For the first post in 2019, I have something a little different for you guys. I recently had the opportunity to do an interview with a fellow concert photographer, whose work I have been admiring for quite a while. Matt Walter is a music photographer from Brisbane, Australia. He hosts the Filter Photography Podcast.
Who was the first person you shot? What was the first show you shot?
The first person I photographed, or band should I say, was a band called Poncho Pilot. I had no idea who they were, and I didn’t know what they sounded like, but they were playing at a really small bar in Brisbane called The Beetle Bar. The venue isn’t around anymore and used to be below a backpackers hostel. I figured if the band was small, and the venue was small, then the chances of benefiting from any photography was higher. I don’t think the band are around anymore either. My photos were horrible. That’s just how it goes when you start I guess!
What is your least favorite aspect about the work process?
Honestly, I hate editing photos. It’s probably the most important part of the work process because it is what makes your photos different from the person who was taking photos beside you at the time. But it’s just such a hard slog. I am a notoriously slow editor. I still meet my deadlines but what others would turn around in 30 minutes takes me around 3 hours. I just get really meticulous about the whole thing, even though sometimes it doesn’t actually add anything but time to the process. I just wish I could shoot all the time instead!
How would you describe your editing style?
I would describe my editing style as being pretty heavy on the contrast and accentuating the dynamic elements of the image. So maybe, I would describe it as gritty? Gritty sounds very extreme, but I guess it’s in that vein.
What is your favorite way to keep learning new things and improve your work?
I find I learn best or improve my work in two ways. Firstly, the more you shoot, the more experience you get. That one is a bit of a no-brainer. The other thing I do to keep learning is to spend time understanding the band and their music. I think when you really understand the band, on a deep level, you understand the differences in their live set to what was recorded. Even on a really small level. What the audience might not see changed, is often just a preference for the band when they play it live. For example, Ceres’ ‘Choke’, is sung differently in the chorus to the recording. When Tom sings it, he often pulls his head back. A simple change, but if you anticipate the action, you can get some different photos to the person next to you.
Is there something that’s out of your comfort zone that you’ve been wanting to experiment with in your work?
Good question! For me, photographing any band I haven’t photographed before is outside of my comfort zone. I’m an extravert-introvert with a touch of depression I manage, so sometimes meeting new people can seem like a huge risk to me. It could be the first step of an awesome working relationship, or it could be a very clinical transaction. It never is a grind, but me being me makes me feel like they would perceive it that way. Mental health, hey! I’m fortunate enough to work with so many legends and have only met a few people I wouldn’t work with again. But I think that’s the excitement of the music industry. I’d love to work with some emerging bands like RAAVE Tapes and Pandemic who I think are doing great stuff. I’ve met both bands once but it’s been fleeting. And I hope our talks turn into a great working relationship and they like my work as much as I like their music.