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Photographs for a Song

Updated on October 26, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

"Girl from Ipanema" CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)  Public Domain Dedication
"Girl from Ipanema" CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication | Source
Original girl from Ipanema
Original girl from Ipanema | Source
"Yellow Submarine" Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
"Yellow Submarine" Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) | Source

You've heard of a song and a prayer? Have you heard of a song and a photo too? Not many have either, although this theme is more popular than what most people realize.

Artists regularly have their photographs taken during a performance, for an album cover, promotional purposes etc. and these images are meant to bring attention to a particular song, an album, the artist and all of the above.

The particular theme discussed here is aimed at capturing through photography a series of songs in a series of images.

This has three variations; one is to focus on one artist and his songs, whether they be from an album or from all of the songs ever performed by this artist.

The second does not focus on one artist but can be aimed towards several of them and their particular styles.

A third variation is to focus on a musical style or genre such as rock, classic, jazz and so on.

This theme is not to record images entirely of the artists other than perhaps one to be used as a guide as to the style of music.

The emphasis is to select or make your choice as to which variation to undertake, select the individual musical samples/songs and match them with images that contain the same message as that of your selection; this can be a certain mood, a fictional character, a time period, the list is almost endless.

In other words, the objective is to capture in photos the spirit and inspiration for the music, if at all possible, as it was intended by the author.

However the most popular technique is to record an image that fits the tittle of the song or album, and it is easier to do.

A bit easier is to capture images that represent a line from a song. It can be literal or assumed; interpreted as you imagined it.

This theme is very subjective as the images are entirely up to the photographer's interpretation, but you should at least capture a composition which somehow ties into the song or an aspect of it.

Take for example one of my favorite songs; "The Girl from Ipanema"

"The Girl from Ipanema" ("Garota de Ipanema") is a well-known bossa nova song, a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s that won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel.[1] The first commercial recording was in 1962, by Pery Ribeiro." wikipedia

One can relate this song to photographs by recording images of a seaside resort with outdoor cafes while a gorgeous young brunette casually strolls by, which by the way is the true inspirational motif behind the creation of this particular song (see Helo Pinheiro for more information).

Many scenes can be taken from daily life and situations but probably a large number of scenes or images may have to be staged, especially the older the song is.

Another of my favorite songs was and is "Knock on Wood" written by Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd and performed by various artists. This song's main rhythm, lyrics and tittle would be best represented by various images of people literary knocking on wood.

Take a "classic" children song from a popular television show Barney (the purple dinosaur) and its song " I love You". The lyrics can be shown in photos of various children hugging each other as well as interaction with adults and even "hugging' their favorite stuffed animal.

Songs without lyrics that are solely instrumental can also be used, although with these the tittle will be an easier topic to cover.

The popular song "Popcorn" a 1972 hit by Gershon Kinsley, was a totally instrumental song which attempted to musically represent the fast paced rhythm of popping corn. This composition is easily represented in photographs of the actual corn as it pops.

Finally another of my all time favorites "Let the Music Play" by Shannon 1983, can easily be captured in photographs with an image featuring a man dancing with a lady while glancing back at his fiancé.

You may have to resort to using a digital format and take two or more images to create a composite in order to better represent your musical choices such as an image of an apple and of an eye, once combined it could stand for the lyrics to the "You're the Apple of my Eye" by Otis Blackwell 1956.

This theme allows one to be very creative as well as offering the opportunity of creating images that go beyond the traditional photographic styles since one is representing an artistic medium but doing it through another artistic medium, thus artistic freedom or "license" is very much a part of it.

Creative and innovative use of light, filters, props, backdrops and almost anything else is adaptable to this particular composition.

But to truly adhere to the main driving force behind this technique and its theme, one should try to mimic the tittle or genre of the chosen style of music or any of its variations. It would also be wise to plan your shoot ahead of time and make a list of appropriate subjects. This can aid you in finding appropriate subject matter.

With many photographic projects the photographer should always strive to infuse the images with a personal style, which is often what separates professionals from amateurs, this particluar theme not only allows one to do so but highly encourages it.

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Anjili:Thank you for your nice comments

    • Anjili profile image

      Anjili 6 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

      I agree with you. Musical art should capture the theme of the music by striking the right tune. It greatly adds to the story line. Good share

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      randomcreative:Thank you, I'm glad that the 2010 project was enjoyable

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      The beadweaving group that I'm a part of through Etsy had a Simon and Garfunkel challenge in late 2010. It was a great opportunity to capture a song or a lyric from a song through artwork.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      FLoraBreeRobinson: You make some very good points

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Cardisa: Thank you, yet

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      I never though of it before but we often see photos on albums covers, cd jackets and dvd but never thought of the concept. Well done.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I have often been photographed as a soloist or member of a choir in performance, although not much in recent years. Usually we have posed photos after the concert because flashes interrupt the performance.

      Plus with the advent of the internet there are new rules both for cameras and video cameras. When I was singing in festivals and earlier, the internet wasn't an issue. If you could take a photo without a flash, you were allowed. Now there is a copyright issue. Even more important, the internet is a scary place where people can look for photos to change around into porn or child molestors looking for pictures of children. As the vocal coordinator for my local music festival, I am constantly amazed at the number of parents who ignore the signs posted and video anyway. I am constantly listening for tell tale sounds and we have to get people to delete videos or confiscate their equipment. It is the one part of my duties I hate. People think because the video is just for their family what is the harm? No one realizes that we must have one rule for everyone. period. as it is, people can take photos with their cell phones without making noise, and if the person is behind me...