Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hey Detroit, Meet Jeannette Fleury

Photo by: Jeannette Fleury -
Taken at an animal park on the island Langkawi off the coast of Malaysia

The Detroit music scene is made up of a lot of different parts, the musicians who take the stage and entertain us are only one piece of the puzzle. For instance, there are people who design the flyers that advertise the events, promoters who get the word out, fans who attend the shows, and photographers who capture the moment.

Great photographers can capture the smell, the sound, the light, and the feel of whatever they are photographing. In fact, my favorite photographs are usually taken when the subject doesn't know that picture is being taken. That is precisely what attracted me to local photographer Jeannette Fleury. She has been shooting a lot of concerts, some party photographs, and every time I see one of her galleries (usually in Metro Times) I feel like I was at the event with her. She takes the most beautiful photos of people out dancing, laughing, and having fun. She doesn't just take a couple hundred party pics of friends standing together, she actually captures the night and shows you what it was like to be there.  So Detroit, meet Jeannete Fleury. I know you have seen her around clicking away, it is time to get to know a little bit more about the lady behind the camera.

HID- When did you discover photography and what drew you to it?
Jeannette Fleury- "When I was in the Fourth grade we took a family trip to Hawaii to honor my grandfather who had just passed. His final request was to have his ashes scattered at his favorite fishing spot. That was the first time I had ever been anywhere that looked different from all the United States suburbs I was accustomed to and kept begging my mom to let me use the family film camera she had brought. I guess because I wanted to be able to look at scenes from this place again and knew she wasn’t doing a very good job. One night there was an incredible sunset, everyone was outside on the beach and the camera was unguarded. So knowing full well I probably would get yelled at later, I snapped a photo anyway. I HAD to. When my mom developed the roll she found the picture of the sunset and said “I don’t remember taking this” thinking I was in for it I fessed up. But rather than be punished, I was designated the official family photographer from that point on. I did in later years get yelled at many times for taking too many photos of strangers and not enough of the family."

HID- What kind of equipment do you shoot with?
JF- "I have a Canon 5D, a 24-105mm lens, a 50mm lens I’ve been borrowing, and a 430ex Speedlite flash. I have quite the bare bones operation."

HID- What makes a good picture?
JF- "There is really no one way to answer this. To me it’s something other worldly, some deep down gut reaction response to a perfectly captured moment. Just like any medium, if it makes the viewer feel something, it’s probably been successful."

HID- What other photographers inspire you?
JF- "There are so many talented local photographers around Detroit its hard to pick. I follow the work of a lot of great folks. But of course the main one that stands out would be Joe Gall, I’ve been a huge fan of his work for years. He captures all that is beautiful in Detroit and America in general. In terms of concert photography I greatly admire the work of Scott Legato and Marc Nader."

HID- What types of things do you like to photograph?
JF- "I grew up with National Geographic, so before I could even read I was fascinated with the photos. My favorite things to photograph are people in other cultures. I have been really fortunate to be able to travel to a lot of different places, Malaysia being one of them. Though the trip itself was extraordinarily stressful for different reasons, I took some of my favorite photos there."

HID- When did you start working with Metro Times?
JF- "A little over a year ago."

HID- What is your roll over at the MT?
JF- "My role is to capture Detroiters doing what they do best, having a shitload of fun. I have been extremely fortunate to go to so many incredible (and sometimes extremely odd) events throughout this glorious city of ours. Everything from Arts Beats & Eats, to a fashion show at the Tangent Gallery that featured colorful and creative pubic wigs that was called “A’merkin Show” (Merkin being the term for pubic wigs. Google it)."

HID- You cover a lot of local events and bands, do you have a favorite band, venue, or bar to photograph?
JF- "My love of Flint Eastwood pretty much knows no bounds. They were one of the first bands I covered for MT and it was incredible. It was right around my birthday and I was going through a bit of a rough patch emotionally as I tend to do every year around that time. But as I learned that evening, it is impossible to leave a Flint Eastwood show feeling bad about anything. Jax Anderson has a way of uniting a crowd I have rarely experienced. Everyone just dances their asses off and forgets their worries, mostly because she demands it of you and also there is a song called “Moments” that demands it of you. I think I have seen them probably around five times at this point and what I have noticed mainly is that I don’t think I've ever seen one damn frown in the crowd.

The Loving Touch in Ferndale is my favorite venue for just about every reason. It’s cozy with an awesome interior, they have cheap drinks and a delicious selection of beers from the WAB, everyone that works there is extremely nice, and they have really great lights which makes for lovely photos."

HID- What celebrity or band would you most like to photograph?
JF- "Working with MT I have been able to scratch quite a few off my bucket list. Marilyn Manson was definitely a highlight this year. I have always wanted to photograph KISS to be honest. That would be incredible, but I don’t know how many tours they have left in them before someone breaks a hip."

HID- Tell us about the first time that you got to photograph a big show, how did you prepare for it? How did it go?
JF- "The first really big show I got to photograph was the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago in 2008 back when I was living there. It came due to a fortuitous passing along of my name by another photographer whom I had been working with on a local music blog called Radio Free Chicago. But the thing was, I was back in Michigan visiting when I had the missed call saying I was approved for a Media/VIP pass. I had been at a friend’s house imbibing….a fair amount of adult beverages at around 9 p.m. when I got the voice mail. I freaked out and immediately called my brother to beg him to drive me back to Chicago so I could make the second day of the fest. My brother being the beautiful soul that he is dropped everything to drive me all the way back to Chicago in the middle of the night and I am forever grateful. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life getting to share the photo pit with photographers from all around the country and from various big time news outlets."

HID- What is the best photo that you have ever taken in your opinion?
JF- "To date my personal favorite photo I’ve taken is one of the images I shot with my medium format camera I had in Chicago (which I’ve since had to sell for financial reasons.) It was on the very first roll of film before I knew how to use the camera properly, and I accidentally exposed the roll to sunlight when unloading it which ruined the entire roll except for about five images. My favorite is the one of some kids playing in the Crown Fountain, I love the light leaks that resulted from my idiocy."

Photo: Jeannette Fleury


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