Using Music As Photographic Inspiration

Categories: Feature

Motivation is a key factor to great photography. The best photographs are usually not made very easily. They are labors of love that can take hours of brainstorming and execution, or even years to shape and sculpt into a full-fledged idea. A photographer’s greatest enemy is laziness. I find that we are all vulnerable to falling into this trap. I do my best to seek out inspiration by immersing myself in photography, usually by looking at the works of other photographers I am a fan of. Nothing motivates me quite like looking at photos by talented artists such as Richard Renaldi, Abelardo Morrell, Chris McCaw, or many others. But there are only so many photographers and photographic works that one can observe before things begin to feel stale. It is important for a creative mind to branch out of its own medium, observe artistic ideas in other areas and seek the inspiration they can imbibe. One medium that I feel is so commonly embraced yet taken for granted is music. Music is an incredibly large part of so many people’s lives. It can be a cheap escape, a way of being set free from the stresses and pressures of life in three-minute doses. For many others it goes so much further, it is an art that even helps define their individuality. Most people have strong convictions about the kind of music they listen to. They will even go to great lengths to defend their tastes when challenged by others. People are naturally motivated by music whether it be to help them exercise, get chores done around the house, or keep an alert eye on the road while driving. So why not let it inspire you to produce some great photography? There are folks out there who already do this. Some people create photographs or projects directly associated or inspired by song. This is one way of going about it, and it can be very effective. I have seen photographers create direct visual representations of songs lyric by lyric, and I have seen others alter the imagery to make it truly their own. One of my favorite photo professors gave this exact assignment; create a body of work inspired by a song. The students who I felt performed best were the ones who were able to transcend the words and lyrics, and actually utilize the raw emotions brought about by the music and the message. Personally, I utilize music as an inspirational tool by letting it take me to a place where my creative juices flow. It puts me in that mood where I am ready to throw paint on the canvas and see what sticks in my mind. There is no wrong way of going about any of these methods. All that matters are that the end results, the photographs, are successful in accomplishing their goal. Everybody’s motivator will be different. A band’s tracks that get you going today may not have the same effect tomorrow. We go through moods and stages, and certain music helps us accordingly. I encourage anybody and everybody to use music as inspiration for creativity in their photography. If you already do that, keep at it, and maybe even try some different bands, genres, or listening methods. Here are some of the ones that get me going: WARNING: SOME OF THE FOLLOWING LINKS MAY CONTAIN EXPLICIT LYRICS Explosions In The Sky – “The Birth and Death of the Day” Fugazi – “Waiting Room” Hot Water Music – “Trusty Chords” The Misfits – “We Are 138” Saves The Day – “Ups and Downs” Black Flag – “Damaged I” Do you have any similar ideas or songs that inspire you in your photography? Please feel free to send them in or share with everybody in the comments.