The Role of Music

On the days when I’m not outside making photos or traveling I can be found working from home on the more mundane tasks of photography. Yesterday I was revamping the galleries on my website. When I get bored of that (usually after about five minutes) I’ll surf YouTube for interesting videos of any of my favorite bands (I can procrastinate with the best of them). As much as I enjoy photography, I would give anything to play an instrument well.

I didn’t discover my passion for landscape photography until my mid-twenties, and I’ve wondered if there were indications early on of where my life would eventually lead. Interestingly, the signs came from music rather than photography. Music has always played an important role in my life, even though my knowledge of it is rudimentary and I don’t play an instrument. Throughout adolescence and my teen years it was my escape, my solace. I would spend hours each week lying on my bed listening, usually intently, to my favorite bands. It was also a shared bond between my best friend (bgfay.com)and me that exists to this day. We were not casual listeners. We would (and still do) discuss the finer details of the songs, the nuances, their meaning, etc. We both wish we had a formal education in music so we could more fully appreciate the complexities.

What we listened to was not typical of boys our age. It took time to learn to appreciate the bands and musicians we came to love. The music was usually complex, sometimes overtly and other times in more subtle ways. And almost always rich in emotion and feeling. It was intelligent, creative, and original. I didn’t realize it at the time but it was an early indication of who I was becoming as a person, my sensibilities. It was a sign of the qualities I valued in life and would later seek to express in my own creative endeavors.

I’m certain I am not the first to notice a connection between creative mediums. Prior to dedicating his life to photography Ansel Adams was a very talented pianist. It has been said that his musical training deeply colored and influenced his photography. Parallels were drawn between the subtle tones in his prints and the phrasing of notes played on the piano. Paul Caponigro is another example, having enrolled at Boston university’s College of Music. While I am in no way equating my experience with theirs, I can say that my tastes in music and the qualities I look for are reflected in my own creative work. Even though music moves me in a way no photograph ever has, photography is the medium for which I am best suited to express and learn about myself.

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