Looking at a few blogs while I chewed through my breakfast granola, I passed one that’s a series of photos from a lady’s day. (And if I’ve gotten confused and you/he is a dude, I apologize, it’s happened before.) I’ve checked out her site in the past and liked it a lot, and this post is beautiful too, but there is something a bit different about this one…
She has it set to play that song from American Beauty, you know the one, that super-pretty but so dangerous to over-use piece, actually titled Any Other Name but you might recognize it as “The Plastic Bag Theme” (which must piss off Thomas Newman immensely).
Her photos are very good, some of them are gorgeous and should be hung on the wall, but….with that song? Everything is stunning.
Is that cheap? Or is that skill? Marketing? Art?
Sometimes I see something and want to photograph it in black & white, but B&W seems like such a cheap way to fling gravitas onto an image. Even though my own photographic talents are admittedly minimal, I still dream of images that stand up for themselves, even in boring old color.
In color, it’s a shoe.
In B&W, it’s like…every shoe, man, that ever walked through a day, you know?, that carried the weight of dreams, the hopes of humanity, and the sweat of love, you know, man? This shoe, like, did things.
Looking through my own pictures is usually an exercise in disappointment (but that intersection looked so cool at the time!) but I think if I set up a gallery, lots of B&W, and had that song playing? People would buy them. Then maybe they’d take them home, and in the sterile lack of music they’d look at them and say “Wait, was this the one we picked?”
But there’s a better question, the actual thing I wanted to say in this post. If a song like that adds a readiness for reverence, an ease of admiration and propensity for esteem…what if you just lived that way? All the time. Would it cheapen and wear thin? Or would you reach a nirvana of awe and respect for…everything?
my hope is that you would just live that way
Definitely a worthwhile aim, I agree. I think personally I need some reminders though…maybe that’s what laughing Buddha statues, friends, and angry people you witness and don’t want to emulate are for. (The cure for road rage: Thomas Newman?)
It can be both cheap, skill, marketing and art, and nothing at all. Why set a rule? It’s pointless.
I wanted to play a tune along the pictures of that day and I wanted the tune to be nice. Easy, simple, beautiful, something not too loud, not too silent. Why this one? It came to my mind. I tried it on. I tried 2-3 others, and liked this one better. Yes, it’s been done million times already probably, but I honestly didn’t care. I liked it. I enjoyed it. That was the only thing important.
Sometimes people are afraid that if they do-use-say… something thats good often that it will loose value. So they calculate. They do it in relationships also. I often hear people about dosing feelings, dosing the good deeds, the words, the ‘I love yous’… It’s insane.
It will not loose value if you repeat it often, if its true, if you enjoy it, if you like it. Same way things don’t become more valuable only if you repeat them often. It is what it is – no matter the frequency.
And ,yes, a lady has spoken 🙂
It’s definitely a beautiful song, on a short list with Moonlight Sonata and most of what Hans Zimmer has composed, and I hope it came through that I liked the post, I’m certainly not attacking it. I hadn’t thought about the issue in terms of relationships and saying “I love you.” That’s an interesting parallel.
I think you’re right, that saying “I love you” a lot doesn’t lessen it, unless it’s said carelessly or thoughtlessly. If it’s just an automatic reflex thing, then it’s noise fading on the wind, but if it’s a genuine desire to communicate an idea, then it stays strong. I’d say it’s the same with putting beautiful music to images, if it’s thoughtful and deliberate, then it’s great, if it’s used as a cheap trick, then…it’s a cheap trick.
Thanks for reading and responding, and next time I’m in Croatia maybe you can show me the best climbing spots. 🙂
If I felt attacked I would not have responded, I would just ignore it probably.
Next time you come to Croatia I can shoot one day of yours. 🙂 and let you choose the music to go along with the pictures.
btw. I like the BW glowes 🙂
Not only because they are BW, the angle, the point of view and the contract are good too.
Thank you! (I admit, I wouldn’t have posted it if I thought it was really an awful image, I think it just wasn’t as good as I hoped when I took it.)
Gloves, not glowes – please edit my above comment and delete this one 🙂
Do I have to? This way makes my blog look so popular, all these comments!
No, you don’t have to. Let the whole world see how I struggle with my English 🙂
And to make your blog even more popular, I meant contrast, not contract 🙂
: ) I can use all the help I can get! And with all my expertise as a sometime English teacher, your English is excellent.
Here’s my philosophy on this–and I recommend filing this deep in the “for what it’s worth” folder, because it’s just my opinion.
Music can add a lot to the experience of viewing images; I’ve put together my share (and then some) of slideshows, and–done carefully and well–it can add immeasurably to the emotion conveyance process. And sometimes, the “multimedia display” is the end game–as I suspect was the case in the blog entry you linked. in that genre, I don’t think there’s anything cheap or contrived about it.
But…if you want to see if images that are accompanied by music (I’m speaking in general here, not about the linked entry in particular) hold up to scrutiny unaccompanied, here’s what you do: [glances around furtively to ensure no one can overhear]…turn the sound off.
As for pure imagery and b&w vs. color…some images convey their intended message better in monochrome than color, and if that’s the case, that’s how they should be presented. Others don’t–it’s both an image-dependent and meaning-dependent thing, IMO. I’ve had b&w images that won awards and/or were published that in color just lay their like the proverbial pancake. If my meaning–like the universality of footwear, for instance 🙂 –is better conveyed one way or the other, I won’t lose a wink of sleep about making the decision to convert to b&w (or not to convert).
I think the gist of it is that if either music, converting to B&W, or any other powerful tool, is done deliberately and with regard to advancing the meaning, then it’s groovy, but if it’s used as a hack trick, or automatic leg up, then it’s cheap chicanery.
I am reminded of some slideshows a friend put together for her nephew years ago. The images by themselves provoked smiles and little “oh!” noises, then once a slow and sweet song was added, it changed to tears. If she added the song to increase the emotional response: great. If she added it as a cheap way to tug heartstrings… Not so much. (It was the former ; )
Thanks for sharing your perspective, I appreciate it, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your images.
I think there’s something to hitting the right tone, with or without music (B&W, etc etc). The thing is, too much and you over-egg the pudding and lose the effect. It’s a tightrope.
It’s also very ephemeral. Come back to that same photo series in ten years’ time and see if it still has the same effect. See if it has the same effect in ten years on someone who is, by then, the age you are now. Stuff changes and it’s hard to cross that river twice. Those who manage to convey what they want to convey to new audiences again and again, year in and year out, are the true masters.
In the meantime, I guess we all do our best to say what we want to say and live how we want to live in whatever way seems best at the time, and with whatever tools we have available.
You make a couple really good points, that overdoing it will spoil the effect entirely, and with regards to the duration of the image’s appeal. If I look back now at photos I took a couple years ago (when I was REALLY just stating, granted) they are usually pretty terrible, and I feel the same way about my words…I’ll be scared to come back and read any of these posts in 2023!
But you’re also right with the last sentence, that all we can really hope for is to do our best, what we want, or some blend of the two.
Thanks for your comment!
Maybe one person’s art is another’s cheap marketing trick? It’s all a matter of perspective? What’s in the mind of the maker, and the viewers?
Very true. That kind of ties into the last thing B said above, about just doing the best we can; we can’t do much about how people will perceive things we create, so the only real criterion of import is how WE feel about them.
(And a reason why it’s interesting to hear artists talk about their own art, to hear what they think about it.)
Have you ever used multimedia in your posts?