SAIT grad among the stars
SAIT Journalism grad Jenn Five has made a career photographing some of music's biggest names. Pictured here Palma Violets lead singer Chilli Jesson and fans.
Photos (left to right): Dua Lipa, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, Foo Fighters
COMBINING HER OBSESSION with music and her love of taking pictures, Jenn Five (NMPD '06, JA '12) has build an international career photographing some of music's biggest names for magazines like Billboard, Rolling Stone and NME. When she's not travelling, Jenn lives in Calgary or London, England, where she spoke with LINK writer Eric Rosenbaum by phone.
How did you come by the name Jenn Five?
There's not really an explanation. It was just a nickname and it took. It's my name.
What kind of kid were you?
I have always been a music-head. The first concert I went to, I think I was eight years old. I begged my parents to take me to see Alanis Morissette. She was the first rock girl I liked. Before that it was Madonna, then Alanis came out with Jagged Little Pill and it was a whole different can of worms. All the money I'd get for allowance I'd spend on CDs or cassette tapes and I'd blow my money on concerts.
When did you pick up the camera?
When I was a teen and old enough to go to concerts by myself, I remember taking my mom's 35-mm film camera. I would wait at the concert venue all day so I could be in the front row. I'd take the pictures just for me. I didn't have any thought to selling them. I remember taking film to Walmart for developing and the girl behind the counter — who was probably a couple years older than me — said, "Are you the one with the Avril Lavigne photos? They're so rad." That was cool stuff to hear.
After high school, you went to SAIT.
I enrolled in the New Media program first. I graduated and got a really amazing job, but I wasn't really happy. I decided to go back to study journalism. I actually wanted to be a rock writer; I wanted to be Lester Bangs (who wrote for Rolling Stone and Creem). Then, at some point, I thought, ‘You know what would be better than writing about rock stars? Photographing rock stars.' And I thought, ‘I'd be really good at that.'
What was your big break?
Prince. When his team approached me, I was in Amsterdam on holiday. It was 2014. His team was looking for a photographer and they were asking around for recommendations. I've heard that my name was recommended twice and so they checked out my stuff. I remember getting the email and thinking it was a joke because, three days before, I had tweeted that my holiday plans meant I was going to miss a Prince show. Before Prince, most of my work was with underground bands.
What's your biggest thrill so far?
Prince. Shooting his show for the very first time, and I hadn't ever seen him live — that was a trip. And then meeting him was a trip. I was never more excited than going through my photos with him after a show.
Who are you dying to shoot?
Lady Gaga. I have shot her before but I want to do her portrait because it would be her vision, she'd bounce that off me, and then we'd get something amazing.
Read the full interview and back stories on some of Jenn's best rock and roll photos in the latest issue of of LINK magazine.
Photo: The Flaming Lips singer Wayne Coyne.
Written by Eric Rosenbaum
Photos by Jenn Five