Spencer Bibbs is a lifelong Chicago resident and a freelance photographer who lives on the south side of Chicago. He went to Mount Carmel high school and then to Lewis University in Romeoville, IL, where he studied Computer Science and Philosophy.

He started his professional career as a grammar school Assistant Teacher on the south side of Chicago. He then transitioned and became as Social Worker, working with senior citizens, for about 10 years. There, he began doing a lot of digital media projects with the seniors and discovered his love for digital art and photography.

After leaving Social Services, he went back to teaching and began to pursue a career in photography. Around 10 years ago, he became the official photographer for the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. Shortly after, he started working with the Hyde Park Herald. Through these organizations, he has documented his hometown neighborhood of Hyde Park for the past 10 years.

He discovered a love for “live music” photography a few years back and has recently created a social media outlet called “Chicago Jazz Photography” where he promotes jazz and shows his photo images.

GO BANG! Magazine: You just happen to stumble upon your love of photography through your work with senior citizens. What was it about photography that motivated you to pursue it professionally?

Spencer Bibbs: I was a case manager for 10 years prior to discovering photography. I loved my residents but realized that the job was not for me. I was making $45,000/yr. but I was always on pins and needles. I knew that my next job was going to be something that I loved. Money would not be a driving factor, if I could live and survive on what I was making.

As a photographer and artist, I fell in love with capturing images and liking the images that I captured. It makes you want to do more. When I left Case Management, I figured that was the best time to pursue my passion. I got lucky and got in as the volunteer photographer for the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and a freelancer for the Hyde Park Herald. These were two driving forces.

GO BANG! Magazine: Over the years, you have worked with some prominent Hyde Park organizations. What is it in particular that you like most about the Hyde Park neighborhood?

Spencer Bibbs: It is a little strange to answer because I am a lifelong Hyde Parker. Working with various Hyde Park organizations has allowed me to become more connected to my neighborhood. There are many things that I love about this neighborhood.

This community has always been known as a place where everybody is welcomed, and it gives a lot to the people. Prior to COVID 19, there were always things to do and things to get involved in. It is a highly organized and highly active community.

GO BANG! Magazine: For our readers that may be unfamiliar with digital art, would you please describe what it is and why you’re so interested in it?

Spencer Bibbs: Photography for me is about perspective and creation. A photo is never going to be exactly what the photographer saw. When photographers were using film, different types of film produced different types of images based off what the photographer was trying to do. The photographer would then take that image and manipulate the film so that the image came out the way that the photographer wanted.

Rather than use film, digital photographers use digital cameras. The images that photographers capture are stored as files on disks. I use my computer to manipulate the images that I capture. As a newspaper photographer, my images cannot be manipulated. They must be as close to the actual scene as possible.

The great thing about digital photography is that you can do whatever you want with your images. You have a lot more tools now than film photographers did. Using your computer and special software, you can do whatever you want with your images. You can make day turn to night. You can make a cloudy day look like a sunny day, etc.

GO BANG! Magazine: “Live music” photography sounds like an interesting genre of photography. It combines music with photography. How did you get involved and can you discuss in detail your social media outlet for those photos?

Spencer Bibbs: I stumbled into live music photography. As a neighborhood newspaper photographer, I began taking neighborhood live music assignments. Hyde Park has had many great live music events over the past 10 years. I still remember my first big live music event. The Family Stone (minus Sly) was playing at one of our neighborhood events years ago. I was on stage photographing them as they were playing in the rain and it was AWESOME! To be a music photographer, you must love music and taking pictures. When both come together, it is meditative. You go into a zone.

I love jazz music and have been finding every chance that I get to photograph live jazz music. Since jazz is so improvisational, it gives me the ability to improvise and create art with my images. I like to let the music take me into a creative place and just see what happens.

I created my own social media outlet called Chicago Jazz Photography where I display my work and support the music. I am on Facebook and Instagram.

GO BANG! Magazine: What is your favorite type of photograph to take and why?

Spencer Bibbs: I love finding images versus capturing moments. I am not here to document things.

GO BANG! Magazine: Growing up in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, and documenting it photographically, must have been a unique experience. Hyde Park is a Southside neighborhood that has a unique demographic make-up of all racial, social, sexual and economic backgrounds. It has changed over the years as well. Do you feel that the change has been for the better or for the worse and why?

Spencer Bibbs: My fear is that there will be a day that I cannot afford to live here. It is not easy to be low-income and live in Hyde Park. I think that was different 30 to 40 years ago. I blame the University of Chicago for that.

GO BANG! Magazine: What can our readers expect from you in the upcoming years?

Spencer Bibbs: I am going to keep creating and moving forward.

GO BANG! Magazine: The COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off guard. How are you dealing with it?

Spencer Bibbs: As a music photographer, it has been tough. There has not been much live music since the shutdown. For a while, I was taking pictures of trees in parks and things of that nature but, that gets old after a while.

I have added a few new skills since the pandemic hit. I have also beefed up my contacts on social media so that when things do open back up, I will have a lot more eyes on what I am doing.

You can follow Spencer Bibbs on Social Media:
https://www.facebook.com/spencer.bibbs https://www.facebook.com/ChicagoJazzPhotography https://www.facebook.com/spencerbibbsphotography
Website: www.spbdigitalconcepts.photoshelter.com




Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram

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