Based in Vienna, Austria, Julia Altenburger realized her love for photography when she received her first camera from her stepdad in 2010. Ever since then, she has photographed a number of acts including Lights, Macklemore and CHVRCHES. Opening up to us about a number of things, Julia took some time to share a few of her favorite photographs and the memorable stories behind them.
When did you start showing an interest in photography?
It must have been around 2010 when I got my stepdad’s old slightly broken Fujifilm bridge camera. I used to be that kid who always brought her camera on school trips.
Have you taken any photography classes or were you self taught?
A mix of both. I have taken one or two photography classes covering the basics, I learned a lot through YouTube videos and tutorials like FroKnowsPhoto and last, but not least, my stepdad has been a huge support ever since, both knowledge and equipment wise.
Polo To The Masses
What gear do you typically shoot with?
I have a Nikon D7000 and for concerts, I always carry my Sigma 35mm 1.4 with me. In the beginning, my go-to lens was my stepdad’s Nikon 50mm 1.8, but lately I like borrowing his new Nikon 85mm 1.4 instead. For everyday photography or on holidays where I only bring a lens or two, I often use the Tamron 28-75mm 2.8.
A lot of young photographers have a mindset that you need the most high-end equipment to achieve the best photos. What is your take on this idea?
Well, to some extent, because especially for low-light photography like concert photography, the more light-sensitive the lenses, the more expensive they are, but you can achieve a lot with less, too. On the other hand, even the priciest gear doesn’t automatically mean better photos if you don’t know how to use it. In the end, it’s not so much about the camera, but rather who’s behind the lens.
What was the first show you ever photographed?
Lights with Phia as support playing in Berlin in September 2012. It was the first time that I travelled to another country to see a concert and thought if I’m already traveling nine hours to see Lights, I also want to document the show. So I just sent out a photo request and was allowed to shoot the first three songs. Looking back, the photos were crap though.
When you first started out, did your taste in music impact what bands/artists you photographed and is that still something that happens today?
It did and still does I’d say. My taste in music is very broad though and I’m open for a lot of different stuff, so that doesn’t really limit the possibilities.
How would you describe your shooting style?
Can’t really describe it, but I guess I’m trying to document and capture emotions.
Out of your portfolio, what photograph are you the most proud of and why?
That’s a tough one, I can’t just pick one concert photo. If candid shots off stage count too, this portrait of Tay Jardine has to be one of my favourites. The fans were already pushing their way into the venue while I was standing outside waiting because I knew I was allowed to shoot the show from the front anyway. I was just standing there when I suddenly grasp that Tay is leaning on the rail by the river right next to me! So I walked up to her and asked if I could take some pictures of her while she continued to feed the ducks. She’s such a lovely person!
Especially these past few years, the amount of photographers in the music industry has increased. Do you ever try and separate yourself from the group to stand out or is it something you don’t think about?
I do my own thing, but of course, also get inspired by and admire other photographer’s work. I want to try out to be more experimental with my editing in the future.
What is the best advice you could give to young aspiring photographers?
It’s all about practise. Hard work, persistence and asking goes a long way.
Interview by Rachael Dowd
Portrait of Julia by Thomas Suchanek