Monday, June 1, 2009

June Monthly Special: Music + Photo

One of the music shots from my "Nawlins at Night" post

Unlike many countries, America integrates sports and music into its schools—or at least it used to. As budgets tighten, guess which programs are the first to get cut? Football? Basketball? Not likely.

At the base of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, some talented students from a local high school earn money by performing nightly for delighted tourists and locals alike. As I look at the photo I took there in April, I remember the powerful energy of the brass, the uninhibited dancing, and the flashes of tourists' cameras. Look at the crowd in the background and you will see four people who, like myself, wanted to seize the moment with their cameras.

Now, I don't want to pit music against sports—not just because it wouldn't be a fair fight, but because for most of us it does not have to be an "either/or" choice. I will probably even devote a future Monthly Special to sports photography. But this month is all about music...

Photos inspired by music, photos of musicians, photos of instruments—anything that somehow combines music and photography.

The photo below (from a Paris flea market) makes me think about changing musical styles and the capricious consumer. Johnny Halladay's song "Rien à personne" ("Nothing to no one")—an anthem to the self-made man (i.e. who doesn't owe anything to anyone)—reads like a rocker's lament about his lost relevance (the fear of meaning nothing to anyone) as it sits in the discard pile.

Perhaps one of the challenges of "music" photography—as opposed to, say, "sports" photography (there I go again pitting the one against the other)—is that we do not automatically think of music as a visual phenomenon. Music has its spectacular side, of course, but sight is not the primary sense we associate with it.

I mentioned in my last post that this month's theme was inspired by Fritsch's site. His pairing of lyric and image seems effortless and natural, but I have never attempted it myself and am fairly certain that it will be a real challenge for me. I will be interviewing Fritsch later this month.

What is your own take on the relation between music and photography? How does music affect your imagination? What does "music photography" mean to you? Think about it this month, try something new, post your results, and share them here by adding a link below.