Q&A with photographer Christi Bushby - her main sources of inspiration now consists of nature and music

"I believe the impact of photography and music is tremendous, and the implications can be powerful."

Christi Bushby: Talking With The Lens

Christi Bushby is a Northwest Indiana photographer, residing in Griffith. A lifelong resident, beginning in Hessville, her interest in photography started as a child, her father being a hobbyist in the field himself. Her main sources of inspiration now consists of nature and music. Her art is characterized by use of available light as well as her vision of compositions. While residing in Valparaiso, Christi was the recipient of several ribbons at Porter County Fair, including first place. Her tufted titmouse photograph was chosen, through a contest, to represent Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (Valparaiso, In) on their Christmas cards in 2012, while in 2016 her white egret photo was used on their Facebook page as their cover photo.

She has had works published in magazines and books, and local musicians regularly use her photography for promotional purposes.

Her artistic photography is also in several private residences throughout Northwest Indiana. Also, Christi Lee Bushby was granted her first solo exhibition, at the Towle Theater in Hammond in 2016 (January thru April). Christi attended Harrington College of Design for a commercial degree in digital photography. While it was a great learning experience, she decided to leave. Her decision was based on discovering more of an artistic influence than a commercial one. She continues to practice and learn, with the support and encouragement of her husband, who is an engineer/photographer.

Interview by Michael Limnios         Photos © by Christi Bushby

What were the reasons that you started the photo art researches? How do you describe your photo art philosophy?

My father was my first influence. He was a photography hobbyist and I was usually his model when he was experimenting with lighting and depth of field, among other things. Growing up, I dabbled in different art mediums, but I always returned to photography. I love nature, and as I grew older and life became more difficult, capturing peaceful moments in time and the places that made me happy eased my mind. Then, when I began following local original musicians, not only was I wanting to capture those moments, but I wanted to help support them as well.

As far as my philosophy, I guess you could call me a purist. I believe the photo should speak straight from the camera, if possible. Don’t get me wrong, I do some editing when I feel it adds to the moment I’m trying to convey, but only if I truly feel it’s needed. Typically, I will do more artistic editing with nature photos then band photos. Photography is about feeling, and I want my viewers to feel the moment.

What do you learn about yourself from the photo art and what does ‘IMAGE’ mean to you?

I’m a super emotional person. Like, I’ll cry at a heartfelt commercial. As much as I feel embarrassed leaving a movie theater all red faced from crying, those same emotions drive my photography passion and vision. So I’ve learned being overly emotional isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve also come to realize I’m much more patient when I have a camera in my hand. Sometimes, you have to be to get that moment. I’ve discovered I’m bolder and braver than I thought I was. You have to not be afraid to put yourself out there to share your vision, and that can be scary because you are basically exposing yourself, your passion, and showing people who you are and what you love.

While some people see the word ‘image’ as a noun, I see it as a verb. To me it’s a reflection of one’s self. Several people can capture the same image, but no two will be alike. Each person would describe it differently to their viewer because everyone sees the subject differently, according to their own life and experiences.

"I miss the realness of music. Real musician playing songs THEY wrote. There are a few out there still, but nothing like it used to be. And it’s so hard for the ones that are out there to make a name for themselves, in a world of auto tunes and corporate made bands." (Photo: The Steepwater Band) 

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

There are two groups of people that have had great influences on me as far as my photography. First, The Steepwater Band. I have followed and supported them for many years, and at this point they are like extended family. But before that, their music and talent became something I loved, and therefore, wanted to photograph. Which was my first influence into band and musician photography. Also, because of those beginnings, I have met and been able to photograph countless other musicians, many of them becoming friends. I even met my husband because of them.

Second, my former retail co-workers in Valparaiso, Indiana. In 2008 I took a photo of a cardinal bird in winter. Several of my co-workers purchased that photo for female family members, as Mother’s Day was approaching. At that moment, I felt like a true photographer. I sold my first piece of work!

The best advice I ever received was from my father. Probably a cliché, I know, but it’s true. Simply put, never stop learning. Life is always about learning and changing. And that applies very much to photography.

Are there any memories with your lens under the progress which you’d like to share with us?

For a brief time, I attended a university in Chicago Illinois for a photography degree. While I discovered it wasn’t what I was after (l left before completing the course, it was a degree in commercial photography), I highly enjoyed my time there. I can honestly say it was the best I ever did in any school. I never in my life thought my name would make it onto a “Dean’s List”, but it did. I left with straight A’s. That felt pretty darn good, and just inspired me to continue with my passion.

How important was music in your life? How does music affect your mood and inspiration?

Music is a huge influence in my life. It drives me emotionally. Whenever I need a “pick me up” I would turn to music. Amazingly, it wasn’t until my mid-thirties until I really discovered live music. That’s when I started following The Steepwater Band. Seeing musicians with so much talent, on a local level, really opened my eyes. There are so many talented musicians out there, and with the industry the way it is now, they need our support more than ever. I try to see someone play every weekend, but it doesn’t always work out. But music always makes me feel better.

"Both music and imagery can invoke powerful emotions. And combined? BAM! You see a band you love in an image, wishing you could have been there, feeling THAT moment, seeing the lights, the intensity of the guitarist playing." (Photo © by Christi Bushby / Donald Kinsey & Kinsey Report) 

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss the realness of music. Real musician playing songs THEY wrote. There are a few out there still, but nothing like it used to be. And it’s so hard for the ones that are out there to make a name for themselves, in a world of auto tunes and corporate made bands. When I see kids wearing Led Zepplin and Beatles t-shirts though, it gives me hope. But as basically an outsider, I see the music industry being run by money more than music anymore. And that is depressing.

If you could change one thing in the photo art world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Less “Photoshop”. It has become so easy to edit photos that people are not learning the actual craft of capturing a quality image. It’s all about “I can fix it in post editing”.  As I stated earlier, I will use it to enhance a quality photo. But a lot of people are using it to correct problems that wouldn’t be there if they learned the craft, and how to get the most out of their equipment.

What are the lines that connect the legacy of Music and Image? What touched (emotionally) you from the Nature?

I believe the biggest line would be feelings. Both music and imagery can invoke powerful emotions. And combined? BAM! You see a band you love in an image, wishing you could have been there, feeling THAT moment, seeing the lights, the intensity of the guitarist playing. So next time they’re playing, you remember that, and actually go to the show and feel it even more and it becomes personal. You get that connection that was in the photograph with the actual musician, and they now get it back. As a photographer, it’s amazing when one person gets my work, I couldn’t imagine the feeling of a room full of people getting it.

Nature photography gives me a peaceful feeling, a calmness. Photographing musicians invigorates me, inspires me like “YOU GOT THIS”.  Both are essential, for me anyway, as a positive balance.

"As far as my philosophy, I guess you could call me a purist. I believe the photo should speak straight from the camera, if possible. Don’t get me wrong, I do some editing when I feel it adds to the moment I’m trying to convey, but only if I truly feel it’s needed." (Photo: Mark Biegel)

What is the impact of Music and Photo Art to the ‘nature’, political and socio-cultural implications?

I believe the impact of photography and music is tremendous, and the implications can be powerful. Being born in 1968, I’ve learned the importance music and photography has had, at least in America, since the 1960’s. Images and music of the sixties, of the unrest from the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war are still important today. And in today’s world, we still have the same unrest and seem to be repeating history. Sadly, we don’t have the abundance of musical voices we had then, like Buffalo Springfield. And if we did, I wonder if they would be able to share their voices. In the eighties, through music and photography, we were able to see and help children in Africa with “We Are the World”.  Music and photography gives voices to those people and situations we might not know of otherwise. 

What do you think the major changes will be in near or far future of the world in world?

Honestly, the direction I see things going in, I’d rather not think about that. I don’t see a positive future; I wish I could say otherwise. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but there seems to be a lot of hate going on over here right now, and it frightens me what we could become if we can’t get past it as a society. Sadly, money is more important than most anything else.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day? What memorabilia (books, records, photos etc.) would you put in a "time capsule"?

I’d probably like to go back to about 1976, and to simply go home again. The music was great (my dad was a huge Beatles and Paul McCartney fan, and my mom loved Fleetwood Mac) and I had so much of my family living close by. For my time capsule, I’d add a ton of photos of my great grandparents and grandparents, along with other family members. I’d add some items from around my house, just for the memories, and newspapers and/or magazines celebrating the countries 200th birthday, LOTS of music (I didn’t know then how good it really was), and somehow, TV programs. That might sound silly, but I would want news programs when it really WAS news. And American television was pretty awesome back then. As much as I love history, and there are so many moments that would be cool to see, If I could go back, it’d mostly be about family for me.

Christi Bushby - Official website

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