I know it has been a while since I wrote an advice post, but I have had this concept tumbling around inside my head for a while. After seeing and reading some things associated with the topic, I felt I needed to address in my own way the concept of entitlement when it comes to concert photography and photography in general. I know it says concert photography on the title, but this can really apply across the board. You'll probably read that line several times in this post.
Let me start by making a direct and bold statement. If you are in concert photography or any other field of photography, and you feel a sense of entitlement for any reason, you are part of the problem this piece will address.
Nothing is guaranteed in this field of concert photography, and nothing will ever be guaranteed in this field. If you operate under the assumption that you are entitled to a job, position, show, or whatever else for some reason, you are operating under bad intentions. You are doing a disservice to the field, and, more importantly, to yourself. Like all other fields, this is a game of "What have you done lately?" instead of "What have you done in the past?".
Photography, on a whole, is an ever expanding field, and concert photography is just a subset of that. There will always be new photographers entering the game, and, this might not be what some of you want to hear, but a lot of them might be better than you even with very little time in the game. A lot of them might do much more creative and impressive work than you. If you think, though, that you are entitled to a position simply because of whatever reason you want to put up, you are going to get left behind. Your sense of entitlement will bite you in the ass.
I am saying this because I am getting tired of hearing and reading concert photographers complain about young photographers taking up space, doing things differently, or whatever else they want to rant about. This could also be applied to wedding photographers, but that's a different blog post for a different site. Nothing is worse than going to a show and hearing someone rant and rave about younger photographers, cell phone cameras, or any of the other tired topics people bring up in a misguided attempt to get sympathy.
I'm not breaking any new ground here, but the easy access to camera equipment along with better cameras in phones have caused "established" photographers to get even more bitter. Instead of adapting and planning ahead, they've decided to try and belittle the next generation of photographers. If you are more concentrated on the past and the way things were instead of the present and the way things are or will be, you are part of the problem. No one is forced to be a photographer, and no one is forced to stay in this game. If you do not like it or can't handle where things are going, it is on you to get out. Again, you are not entitled to your position under any circumstance.
I operate with a simple mindset when it comes to concert photography and photography in general. My position can end at any time so I need to make sure I'm doing whatever I can to maintain it and stay ahead of the curve. This means planning for the future. I understand my place and potential in this field. I am happy and content with it. I know nothing is guaranteed, and that drives me to do my best. This is why one of my chief rules is that I will never become a bitter old photographer. The day I do that is the day I hang up my gear because I will just be taking up space at that point.
Sometimes people in this field forget they are concert photographers and not brain surgeons. I don't say that as an insult, but I am saying that to offer perspective. I know this will come at the shock of those who have their heads in the sand, but the music industry can go on without a huge chunk of us. We take photos of people performing on stage. It should be a fun and exciting field, but, again, the sense of entitlement people has often make this a pit of ugliness when they take themselves way too seriously. It will be a better day for all when that goes away for good.
If you understand that nothing is guaranteed, though, and do operate without a sense of entitlement, you will survive this field. You will be able to navigate the mine field that this game can be at times. You will be able to quickly identify those who will get left behind and those who are going to continue to offer creative work in the field of concert photography. Most importantly, though, you will be happy that you left behind all those bitter individuals worrying about the past. That peace of mind will be so incredibly beneficial and helpful. I know it has been for me.
As I always say, do what's best for you. Do not worry about anyone else. That remains true when it comes to dealing with photographers with a misguided sense of entitlement.