This is perhaps in a slightly different vein than usual but it’s a topic I have wanted to write about for a while now. Everyone who is involved in art draws influence from any number of sources and materials. It can range widely and come from not only works of art but people and situations in life. We are ultimately a culmination of our experiences and that helps to drive our style and give us the vision we have. It is of course one of the reasons you can take a variety of photographers and place them in front of the same subject with the same gear and get a vast range of images and messages from their work.
It takes a while to become comfortable with one’s style, let alone come to notice it and take advantage of it. We often try and emulate others that we see but ultimately it all boils down to our own take on it, learning along the way that despite our struggles to emulate or copy we can never ultimately match it.
Over time I’ve found that for me I was not so much influenced by other peoples works (though to say that is most certainly a lie). Consciously I did not seek out particular work to emulate though I know on a passive level I certainly did. However, one particular thing that has had a great effect on how I shoot or what lens I see the world through has been the music I listen to. Now, everyone likes music. I can’t lay claim to knowing someone who didn’t, nor knowing someone that didn’t have music that affects their mood and therefore the work they produce, This is not anything unique. In my case though I tend to really get caught up in the stuff I choose to listen to. Unfortunately it is something that is often quite dark and moody and cold. I have found that this has helped me to resonate with the content I wish to shoot and through which I wish to view my subjects when I shoot personal work. For better or worse this has greatly influenced my style, if at times to a disadvantage. I have grown to enjoy capturing at atmosphere or feeling within a photo, even if perhaps the content of it is not entirely captivating. Now, certainly I wish to create images that are both engaging and deep, and certainly that is something that will take a lot of focused work and refinement but along that path I still thoroughly enjoy putting on a pair of headphones, setting my music loudly and going out to see what kind of images I get while put into this mood.
Over the past 3 years I’ve found that some of my best memories (not necessarily my best pictures though) have been taken while listening to particular tracks. I’ve wanted to be able to showcase that kind of atmosphere sometime in the future and it’s a project I hope to pursue one day when I have a greater understanding of linking several mediums together in a cohesive fashion. For the time being though I hope to continue exploring photography while under the influence of what I feel is my inspiration.
In no particular order:
- [LISTEN] Miwon – They Leave in Autumn – I first listened to this track on my first trip to Japan back in November of 2011. I was looking for some music while getting on the shinkansen to head back from Kyoto to Tokyo and came across this track. Personally it really cemented the feeling of speed moving across the country side on a gloomy and rainy evening. This came to really represent for me the idea of travel in Japan and is a staple any time I ride the bullet trains.
- [LISTEN] Tim Hecker – Dungeoneering – Initially this track started to make its rounds on my iPod while travelling around on Odakyu line in Tokyo this past year. It became a successor or perfect pairing for me to Miwon’s track. It shares with it the dark and gloomy atmosphere and maintains that feeling of movement and speed.
- [LISTEN] Lusine Icl – In Flight – This track I first came across when travelling between Canada, Japan, and South Korea in late 2012. It marked my initial excursion away from Canada and the listless feeling of existing high above the clouds. It is forever a frozen moment with no sense of sky or ground.
- [LISTEN] Sabi – Om – This track marked my last day in Japan when I was leaving the country on my first trip in 2011. I had turned it on while sitting on the Keisei Skyliner bound for Narita Airport after departing Ueno station. At the time I was caught up in a sea of emotions, having been incredibly thankful for the unique experience but facing the bittersweet disappointment of having to return back home. At that time I sat on the quiet express train, turned on this track and photographed the sun soaked city scape in monochrome. Since then this track has always brought me back to the feelings of that day.
- [LISTEN] Bourgeoisie – De Tomaso (Interlude) – This was a track I came to discover while I was caught up between the working life and escape to simplicity the Shonan coast provided. I fell asleep to this on the train many times while commuting on hot summer afternoons to go enjoy a drink by the ocean. It always involved a trip back to Machida city to spend the evening at a local Starbucks loading up photos from the day. As such it is a song for me that is associated with care free travel but the speed of work as well.
- [LISTEN] Haruka Nakamura – Graf+ – This particular track stirred in me the longing to return to Japan after returning to Canada from my second trip to Asia. I spent many evenings at home sitting around listening to this track with a glass of wine in hand only to do nothing more than reminisce and begin to carve out a path that would help me spend more time in Japan in what i hoped at the time would be for a much longer period of time. Ironically the main cover art for this track involved an image from the Shonan coast, a place I would regularly come to visit once I got here, something I was not even aware of at the time.
For me, music plays an incredibly vital role in the content I want to produce with my camera. Unfortunately at times it can also be a lot like an addiction, one that is easily over indulged in. It took a while to get more comfortable with it but it can really heighten certain moods. I went through bouts of depression, not facilitated by my moments in life or external factors and conditions but instead by the power some of these tracks held over me. Even now, it is in a sense like a drug, easy to enjoy but often one impossible to get away from, one easily overdosed on.