I’m Matthias Hombauer, the creator of How To become a Rockstar Photographer. It doesn´t matter if you’re new to the world of music photography or you are already a professional music photographer, this page is for you! It contains all the industry secrets that nobody is talking about and it took me almost 6 years to reveal them. I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page that you can always come to for all your music photography needs. I´ll add to it as I publish more blogposts and update my camera gear list. I recommend bookmarking it for your reference and convenience. Enjoy How to Become a Rockstar Photographer and I am looking forward to see you in the photo pit!
Getting Started: The beginners manual to concert photography
- You want to know how the holy trinity in photography work together in a nutshell? This is a must read for all of you who are new to photography. Learn the very basics first, here: Basics in concert photography: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO
- You want to become a concert photographer, but you don´t know which gear you should get on a budget? This ones for you: Concert Photography for Starters on a budget!
- You want to know where to shoot your first concert? Read here: Concert Photography: Shoot your first concert
- You want to know more about camera settings? Read here: Concert Photography Settings For Beginners
Get Inspired: Concert photography for the mind
- You need some inspiration on how to live your passion as concert photographer? This article will help you overcome your fears: 10 Tips to follow your passion to become a Rockstar Photographer!
- I met my friend Todd Owyoung in Brooklyn and we talked about the music business almost the whole night. Learn more what secrets about concert photography we have to share: Why I flew 6000km to hangout with Todd Owyoung!
- My most comprehensive interview about concert photography so far! This interview was published at gig-photographer.com: The future of concert photography!
Portfolio Thursday: Learn how to build a kick ass portfolio
- In the first Episode I´ll reveal my secrets to build a great Portfolio: Portfolio Thursday – Episode 1 (you´ll find a link to the next episodes on the bottom of the blogpost)
My recent concert galleries
- Nine Inch Nails: Right were they belong
- Miley Cyrus Bangerz Tour
- The Rolling Stones: My photos on fire
Find my complete Portfolio here.
My camera gear
I am a full-frame sensor Nikon shooter. Due to the larger sensor size (compared to a crop-sensor camera), the sensor doesn’t warm up as fast, thereby producing less noise in your photos at higher ISO settings. With these cameras, it’s possible to reach ISO values of up to 25600 or more and using ISO value of 3200 or 6400 is rather common when shooting in low-light stage conditions. The quality of the BOKEH is also breathtaking and if you are using the best lenses made by your camera brand, you will literally be blown away by the results.
- Nikon D700. I absolutely love this camera and it’s my workhorse for concert photography. With it’s 12 Megapixel resolution and an ISO capability up to 25600 it delivers great, quality photographs. The buttons on the camera body are well-placed and the autofocus is highly accurate, even when there’s almost no light on-stage. I use it with a battery grip and the vertical shutter release button makes shooting in a vertical position much easier.
- Nikon D800. The D800 is a beast of a full-frame sensor camera. The resolution of 36.3 Megapixels is getting close to the resolution of digital medium-format systems and it has a HD video capability, which the D700 lacks. I mainly use this camera for band portraits as well as for concerts.
I have both prime and zoom lenses in my camera bag. As you’re rather limited in your forward/backwards movement when in the photo pit, the zoom ability is crucial in concert photography. Sometimes, the artist will constantly be on the move, so it’s easier to follow him/her with your zoom lens. On the other hand, there are shows where it’s so dark on stage that a prime lens with an aperture of f1.4 is your only option.
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED This is my go-to lens in smaller venues and my favorite zoom lens. The autofocus is very fast and the photos are tack sharp, even at f2.8. Having the zoom option let’s you get a tight headshot as well as full body portraiture. At 24mm, you’re also able to get the whole stage into your frame.
- Nikon AD-D Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8This is an older version of the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR and you can get it on ebay for $400. This lens costs 1/5 of the new version and is just as good. (I don’t care about the missing VR, it doesn’t work for action shots anyway). The focal length of 200mm is essential if you plan to shoot bigger venues, such as festival stages. This lens gives you the opportunity to take both headshots and half-body portraiture shots. In addition, you can also get the drummer who is most likely hidden at the very back of the stage. This is a back-breaking lens (almost 1.5 Kg/3.2 lb!) but the quality it delivers is worth it’s weight.
- Samyang 14mm F2.8 14mm on a full-frame sensor camera is the widest you can get. Have a look at Nikon or Canon 14mm f2.8 lenses and you’ll cry after throwing $2000 out of the window. Want to hear the good news? The Samyang (aka Pro Optic, Rokinon, Bower, Walimex) lens costs $330!!!! Holy crap, that’s more than six times cheaper!!! So where’s the rub? The Samyang is a manual focus lens, but with the internal focus information in the viewfinder (at least Nikon has this), it’s a breeze to work with. The photos are tack sharp and I can live with some distortion in the corners of my photos. The 14mm f2.8 is my go-to lens if I want to capture special perspectives.
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4GThis is my favorite portrait lens, which I also use a fair bit when shooting concerts. Nikon’s best lens is able to deliver a bokeh (out-of-focus area) that is breathtaking. But be warned: the autofocus is not very fast and when shooting at f1.4, the depth-of- field is so narrow that you can easily get out of focus photos.
I love to read books and as you might know there are thousands of them about photography available. It´s hard to know which ones are worth your time. Here is my list of the books I would consider as must-reads:
- Zack Arias: Photography Q&A Zack Arias answers over 100 questions about photography that he fielded directly form his “1000 questions” Tumblr project. These are questions that range across all aspects of the photo industry. It´s a great read and highly recommended!
- John Harrington: Best Business Practices for Photographers “Photographers are among those creatives that just don´t want to focus on business”. I made the same experience and therefore I suggest to read this book and get your business to another level.
- Austin Kleon: Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered This book will be a revelation to all of you who are wondering how to make your work visible and findable. It´s filled with Illustrations, quotes, and stories and it´s one of my favorite book.
- Guide To Rockstar Concert Photography This is my step-by-step guide (instant download, PDF) which will provide you with all the information necessary from shooting your first concert, learning which camera gear and settings you need, how to build an awesome portfolio, understanding the rules of the photo pit, getting signed up by magazines, shooting exclusively for your favorite bands and make money with your work.