Before I start this, it might be worth me saying that I’m not what everybody would call a ‘professional music photographer’. I might be a photographer, but I don’t get paid much to take photos of my favourite bands – I use do it for the love of music. Another thing that might be worth me pointing out is that I’m 17. That can be somewhat restrictive when you’re trying to break into the competitive field of photography. Anyway, here’s my story of how I got into photography.
In 2008, as I’d been so interested in photography previously, I was given my first SLR as a birthday present – a Nikon D40. It was basic and light, but I probably shot over 200 bands in 2 years with it, and gave me the perfect introduction to professional photography. Some of the shots were incredibly grainy (the D40’s maximum ISO is 1600), but I didn’t mind – I was in front of huge crowds, shooting some of my favourite bands.
In 2009, things started to go a bit crazy – I was shooting for a huge amount of publications, including GigJunkie (www.gigjunkie.net), Converse Music, and even the Q Magazine Glastonbury Review. All of this had to be done whilst I was still in full time education trying to pass my exams.
When I applied for photo passes, I was getting more and more of them approved. In August of that year, I was granted a pass to shoot U2 at Wembley Stadium in London. I couldn’t believe it – a crowd of 90,000, and I was closer to the band than 90% of them. That was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments.
Since 2009, I’ve been shooting mainly bands, a lot of them with my trusty D40, until I finally managed to get hold of a new camera in December 2010 – the Nikon D7000. After shooting about ten different festivals with it, and hundreds of bands, I thought it was time to upgrade to something a little more suited to music photography. With a maximum ISO of 25,600, it definitely gives nicer, cleaner results than my previous camera, and I’m smitten.
Last year, I also entered the NME Amateur Photographer competition, and I was voted highly commended by the judging panel (who included Jill Furmanovsky) and NME readers. This led to my photo being published in NME, and also being used on the website.
Now, I’ve decided that I’ll be going to university next September, for a degree in Photography, before I hopefully get a good job working as a photographer. That’s the dream anyway…
Bonnie Britt says
Matt, you have a great way of capturing the best moments on stage! If you want my advice, keep going, and you don’t necessarily need to go to college to be successful!
I somewhat agree with Bonnie. You don’t need a degree in photography to be a successful photographer. In fact, what most pros are lacking is the business side of what it takes to be successful. I would recommend that, if you’re going to go to college anyway, consider (double) majoring or minoring in something like business management, marketing, or entrepreneurship. Photo classes will mostly help give you more creative ideas, learn how to use your equipment better, learn how to utilize the most current photo software, connect you with other photographers, and give you historical background on the art. You can even minor in photography unless you want to go on to get your MFA.
So great you realized your dreams early and had the guts to pursue them!
Cheers and best of luck in the future.
You are obviously very passionate about music, it shows through in your photos. That is half the battle in music photography and you already have a leg up on it.