Photographer spotlight: An Interview With Thomas Weidenhaupt

Photographer spotlight: An Interview With Thomas Weidenhaupt

20th October 2022

Earlier this year, we launched the inaugural Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards, the first ever awards to celebrate the art of music photography and the talent behind the lens.

The competition ran across a series of distinct categories, with winners selected by a panel of photographers, music artists and creatives. The awards recognised 2021’s most unforgettable, unique and unsung music moments and the varied and talented photographers who captured them.

Shortlisted emerging & professional photographers were unveiled and celebrated at an exclusive awards ceremony, hosted here at Abbey Road.

We recently started profiling some of the talented photographers who participated and had their work shortlisted by our judges, including Rankin, Shygirl, Jill Furmanovsky, Moses Sumney, Sacha Lecca, Dana Scruggs and Simon Wheatley.

You can read some of the previous pieces in the series below:

- Anthony Harrison

- AboveGround

- Chris Suspect (winner of the Zeitgeist Award)

- John Lyons (winner of the Live Music Photography Award)

- DeShaun Craddock

- Riccardo Piccirillo

- Neelam Khan Vela

- Hana Kovacs

- Jason Sheldon (Junction10)

- Nat Michele

- Joe Puxley (winner of the Undiscovered Award)

This week we spoke to Thomas Weidenhaupt, who was a finalist in our Undiscovered category. This category was set up to identify and recognise the emerging, unsung talent that exists in music photography. We wanted to provide a platform for the best upcoming photographers of all backgrounds forging a path in music photography.

Check back every Thursday as we continue to profile some of the talented photographers who participated.

Shortlisted Photo

Undiscovered (Category supported by adidas)

Balbina by Thomas Weidenhaupt

Photographer Spotlight: Thomas Weidenhaupt

“...a good music photographer should be able to adjust to the artist, the artist’s aesthetic and to the surroundings they’re working with, at ease.” - Thomas Weidenhaupt

Thomas Weidenahupt is a self-taught photographer and a finalist in our Abbey Road MPA’s 2021 Undiscovered category. Living and working in Germany, Thomas has photographed the likes of Anton Corbijn, Kim Gordon and Michael Stipe. Thomas has also had his work published in European Photography, Headmaster Magazine, Handelsblatt, Kaput Magazin and, to name just a few.

How did you fall into music photography specifically?

I guess I can’t link any particular era or incident to it. Soon after I started taking photos, I brought a camera to concerts, whenever it was possible. Then it took me a while to get confident enough to approach artists at the merchandise booth or outside the venue after the show to ask for a portrait.

Music was always a passion and a big part of my life. Sadly I can’t play any instruments and I guess I really shouldn’t sing in public, so maybe music photography is a convenient way for me to combine two things that I love.

And was there a particular image or body of work that was a major inspiration when starting out?

We got cable TV at home when I was ten and I was immediately hooked on MTV. Back then, I couldn’t connect the dots, but looking back I was always fascinated with the music videos that Anton Corbijn made. A few years later I also started taking interest in his photography and coincidentally, I won an Inspired by Anton Corbijn competition at FOAM in Amsterdam in 2011.

Of course there are dozens of other people that inspired me, but if I have to pick one, I’d pick Anton Corbijn, even if it is not as evident in my current photography, as it was a couple of years ago.

What makes a good subject in music photography and what makes a good music photographer?

I guess everyone can make a good subject and a good music photographer should be able to adjust to the artist, the artist’s aesthetic and to the surroundings they’re working with at ease.

Of course it’s easier to do that and to build a connection quickly, if you’re familiar with the artist and what they are doing or if you’re a fan of the artist’s genre generally.

What advice would you give to someone getting started?

From my own experience I can say that this is much easier said than done, but you should try to overcome your shyness and insecurities when approaching artists, magazines or editors, once you feel secure enough to take the next step. Yes, there’s the possibility of getting a negative response, most of the time you will probably get no response at all, but the times it ends in your favour, it feels very rewarding.

How does your approach differ when working with upcoming talent versus established artists?

I don’t think I make any differences there and I also don’t think anyone should. Maybe there are more people involved, when working with an established artist, but the working approach, the interactions and the atmosphere on set should be the same, no matter how famous someone is.

Have you ever been starstruck when photographing someone? How do you overcome that?

All the time! But so far I was lucky and everyone was always extremely nice and likable, so it didn’t take me long to overcome my nervousness.
Drab Majesty by Thomas Weidenhaupt
Casey Spooner by Thomas Weidenhaupt
Drab Majesty by Thomas Weidenhaupt

How has social media shaped music photography, both as a craft more generally, as well as your personal work?

I can only speak for myself here, but I think it shaped and also helped me a lot. Of course there are a lot of objectionable things about social media, but a platform like Instagram helped me get a lot of recognition and also a lot of inspiration from other photographers, that I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

I also got in touch with some of the artists I photographed over the years via Instagram. Sometimes I approached them, but sometimes they found my work and contacted me.

Who is someone, alive or dead, you’d love to photograph?

Concerning more upcoming artists, I really love what Working Men’s Club and PVA are doing, so taking photos of them would be brilliant, but of course I wouldn’t say no to working with someone like Rihanna or Harry Styles either.

In one word, how would you describe your photography?


How did it feel to be nominated in the Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards 2022?

Pretty overwhelming! I didn’t have much luck with competitions in the past and this was, by far, the biggest I ever applied to. Luckily I realized that I have nothing to lose and the prospect of being seen and judged by such a prominent jury was just too tempting.

I had to read the mail telling me that I was amongst the last five in the Undiscovered category quite a few times, because I couldn’t believe it at first.

Why do you think it is important to create a platform like the MPAs to showcase music photography?

I never really thought about it before I applied but actually it’s quite surprising that the awards are the first of their kind. Music photography is around us everyday, even if you don’t really pay attention to it, so showcasing and honoring all the variants and genres seems natural.

Have there been any benefits to you since being nominated?

I received a lot of nice messages and feedback after the nominations went public and it was great to finally have a reason to visit London again after a long time.

The awards and the opportunity to see Abbey Road Studios was amazing and it was so delightful to meet all the other nominees and the people involved with the awards.

I can’t really say that much in my life has changed since then but of course the awards ended up on my CV and I certainly wouldn’t mind if the nomination leads to getting some recognition by magazines or photo editors who otherwise wouldn’t have noticed me.
Don't forget to head to the official MPAs website to get a comprehensive overview of all the participants, nominations and winners. Also, follow us on Instagram at @abbeyroadmpa for more MPAs related content.

To keep up with Thomas, follow him on Instagram at @thomasweidenhaupt, Twitter at @streetpreacher and his website.

Related News