Interview: Til Jentzsch - Music Photographer
With almost 35 years experience in the photography world, Til Jentzsch from Bern, Switzerland produces incredible imagery of live music events across Europe, and browsing the ever growing list of artists he's already worked with it's easy to see why he's been picked up by Fujifilm as one of their official Fuji photographers.
“I wish music photography could be my full time job, but it is the perfect balance to my day job as an IT project manager.”
There wasn’t a particular moment that led Til away from sports photography “I started going to more and more concerts and enjoyed the atmosphere. My friends’ band got more active as well. One thing led to another and I saw the opportunities that music photography offered. This naturally led me away from sports photography. Actually fun fact, now after focusing for so long on music, one of my agencies has added a sport “section” and they asked if I would like to cover sport in addition to music in Switzerland. So after all the years I might take up sports photography again!”
Atari Teenage Riot © Til Jentzsch
Before moving to Fujifilm, Til had his faith in Nikon, shooting with a Nikon D3 and the holy trinity of lenses (14-24mm / 24-70mm / 70-200mm). But for Til, the D3 was rather too bulky and he never took the camera anywhere else.
After looking for alternatives "I did a bit of research and came across Fujifilm and liked what I saw and decided to get an Fujifilm X-T1 and that's how my venture into the mirrorless world and Fujifilm started. I took the Fujifilm X-T1 with me on the next business trip, something I wouldn’t have done with my Nikon and then I gave it a try at concerts as well. I was first a bit sceptical, but this changed rather fast as the camera was performing as good as my Nikon, but due to it's size and weight it was much easier to carry around and handle.
Step by step I replaced all my Nikon camera and lenses with the equivalent Fujifilm equipment. Of course it helped that Fujifilm had published their lens roadmap and it contained everything I needed, I eventually swapped my equipment like for like.
Over time, I got to know the people from Fujifilm Switzerland and they learned about my transition to Fujifilm. It was during spring of 2015, just as I was selling the my last of Nikon equipment
"they asked me if I would like to become a Fujifilm ambassador"
a so called X-Photographer which I accepted. I think they understood that I was happy with the Fujifilm equipment, they liked my images and of course it helped as well that I could explain to other photographers about my transition in the mirrorless world, which sounds more sincere coming from a photographer than a sales person. Since September 2015 I have been official a Fujifilm ambassador and I am glad that I have the opportunity to represent the brand and use their equipment.
Two Romans © Til Jentzsch
Til is also part of the photo team and has covered many shows for a venue called Kofmehl in Solothurn. Kofmehl is an industrial looking building just north of Bern, which has a capacity of 900 across two stages, so you can see and shoot everything from small intimate concerts up to big shows in front of sold out crowds.
Movits © Til Jentzsch
"We have big local festival in Bern, Gurtenfestival, which has a stage for Swiss bands. They run a competition for local bands to get a spot for that stage. Back in 2016 I approached the organiser of the festival to pitch a project around following one of the winners for one year, which they gladly accepted.
The year following the winners included the lead up to the festival, joining them on stage and continued long after the festival. There were plenty of pictures from the project which the band and I mostly shared on Instagram - but sadly we didn’t do much more with it. This was until last autumn when
Fujifilm Switzerland asked if I would like to showcase some of the pictures at the Fujifilm booth at the biggest annual photo exhibition in Switzerland
I happily accepted their proposal. When they told me then that they would be only showcasing my pictures at their booth, this made me even happier. It was then nice to see and show 28 pictures from that project and it brought back memories not only for me but for the band too who attending the opening evening of the exhibition."
James Arthur © Til Jentzsch
It's always hard to pick a favourite image of your own, and it was no different for Til but this is his choice, he goes on to say - "there are quite a few. Let’s say one of my favourites is definitely of James Arthur from the Energy Star Night in Zürich. I like the impression and energy of him and the light is very intense. The whole combination makes this picture very special."
Looking back over some of his highlights, Til fondly remembers his shows with Foo Fighters at the Stade de Suisse and The Rolling Stones in Zurich during their most recent stadium tour - those are some big names to tick off your bucket list! When pushed on his favourite festival, he always looks forward to 30,000 rock and heavy metal fans rolling into town for Greenfield Festival.
Mothers Cake © Til Jentzsch
It's at Greenfield festival where Til remembers his proudest moment (so far) as a music photographer - "I was working with the Swedish band Truckfighters when they were playing at the Greenfield Festival, I spent the whole day documenting their time at the festival. Being on the main stage in front of a huge crowd and enjoying a similar experience as the band, but staying out of sight to document everything." A fabulous photographic documentation of their day together can be found here
Like most music photographers, we love to connect, share and appreciate other music photographers around the world, Til looks to a long list of music photographers for inspiration, Todd Owyoung, Adam Elmakis, Matty Vogel, Anton Corbijn, Josiah Van Dien, Ross Halfin, Ville Juurikkala, Christie Goodwin, Neal Preston,Danny Clinch. I probably could add some more…
Morcheeba © Til Jentzsch
Browsing through Til's work, I think one our favourites has to be this shot he caught of Morcheeba, the light and shadow being cast are a thing of beauty...and that hat is instantly recognisable!
The experience Til has gained over the years is incredibly helpful when preparing for each and every show and offers this advice for anyone interested in music photography
“when starting out, do so in small and local clubs. This is the easiest way to gain experience, as you can almost always take camera equipment with you without restriction."
Another advantage is that you normally do not need a press pass or accreditation for these concerts. Of course you should still check with the venue beforehand… And start simple in terms of equipment, just one camera with one lens is enough."
A dream for Til was to photograph Kent, a Swedish rock band which dissolved in 2016. He was still trying to shoot them during their farewell tour for his Swedish agency, but unfortunately it didn’t work out.
Finally, we all love to know what piece of glass most preferred amongst music photographers, for Til, it’s the Fujifilm XF 16mm f/1.4 (equivalent to a 24mm lens on full frame).
Til, thank you so much for you time - we wish you all the best and hope to catch up with you soon! Please follow Til via the links below, and if you’re new to his work, stop by and say hello on his socials.