoken critic, enforcing blanket bans on audience photography at his solo shows.


She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward)

She & Him join a growing roster of indie acts complaining that wall-to-wall photo and video coverage at shows robs fans of a full musical experience. Signs posted at recent shows by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs proclaim:

“Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device /camera. Put that (junk) away as a courtesy to the person behind you and to Nick, Karen and Brian.”

Likewise, postpunk firebrands The Savages made this request:

“Our goal is to discover better ways of lving and experiencing music. We believe that the use of phones to film and take pictures during a gig prevents all of us from totally immersing ourselves. Let’s make this evening special. Silence your phones.”

The ostensible concern for audience experience, meanwhile,  contrasts with the vanity-driven photography bans during Beyonce’s current tour.

(via via Gawker)

Image credits: Zooey Deschanel by, She & Him photo by Angel 007

  • Sky

    TBH I totally agree with the notion of “hide that junk, enjoy the show” – after all going to the live show implies you want to enjoy live music with people around you. Without all of the flashy screens around (people in the rear surely would love if you’d hide phone).

    Not to mention the fact that both: video and audio quality is horrible from smartphones, or even: compact P&S cameras. To get anything semi-decent you need a pro gear and some good spot. Shooting concert from within a crowd is an idiocy.

  • Mark

    I read an interesting article in a medical psychology journal recently about the use of smartphones, photo sharing etc. In summary, the author concluded that the generation born after 1980 are unable to perceive many experiences as personally fulfilling. There is a requirement, dependency, or even addiction on the validation of social network “friends”. An experience is only of personal worth if photos, video etc are viewed and “liked” by others in the social network. “What’s the point of a cool experience if you don’t tell anyone?”. There is a “point”, of course, but many have lost the ability to experience it. This is why many young people MUST take photos and videos, and share them, if their experience is to be fulfilling.

    This behavior is leading to serious concerns about personality development. The young person’s ability to develop an independent-thinking, and a balanced personality, is compromised by a need for an “OK” from social network friends”.

    The other downside is that if the experience is not “cool” or “extreme”, it gets little attention in the social networks. So many young people are chasing “extremes” in order to receive validation that they are “OK” as a person. They are blocking out the boring or mundane that may important for development and their own futures, and only concentrating on attention-getting activities that may get a lot of “likes”. These attention-getting activities do nothing the help them become a balanced, psychologically healthy person independent of approval and attention from others.

    Many of these photos are not printed, put in albums, looked at later, perhaps after years to recall the PERSONAL experience. Almost instantaneously, these photos and videos are shared on social network sites…”cool, look at me, look where I am, look what I am doing…, ten likes already…..I must be OK as a person….keep uploading the photos”.

    Shame really.

  • bill_and_fred

    I totally agree with Zooey doing this, I can imagine going to a concert and having a bunch of rude idiots (most people unfortunately) obstructing the view and ruining the atmosphere. When people don;t know how to behave politely it falls on the organisers to put in place rules, if people weren’t such a bunch of rude c*nts these rules wouldn’t be necessary.

  • Bill E. Lytton

    It’s quite a coincidence, I was thinking of writing an article about this exact thing. I’ve got a bunch of journal articles I want to use but haven’t read the one you’re talking about. Would you happen to have e link or the title/authors name? Thanks

  • Flat_Lizard

    It used to be that you would take a camera to a concert and record the experience by taking a few pictures with your friends and keep the photo’s as a memory, now all the self indulgent narcissists take it too far and hover their camera or phone above their head for the whole night making it unpleasant for everyone else. S, because of these idiots the rest of us cant take few pictures any more. Another win for stupidity I guess.

  • rodrigoblanco

    Never heard of her….

  • Toast

    Zooey Doucheanel

  • Thomas Casey

    Prince has done this for years except he has security remove you from the premises, they target you with a laser pen and then the bouncers move in.

  • boris

    I don’t believe anyone here asked if you did, go find a hobby.

  • Scott

    And no-one asked you for your ignorant jibe

  • MMielech

    I have plenty of hobbies, but still, who is she?

  • GenY

    Lemme guess: you were born before 1980.

    Not that I want to make Chris Crocker sound reasonable but please, leave the millenials alone. We’ll be fine without the constant probing and concern.

  • moonshine

    if these musicians really cared about their fans they would take steps like not using ticketmaster with their outrageous fees to sell tickets. or would do something to combat scalpers.

  • A.J.

    You must not watch TV or movies, yet you still cared enough to comment here. Interesting.

  • Mantis

    That’s not unique to that or any other generation.
    Maybe not the “sharing photos” part, but the sharing of an experience.

    It’s why most of us prefer to travel, see a movie, go to a restaurant, see a concert, ot watch a thunderstorm with another person.

  • Sinareo

    Comedians like Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, and Bill Burr are doing that with ticket sales. I wouldn’t be surprised if musicians start doing that, as well. However, the fact remains that the sea of smart phones recording pixelated images of the concert is a disservice to the other concert goers and just flat out rude and annoying.

  • CrackerJacker

    Easy there, snowflake, every generation gets poked and prodded by the medical/sociological/anthropological/marketing folks to see what makes us tick. You’re not the first and you’re hardly the last.

  • mtavel

    But… But…. how will all my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram followers know how cool I am and how fulfilling my life is?!

  • mtavel

    But… But…. how will all my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram followers know how cool I am and how fulfilling my life is?!

  • mtavel

    I was at a Joan Baez concert recently and I could count the number of people in the crowd born after 1980 on one hand. It was still a sea of smartphone screens in front of me. Believe me, the previous generations have found out about Facebook…. That’s what is driving the younger generations to Instagram and Twitter – it’s relatively devoid of Grandma and Grandpa.

  • Sky

    Just go to the parking lot and photograph yourself next to the Porsche. You don’t need to spend money on a concert tickets.

  • Sky

    Use your own laser pointer to point the guy with a laser pointer?

  • Sky

    stop buying on ticketmaster and discourage everyone around from doing so -> ticketmaster won’t be so popular anymore -> artists will move to the other platforms.

  • JCRules

    I agree. Truthful assessment of current societal addiction to the insertion of self, incognito at most time, crude and vile at times; some people’s need to get their 5 nanoseconds of “empty fame recognition among their peers”; and the worst part of it is their enabling inability to have any meaningful personal communication with the real world sans the limited bytes of digital expression. Sad really.

  • Willi Kampmann

    Wait, so does this only apply to cell phones (like it says on the sign), or do they also enforce this on system cameras? I understand how holding up your cell phone or using your phone’s flash is annoying, but banning photography altogether would be a whole different issue!

  • Mantis

    As a child of the 70’s – 80’s, I was told that video games & heavy metal music would turn my generation into a mass of satanic zombies who send the country directly to hell.

    Still waiting for that to happen.

  • Froggy

    Prince is the woooorst. I mean, the dude is a fantastically talented musician, but the guy even goes through YouTube videos making people take down videos of bands just doing covers of his music.

  • Mantis

    The problem is that major label artists have no power over that. They signed a deal, and now they just work for the record company & ticket companies.

    The sad reality is that the folks like Live Nation & Ticketmaster actually love the scalpers. They sell out a show and they have their money, and then its the brokers & scalpers who now assume all the risk to move those tickets to the next party.

  • violentskies

    I know this would be hard to implement elsewhere but many shows in Japan are quite strict about what’s not allowed, including cell phones. They have lockers or will hold it like a coat check. Hence, concert going experience like it used to be in those ancient days of 10+ years ago.

  • A.J.

    I’ve also seen it where a band member will target a girl with a laser pointer, and then security moves in to ask her to “meet” the band backstage after the show. ;-)

  • Sean Lucky

    Honestly, I totally get it and agree. It drives me batshit when there’s all these people holding their cell phones up in the air filming a concert, and I’m just trying to enjoy it. I’ll take the occasional snap if I’m right up front, because you can actually get a half decent shot from a cool POV, but keep it quick and simple. In terms of filming whole songs from your phone, I really don’t get that. 90% of those videos will never be watched afterwards, and for good reason, they’re not good enough to properly share the experience with someone.

    Also, I feel like it’d be pretty disheartening to be performing for a big crowd of people, and not having eye contact with half of them because they’re glued to their cell phones.

  • Rabi Abonour

    Good on them. People using their phones to take awful photos/videos that they’ll never look at is a detriment to the concert-going experience. Leave it to the credentialed professionals.

    Concert venues are (generally) not public spaces. Artists and venues are perfectly allowed to ban cell phone photography. If it is, as in this case, motivated by a desire to make concerts better, then I support it.

  • Antonio Carrasco

    It takes a team of highly skilled audio and video technicians to successfully record a concert. I don’t know why anyone would think they could do it with one cell phone.

  • Halfrack

    I’m waiting for an artist to do something along the lines of: come out and do one song, and then stop and chat with the crowd. Tell them no matter how hard they try, the photo isn’t going to come out, but if you all promise to put cameras and phones away, they’ll bring up the stage lighting so everyone can snap their photo. Give it a minute, with a few poses, and then drop the lighting all the way down, and remind everyone that now that they have a good photo, it’s time to enjoy the show.

  • Bill Binns

    I’m torn on this. On the one hand, I almost always take “no photogrpaphy allowed” signs as a personal challenge. On the other hand, I have been behind people at events who were taking photos (or shooting video!) with iPads and fantasized about murdering them slowly.

    Preventing photogrpaphy to preserve the spectator experience at staged events seems valid. Preventing photogrpaphy because the performer’s fragile ego keeps them terrified that someone may capture a less than ideal shot of them is pathetic.

    In any case, they are fighting a losing battle. We have had tiny, almost invisible, wearable cameras that take terrible photos for a while now. The quality of these devices is improving alongside cell phone cameras. It is quicly becoming possible to take photos wherever and whenever you want. Unless these performers want to strip search people who come to see them play, they better learn how to suck it up when someone gets a shot of their muffin-top.

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    Many venues are also locked into contracts with Ticketmaster.

  • ISO640

    Believe it or not, there was a time when photography wasn’t allowed at concerts. This is nothing new, really.

  • Mantis

    This too. I remember back in the day Pearl Jam was trying to avoid making their fans buy from Ticketmaster, and they ended up having to play some pretty oddball venues like horse racing tracks and stuff like that.

  • Mantis

    This. And it wasn’t long ago at all. For all the years I was going to concerts, photography & recording equipment was forbidden (except for the Grateful Dead).

    Maybe only in the last few years when so many cell phones started to flood the venues that they just had to throw up their arms and couldn’t enforce it anymore.

    I fondly remember trying to squeeze off a few shots (on high speed film) from a little p&s camera that I managed to sneak in if I ever ended up with seats down by the front of the stage.

  • bob cooley

    Yeah – now many of us from that generation are successfully working on Wall St. – oh wait…. :)

  • bob cooley

    Most concert venues don’t allow system cameras at all unless you are credentialed and make advance arrangements.

  • Bill E. Lytton

    I agree with the guy and I’m 20 years old, so I don’t think it’s an age thing

  • b.laker

    How is posting pictures or videos differ from other ways of sharing your personal experiences, be they telling stories verbally to friends over beer, writing an essay, or putting photos in an album to be shared among family? The difference, of course, is now we have the technology to preserve those experiences in minute detail and be able to share them immediately, coupled with instant feedback. Who doesn’t want that? Unless you’re one of those who’d rather send a letter to your friend through the postal service rather than call her on the phone.

    We’d rather have our family and friends experience directly our awesome experiences. But since they cannot, we send them a postcard “Wish you were here” in the form of digital photos and videos.

    There’s no doubt there are people with so-called dependency on social network. But I think it’s going a bit too far to lump everyone born after a certain year with those who may have psychological issues.

    And who’s to stop people from accusing you of being attention-starved who try to seek validation by voicing your opinion in this forum for everyone to see? In any case, I bet you get a kick out of those “likes” you got.


    Perhaps people should actually experience with their natural sensors, pay professionals for the high grade references to their memories and respect artists trying to engage with people during a performance and not the front of device made by the lowest bidder.

  • Sterling

    Except that, I assume you actually know the people you are going to restaurants and movies with. That’s quite a different thing than collecting “likes” from total strangers.

  • Sterling

    Exactly. People post these crappy videos for the instant validation. They don’t care if anyone actually watches it as long as they Like it. Which sort of works out because nobody really watches this crap anyway.

  • Bill E. Lytton

    I dont think he’s lumping anyone born after 1980 in any sort of psychological bracket. He’s just looking at the research. Pre-1980’ers can be just as bad. I think there is an emphasis nowadays on being able to construct and present yourself online and quite easily. Facebook seems like a competitive sport nowadays for likes and having the craziest pictures and videos.

  • Rabi Abonour

    Venues are private spaces. If an owner wants to make it binding, he or she can. In my experience, venues defer to artists on this kind of thing, making it less of a request and more of a stipulation.

  • Rabi Abonour

    I went and saw Ben Folds quite a while ago (before phones had decent cameras). At one point in his set he said he didn’t want photos to make the show look boring, so he made a couple silly poses and threw his throne at the piano. It was pretty funny.

  • Markus WET

    Yes, I know what domestic authority is but to me (as a non-native speaker) the wording of this sheet of paper is just a nice request.

    But yeah, doesn’t concern me :D