Concert Reflections

Photographing Kpop- Why So Tedious?

I’ve been to many, many concerts. I’ve also taken many, many pictures of Asian celebrities. I know, it’s a bit of a strange hobby, but I certainly enjoy it and I think it’s pretty cool that I can now share with others my hobby. When I first started going to the events, all I wanted to do was find a way to share what I was experiencing. It was just TOO COOL not to! Lucky for me, I have a pretty nice camera and a secret weapon in the form of a telephoto lens. In a years time, I collected 1,000s and 1,000s of photos. My computer may not like me very much, but I am very pleased with the results.

You need to keep in mind that almost all of my pictures were technically not allowed at the events. Asia has a pretty universal rule that cameras, including smart phones, are prohibited. This is almost the complete opposite mentality in the United States. At concerts in the U.S., fans are highly encouraged to take photos and videos. Exposure through social media is one the key marketing strategies used and most bands survive and thrive through this means.


Asian entertainment, especially when you get to the top-star Kpop level, is tightly controlled. In their dream world, the only photos that should circulate on the internet are those that are officially approved by the agency. Talk about micromanaging.

Needless to say, this made my photographing hobby a bit challenging. Sometimes, if I was standing too close to the stage, I couldn’t even take out my camera for fear of being kicked out of the arena. Because of this, I don’t have any of my own pictures from when I saw Big Bang…

On the other hand, the “security” (aka college students making minimum wage) usually didn’t have any power. I quickly learned that while they would sternly say to put the camera away, there wasn’t much they could do about it. A prime spot in the crowd is one just beyond their line of sight.

Here are a few tricks to try and avoid detection.

1. Cover the camera with a sweater or scarf in your lap. This is best if you are seated.

2. Have a friend hold up your handmade Kpop sign to block the view of the staff while you snap away. This is surprisingly effective.

3. Wear your backpack in front of your body and keep your camera inside when you are not using it. This is most useful if you are in the standing section.

This is how it usually goes: A staff member comes over to scold you. You “put it away”, and then 10 seconds later you can begin shooting again. It is a mostly functional, albeit highly frustrating system. I developed some strange form of paranoia over the course of the year.

I’ll be posting many, many more pictures from my events here. Keep a look out for them!




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