A long time ago, in a land far, far away (Nashville) I started what I thought would be a long career in music. I loved all music - yes, especially country music - and was fortunate to work with some of the best songwriters and musicians in the business. My ultimate goal was to be a music producer, and though I’ve ended up producing many studio sessions as part of my advertising career, it is not quite the material I’d hoped to be working on. But life happened and I moved home to Washington and focused on building a life here outside of the music industry.
As I’ve become a more active photographer, I’ve noticed so many similarities between music and photography. Not only are the elements and language similar, but the process is as well. I used to spend hours listening to raw work tapes (newly written songs recorded on cassettes – remember those things?), and within a few weeks, a final demo was produced that had all the layers of sound, instruments, voices and complexity that the work tape never did. But nothing was produced without that first raw tape, the core story of the song and melody that had to have a “hook” before it ever made it to the studio. Months later (though it could be years, if ever) an artist would cut the song for their album and add an even higher level of polish with master musicians and engineers at the board.
Photography takes a decidedly less time intensive route, and most of it can be done by a single person. The process works the same – a central story, the photograph, must have elements of composition, dynamic range, and a point of view to make it pleasing to the eye. The edit turns a raw photograph into something that combines all the elements into a final product distinct to the style of the creator.
As with music, it’s subjective, and the judgement of a good photograph may vary widely from person to person. I think that’s part of the fun, though, to understand that not everything will be a hit. As long as it resonates with you, as the creator or viewer or listener, then it’s worth the effort. We all bring our own life experiences not only to our creations, but also to our interpretations.
That I have a platform to discuss both music and photography is not something I ever imagined, least of all when I was sneaking in the back door of a recording session and dreaming of a day when I got to run the show. Life is a funny mess, and I’m privileged to carry on with the artistic pursuits I choose – and that’s not something I’ll ever take for granted.