DIY concert photographer Jesse Bush has been documenting local and visiting musicians live on stage for the past few years using only his phone’s camera. In that time he has amassed an impressive archive of performers and performances.
If you have attended more than one or two live music events in Fredericton’s downtown over the past couple of years there is a very good chance you’ve crossed paths with Jesse Bush. He can usually be found any night of the week standing side stage watching a performance, or from his preferred location, directly in front of the band, phone in hand, snapping photos and the occasional short video for his Instagram feed.
As we introduce this new series, we thought it would be fun to kick things off by learning more about that curious character at the front of the venue and hear firsthand why he does what he does.
You’re out and about at most music events that happen in the bars and clubs. How long have you been going to see live music and when did you decide to start photographing shows?
I have always really been into music, ever since I was a kid. I had seen a couple live shows growing up but it wasn’t until 2009 when the ECMAs came to Fredericton that I got bit by the live music bug. I was able to see bands like Slowcoaster, The Trews, Hey Rosetta and The Jimmy Swift Band. After seeing bands like that, I noticed how incredible the east coast music scene was and that it shouldn’t be ignored.
About four years ago I started taking photos at concerts more seriously and I haven’t looked back.
Can you explain your process? Is it all just “point and shoot and hope for the best” or do you take time to think about how to approach each artist on stage?
Since I frequent some places often I now know where to stand for the best angles. I like to take quite a few photos in hopes of capturing a great moment. I also try to get a picture of each member of the band, not just the front person. Along with the pictures, I do a write up about the band on my Instagram to help promote the artist.
Tell us about your gear. Are you shooting with your phone or a proper camera that lets you adjust settings to suit each environment?
I shoot all my photos with my phone. I find it easier and more mobile for the shows I am going to. I currently use a Google Pixel 6a. I am also looking into getting a full size camera in the near future. I believe a combination of both would be ideal. I do like how incognito you can be with a phone camera though.
Who are some of your favourite artists to photograph or do you have a genre of music you prefer for any reason?
Local artists are my favorite to photograph because exposing the local music scene is very important to me. Bands like The Hypochondriacs, Kylie Fox and Marian are a few of my favourite local bands to shoot. I also really enjoy taking photos of July Talk. Their live show and stage antics always make for some unique photos.
I really enjoy all genres of music from rock to hip-hop to classical. But if I had to choose one, I would say folk rock.
Why do you do it? What drives you to go out week after week and document the city’s music scene?
I love live music. I can’t get enough of it. If I go over a week without seeing some form of live music I’ll start itching for it. It’s almost like an addiction.
I know the local artists really appreciate it too. There have been many shows where I had taken the only photos and had captured a moment for the artist that otherwise would have gone undocumented. I believe that Fredericton has something special going on right now in the music scene and it needs to be exposed and promoted.