Finding inspiration for photography in music

By MESAGI, the


It was a long time ago, I was still in my twenties. I was listening to TSF—a French jazz radio station—when I heard the sax of Stan Getz. I was hypnotized and something crazy happened: I was seeing colors and forms! This experience prompted me to remove chunks of the wallpaper in my bedroom and paint the places where the wall was now naked with different colors. Music can have a profound impact on our minds and be a source of inspiration for photography. Read on for concrete examples that I have experienced and YouTube links to good sound.

First, a few tips to let music inspire you

If you want music to inspire you, you have to let it inspire you. It’s not complicated: just sit and relax. Don’t do anything else, focus on the sound and close your eyes. Avoid all distractions like smartphones, social networks, and so on. All that is important to be able to dive into the aural nectar.

Music can inspire you visual styles for your photography

When I’m focused on music, sometimes I can get images of a visual style in my head. Listening to Japanese folk singer Kan Mikami’s album Hiraku Yume Nado Aru Ja Nashi, the ambiance he creates sonically and his raw, painful voice give me flashes of high-contrast black-and-white photographs. But on the opposite, when I’m drowning in alt band bôa’s Duvet (the slowed-down version) I get images of a much lighter monochrome visual style. 

It’s not just about monochrome. I see beautiful and soft analogue-like color photographs when I’m listening to S.O.S Band’s III fruity funk. The same when I’m spinning my CD of Getz/Gilberto by American saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto, I’m craving color shots. 

Music can inspire us different kinds of photographic styles to explore. The images you’ll see will depend on the genres you’ll be listening to. Explore the sonic worlds of different artists. Some will inspire you.

Music can inspire you subjects and places to photograph

Where to go and what to shoot with your camera? Let music help you when you are not inspired. Melody and songs can inspire subjects and places to a photographer. Gas mesmerizing electro album Königforst always gives me flashes of urban constructions and ignites in me a desire for concrete and metal. Cult French rap group Suprême NTM’s first—old school sounding—album, Authentik, makes me want to visit non-modernized places of Paris like those I was seeing in the 90’s.  Although I don’t particularly like the wealthy but beautiful districts of Paris, Dexter Gordon’s sax tones in the album Our Man In Paris give me the desire to explore them with my camera.

Music can put you in specific moods

Our moods can affect greatly our photographs and some music and songs will put you in a specific mood. This can be helpful to get into a particular state of mind just before going out with our cameras.

There’s no escape. shoegaze band Slowdive’s songs always make me fall into the soft, enveloping, melancholy present in their Souvlaki album. The aria Sola, perduta, abandonnata sung by Kiri Te Kanawa in the album Sole & Amore, Puccini Arias puts me in a darker mind state—Around me, the sky darkens as in the lyrics.

On the opposite side, jazzman Yusef Lateef’s Psychicemotus make me experience a calm and rather happy mood. Japanese pop singer Momoko Kikuchi’s Ocean Side album makes my heart lighter, and hopeful and puts me in a really positive attitude. Listening to my friend Poll A Rock’s punchy and catchy electro tracks makes me feel upbeat.

Depending on what kind of feelings you want to express through your photography, music can be used to put you in the right mood to express them.

Let music inspire you

As shown by the personal examples above, music can be a wonderful source of inspiration and drive. It can push you to explore different kinds of photographic styles, inspire you subjects and places but also can help you get in a specific mood before going out with your camera. Let music inspire you.

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