Back when I used to play gigs, I played a fair few weddings. Mostly in churches.
And at the end, when the priest was summing up, the nice ones (!) would thank the various people involved in the ceremony – the bride and groom for asking him of course, the musicians, any flower girls or page boys (who always got the biggest cheer), and the photographer and videographer.
And while we as musicians would often be generously praised by the priest for the way in which we elevated the ceremony, or for bringing joy to the hearts of everyone present, the photographer and videographer almost without fail would be thanked for being discreet. Basically for staying out of the way.
And that’s fair enough. It’s their job to capture the ceremony and its highlights without interfering in it. But it’s a funny thing for which to be thanked.
Another gig I played a few times (when I used to play gigs) was the Derry Jazz festival. We were doing an afternoon slot in the hotel there one day and a well-known guitarist with a big reputation asked us could he play along with us for a few songs. He promised he wouldn’t ‘get in the way’. I would have been delighted for him to play anyway but this was an interesting offer.
And he was true his word. You would hardly have known he was there. But when he did add to the music he made it count. I learned so much from the way in which he played. Subtly adding to the music in spots but leaving most of it to us, the band, the ones who knew the arrangements. I made sure to thank him after. For staying out of the way!
Because sometimes silence is the best form of conversation. Sometimes the biggest contribution you can make as a photographer is not to take a photo. And sometimes the best thing you can do for the music is to stay quiet.