INSIGHTS INTERVIEW

Building The Rockstar Photographer

If you are interested in concert photography, you may well of heard the name Matthias Hombauer. As a music photographer or more importantly as an incredibly hardworking and influential mentor, Matthias plays a huge role in the gig photography community. Many of you joined us after listening to our podcast interview with Matthias late last year. If you are yet to have a listen, his podcast showcases a HUGE amount of great advice from people right across the industry. You can find it here.

Matthias’ journey in the concert photography industry is a rather epic one to date, starting off as a molecular biologist doing his Ph.D. thesis, expecting to win the Novel prize then having a complete flip in careers and following his dream of combining music and photographer to become a ‘Rockstar Photographer’. You can read all about Matthias’ journey on his website https://www.howtobecomearockstarphotographer.com/about/

MatthiasHombauer

The birth of How To Become A Rockstar Photographer has seen Matthias grow a concert photography community right across the globe. Ranging from complete beginners through to some of the best kick-ass photographers on the planet. With regular podcasts, now with over 37 episodes, a very strong hashtag presence on Instagram with over 151,800 mentions currently with #htbarp and an online academy offering to take photographers from zero to hero. Giving them the tools, tips and insights into the world of concert photography.

Matthias has built, in our opinion, one of the go to place to chat with other like minded people, building the confidence to push the boundaries, sharing tips and tricks as well keeping up to date with the industry, you can join today by liking https://www.facebook.com/groups/HTBARPfreeCommunity/

It is great to have so many gig photographers come together and share ideas, work, dreams and advice across several gig photography communities. Our core belief at Shout About It is to bring photographers together and Matthias certainly exceeds with that.

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We caught up with Matthias recently, reflecting on the past 12 months and what the future looks like for the How To Become A Photographer community.

Hi Matthias, first of all, thank you for taking time out your busy schedule to chat to the Shout About It readers. Your story is a brilliant one and we could chat for days about all you have achieved to date and the processes involved in that, but appreciate how hectic you must be, not only running an incredibly successful business but also having a baby in the family.

You have witnessed many success stories come through the ‘How To Become A Rockstar‘ community, helping people go from never shooting in the pit to landing huge international contracts, if you could share one success story from the past year, what would it be?

“First of all thanks for your nice introduction and it’s great to be also part of the Shout About It community. Unfortunately I was not able to join your exhibition in person, but I made sure that some of my photos were exhibited as well.

There are so many awesome stories from people who googled “how to become a concert photographer”, joined my project and are now successful music photographers who are living their passion.

A cool story is the one from Nici Eberl. I did a podcast interview with her (https://www.howtobecomearockstarphotographer.com/podcast-nici-eberl/) and this is a short version of it:”

In the words of Nici Eberl, “I had a passion for Music and Photography since I can think and somehow ended up being the photographer of an Austrian Youth Magazine when I was still at school. And that was the time when I shot my first ever gigs but to be honest I had no idea what I was doing – Auto Mode was my best friend. Just when I moved to London I realised that Music Photography is what I really want to do. I kept watching the photographers in the pit and dreamed of being one of them but never ever would I have though that I’m really going to end up being in there. My biggest weakness was my insecurity. I never felt good enough and was too shy to present my work.”

Concert - La Dispute
La Dispute is performing on January 20th 2012 in the B72, Vienna

“Matthias’ course Shooting The Rockstars made me realise that there is no reason to be afraid and that I am not the only one who struggles sometimes. The course and our Shooting The Rockstar community has helped me grow and made me get my name out there. I learned how the music biz works and how I can use my Social Media channels. It helped me build some great relationships and I know when I have a question there is always someone in our community who knows an answer.

Since I completed Matthias’ training I started to work as House Photographer for the O2 Forum in London, covered my first Festivals, got published in Kerrang! and the O2 Magazine, shot gigs for the Academy Music Group and TicketWeb and I have had over 300 bands in front of my lens.

Now all you have to do is work hard and follow your passion and your dreams can become reality.”

In the past year, we have seen the rise of HTBARP podcast, for us, this is something I listen to religiously. Every episode offers a different perspective, and different insight as well as an international understanding of how different the culture of the role is within different parts of the world.

With over 38 episodes now to date, did you ever imagine it would take off as much as it has?

“Honestly speaking, I didn’t know what to expect. I was new to Podcasting and had never interviewed anybody before. But going through hundreds of emails and comments, I realised that almost every concert photographer experiences struggles in this industry. It’s hard to decide which equipment and camera settings you should use when starting out as concert photographer, it’s challenging to get Photo passes for the big shows, it´s almost impossible to shoot directly for your idols and making money as concert photographer seems to be a dream everyone is chasing but only a few photographers are able to achieve.

This made me think. How valuable would it be to learn from the best and most influential music photographers on this planet? Hear their secrets, struggles, successes and crazy stories from their Rockstar life in order to help grow everyones career in our community.

After 38 episodes with music photographers such as Kat Benzova (Tour Photographer Guns N Roses, AC/DC), Zack Whitford (Tour Photographer Aerosmith) and Scott Kelby to name a few, my Podcast got already 38 000+ listens, and 100+ 5* reviews in iTunes.

In addition, I offer a free HTBARP Podcast App where you can listen to all the episodes in one app for iOS and Android.

Recently I started a Patreon campaign where you can get exclusive VIP rewards (e.g. asking your questions to my guests) for supporting my show. https://www.patreon.com/htbarppodcast

What direction do you see the podcast going in 2018?

“My vision with the Podcast is to interview the best 100 music photographers and write a book about the key findings. Part of myself is still a researcher and I love to do experiments and collect data. Writing this book will be my next big project for 2018. And of course there are a lot of cool music photographers out there who I would love to have as my guest in the show.”

The HTBARP community is growing day by day, some many connections have been made, and in fact we have a lot of photographers who contribute to us who have a link to your community, including our very own founder Georgia Flynn who was featured in episode 15 (https://www.howtobecomearockstarphotographer.com/podcast-georgia-flynn/ )

What can we expect in 2018 coming from HTBARP?

“I am always trying to evolve and come up with new ideas on how to grow the HTBARP community and help more people. So, there are some new projects coming up for 2018.

The Beginners Guide to Concert Photography

I just published my Beginners Guide as both ebook and video course version. This is a step-by-step guide that covers the basis such as “How to get started as concert photographer?”, “Which equipment should I buy when I am on a budget?”, and “Which camera settings should I use to get awesome concert shots?”. You can find more info here: https://www.howtobecomearockstarphotographer.com/beginners-guide-concert-photography-video-course/

Guest Blogs on HTBARP

I came up with the idea to feature HTBARP community members on my homepage by allowing guest articles. This will give up and coming talents the opportunity to share their stories, reviews and experiences with a large audience (269 000 page views, 130 000 visitors from 201 countries). I’ll start this project soon.

HTBARP Werkschau

The HTBARP Werkschau (german for “body of work”) is my online publication where I feature photographers who tagged their concert photos on Instagram with the hashtag #htbarp. So far we reached almost 151 800 photos and I published 3 issues. The plan for 2018 is to publish issue 4 and 5 and maybe a special edition (which is still secret).

Social Media Marketing courses for concert photographers

We all know that you need to get your work seen by the right people. The easiest way is to post on your social media channels and attract bands, music managers and labels in order to build a relationship. It sounds simple, but most people feeling overwhelmed with all the different social media platforms and struggle to use them in their favour. Therefore, I decide to record an Instagram video course for concert photographers where I share all the strategies and tools that I am using to build my following. The course will be out in February. In the future there are plans to do other courses specifically for Twitter and Facebook too.”

You have made it your mission to help others to live their concert photography dreams, but would you say you are living your dream life as well? Is there anything you would have changed if you were to start again, or are their ways you are looking to improve the already reputable service?

“Yes, I am definitely living my dream life right now. It took me 37 years until I found out what I really want to do in life. This might surprise some of you, but I am really a family guy. I have a 1.5 years old daughter and since her birth a lot has changed. Before I was shooting concerts 3 times per week, worked 12+ hours in front of my computer and was touring around the world with bands. As important and exciting these experiences were, as happy I am now working in my home office, handling my own business and take care of my family.

There are always ways to improve my brand and I am working hard to keep the quality and consistency of the HTBARP project.”

Concert - Fink
Fink during a concert on November 14th 2011 at WUK in Vienna

What is your ultimate goal? Is it more of a coaching role, or one of the best photographers on the planet?

“My goal was never to become the best photographer on the planet ;). I am just a guy who loves taking photos of his favourite bands and it happened that my vision resonated with others. I am really grateful that there are so many people out there who appreciate and support what I am doing.

My ultimate goal with HTBARP is to inspire and motivate people to do the things that they really love. The aim is not to make people quit their job and become concert photographer fo a living (which we all know is very hard), but to show them an opportunity to reach goals that they have never dreamed of. Nici, a student of mine is the perfect example. She had a passion for music photography but was very insecure. This insecurity didn’t allow her to go the next steps until she realised that there is no reason to be afraid and now she is shooting for the cooler venues in London.

The only reason why we are not living our dreams is because we don’t allow ourselves to be happy. I want to show people that its possible.”

Now, we talk about How To Become A Rockstar Photographer, but what would you say is the complete package in being THE Rockstar Photographer?

“Haha. The complete package is that I don’t have the time to shoot many concerts anymore (which hopefully will change in 2018).”

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Like any start up business, back in the day when you first started, did you have any moments when you thought the business was going to fail? Or maybe you would go back to being a molecular biologist?

“I was doubting my business almost weekly for the last 3 years. This was a hard time, but also a learning experience. Being a molecular biologist and hiding in the laboratory is quite the opposite than being a role model for thousands of people and running a business. I started from scratch and it took me years until I figured out a way how to grow a successful business. I invested $10,000 in workshops and online courses to learn from the best. I found mentors that taught me how to automate my business, do online marketing and finally starting to sell my products. 

A tip for everyone who wants to start out his own business: it’s not a sprint its a marathon. But it’s possible if you have the burning desire to change the world for the better.”

The growth of your community has been huge, you have many supporters of your work who really have got behind you, which is amazing. Do you ever see HTBARP taking on full time members of staff or does your model rely on the community to keep everything alive.

“This is a good question. Right now, I am am at a tipping point. As my mentor always says…

“Success is following an exponential growth and you’re right at the beginning of the rise”.

“So far I was able to manage all the tasks on my own, but as the business grows you realise that you can’t do everything by yourself anymore. Especially with my daughter I’ll end up having only a few hours per day to work on my projects.

Let’s take my HTBARP Podcast as example. The Podcast is a weekly show and to ensure it’s continuity I need: a graphic designer (Slovenia), someone who is doing the audio post production (Scotland) and someone who transcribes the interviews (England).

For my courses I have an editor (Netherlands), for my homepage a software developer (Bulgaria), and for sending my stickers a friend (Austria).

As you can see it takes some thought what you really need. It would be awesome to have a full time staff who can handle my day to day duties, but at the moment this is not an option.”

2017 was an incredibly busy year for you, whilst growing HTBARP, have you had the chance to sit back and just watch what an incredible thing you are doing? The amount of lives you’ve influenced? the amount of opportunities you’ve provided tools for?

“I get emails and comments on social media from people thanking me every day, which is awesome and which keeps me doing the project. Sometimes it feels just unreal to me. I am sitting here in my home office in Vienna and talking to the best photographers and helping thousands of people I have never met in person. It has been a hell of a crazy ride since I started the project, but I love every second of the journey.”

As a business owner, it’s easy to keep your head down working harder and harder on the next product, but on behalf of myself and all at Shout About It, I want to thank you for all you have done in 2017.

We look forward to seeing what you bring to 2018, but what changes do you want to happen in the concert photographer next year? Is there anything you think the community can do to keep this dream alive for so many people?

“Thank you so much and keep up the awesome work you guys are doing with Shout About It. It’s great to see others who help and support the concert photography community.

There has been a lot of discussion in my community and also with my podcast guests on how they see the future of concert photography. With more “rights grabbing” contracts from bands and even photographer bans from shows it’s hard to see a positive trend. On the other hand bands are starting requesting fan photos which they can use at no cost.

What I would like to see is a harmonisation between the music industry and photographers. We are all siting in the same boat and are depending on each other. I have never understood why it always feels like we are at war and have to fight for our rights. I am definitely trying to get people from the music industry onto my podcast and learn their point of view.

It might sound negative, but I think this is just a reality check of our business. However, if you know the pitfalls and limitations in this business you can easily avoid bad surprises and enjoy shooting your favourite bands.”

We want to thank you once again for your time Matthias, it has been absolutely amazing to be able to get your insights on the industry. We love what you’ve done for the community and love that we are able to communicate with so many incredible photographers, and its all because of you.

You may have seen Matthias mention our exhibition in the interview, guess what?! We’ve just announce Shout About It Live 2!! We are so excited for this, want to know how you can get involved? Are you a photographer? click here. Are you in a band and interested in playing? click here.

If you want to hear more one Matthias Journey, the following links are below:
Podcast: https://www.howtobecomearockstarphotographer.com/podcast/
FREE Facebook Community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HTBARPfreeCommunity/
Academy Website: http://www.shootingtherockstars.com/
Tools : https://www.howtobecomearockstarphotographer.com/tools/

The Prodigy
The Prodigy performing on 06.07.2013 t the Urban Arts Form, Schwarzl See, Styria, Austria

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Concert - La Dispute
La Dispute is performing on January 20th 2012 in the B72, Vienna

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