Behind the camera: Matt Warrell

MattWarrellWho are you? I’m Matt Warrell, a live music photographer from Brisbane, Australia. I love covering alternative and hiphop music from soundcheck to encore. If I’m not shooting bands I’m shooting food or insects.

How did you get started? One of my roommates in Canada had an endless supply of cameras and it made me reevaluate whether photography was an affordable hobby or not. When I moved back to Australia, I bought my first DSLR and shot every corner of my city. That grew old pretty quick, and I wanted something new and challenging. I figured that if music is another one of my passions, I should pair them together. I really liked the challenge of shooting in different lighting conditions and challenged me regularly, so I made it a mission to shoot gigs as often as I could. And that became a habit!

What’s in the bag? My primary camera is a Canon 5Dmkiii and is most often paired with a 50mm 1.2L, even though I rarely shoot at f/1.2. I also carry a 70-200mm 2.8L IS II and a 24-105mm f4L. I rarely use a flash but I take a 580EXII along just in case portraits are required.

Which photographers do you admire? Most photographers I admire don’t shoot music, but I like to apply aspects that inspire me from their photography to music. I really love the way photographers shoot with film and it inspires me to keep my commitment to it alive. Rinko Kawauchi shoots some beautiful minimalistic film pieces that work really well in a collection and on their own. Her ‘Sheets’ book is amazing. In Australia I have to note Paul Skinner. While he’s a peer of mine, he continues to pump out work that continues to inspire me to keep peeling back the excess to be left with the natural.

Your top 3 tips for music photographers?

  1. Spot meter everything. Don’t be afraid to reduce your AF points down to as few as possible to measure the light and lock it when it’s right.
  2. Don’t overstep your boundaries. If you’re permitted to shoot the first three songs, only shoot those three and get out of the photo pit. The fans should be the priority.
  3. Network with the other photographers in the pit. It’s not a competition and you can pick up a lot of work when other photographers are asked to shoot and can’t because of double bookings.

My favourite shot is? My favourite shot is this one of Dillinger Escape Plan at Soundwave Festival in Brisbane, Australia. I had no expectations because I had never seen or heard their music before, and I was unprepared for how insane their live performance is. They really made me work for these shots, but I think the strength and precision of the band really shows in this image.

How can we find out more about you and find more of your work?

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