Music Festival Bans Photography, Asks Attendees to do the Enforcing


There have been several stories lately of musicians banning photography and asking fans to keep their cell phones in their pockets and enjoy the show. Most recently, Prince’s “purple rules” had security guards at The City Winery in NYC snatching phones in mid-air and kicking people out.

The Unsound music festival taking a larger scale (though less aggressive) approach: festival organizers have banned photography and filming festival-wide, and are asking that festival attendees be the ones to do the enforcing.

In case you’ve never heard of it, Unsound is an electronic music festival that takes place each year in Kraków, Poland. This year’s festival will go from October 13-20, and in keeping with the year’s “interference” theme, all photography has been banned — not even the press will be granted photography passes.


“Our aim is to encourage our audience to focus on being in the moment, and not distract others out of that moment,” explained Unsound Artistic Director Mat Schulz in the announcement. “We want to question the automatic tendency to place photos and videos of concerts on-line … to put some tiny glitch in the constant bombardment of images, today’s main tool of communication.”

He continued on to say that “The ban will not be policed by security guards,” calling it a “community action” and asking that any concert goers who see someone taking a photo next to them “ask them politely to stop.”

Of course, photography won’t be entirely absent from the festival. The announcement admits that an official photographer will “discreetly and efficiently document a few special events … due to their unique nature.” But the majority of the events at the festival will live on only in the memories of those who attended … well, and the phones of those who choose to ignore the rules.

(via Pitchfork)

Image credits: Concert photography by Rama

  • jkantor267

    “Politely to stop”? We all know how this is going to end.

  • Jason Philbrook

    If it’s about focusing on the music, might as well ban smoking (assuming it’s outdoors), drinking, and make everyone wear a conservative uniform so we don’t distract each other with our clothing or lack thereof. It’d be like going to the opera in a prison uniform.

  • pgb0517

    “Comrade, politely put away the camera.”

  • Gly

    With drunken idiots in attendance, I could almost see it start with a fight and end in a mass brawl.

  • gochugogi

    I find getting cigarette smoke in my eyes and avoiding getting puked on or groped takes away from “living in the moment” much more than cellphones waving in the air. Besides, even if people stop taking cellphone images, they will have them out anyway for texting and FB updates. Asking people to stop using their phone is like asking them not to breathe.

  • lucas with lid off

    if only these mouthbreathing knuckleheads would DIM THEIR SCREENS. everyone would be happy!!!! it would be 10000x less annoying, even with an ipad!!!

  • lidocaineus

    What shows do you go to like this? Are you sure you’ve been to shows, or have you just seen them on TV and think they’re like that? Most people who DO go to shows paid a decent amount to see the artist – they’re not going to be puking on you or groping you, and I used to go to shows all the time where the crowd was considered “rough”. In fact, the #1 most annoying thing at shows? Cellphones. Security is usually so on their game these days that the minute someone’s being a dick or acting too crazy, the bouncers are flying through the crowd and kicking the person out.

  • lidocaineus

    Smoking is already banned at a lot of outdoor venues. Drinking doesn’t affect other people around you like cellphones do, and if you become too inebriated, security is so tight these days (they usually have multiple spotters above the crowd) that they pounce on you instantly.

    So yes, it’s about focusing on the music.

  • Tim

    Google glass to the rescue!

  • gochugogi

    I haven’t watched TV since the 1990s. Too busy playing with my cellphone. One of my worse experiences was being boxed in so tight at the Goo Goo Dolls I could hardly breathe. Somebody started peeing on my leg and I couldn’t even move.

  • RegularGuy55

    Mass media (all forms of it) helped make those bands well-known and helped sell their music. So NOW they want to ban elements of that mass media, but insist on having their own photographer(s) on hand. Sounds an awful lot like a control thing to me. Watch for a concert video on Blu-Ray shortly after the event. If you want a lasting memory of the concert, BUY it from us ($$$).

  • harumph

    I’d much rather buy a professionally shot blu-ray of a concert than hunt down youtube snippets shot on a cell phone.

  • AssumedAlias

    A friend of mine went to a concert a month ago.

    Some guy’s wallet dropped and my friend being the good samaritan he is, picked it up to return it. In the process of trying to return it, he got into a fight between two drunks (which turned into group brawl) and ended in the hospital with bruised ribs and a glass bottle slammed over his head (and the glass fragments and concussion that goes along with that).

    Thankfully he wasn’t hurt that seriously considering the circumstances (he could have broken ribs and gigantic pieces of glass stuck in his head) and the security guys did stop the fight pretty quickly.

    After he was released he checked the wallet in order to return it to its rightful owner and lo behold, the guy’s business card with his cell phone number on it.

    So for me (and my friend) cell phones: 1, alcohol: 0.

    And I know this is an extreme case but its a case and there are more like it.

  • Jen Harris

    Nobody waves lighters anymore; the whole place lights up with cells. If it’s really all about the music and no other distractions, will it be a dry event with a decency dress code, too?

  • lunebe

    Most of the performers/bands want to protect every thing particularly their reputation. They particularly don’t want the world to find out through social website that they are not signing live or out of tune, or being boohoo by the public as it has become a big part of their income. I went to some 40 gigs of all sorts over the last 2 years for work. I think about 5 impressed me such as Paco de Lucia. The others really have to thank the studio engineers to make them sound good.

  • Ralph Hightower

    Do you think that you are Woodstock?
    Nah! This “concert” is a band of unknowns.
    Your photography ban doesn’t matter because nobody cares!
    BTW, I wouldn’t upload my photos immediately on the web. I use film!
    Who the hell are these bands?

  • lidocaineus

    I also have a case where I went to a show and no one did anything but enjoy the music. I know this is an extreme case but it’s a case and there are more like it.

  • AssumedAlias

    That sounds more like mine and everyone else’s normal experiences at concerts and not an extreme case, though I’m not a avid concert goer myself so I can’t say for sure, and maybe it’s different from where you are from, who knows.

    A detail I forgot to add; thanks to the people recording the show everyone involved in the affair were caught on tape and were brought to justice.

    Something else I want to add. I’ve seen artist take out their phones and start taking pictures and recording the crowd (on the official concert DVDs no less). What about them?

    Though when I usually go these kinds of events I leave my smartphone at home and take a dumb phone (without a camera no less, -but I do occasionally take a Nexus 7 with me, i really like to read and it helps kill the time) with me. I agree with these artists about enjoying the music in the ‘moment’, but different people enjoy things differently. Instead of outright banning them outright there are (better) alternatives aren’t there?

  • nope

    Goo Goo Dolls. That’s your problem right there.

  • nope

    Missing from the report – Unsound is largely a dance music and techno festival. If you’ve got your phone out, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Eric Lefebvre

    I just got back from on outdoor festival (like 10 minutes ago) and while I was there, there was this guy filming the show with his cellphone … his LED “flash” going full blast as a hot light … you know … that’s useful to overpower the stage lights when you are 100 feet away from the stage.

  • Shane

    y Uncle Adrian recently got a nearly new white Nissan Pathfinder SUV by work using a lap-top… see post


  • NiagaraTim

    lol good luck to that dumb rule :/

  • R.S.

    Who cares about a polish festival…this is not woodstock!

  • Truikos


  • ton of bs

    I do agree having to look at the phone screen in front of me is super annoying and a huge pain in the butt and really just dim your screen and it is less of an annoyance.

    I suppose the artists see their songs ripped illegally and now their stage image as well…they know now what it feels like to be a photographer.

  • Professor_MC

    This shot shows why people need to quit taking pictures. I couldn’t see several songs at this concert due to this.

  • Björn Lubetzki

    If you go to a serious punk concert a bit of friendly “violence” will even be enforced. Look at 4Lyn for instance. If you don’t ant it stay at the back. It all depends on the type of music you listen to

  • Björn Lubetzki

    I do understand that phone photography is getting banned more and more these days. Don’t have a problem with it. Do I need to have some sh**ty image from my phone?? No!!!
    But what about the guys making a living as a concert photographer?

    More and more artist don’t allow them…… First the news photographers and now the concert photographers. What’s next? A total photography ban for a particular celebrity wherever he/she goes? That unfortunately also means that they will get less publicity, due to not being in the news anymore, which can lead to the fact that there are less people at their concerts…… The celebrities should start to think things through.

    Start banning cellphone photography but leave the photographers alone or at least give them a few minutes at every show.

  • Leif Sikorski

    It can be pretty annoying when everyone holds his phone up. Sometimes I wonder why this people go to a concert when they just watch it through their phones display…

  • Khürt L. Williams

    Am I allowed to use my cellphone if I get a text about a family emergency? How will the “enforcers” of the rule know whether I am responding to that or “being distracted”?