We had the good fortune of connecting with Judy Nitzinger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Judy, how has your pespective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Work life balance: how has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance? As a young person, starting out on my own, I put myself into survival mode and often felt insecure about my abilities. Thoughts were always there: Will I ever be able to do what I really want to do? Am I doing the right thing? We learn at a young age you must work hard and put the fun things as second choice in life. Once I settled into a career, the balancing act was there. I had a beautiful daughter to raise so it was very important I find a career that would carry us safely through our lives. My work life required long hours in the corporate world as I taught dance in my off hours. Dance was one of my life’s passions. Thankfully, I was able to include my daughter in my dance career and I watched her blossom as a dancer. I often think back on the fun times with her and how quickly it all passed by. Maybe most parents feel this way once their children reach adulthood, but I would love to go back and give my child more of my time. In recent years she has pointed out to me things she picked up from me along the way. She has a strong worth ethic, a compassionate heart, and she is so very talented in many artistic ways. This is the balance I wanted to teach her. I always had my passion for photography but found it difficult to balance the time I needed to hone that craft. My father was my influence and during my lifetime I desired to one day have similar talent. I briefly studied photography at a nearby college when my daughter was two years old and she was my favorite subject, as you can imagine. Again, I found a way to balance time with her and at the same time enjoy a passion. I have kept my career as commercial real estate sales person while also managing my husband’s music business and working my photography. Of course, I am his photographer and have the fun task of marketing him. I don’t stress over balancing my tasks as I always do the next best thing in front of me. Over time, you see what is most important in life. My goals have changed, my balance has changed. I take time to do the things I love to do.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
With a photographer Father, I basically grew up in front of the camera. I think this helped me develop a good eye. Professionally, I jumped in feet first by answering a call from a magazine owner in England. He wanted someone in Texas to cover blues artists. No problem, I thought as I have a sincere love of the music and the history of the music. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy free shows? Free lancing was perfect for my busy lifestyle. I wrote and shot for the music magazine, Strange Pleasures in England for many years and that led to many years writing and shooting shows, concerts and festivals for Southwest Blues and years of shooting for the SRV Remembrance Ride and Concert, raising scholarship money for kids. Several of my photos sold to Fort Worth Weekly to be included as a collaboration for a story by Ken Shimamoto about the black blues scene in Fort Worth. I also wrote about my husband, John Nitzinger (former guitarist/co-songwriter with Alice Cooper) and submitted my photos of him for a story in Buddy Magazine, out of Dallas. As far as being published in books, I was asked by Thomas Green, author of “Rock Shrines” out of the UK to submit photos for his book. The late Cutter Brandenburg included some of my shots in his book, “You Can’t Stop A Comet”, about the music scene. Lessons I learned? I carried around two camera bags, with two bodies and a few lenses and an equipment bag with other items, including many rolls of film, as that is what I shot back then. I’m a small person, so this really became a chore during long festivals but I was determined to be prepared. You learn how to carry the equipment and sometimes you must include an assistant to hold it for you. Assistants are great! Besides hiring a photography assistant, I learned some things about writing. I had no training and as I said, I jumped in feet first! My first interview, I did not use a recorder during the conversation and the interview was conducted at my favorite blues roadhouse, J&J’s Blues Bar (“JJs”), with loud music in the background. As you can guess, I mistook some of the conversation with the musician and I did not research the issue. From that point on, I continued to mostly use JJ’s as my interview office but the beer garden out back worked famously! For instance, I wanted to interview Kim Wilson with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. I contacted the magazine to see if they could arrange that for me. They could not. So, I wrote down questions and carried them with me to the show. I approached Kim’s manager and asked if I could interview him. I told the manager I had 13 questions on this paper and that’s all the time I needed and I needed to take photos as well. He said, “Well, OK, if it’s only 13 questions.” He laughed. After the show, Kim sat in the beer garden with me and my two friends until wee hours into the morning talking. It was one of the most fun nights I had at JJs and I got a great story! Another hard lesson to learn was, you DO NOT compare one musician or artist to another. No! You could lose a good musician friend over that mistake. What am I most proud of? I love the challenge of getting that perfect shot. I am proud of being able to capture the emotion and personality of the artists as they deliver their music.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Visiting over good food is one of the best ways to catch up with friends. My favorite is Tokyo Café on Camp Bowie here in Fort Worth. My friend who lives in England, owner of the magazine I wrote for, recently visited with his new bride. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory in Downtown Fort Worth as I figured they had seen it on TV and it would be something to talk about when they returned to England. Sundance Square is always a nice place to visit after a meal. Grab a coffee at Starbucks, watch the water fountain and the people. Sometimes they have music events. If there is an art festival at the time during a visit from a friend, that is most definitely a destination. I miss JJ’s, the blues roadhouse and the awesome shows however, there are a couple of local music venues to visit where a lot of my musician friends still perform. Keys Lounge and Stumpy’s Blues Bar have been around a long time.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My greatest influence recently passed away and I think about him daily. Dad, a single father of three children, was an example of a hard-working man with many talents. Dad taught us to be independent, to be true to own personality and to accept others who were different from us. He worked in Experimental at an aircraft plant and at the same time rebuilt Jaguars. He also ran a photography business. He was a busy man but he always had time to have fun with his children. I always enjoy his wonderful black and white photos he produced in his home made dark room. I also want a shoutout to my loving husband who is always supportive and gives me encouragement to move forward with projects. I am his biggest fan and I feel he is mine!
Photos by Judy Nitzinger, John Nitzinger, Carlos Santana, Edgar Winter, Photographer unknown Shemekia Copeland (the blues lady in the pic with me back stage)