Why The 1975's Matty Healy has lost the argument against photographer accreditation
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Matty Healy yet again caused a media storm last week. This time it was his inability to make a couple of taps on his phone to credit a young photographer. Broadcast to Matty’s 1.2m followers, it could have been the kickstart to a promising career for the budding professional. But all it served to promote was Healy’s self-righteousness.
Matty Healy by Pedro Mora via 500px
Healy is already problematic in the way he goes about lauding himself as the woke second coming. He constantly acts in contradiction to his quasi-intellectual ramblings. For example, when he demonised addiction by stating "junkies are f**king losers”, or said that misogyny “doesn’t happen in rock and roll anymore”. For an artist who preaches compassion, he has a very blinkered view of social issues from his pedestal as a privileged white male, and this also obscures his ability to see the heightened struggles of individuals to earn a decent living within the industry.
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After Healy posted a series of tour pictures on his personal Instagram, photographer @r.oberts commented, “CAN U TAG ME OR FOLLOW ME?”. And, in this instance, those caps are warranted. Imagine one of Britain's biggest artists, someone you idolise, just straight-up stealing your image to further their Instagram aesthetic, and generate their own online engagement. No acknowledgement of the skill and time that went into the capturing and editing process of the images, because you’re not established enough in their eyes. For once though, Matty’s ‘stans’ were not so impressed as many wrote captions such as “credit your photographer challenge”.
Healy’s counteraction sparked an online debate. Should artists have to credit photographers for pictures of themselves? Posted a couple of hours after the picture the caption read: “What has happened here is someone has come to where I am (my show) taken a picture of me - as lots of people do - and then gone to use my picture, my image and my likeness, to promote and further his career as a photographer”. Healy elaborated, “I’ve done my part as it’s not a picture of a table or a pond, it’s a picture of me as for the photographer I am doing something of interest”.
A lot to unpack here. Sure Healy is correct in the sense it is an image of him - his performance has given the opportunity for the young photographer to capture, and create his art. But without photographers how would you manage to promote yourself, and your band, via social media? The exchange doesn’t just end when you’ve had your image taken. Promotional material for your band is needed, to capture the exhilaration and atmosphere of your live show - and to further draw paying fans in.I’m sure for a man who has strong connections to the entertainment industry through famous parents, it was significantly easier to achieve the status he now commands - but some people need this free promotion. Those starting out in the industry as relatively obscure professionals need online recognition in order to further their career and earn money from their passion - just like you. Simply crediting the photographer could bring them several paid opportunities, as it gives them a platform to showcase their work to a wider audience. After coming under fire from basically everyone on the internet, Healy backed down altering the caption to “Edit: I Lost the debate”, and rightly crediting the photographer. The situation has rightly shone a torch on a major problem with accreditation in the visual arts industry, but also sees Matty Healy continue to feed into the pretentious stereotype he’s created for himself. Give your photographers credit - full stop.