Photographs for a Song
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. 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