Imagining the Sound by Lea Zimany
John Muir, the American naturalist said:
“The body seems to feel beauty when exposed to it as it feels the campfire or sunshine, entering not by the eyes alone, but equally through all one’s flesh like radiant heat, making a passionate, ecstatic pleasure glow not explainable.”
I feel that the same can be said about auditory beauty — when we hear a pleasant sound or a song that moves us, the sound enters not by our ears alone, but by way of our entire body, again making for a passionate & ecstatic pleasure glow.
For me, music is an inspiration on a daily basis and it only makes sense that I should identify it as an integral part of my image making. Like most artists, I create art based on what moves me. That emotion is usually based on a visual scene and/or an auditory sound. Each image I make is injected with little pieces of me and what I’m feeling, both at the time of capture and in the post-processing as I study the subject in greater detail. I like to evoke that pleasure glow feeling Muir spoke of, so I try to infuse that enchanting, dreamlike quality I associate with fond memories when I produce an image. I’m depicting not only a passion for what I’m seeing, but also for what I’m hearing, as a photo evolves into my own artistic expression. There is almost always an auditory element to each of my images — whether it be conscious or subconscious on my part, it’s there. I might be listening to a certain song when the image is captured, or over the course of processing my mood might be influenced by what’s playing in the background, so it becomes a part of the feeling I’m weaving into the image as it evolves. This might be obvious to me, so I may title the image with a particular lyric or song title as a tribute to the inspiration, but I also like to identify that this is happening even when it may not be so obvious to me — if the music is setting a mood in the room while I’m working with an image, it is inevitable that what I’m hearing will influence my creation in some way, whether it’s intentional or not.
The way I see it, music will always be there, even when it seems there is nothing else. There are few things more therapeutic than hearing our favorite songs when we need comfort. I’m a recreation therapist at a nursing home and I work with dementia & Alzheimer’s residents. Some of my patients are communicating & socializing minimally on a day to day basis. It’s truly an enlightening experience to bring a mostly non-verbal patient to a live music program and watch them sing every word to every song while tapping their toes to the beat. For some of us, music is so ingrained in our lives that it becomes an involuntary response to sing, whistle, hum, or tap to the beat of a tune that pleases our ears. That being said, I’m more likely to recollect what songs have influenced a particular image I’ve produced than I am to be able to recall what apps were involved in creating it!
I might be listening to a certain song when the image is captured, or over the course of processing my mood might be influenced by what’s playing in the background, so it becomes a part of the feeling I’m weaving into the image as it evolves.
I have a very poor memory, myself. Very poor. This fault is a catalyst for my image making. I’ve been shooting photos with a variety of devices since early childhood, and more recently in the last 5-6 years, I’ve been using a camera phone to capture & preserve moments in time for my own reference. I would share my photos with friends on MySpace (if anyone remembers MySpace??), but that was the extent of it. It wasn’t until acquiring the iPhone and joining the wave of online sharing through the multiple social networking platforms that I began to pay closer attention to my image making – why I do it, what it means to me, and where I want to go with it.
I’ve come to realize that I create images because I’m looking to preserve a memory and a feeling. I generally photograph subjects that evoke positive feelings & emotions for me like happiness, joy, pleasure, and freedom. I typically shoot nature scenes – landscapes, pretty sunsets, garden vegetables, animals – these are the things that are important to me and they define who I am as a lifelong New Englander. I’ve come to enjoy portraying glimpses of the beauty that I see and sharing it with people around the world.
I’m more likely to recollect what songs have influenced a particular image I’ve produced than I am to be able to recall what apps were involved in creating it!
I don’t usually take many photos of people, however I’ve got a soft spot for capturing musicians and performers doing what they do best. I’ve attended hundreds of concerts & shows over the years, and I’m especially a huge fan of music festivals for the positive vibes & the feeling of freedom that often comes with attending these events. I really enjoy photographing people at the festivals having a good time, the musicians collaborating in unique ways, and having a one of a kind musical experience that evokes the pleasure glow feeling for everyone involved.
PETE SEEGER AT NEWPORT
A couple years back I had the pleasure of attending a prominent and historic New England music festival. The event takes place each summer at an outdoor seaside venue that was previously an Army Fort dating back to the War of 1812, so it’s an outstanding backdrop for musical history to take place. The conditions for shooting are ideal – there’s breathtaking views, sunny blue skies, and seagulls swooping & soaring above the performers on stage. I was able to capture some decent mobile shots from my position in the general audience and gleefully posted them online for other festival attendees to enjoy. Evidently, I was effective in conveying my adoration for the experience, because shortly after sharing my photos I was contacted and invited by a festival producer to shoot the event front & center the following year.
I don’t usually take many photos of people, however I’ve got a soft spot for capturing musicians and performers doing what they do best.
For me, this was an excellent opportunity and it was a chance to do everything I truly enjoy all at the same time. I shot with my DSLR camera as well as my iPhone with a telephoto lens attachment. My love for music was a dominant inspiration to me throughout the 2-day event, and it allowed me to feel confident in what I was doing as I fully immersed myself in this experience. I was able to document the musicians up close as they enjoyed each other’s company and performances beneath the sun, beside the ocean. My love and enthusiasm is now being woven into each picture, and this has helped enhance that ecstatic pleasure glow that I like to conjure in my images. It’s been cathartic in many ways and it’s meant so much to me to have an opportunity to do what I love. Through these images I’ve captured a piece of musical history, and now I get to share this with folks around the world, but I also get to keep these memories preserved near and dear to my heart.
COLIN MELOY OF THE DECEMBERISTS
So it just goes to show that if you feel strongly and passionately about something – in my case music and mobile photography – and you keep sharing and keep staying true to what’s important to you, good things can happen and wonderful opportunities beyond your wildest dreams can come your way. So I encourage everyone to keep shooting, keep sharing, and keep allowing your passion to lead you forward. I really look forward to seeing what comes next, and I plan to continue doing this for a great long while.