Play, Write, Photograph — The Interaction Of Creative Endeavors
|Photo by Jörg Wüstkamp|
In my article “The Narrative And The Photograph” I have written about how in my opinion stories and imagery are very much connected and this being said it doesn’t surprise that many photographers are or have been writers. Be it to pen instructional books or more prosaic works as Edward Weston’s Daybooks, which I can’t seem to stop mentioning.
But of course, there are more creative disciplines and this here article deals with the interaction between those disciplines when a person devotes herself with more than one.
I will try and describe this for two disciplines that don’t seem to connect that easily — music and photography. I have been playing the guitar off and on for 30 years and after Funk and Rock finally settled with Jazz, playing in a trio with a bassist and a saxophone player.
The output, of course, is very different in both cases. One creates a piece of music, the other a print or at least an image we can look at on a screen. In the creation of these, I play an instrument to produce the first and operate a camera and a computer for the second.
So how do these two interact? It is not in the most obvious way, it is about the attitude, about the way of thinking. And I think it provides a very good way to reflectt on what we are actually doing and how we do it.
As an example: A lot of Jazz musicians hum along when they are improvising. Both Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis (two old-school jazz guitarists) strongly recommend in their instructions to do the same. Is this something that I can use for photography?
First I need to think about why the jazz musician would do the humming in the first place. It is a means to get out of the head and into the “real” world what the musician hears internally, as it is much easier to play what you actually hear than what you “only” have in your head. It almost sounds like you’re humming along with the melody, but the humming ever so slightly happens before the actual plucking of the string (or whatever you do to produce the sound on your instrument), and it really helps to keep you from playing patterns and scales you visualize on the fretboard.
So it is about hearing what you will play before you actually play it. The next thing I will have to do is to figure out what the equivalent in photography might be. Which I think, would be visualization. According to Ansel Adams in “The Camera”, it is a concept, that “… includes the ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure, so that the procedures employed will contribute to achieving the desired result.” Translated for jazz, this would read: “ … the ability to anticipate a sound before playing it so that the procedures employed will contribute to achieving the desired result.”
Now you might ask, what does that do for your photography to know that there are these similarities? I think first it opens your mind so you don’t just dismiss concepts or ideas from other disciplines as useless, to begin with just because they are based on sound or creating three-dimensional objects or stories or what have you.
I have been playing music much longer than I have been making photographs. So in transferring the truths, I found in music, I can maybe accelerate my development as a digital artist in photography. And as I am using concepts and ideas from my other disciplines (writing and music) and can embrace their interaction, I can think, feel and live neither as a writer, musician or photographer, but as an artist. And since my creativity flows in all of those three directions and they feed off each other, I not only amplify each but also make them more unique, more my own because they are also influenced by the two other components.