Facebook Pixel Photographing the Stars - An Interview with Photographer Martin Philbey

Photographing the Stars – An Interview with Photographer Martin Philbey

Robbiewilliams8527Today I have a real treat for you in the form of some pictures and an interview with Award winning Pro Photographer Martin Philbey.

Martin is a fellow Australian who has photographed some of the biggest names in the Music Industry around the world. His work regularly appears in music media publications such as Rolling Stone and on the covers of CDs and DVDs of artists.

Martin has been kind enough to take some time out of his day today to answer a few of my questions on his photography and business and has been generous in allowing us to publish four images from his folio of work. The images feature Robbie Williams, Destinys Child, Wolfmother and Silverchair (in order of appearance).

You can see more of Martin’s work at his website – www.philbey.com.au which showcases more of his music photography but also his portrait and sports work.

A big thank you to Martin for agreeing spend some time with us today.

1. Martin could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into photography?

I’m now in my early 40’s and started as most people do – when I got my first SLR camera as a 20 year old and started to shoot pictures of my friends and family. I started to contribute stock to a picture agency specializing in Sport and got a full time job as a crime scene photographer.

Part of that job was learning so I completed a 2 year part time course in advanced photography. I quit the Crime Scene Job in 1996 and became a full time freelance photographer.

I started to shoot Music and artist related pictures in the early 90’s and became a regular contributor to Rolling Stone Magazine in 1998. I continue to cover Sporting events for Australian Associated Press, and the West Australian Newspaper, and I shoot music related pictures for a variety of clients (including Magazines, Record Companies, Artist Management, Manufacturers etc) in Australia and overseas.

2. What photographic gear do you mainly use?

Nikon D2X and fast lenses from 10mm to 400 mm. Bowens lighting gear for inside and Norman lights for location work.

Destinys Child0777

3. Your work spans a range of types of work from sports to music and live events to portrait work – which do you enjoy the most?

Whichever one gives me a good picture! They all have their pros and cons and can be really tough or really easy. Depends on so many things (ie The weather, the sport, where you’re allowed to shoot from, the light, the subject being easy going or difficult and so on). I generally only shoot things that I do enjoy – I occasionally do commercial jobs that aren’t that interesting but pay well.

4. Many DPS readers dream of ‘going Pro’ with their photography – how would you advise they start out and get a foot in the door in the industry?

Shoot lots! Edit tight. Only show people what you want them to see – a famous Sports Illustrated photographer I once assisted told me not to worry about the hundreds of bad pictures you can take during event coverage – just the few really good ones.

Unfortunately your talent as a photographer is only going to get you so far and taking good pictures is only a small part of being a successful photographer. There are many other aspects of working for yourself that are just as important:

Dealing well with (unreasonable) clients, planning and logistics, technical know how, marketing and selling your work, financial, negotiation, ownership of rights and the list goes on.

It’s an extremely tough and competitive industry in a country with a small population so you must be driven and highly motivated to get a foot in the door anywhere. As photography covers such a huge scope (ie Editorial, Commercial, Fashion, Art, Architecture, Scientific, PR etc etc) you need to identify the direction you want to head in and start down that path.

It is increasingly tough in this corporate/global environment where a few Corporations control most of the companies.

The two best pieces of advise I can give are: Don’t work for free or for cheap. It devalues what we all do and won’t get you more work. You’ll just become known as “that guy/girl who works for free or cheap”.

Don’t take rejection personally – be professional and push on.


5. What do you wish you knew when you first started out that you know now about your work?

Everything! You never stop learning about photography/business/life.

6. Can you share a technical tip with our readers to help them get better results with their digital cameras?

If your camera allows it – shoot manual exposure. Don’t let the camera do all the work for you. You will learn a lot more.

Look closely at the work of established photographers whose work you like and see how they do things.

Watch your backgrounds.


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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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