Of the 25 artists showing work this weekend at the “Art In Bixby Park” open event, Jeanne Rice is a standout photographer with a long history of capturing powerful portrait and live performance images. Many of her subjects are top names in the Orange County and Los Angeles music scene, like D.I., Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Used. In the mid-90s, Rice got her start with punk band Ignite, which quickly led to not only shooting here at the Weekly, but eventually publications like Mean Street, Spin, NME and Rolling Stone. We could write a book about all of the amazing moments, artists, and performances she’s seen over decades of shooting, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look for yourself this Sunday September 25th from 10am-3pm at Bixby Park in Long Beach and soak in 20 years of Rice’s moving work for yourself.
OC Weekly (Kim Conlan): What role do you play as the photographer in relationship to your subjects?
Jeanne Rice: The relationship between me and my subjects has been something that is part of the soulful journey of photography for me. It’s all about building that trust. Once you have that relationship and that trust with that artist, then you get a whole world of amazing, incredible things from them.
Can you tell me about what you were shooting in your early days?
When I went into college, I thought I was going to go into advertising. It was all about the imagery for me, and I felt I needed to take all the courses so that I could be the best director of advertisement I could. Photography would be one of those classes. I took a photography class and people were looking at my work and complementing it, and there was this guy that was in a band who was a model, named Joe Foster, and he was in a band called Ignite. When he looked at my photos, he said they were good and he said, ‘Hey can you come shoot my band?’ This was back when it was film, and I didn’t really know what was going to come out. Joe Foster looked at the contact sheet and said, ‘wow Jeanne, these are really good.’ My jaw about dropped ‘cause Joe Foster never says anything is good.
Where did that lead?
He invited me to go to another show where another punk band called D.I. was playing, and then Frederic Taccone calls me over and says, ‘Can we get some of those pictures?’ I’m like, ‘Sure, no problem.’ They liked the pictures, so they asked me to go to the Glen Helen Blockbuster Pavilion for Punk Show and they were going to give me full credentials so I could go on-stage, back-stage, and the whole thing. I’d never done anything like that before. The Punk Show ended up being the show that Mark Adkins of Guttermouth was arrested for inciting a riot. When this riot broke out, I just had the most perfect timing of being on the lawn area and that’s where it was really on fire. The cops were spraying the kids with pepper spray and I went into full combat instinct mode, dodged through the pepper spray, dodged behind the cops, so that I could get pictures of the kids with mohawks charging at the cops. My training was telling me that I needed to compose these pictures.
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How did you come to work at the OC Weekly?
At the time I came in, the OC Weekly writers were asked to find their own photographers. So Jennifer Vineyard reached out to me and said she liked the shot I had done in Mean Street Magazine, and would I be the photographer for a lot of the stories she was working. I was like, ‘Of course!’ I loved music, I had always had a passion for music, and I always knew I had a passion for photography, I just didn’t know that that was going to be my path. What an amazing journey it's been. I'm only as good as my subjects and my subjects happen to be damn good.