The Cacaphony in Photography and Music

My secret birthday wish – the Fuji X100V

The more I write songs and practice playing guitar, bass, cello, mandolin, piano / organ, lap steel, violin and dulcimer, the more I get this feeling that music and photography  share some things and parallel other things.

This could be just me loving these two things so much that its wishful thinking. It also could be that because I get ideas lyrically from photography and sometimes get photo ideas from my lyrics that they sort of act as models for each other.

I’m totally smitten with this camera. Too bad you can’t buy one – until supply chain issues get resolved …. its the Leica M6 that I wish I had when I had a Leica M6. Hey – song idea!

It could also be that its a pattern thing – my photos always have structure to them and so does my music. There is a logic to these, especially since I write silly 3 minute pop songs. When I use Cubase to record each track looks like a sort of piano roll that shows the sound waveforms being digitally recorded in realtime. There are only so many patterns you can follow, unless you delve into Jazz or some avant garde music. That’s where my photography is similar. I have always chosen simple scenes, many times with just one person or thing. That is also why for the longest time I didn’t “get” some of the more modern photographers, who to me, seemed to have busy or cluttered compositions. They almost seemed random and not focused on any one subject.

I have written songs with too many parts where too many parts play at the same time and it sounds cluttered. If it works – its purely by accident, not design. That might be a method to some photographers vision.

I think I better understand that these photographers are looking at relationships or maybe some want to show chaos and clutter. I mean NYC streets are packed with people and cars and many other things. Some music has only a few simple parts, others more complex.

Traffic jams and crowded sidewalks are “cacaphonies”.

I guess all art is related because all art is based on composition, patterns, objects and relationships. Digital art – using digital recording software and firmware capitalize on wave forms – and sound and light transmit in waves and have frequencies. So, there is time, space, patterns and how they affect the viewer or listener. From a tech perspective there is a very direct match.

Photography can be fine art, most photographs taken are not. I don’t even know if my photos qualify to be fine art and I don’t really know who gets to decide. Pop music is much easier to define.

I’ll stop now because I’m no philosopher, but in the end, if you are lucky to even attract attention to your music or photography, its what people think of it. I suppose if you have at least one other person who likes it, then that’s important, but in my older years this is how I entertain myself. And I’m having the best “art time” of my life right here and right now.

Eyesore Acres Assemblage Fence

Captive audience

As promised, here are the photos of what I call “Phase 1” of the yard art fence. My goal is to divert attention away from the awful eyesore some pompous trust fund baby had built and which already looks like a shack in disrepair. I honestly grew up near trailer homes that looked much nicer.

We might plant a little bit – so between the art and the plants its all filled in and then is an “artificial fence” – and doesn’t look like a “spite fence” even though it really is.

It was a lot of fun – and I got it done before my surgery and also a set of new rain storms that will drench us.

OK – back to Amsterdam tomorrow – and I also need to start digitizing another European city from 1989 – maybe London or Paris – maybe someplace else. I’ll go through my negatives today.

SF Chinatown “Canner” – 1989

I remember clearly that when I was 28 or 29 taking these pictures that I had learned not to skew my bias toward younger or hipster type people – even though the 80’s for me were my days of going to night clubs and art galleries and cafes – where all the cool kids hung out.

I had been studying the “masters” – Bresson, Atget, Man Ray, Doisneau, etc, and saw that they made images that were all about what they saw and where they were at the time.

One photographer whom I have known about – but was not into at the time was Joel Meyerowicz – and other “modern” street photographers. However, I have been watching the many Youtube talks and instructional videos that he has made – and I now have a great respect and interest in him. In the database world – when I design a relational database – there are “entities” (people, places or things) and then relationships between these entities. Joel says that he concentrates on the relationships between people and things – not the people or things themselves. I know that I first concentrate on the people, place or thing, and if a relationship pops out of it – its by accident – not design.

So, all of this is cool – once I get my new knee and go back to the city or town streets – where the people are – I’ll consider the relationship part as well.

San Francisco Golden Gate Statue – 1989

This one is treated

I guess the “decisive moment” is where you find it – where you are and what frame of mind you are in (bad pun intended). Looking back on these “best of” photos of mine – when I was very much into “fine art” photography – I can now say without reservation that fine art photography is indeed fine art. I guess its also like music – some lament that “kids these days” use computer based tools to make music and they don’t play an instrument in the traditional sense. I say that art is art if someone thinks its art. I also think if someone enjoys music – if its say “electronica” vs. old school instruments, its all in the eye of the beholder.

This one is untreated

I have a friend who makes excellent music. When I had him check out my music he then felt compelled to admit that he made his all with a computer keyboard and felt guilty because he didn’t play a “real” instrument. His music is great – and I told him “poppycock” – its either something people like or not – regardless of the tools you use. And musical instruments (for me anyway) are just like tools in my toolbox downstairs – the final work is all that matters.

San Francisco Harp Player- 1989

I’m starting to scan negatives and slides in other cities – looking for street photography that I did way back in the late 80’s. This was one of the “obvious” photo’s that I did print. Besides seeing a street “busker” playing a harp – which is unusual – even in San Francisco, the dress of both the player and the family all engaged in discussion – except the youngest – is all interesting. In fact, I’m really glad all but the youngest were facing the camera – this way, no one became self conscious. The smile on the player is quite nice as well. Between the players dress and the parents hats – and mothers plaid skirt- there is a sort of “Victorian” feel to this. I would almost guess this family is visiting from the U.K. but I have no idea.

I do remember it was near Union Square and between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The way this family is dressed I would guess they were visitors – perhaps even from Europe – but it does bring back memories when people dressed up when they went to a big city. I remember this growing up near New York City. I think this is fairly rare these days. Anyway – a pretty classic and obvious composition – but I guess I had real guts with my Leica M6. I do know that I tried to look like a tourist, and San Francisco is a very interesting city to photograph in. I loved living there for 10 years – between 1984 – 1994.

Republican NFT’s: The Tin Man

Josh on the catwalk in a stunning canned ham one piece

Republican NFT’s: The Joker


Amsterdam Street Sale – 1989

Hipster sidewalk sale

The dulcimer is an interesting instrument. Its not like a guitar or a mandolin – in any way that I can see. Its its own thing. It does scream to have you play it in an almost Celtic way – which I am sure includes bluegrass. I’ll have to look for dulcimer players on Youtube to get a better idea.

Amsterdam Hipsters – 1989

Amsterdam had lots of very hip people out on the streets in 1989 – I was very comfortable there. They were friendly and I could walk anywhere in the city with my Leica M6 and not have to worry about anything.

Todays song is more two part “exercise” – guitar + cello, and there wasn’t enough space to add anything else. This has been a really great exercise.

I will be posting the garden art (assemblages) tomorrow – since I will have 7 up blotting out the neighbors “Eyesore Acres” – but its actually turning into more than a “spite fence” – my wife asked if I could keep making these – that she likes them a lot. Truth is – our front and back yard has needed “something”, and this quirky garden art seems to be just what was needed. Luckily – I have a ton of junk ready to make these things.

The idea came from R.E.M. and their “Radio Free Europe” video – featuring Howard Finsters garden art:

I do have to admit – it was R.E.M. who influenced me to start playing guitar and then piano back in the 80’s. There are many other bands and many genre’s I love – but if I ony could mention THE ONE influence its R.E.M. – especially their earlier stuff (although they really don’t have a bad album – even their last stuff which I didn’t even bother to buy).

Amsterdam Bicycle Transport – 1989

All these years later – I’m starting to think that Amsterdam is as picturesque or even more than say Paris and London. Between the cycling and people walking and hanging out at cafes, bars and restaurants – Amsterdam has it all. It somehow seems more accessible than any other city – and it being flat certainly has something to do with that. I’m very impressed that a city that flat is by no means boring. The architecture and canals are very “cozy” unlike cities with skyscrapers and urban blight. I also remembered the people being very friendly and easy to meet – my memories of Amsterdam and a few other nearby cities is nothing but fantastic.

Music wise – I stumbled on a few simple guitar chords that I have used s far as I can remember. I used some quirkier chords for the bridge – and extended it with a couple quirky parts. Then added in a standard progression of C – Em – Am so it would have enough “cohesion”. Lucky for me – that made for a really fun and totally improvised cello part. I just worked on the verse and chorus a little – but the multi-part bridge and outro are 100% improvised – “first take”.