From Photo to Song

Most of my songs are a combination of three things:

  • A photograph
  • How I felt when I took the photograph
  • A real life story but turned universal and which either directly or indirectly matches the photograph

This blog celebrates both nature photography and still life photography where I make puppet theatre sets with scraps of wood or where I show some of my past assemblage art. One area I’d love to get back to is street photography in cities and towns. I have shared some of my old European street photography, but probably not enough as that was done using film way back in the 80’s.

Sometimes the words are song lyrics, sometimes there is no music and the words are trying to pass themselves off as poetry. Words have a tendency to do that.

My intent with this blog was to meld multi-media together. I had some ideas for doing videos but have abandoned that as I enjoy good old still photography much more.

You Can’t Get There From Here

I figured out how to get around my fear of singing (Phonophobia). I make believe I’m some famous rock singer. A while back I channeled Mark E. Smith from The Fall and it turned out quite good. Yesterday was my Elvis day and today I channeled Lou Reed.

You can't get there from here
You must find another way
You've gone way off course
Well that's okay

We all get lost
Off the beaten path
In our misdirection
We always learn fast

Learn from your mistakes
Don't be afraid
Practice makes perfect
You'll make the grade

When you arrive
You will know
Sometimes it takes a while
Sometimes it's slow


You can't get there from here
You can't get there from here
You can't get there from here
You can't get there from here

I Was Born For The Stage

I might finally be over my fear of singing and thinking my voice is awful.

Here’s the funny back story of that last song. Michael Stipe, one of a handful of my favorite rock singers, used to love to do a bad Elvis impression. I thought, “What if I tried a Michael Stipe impression of him singing Elvis Style.

My wife and a few others said, no joke, it’s not terrible singing. I really do want to sing I’ve been deathly afraid of it …..

I was born for the stage
I was born to sing
Countless fans adore me
For my uncertain gift

My heart is on fire
I'm alight with desire
To paint the town red
Everyone is my friend

My adoring fans
Call me Saint
Its my singing
And the sounds that I paint

The Karma of Happiness

I just finished Jeff Tweedy’s short book “How to Write One Song”. While I don’t need exercises to write songs, I absolutely loved his description of his song writing process. He even addressed my “fear of singing” and he said he feels 1 in 5 songs he writes he likes. I feel like he’s a spiritual cousin because what he says I have felt the exact same thing.

Happiness comes from within
This we know as a child
We seem to forget
As we age for a while

I've been diagnosed
With Boyish Enthusiasm
Fever of Joie de Vie
The Happiness Spasm

How does it work?
Asked the doctor of mine
My answer was simple
Its all based on time

I greet each day
With a sun salutation
A nice cup of coffee
A mindfulness station

My mindfulness station
Is a clear mind from worry
I watch the sun rise
Then I let in the flurry

The flurry comes in
After looking at pictures
Places I've been
Maybe hardware fixtures

I try to see something
I hadn't before
In grand open vistas
Or cabinet doors

It never fails
That an old photograph
Of something from nature
(Or not) makes me laugh

I conjure the absurd
The crazier the better
I ask silly questions like
What if doorknobs wore sweaters?

Add in the fact
That I make junk art
Called Assemblage
Made of old rusty parts

These rusty parts
Are treasure to me
In each part
There is so much to see

All of this banter
During my first cup
It all came to me after
Just waking up

This happens again
When the sun's going down
Without coffee
And stillness abounds

I clear out my mind
Put my thoughts on a shelf
Take a deep breath
Think of nothing else

This cycle repeats
Every single day
Its a daily practice
Like how Abbey Monks pray

I greet each day
With a sun salutation
A nice cup of coffee
A mindfulness station

Broken Yolk

Success is not 
Cracking an egg
Its the yolk inside
A Wiseman said

Even when
The yolk is broken
The yolks still there
It's not been stolen

Take your yolk
Pretend it' fine clay
Make something different
Start it today

This and Next Years “Art Themes”

This years art theme was “Haunted Puppet Theatre” or creepy puppets as a sort of Assemblage. There are a handful of really decent photos, but the concept took way too much time and effort with a lower return on my investment.

However, using the puppet theatre as a still life photo platform – and learning better lighting techniques was better than I expected. Building set scene pieces – specifically the piano and bookshelves worked out as “happy accidents”.

My attempt at a Raoul Hausmann “head” fell short, but the one true assemblage that I made with the two hands and woman’s patina face turned out to be perhaps my best assemblage ever.

What also worked was just simple vignettes instead of some theatre scene. This “player piano” idea worked and I’ll recycle my basement junk to keep doing still life photography.

I will try something video wise. Maybe stop motion, but I would need to invest in something like Dragonframe. Because its so time consuming, I might write some music and then do more of a filmed puppet show, but more as simple vignettes – not full stories. Like maybe have the piano lady in the pink dress simply play piano and maybe sing.

Speaking of singing, I’d like to find a style I could do where it sounds decent.

Nature photography will happen for sure. OK – cheers to you, and have a happy, safe and artful 2022!

A Way of Seeing

Freeman Patterson lives in New Brunswick, Canada. Many years ago I read several of his photo composition books. He encouraged me to photograph what is in and around my immediate surroundings and see how it changes year by year.

I’m glad I’ve always remembered his advice and books. It’s amazing what unfolds when you look right under your own nose.

Holistic Yoga Flow

Left side
Right side
Both sides
Don't hide

Art and Science
Truth and Seance
Collective wisdom
Makes for great fun

An open mind
Creative thoughts
Yoga movements
Drop your pretence

Relax, untie
Your twisted knot
Let it flow
Then you'll grow