To The People On Their Iphones In The Audience Of My Daughter’s Play

To The Father Seated Front Row Filming The Show On His Ipad:
I can’t say I’ve ever been to a child’s performance where there wasn’t a parent (okay who are we kidding, it’s always a dad) seated front row holding his ipad up in the air to film the entire show. The ipad is just smaller than a big screen tv and so, it blocks everyone else behind him from seeing the show. Some people get mad and even mentally think you’re rude. Not me.

Sure I can’t see the show because you’re holding that ipad with that bright, blinding light, but I can just watch the show on your ipad. Even though we parents came to see our children perform and can’t because of you, we’re thrilled you’ve provided the service of instant replay. If we crane our necks just so, we can catch everything on your screen.  Neck spasms are no big deal. Anything for the kids.

Hey Mom Shopping Online During The Show-I See You, Girl:
Yoga pants, huh? Great price. Personally I’d never wear white yoga pants when I’m going to get hot and sweaty and have to bend my probably-now-everybody-can-see-them parts in all directions, but you do you. You do you.

How do I know you were buying white yoga pants on your iphone while our kid’s were onstage helping Simba return back to Pride Rock? Well, because in a dark theatre the light of an iphone is like a beacon. Everyone can see it. Oh, and you were seated in the front row. We could all see it. We could all see you.

Dear Gentleman With The Professional Grade Camera:
Whoosh, a real camera! Not an iphone camera like we amateur parents carry around.   I love that you brought a paparazzi style camera, complete with interchangeable long lenses to film our six-year-old’s performance of “The Lion King.” The camera could have filmed a speck of dust on the moon, though we were seated just five feet from the stage.

I love that you clicked photos, 200 to 300 million photos to be exact, on a camera whose shutter is so loud it sounded like it was actually coming from a semi automatic machine gun that say, military personnel, might use to kill someone. I jumped out my skin each and every time you peeled off another round of photos as if it was actually me who was being shot and killed. Sure I have have post traumatic stress disorder from sitting next to you during “The Lion King,” but at least your loud camera helped me stay awake during the entire performance. I’m fairly certain I’m the only parent in attendance who can honestly claim to have stayed awake for the entire thing. Well, you were awake too. Someone had to man that camera

For most of the show I assumed you were actually on staff, hired by the theatre to take pictures of each and every child. But the noise was distracting to the point of rage making and I like to reserve my rage for traffic and substitute spin teachers, so I prefer to have a rage-free audience experience.

Because you had such a large camera and took so many photos, I made the assumption that you were indeed taking keepsake photos to document all the children’s performances, even the child who delivered all her lines to the back of the stage and the one kid who ran on and offstage without saying a word. So I was surprised when I leaned over and asked if you were taking photos for the theatre and you said no, you were taking pictures of your own daughter. Incidentally, you were taking a picture of my daughter at the time.

I also love that photography in your house is a family affair. Your wife was seated behind you, with a video camera propped on a tripod on which you captured the entire show. No one seated behind her could see past that tripod. But at least she got that good camera angle, the one that blocks all the people from seeing anything.

Sure the theatre takes ample photos of each of our children during the dress rehearsal so we can avoid having photos of our kids ruined by the top of the audience member’s heads and they also videotape the entire show, but I love that that’s not enough for you. You want photographic insurance that your daughter’s one line will be captured on film forever. You may have missed the entire show because you were busy filming it, but at least you can watch all that videotape later.

A Few Thoughts For The Grandparents Filming The Entire Show On An Iphone:
You should know that I agree with you, technology can be incredibly tricky to figure out. And you should also know that I think it’s amazing that you showed up to see your little one perform on stage. Any time our children have time with their grandparents, it’s cherished and special.

I also want you to know that you filmed the entire performance on an iphone that wasn’t on.   So its probably going to be difficult to watch. Just in case you’re wondering. Later. When you go to show everyone you’ve ever met how wonderful your grandchild was in “The Lion King.” Your friends will just have to take your word for it, all 25 times you tell them.

The good thing is that there’s never been a kid’s performance that wasn’t amply photographed and video’d by the theatre, school, or studio hosting the performance. In fact it’s safe to assume that none of us parents, grandparents or well-intended friends actually need to take any photos or videos at all during the performance. We could all, and this is just an idea, we could all just watch the show and leave the documentation up to someone else.

I know that watching our kid’s school play live instead of on subpar footage later isn’t exactly why we’re all here, but if we collectively decided to put down our phones, ipads, and cameras, we might not need so much footage later. Because we would have seen the footage as it unfolded, live and in person.

I think sometimes documenting our children’s childhood makes us feel like we’ve got some sort insurance policy that we’re doing all this right. We can look back and see how much fun we had. We get a moment in time, a happy moment, the time our kid shined. We can look at the photos and forget that what actually happened was our kid forgot all his lines or stepped on another kid’s lion costume and caused all the little lions to tumble like dominos. Or, in my daughter’s case, photos would not show that the show’s director placed my daughter behind taller children or tall set pieces throughout the entire show, effectively hiding her from being seen.  Because, at age 6, the director wasn’t sure if my kid “has what it takes.”

Photos are important and the theatre will make sure you can spend a small fortune buying some. But, photos are just a moment in time. They don’t tell the whole story. The whole story is unfolding on stage, right in front of our eyes. We’d know that if we were actually watching. We’d see the whole story. The good. The bad. And the ugly.

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