Capturing Solitude: The Music of Shooting

September 26, 2011

It dawned on me that while I’m very open with the steps of my shooting, editing, socialization and marketing… I haven’t ever focused on what, to me, is one of the most important elements of making a good photograph:

What I’m listening to while I shoot and process.

Depending on the type of shoot and number of people involved, I will often have music going, either on speakers or in headphones.  And never will I process without music.  This is so vital in setting the tone and mood of the pieces I’m working on.  When I set out to shoot (I’m speaking here of more creative, personal jobs — not portrait sessions where the client dictates much of what we’re going for) I tend to already know what I’m feeling, what I’m looking for, and what I hope to capture.  Keeping a constant flow of music that fits with the mood goes a long way towards helping me find what I want.

I’ve posted a couple images from a solo shoot I went on a few days back — HERE and HERE.  I knew heading up that there was something I was needing to find… and not find.  There are days when I set out to shoot people, and life and action.  This was not one of those days.  This was a day of setting out to find nothing but a feeling of solitude.  It was late afternoon, and the sun was setting and I drove up into the mountains north of Los Angeles.  It was chilly, dropping into the mid 40’s and a steady rain was falling  (it was 95 degrees and sunny at my house when I left).  I took a 16 mile long and winding road up the side of a mountain in Los Padres National Forest and when I was nearly at the top, I found an unmarked dirt road.  I took it and went a mile in before realizing I had no idea where I was, or if I was going to be able to turn around or God forbid, back the whole way out.  So… I stopped and got out on foot.  I adjusted my lenses under a canopy of trees, taking a test shot here of my trusty Tundra.

I wandered up and down in the hills for an hour and a half until light started to become scarce.  The whole while I had music playing on a small speaker phone so I could also hear the sounds of the rain around me.  Just a great mood, relaxing yet rejuvenating.  I stumbled onto the Original Score from “The Assassination of Jesse James” some weeks before (by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis) and it was the perfect walking partner.

I then listened to it while I imported and processed the shots from the day.  As I look at the finished products, I feel the warmth and loneliness from the music.

Such an important part of the process.

Here’s one of my favorite tracks from the album:



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