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INTERVIEW: Photographer Judie Vegh (Gallery Show Opening On Friday)

If you dabble even just a little in the independent music and art scene in Cleveland then you probably know photographer and writer Judie Vegh. And if you don’t know her, you surely know her work, because well, it’s everywhere. She’s shot or written for pretty much every Cleveland music blog you can think of (and some outside Cleveland as well.) and they’re all the better for it. And now you have the opportunity to see her photography in tangible form on the walls of the gallery at Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, 2345 Lee Rd. now through the end of January. The gallery opening party is on Friday, January 6th from 6 – 8pm.

We caught up with Judie to get more details about her work and the show.

Justin: First things first, let’s talk about this show. How did it come about?

Judie: Stephanie Trivison (Singer/guitarist of These Knees) brought it to my attention on Twitter. The library was looking for applicants and so I applied. Stephanie has always been supportive of my work and has my back. I admire her as a person and a musician, so I’m grateful that she thought of me when she saw that tweet!

When putting a show together, what’s your process of choosing what to include and what not to include and exclude?

I’m pretty picky when it comes to what photos I will or will not show. When a musician becomes emotional or lost in the music is when I take my best shots, and those are the ones I pick to show the world.

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It’s no secret that through your work, you’re an ambassador for local music. Will you be showing any photos of local musicians? 

I love the local music scene in Cleveland and have made some great friends in it along the way and am grateful for becoming a part of it over the years. The photos at this particular gallery showing are national acts only (even counting Cleveland natives, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony). I am working on a project that include local musicians currently, and I hope to have it completed in 2017 for another show!

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Let’s talk about this Juliette Lewis thing. I watched it all unfold in real time on Facebook and it was pretty exciting.

I applied for a press pass for Riot Fest Denver, and got denied. Someone else for the music publication I write for got approved for the Chicago fest instead. (He totally killed it in his coverage, by the way). I was already planning on going to Riot Fest, so I grabbed my point and shoot and made my way to the front of all my favorite artists. I captured Juliette Lewis there and when I posted it on social media, she saw it and sent me a message to put me in contact with her manager. The rest is history

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What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened when shooting a show?

Where do I begin? Probably one of the weirdest experiences was surprisingly at a Dolly Parton show. I had to shoot from the soundboard along with 5 other photographers. There were some people seated behind us. One of them was a woman who had one beer too many, and started pushing and screaming at me to get out of her way because she couldn’t see. When I explained it was part of my job she said she didn’t care because she knows I didn’t pay for my seats and she did and then pushed me again. Security took care of the rest.

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What are some of your favorite shows that you’ve shot? Both local and national.

Foxygen at the Rock Hall was probably one of my favorite shows to shoot. Sam France is so intense on stage, and I happened to be standing right in front of him the whole time to photograph him. I got some amazing shots out of it. I also love shooting of Montreal because it’s always a spectacle; so colorful and vibrant, and you never know what to expect. For local shows, I might be biased, but I love  photographing These Knees. I’m also a fan of Fake Species, Golden Streets of Paradise, Johnny La Rock & Furface, Muamin Collective and Ottawa.

Who are your bucket list artists? Who would you love the opportunity to photograph?

Beyonce or Björk or both on the same stage.

Will people be able to purchase prints at the show? 

Yes. If you are interested in a print or a framed print at the gallery, you can get in touch with me on my Facebook page (OyVegh Photography) or get in touch via Instagram, Twitter or email. 10% of any sale made from the gallery (framed images) will go to the Friends of Heights Library and another 10% I am planning on donating to Planned Parenthood because women’s health is important to me.

What’s next for you, both with writing and photography?

I am not sure yet. I’ve always just taken things in stride. I’ve been shooting shows for a few years now, and it’s given me so many amazing unexpected opportunities. It would be great to be published in a larger music publication like Pitchfork, Paste or Rolling Stone, but I’m going to just keep doing what I’m doing and see what life throws at me next.

Any other local photographers readers should check out? 

For concert photography, I have to point out those I’ve met in the pit and have shown a mutual respect and support through the years: Pete Roche, Mara Robinson, Janet Macoska, and Joe Kleon. I’m also an official member of a group called The Photo Ladies, which consists of about 200 women concert photographers around the world. They are so talented and amazing, and have helped me through this past year. We also have a community page for aspiring concert photographers to network.

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