Q: How long have you been a concert photographer for and how did you end up in the industry?
A: The first official show I photographed was a festival called HeavyFest in 2013, organised by an Australian heavy music magazine called Heavy. It was at a small local venue, there were about 14 bands from memory over two stages, and the lighting was terrible, but I didn’t know better at that point.
I was crammed into this tiny photographers pit for about seven hours with ten or more other photographers having both punters and the band members coming over the top of us, having beer spilt on us, bottles thrown towards us, and it was that night I became completely hooked on music photography.
Q: What is your favourite concert(s) you've ever photographed?
A: Wow, well there’s been a lot of gigs, and a most of them have been awesome. The first arena concert I shot was Muse, so that was a pretty big deal then, also at the same venue I’ve photographed Alice Cooper and Motley Crue, The Cure, Green Day to name just a few.
And while all of those shows were incredibly memorable events, the best show I have shot by far was one of my favourite bands on the planet, Iron Maiden.
I can't imagine too many other bands topping that experience for me. Metallica maybe, or possibly Black Sabbath if I'd had that opportunity but so far that Iron Maiden gig has been the pinnacle so far.
Additionally, it's the festivals that I love to photograph! They often require a lot of pre-planning, can be a real strain when it comes to equipment management, mentally and your physical condition but man, they are just so much fun!
Festivals just give you so much bang for your buck, and the experience often outweighs any struggles you might encounter along the way.
***Iron Maiden*** Photo by Matt Allan
Q: Have you always worn hearing protection while shooting shows? What sorts of hearing protection have tried in the past?
A: There was one time that I didn’t, but that was a couple of years before I started doing it on any serious level. Mostly because I hadn’t planned on being at this concert in the first place, so I was woefully unprepared for it.
As it turned out, I was sitting on the floor of this venue right in front of a massive speaker snapping photos like a crazy person with no idea of the cost my hearing would pay for it afterwards.
After walking out of the venue a couple of hours later, I could barely hear a thing for the next three days, and for all intensive purposes, I was about 80% deaf.
It was then that I realised the importance of hearing protection.
Unfortunately, what that meant to me was heading out to by a bunch of those cheap squishy disposable plugs, and while they did certainly stop my ears from ringing, they offered absolutely no quality of sound at all.
At that point, I figured that while it would be great to hear the music, my job was to take photos and not rock out in the photo pit, so I didn’t pay it much thought. Man, was I wrong about that!
Q: How did you find out about Eargasm Earplugs? What do you like about them compared to what you've tried in the past?
A: My friend and fellow concert photographer in Austria, Matthias Hombauer wrote a very comprehensive review on different earplugs, and he rated Eargasm right up there with the best, so that sparked my interest.
Then another concert photographer here in Melbourne, Lucinda Goodwin posted up some shots of here Eargasm earplugs, and I started asking about them, so I decided to buy a pair for myself to see what they were like for myself.
Unfortunately, the price was a factor in choosing which earplugs I was going to buy. Custom moulded options are just far too expensive for me but I was impressed with the reasonable cost of getting a pair of Eargasm to me in Australia from the States, and as I didn’t know how I would like them, it seemed like a chance I could afford at the time.
What surprised the hell out of me though, was that when wearing them at the next concert was how much music I could still hear! While I didn’t think that was important as I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only did I have a far better experience but it helped me in noticing such as audio cues. Having better clarity meant that I missed important shots less often. Plus, I can hear when the security guys yell out for me to get out of the way which is always a good thing too.
***One of our favorite photos Matt Allan took of our earplugs***
Q: Do you see fellow concert attendees and photographers wearing hearing protection? If not, why do you think people avoid using it?
A: Since I have started to use Eargasm plugs myself, I have begun to take notice of the hearing protection my colleagues are using, and for the most part, the standard seems to be still disposable.
Recently I have seen a few more photographers and friends sporting the little aluminium cases which have been great, and of course, I am trying to convince my everyone to invest.
Surprisingly though, I know of a few concert photographers who still wear no hearing protection at all and when I ask them why for the most part they either say it doesn’t feel comfortable or that the ‘damage has been done already’ so why to bother.
***Green Day*** Photo by Matt Allan
Thanks again to Matt for taking the time to speak with us. If you would like to learn more about Matt's work here is information:
Website - http://mattallanphotos.com
Instagram - @mattallanphotos
Facebook - https://facebook.com/