Do What You Love: An Interview with Artist Vicki Berndt

Published on March 30th, 2008 in: Art, Feminism, Interviews, Issues, Music |

redd kross
Redd Kross
© Vicki Berndt

Popshifter: You talked about your photography and how you’d gotten burned out on that for a while. It actually seems from all your work I’ve seen that it’s all bands that I like. I guess that’s because they’re all kind of related in some way.

Vicki Berndt: A lot of the bands I took pictures of were related in that they all rehearsed at the same place, so they all knew each other, they were friends with each other. . . you know that web of interconnectedness. They were bands that I loved that I used to go see, they were people I knew, so I wanted to take photos of them. I was like, “That sounds like fun!” It’s fun to work with people that you like and that you know or you’re a fan of.

A big part of the way I took jobs was if I wanted to do them, rather than having to do them and pretend I wanted to, to get paid. A big part of why I got tired of doing photography is that to make a living at it you have to take all the jobs you can get and a lot of them are record company jobs, industry jobs, with creepy industry people and not just your friends. And then it’s like what we were saying before, it’s just a drag and why bother?

Popshifter: Are there any bands that you haven’t photographed that you still would like to?

Vicki Berndt: Sometimes I’ll see a band and I’ll think, “Wow, how great it would be to photograph them like this” or “They would look great if I did this.” Or there’s also. . . like I really love Slade and I wish I could take their picture. But whatever (laughs), they’re retired.

Popshifter: That’s like the time machine thing: if I could go back in time what are the top ten bands I’d like to see live?

Vicki Berndt: I mean, sometimes I got to do that, too. Sometimes I’d get a call for a job and it was something in my top ten. Like, what if I got to photograph Chow Yun-Fat from the John Woo movies? And I did! I got the job! And I was like, “Oh my god!” Sometimes it would be like that. . . and you’re so excited. You’re almost too nervous to take the time to do a good job. And you’ll be like (adopts “cool” voice), “Yeah, so what? That’s cool, yeah.”

Popshifter: (laughs) I completely relate to that.

Vicki Berndt: Sometimes I’ll see somebody and think how they would be great to photograph but I don’t really have the urge to get all my equipment out and drag it down to some studio. It’s so much harder to be a photographer (laughs) because you have to tote tons of crap everywhere and set up. . .

Click to read more from Vicki Berndt on. . .

Tiny Tim
Art as commerce
St. Johnny Thunders
The fanzine approach
Photographing bands
The punk rock aesthetic and what’s next

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