an interview with Peter Gannushkin…

metropolis | When did you start documenting the jazz/improv scene as a photographer?

Peter Gannushkin | In the summer of 2000. I was taking photos before then but never put them on-line.

metropolis | Is this a part of your profession? What is your profession anyway?

Peter Gannushkin | It all depends on how you would define the word “profession.” Do I make the living on it? No, I don’t. Do I make any income on taking photos? Yes, I do. Although in most cases I give away photos for free. My full time job is web development.

metropolis | Who is using your photographs?

Peter Gannushkin | There are several places besides DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET which are using my photos. They are decorating the walls of a Lower East Side performance space, The Stone. I often provide images to All About Jazz/New York. My photos have also been published in many off- and on-line magazines around the world, as well as in CD booklets and in a few books. You can view a longer list on my site

metropolis | Why you are giving them away for free?

Peter Gannushkin | When I started taking photos the original idea was to use them as illustrations in my weekly column in jazz.ru/mag. From the very beginning I was not going to make a profit on these photos, but rather I wanted to let more people know about the music. From that perspective and also from the fact that I do not support modern copyright laws, I came to the idea of giving photos away for free to any non-profit or no budget project.

metropolis | Could you describe your relation with downtownmusic.net?

Peter Gannushkin | DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET is a web site I started in 2000. In the beginning, it was meant to be a place for many NY downtown music scene related projects, but it ended up being primarily an archive of my photos.

metropolis | Are you a musician as well?

Peter Gannushkin | No. I studied cello when I was a kid. Then I played the guitar and a bunch of other instruments ranging from the accordion, recorder and saxophone to various percussion instruments, duck calls and a do-it-yourself banjo made from a Boy Scout drum and trashed guitar parts. However, I never took it too seriously and in the last several years I haven’t picked up any instruments.

metropolis | Are you planning to continue your blog in the Russian language?

Peter Gannushkin | No, that blog is mostly dead now. I have almost lost all interest in journalism, especially in music and, more than anything else, in Russian music journalism. Some blogs are still interesting but very few. I think there is more than enough information coming from the artists themselves. In most cases, there is no need to add anything to it. That is the main reason to quit writing. I don’t want to contribute to the immense heap of useless information. Besides, since the internet took over the media the quality of writing has gone down a lot.