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Defeating Metal Detectors at Concerts? Answered

I plan to bring a camera to the future concerts of a singer. I believe fans have a right to do so. The camera will be hidden from sight, but I need a way to shield it from any metal detectors that may be used. Using a metal detector designed for coins, I found that steel wool can hide steel items from the detector in ferrous mode. But switching the detector to non-ferrous mode quickly reveals the steel wool. I have found no other material that has any desired effect. Perhaps I could carry something that transmits a jamming signal to the detector. Has anyone here had experience working on this problem and can offer a solution? ~Bob~



Best Answer 8 years ago

get into the venue beforehand...hide your equipment in the bathroom ceiling...

What I did was wear clothing with lots of metal rivets, buckles, and doodads. I had my main camera in a crotch bag, with an unwanted, non-functional dummy camera in my pocket. There was a line of friskers to greet us. I headed to an attractive female frisker. If she felt my crotch for stuff, at least I might enjoy it. She found my dummy camera, but did not take it from me.


5 years ago

I am a retired electrical engineer and I could tell you haw to defeat a basic metal detector. However, I am not going to do so for obvious reasons. I do note that I hope that such measures would not defeat those metal detectors used for security scans. However, I have seen things that indicate that they would including my fairly large ring of keys that does not set them off.

I am puzzled about the Steel wool. I would not think that Steel wool would prevent a metal detector from finding steel.

There is always a battle between those who say “This is a free country” and those who say “This is a country of laws.” Between those who say “You agree to our demands” and those who say “No I don’t!” I always side with liberty. Of course, the actions of the enemy are often deemed “illegal”.

Perhaps the answer to my problem is a coordinated attack by a group of 10 to 15 fans. Each person carries a cheap junk camera and the photographer has the real one. The group distracts guards and diverts attention from the photographer, allowing him to slip through. The group similarly protects the photographer from jealous fans at the performance. Afterward, all the group shares in the pictures.

Or... very large numbers of fans could bring cameras, baseball caps, food, clothing with lots of metal, anything the venue doesn’t like. The idea is to make the theater fight with everyone and risk a lawsuit demanding mass ticket refunds. The performer may end up with only a small audience and bad publicity.

Remember, evil (camera bans) will triumph when good people do nothing.

Yeah, I would NOT attempt to foil a metal detector, nor would I even dare say online how to do so for fear of being marked as an "anarchist cookbook" type.  Jamming devices are illegal because the people who use them typically do so to conceal weapons (which is the reason for a metal detector in the first place).  What may help you conceal a camera might aid the next Mark David Chapman, which will ruin everyone's fun for the evening (although it may net you exclusive tabloid photos, albeit at the expense of the artist's life).

I like the cellphone and paper camera ideas if you're really hell-bent on this.  Just keep in mind that while Dave Matthew's might approve, Robert Fripp will calmly set down his axe, walk into the audience, and publicly humiliate you by refusing to play until you hand over the camera.  I doubt being booed by thousands of fans is much fun.  As a performer myself, I don't mind so long as I don't get flashed - flash photography is a huge distraction.

Two words:
Paper camera.

Brilliant! Genius!
Tuck it somewhere like in your crotch, they never check to see if anything is there...
Just in case there IS something there...
(Did anyone see that video featured on Jay Leno?)

your purchase of a ticket is acceptance of their rules, regardless what you think fans have a right to do. There are plenty of artists who agree with you and plenty who do not. I have been to many concerts and cameras get confiscated and collected at the end of the show. They don't care about the cameras and they get thrown ina box with the ticket attached to identify it as yours later. The most secure way I have seen is a camera stuffed down ones trousers but its embarrassing when the hand-held detector picks it up and you have to fish it out. The othe rplace is down by the ankles; after a lomg time of bending down to scan many security personnel get lazt and only go past the knees. You might get lucky, or not. Carrying a jamming signal is illegal and when their dectectors fail on just you, if they find it, they will call the cops cos a jammee is a pretty serious intent of other things not someone with OCD carrying a camera. I think its asking for trouble. If you do get im, there are plenty of other jealous gig-goers who will snitch on you if they see what you are doing and they couldn't. Then you'll get chucked out your camera cleared and have wasted your money. Soz for spelling and grammar, I'm super-tired aftera rough night. Enjoy your concert!


I've mixed for some performers that actually encourage fans to make bootleg recordings (preferably sending them a copy for their own amusement), and for some who'd walk of the stage if they saw you out there with an unauthorized tape recorder and not return until management evicted you. Musicians are usually less paranoid about photos then about audio recordings, but even so some do object.

Fans have no "rights" in this regard. The concert is not a public space; the owner of the space has the right to set the rules (or the delegate that decision to the band and/or their manager and/or anyone else), and your only option if you disagree is to decline to enter that space. Even in a public space, what you can do with any photos you take is strictly constrained by law; unless you have a signed model release, the law says you can't sell the pictures or enter them in contests... and, technically, I believe it says you can't show them to anyone who wasn't present when the image was recorded (I know that used to be the rule for audio "air checks") though that generally isn't enforced unless you force them to take notice of what you're doing.

I agree with the suggestion that they _probably_ won't confiscate a phone that also has a camera, just because it'd be too much of a hassle for them. But you might not want to carry your $500 smartphone that night, just in case; odds of getting it back in good condition may not be particularly good.

11th Commandment: Don't Get Caught.
12th Commandment: Don't Be Stupid.

Consider this:
If you are in a position to get shots that would make taking a camera worth the while (all things considered), you are likely to be spotted. If there's a no photography rule you're likely to be ejected or have the thing confiscated.


The best way to bring a camera in is to get a press card and ask to cover the event (name a local paper).  Of course you'll need a professional camera, the money to buy your press card, and the time to invest in filling out any paperwork and/or getting yourself invited.

Other than that, no you can't really defeat the metal detectors without some expensive efforts... and in most of North America, it's actually a crime to do so.