I had the pleasure to be interviewed by Oh My Creative Soul, who feature articles about live music photographers.
A big thank you to Stephen Sillifant for the promotion!!
Oh My Creative Soul: Can you tell us about your background and how you got into photography?
Michelle: I’m from Austria and most of all, into rock and metal music. Being a music-lover I wanted to be a part of this business, that’s why I was looking for an opportunity to film live bands in year 2005. My first show was Keep-It True Festival in Germany.
I started with live-photography in 2009, after filming for a couple of years. Besides that I also work as a freelancer for the Austrian webzine Stormbringer.at
OMCS: When and how did you make the move to be a professional photographer?
M: Actually I’m not a “professional”. I’m doing it next to my regular job. My hobby became a passion after all those years in this business. I’m doing this for pleasure and it demands lot of time, money and believe in yourself and your work.
Of course I also know how frustrating this passion & hobby can be from time to time. A lot of concert photographers are out there, who struggle to get press accreditation for magazines and access to famous bands. But I keep doing what I love, with my heart and soul & I hope people recognize this dedication when looking at my pictures.
OMCS: What do your average working day, week, and month look like?
M: Well, it depends on the amount of press accreditation I get. But usually I’m away approx. 2 times a month to shoot concerts. Fortunately I have friends in this scene who believe in me & support me! I really appreciate them. Teamwork & support means a lot, especially in this rockcircus
OMCS: What sort of gear do you typically take to a concert?
M: I’m using a Pentax K20D! Quite unusual, I guess, because most of the photographers I know use the market leaders Canon or Nikon, but the brand’s history of quality and innovation is still apparent. I use it with a smc DA 18-55 mm / 3,5~5,6 ALII lens, a smc PENTAX-DA 50-200 mm F4- 5,6 ED WR and a Tamron SP 60 – 300mm 1:3.8 5.5 Macro Zoom Lens. I also have several filters and a fish eye lens.
OMCS: How do you position yourself in a concert? Do you care about blocking the view? Do you get close and personal with the band during a live performance?
M: Well, 3 songs no flash is the rule at most shows anyway, so honestly I don’t care so much about blocking the view for just 3 songs 😉 If I am allowed to shoot the whole show, I always try not to annoy anyone of course. It depends on the musicians, some of them are just ignoring the photographers in the pit, but some are playing with the camera. I am always happy if there’s some interaction/connection between a band and photographer. You can see this positive vibe in the pictures.
OMCS: How do you approach the framing aspects of each shot you take?
M: Well, catching that moment in a show that captures the essence of a performer and the emotion they’re expressing, is the most important part anyway! More important than technical stuff in my opinion. Stage lighting can be tricky also, so you have to practice a lot with your camera settings 😉
OMCS: What tips do you have for anyone starting out as a live music photographer?
M: The easiest way to start is to begin in small venues, where you can get into with your professional cam without a press accreditation. It’s a perfect playground for you to change your camera settings and getting used to live photography. And don’t forget to wear earplugs
OMCS: Do you have any funny stories of things that happened to you while shooting a concert?
M: Hmmm….not so funny actually, but I almost got hit by a guitar during the shoot of Airbourne. They had a very small photo-pit and the singers stage performance was very dynamic 😉
OMCS: What is the best part about being a music photographer?
M: The best part for sure is being able to express my creativity and getting positive feedback from people who love my shots ! For me, it’s a combination of two passions, photography & rock music. And shooting pictures is a kind of adrenalin rush for me while being in the pit. I just love it & I want to improve myself from gig to gig to get better shots.
OMCS: What is the worst part about being a music photographer?
M: Mostly, the lack of a good stage light, especially in small venues. And getting an accreditation for bigger bands is sometimes a bit hard. Also the amount of music photographers, especially in the rock & metal scene is getting bigger and bigger. But the moment i live my dream, those things don’t really matter. Photography makes me happy & I will not be discouraged!