Our latest music playlist is inspired by telling more unusual and personal stories with your camera. What do I mean by 'unusual stories'? Stories that are unique even if not immediately compelling to the average person. For example, the Virginia based photographer, Sam Abell was fascinated by the horizontals in the horizon of a photograph and used multiple ways to express that, like a fallen tree, a windowsill, the horizon itself, and many more. Even though his photographs tell different stories depending on the subject the constant use of horizontals tells a unique and personal story about Abell himself. And of course Sally Mann's insanely unusual fascination with the remains of animals and humans. She is a great example of some one who simply said "YES" to her curiosity and forged ahead fearlessly to make work. The truth is there is so many stories to tell that if we look beyond the obvious we become captivated by something that we least expect. In my case I've been really drawn to the visual aesthetics of plastic in trees. And in making work and telling that story, which felt a little unusual at first, I am now becoming more active in my role to help clean it up. As an added benefit to saying "yes" to the "unusual" things that capture your attention you start to develop a vision that with repetition and time starts to become so refined the work starts to stand out and becomes unique. And if some stories you try to tell end up at dead ends, well at least you have learned something along the way about yourself, which leads to growth. I hope you enjoy the music this time which is a nice mix of experimental folk music, horror film soundtracks, and ambient folk tunes. Some of which lyrically tells really personal stories. Enjoy!
Music for intentionally getting lost...
There is an ancient saying that states: "all those who wander are not lost", which to me sums up one of the essential joys of photography. Intentionally getting lost and going to places that are completely unfamiliar in a lot of ways is a kind of 'spiritual awakening'. One begins to look with wonderment, excitement, inspiration, intrigue, etc. And one need not go far. I have been exploring a very small area of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains for about 4 years now. Almost every time I do I find some strange dirt or gravel road that I am unfamiliar with. When I take those mysterious turns I am often rewarded with incredible surprises and some of my best photos. I think back to a photo of a deer below a tree in the fog that I made. It happened literally 1 min after turning down a dirt road I have never been on. It's as if the world has been waiting for you all along to turn down that road and experience magic. And the above photo with this blog post was made taking several turns into an area I am familiar with but had never traversed. Imagine my astonishment when I drove straight into this enchanting and emotive scene. One that combines the rawness of my "guts" series and the mysticism of my "ancient" series. And getting lost can be as simple as one day deciding to drive behind a strip mall instead of the standard parking in front. Or as basic as walking into an alley you've never been down. I hope you enjoy the music and as always are inspired to wander and experience the magic that is waiting for you.
-Dave Rothschild 2017
Few subjects captivate me as much as abandoned houses in the Virginia landscape. So much so that I have dedicated a large chunk of my personal work to seeking out these houses, as well as frequently returning to the same one to photograph anew. The reason. quite simply, is a spirit-based energy I feel in their presence. These "open caskets" suggest a dying dream that's "soul" is slowly returning itself to the the natural world. So with that I give you our latest playlist, "Music for photographing abandoned houses". Most of the music suggests a rickety ambience that is often found in experimental primitive guitar music. Soulful and psychedelic. Enjoy!
Experiences and thoughts on photographing abandoned houses:
1. I rarely if ever go inside
I am not opposed to going inside but generally am more interested in capturing the energy/angle of the structure and it's relationship to the landscape it decays in. It's kind of like photographing a dead body but avoiding the autopsy if you will
2. The overwhelming textural detail is perfect for 35mm film
One of things that quickly became apparent when photographing abandoned houses, particularly in winter is the insane of amount of textural detail between the rotting wood, over grown vines, tree branches, dead grasses. It's an amount of detail that a 35mm negative has trouble capturing. Sometimes the film looks a little splotchy in the dense areas. To me this creates a "ghostly staining" that in a sense creates a little ambiguity which mimics decay.
3. These subjects are incredibly fleeting
I have been photographing these houses for about 3 years now and since then 4-6 of these no longer exist. The fleeting nature of the subject matter gives it an additional energy and poignancy that drives me to want to capture what I see and feel. Not only that, but because of how vulnerable these houses are to the weather, vandalism, and animal interaction they can take on dramatically different appearances. I've had a story book white house go from pristine to, graffiti-covered, to fallen tree on roof, to completely gone and just a pile of dirt. Again it's these constant changes that drives me to keep returning to experience the change. Every time one of these places is gone when I return I can't help but feel a little sad but also grateful that I captured it.
4. I rarely feel "scared" or "creeped" out by them
Most people respond to decaying abandoned homes with cliche reactions like "haunted", "creepy", "horror-movie", "spooky". I totally understand those reactions but I must say I rarely feel those emotions. Most of the time, and this is going to sound a little strange, I feel like the house is happy that I stopped by and there is this beautiful welcoming spirit I feel. I feel like time has stopped and I am paying my respects to a forgotten place and life. And once I meet the house for the first time there is this constant "calling" deep inside me to come back and visit an old friend.
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you found this a little inspiring to go out and make photographs of things that deeply captivate you.
Music for Editing Your Photos
I am a photographer because the process of exploring the world and making creative decisions about how to capture that world is extremely therapeutic. To be frank, it provides joy. But if you are serious about taking your photography as far as it can go one must invest a lot of time and energy into editing your work. Editing your work can be both tedious yet extraordinarily rewarding. It can also make the difference between average work and outstanding work. And by editing I mean assessing your own work and where it fits in relative to your other work, but also recognizing how compelling or meaningful individual photos are and then choosing those to share as part of exhibits, stories, commercial, social media, websites, etc. So with that our latest playlist is "Music for Editing your work". I chose music that I find soothing that seems to both relax me and enhance my focus.
Things I've learned about Editing:
Shooting film allows you time away from your work to look at with fresh eyes:
Most of the time my 35mm film does not get sent off to the lab until a few weeks but sometimes months after I shoot it. Over time the original emotional attachment to the image you made fades and you are able to view the work with a little more objectiveness.
When looking at the work for the first time I simply listen to my emotional response:
When I first scroll though my scans I simply go through each roll and in essence react to the work on a very gut-based emotional level. When something inside me says, "oh wow" or draws me in and causes me to look closer I usually have at minimum a decent image. And again it's much easier to feel these reactions when you've had some time away from the work and your seeing it for the first time.
It helps to imagine both the individual merits of an image and how an image may fit into a larger body of work:
Most of the time I am not compelled by the work I see individually but when re-imagining how each image may tell a larger story it becomes quite fun and challenging to see that every photo in a sense could be the birth of something new, or fit in like a character into a larger story. For example, I've always shot plastic in trees for some reason but really did not see much value in it. But over time I have developed the idea a bit further after looking back at my work and seeing there was potential for a larger vision.
Every so often go back through your archives with fresh eyes and organize a folder by theme/motif:
Sometimes I think we are so new at exploring something that we fail to see it's beauty or potential. Going back through old work can excite the perception that over time has grown wiser in a sense , and you may find something that is really compelling or at least spawns a new idea.
There are many, many more lessons and things to learn from editing one's own work and I've only touched the surface here. How do you edit your work? Is there anything you would like to share that you find very helpful? I hope you enjoyed this playlist!
If it wasn't for the potentialities of water I am not sure I would be a landscape photographer. Water has this strange dichotomy of feeling so organized and flowing yet on the verge of losing control. Water can be angry. It can be perfectly still and meditative. It can cast a heavy blanket of fog on an ancient forest. It can be reflective, stagnant, tranquil, textured, smooth, brooding, destructive, healing, ecstatic, brave or timid. Water inspires my work so much. Maybe it's because I am Aquarius I don't know. But I know if there is a storm or pouring rain or a water source of some kind I want to be there with my camera. With that in mind, our latest playlist is: "Music for photographing Water". I chose songs that for the most part have a heavy atmosphere but also can be gently rhythmic and melodic, yet at times on the verge of losing control and completely free!
So much of the photographic process for me happens when I'm on the move. There is something hypnotic and cleansing about travel, especially on quiet roads. With that in mind our latest music playlist is : "Music for photographers on the road to somewhere." Obviously like any of these short playlists of music there really is no 'right' or 'wrong' as far as what qualifies as the right music. For me personally I love road music ranging from steady folk, ambient, to slower thoughtful instrumental sounds. So with this mix I included a variety of sound palettes with some bias towards American folk. Over the years I have done a lot of traveling around my country and along the way I have learned some crucial lessons about my photographic process. I'd like to share a few guidelines I have when I am on the road to somewhere:
1. It's not where you are going, it's where you are
A lot times I am so desperate to get somewhere that I fail to miss what's right around me that I may be taking for granted. For example, maybe my goal is to get to some town on a map but I am not paying enough attention to the land I must go through to get to that town. As a result I may miss some opportunities to shoot. Making this mistake has led me to drive hours to the town only to not make any good work once I get there because I don't feel as compelled photographically as I thought I would.
2. Never waste good light
I have made the mistake many times of passing through a landscape or town where the light for whatever reason is truly stunning and I think, " Well if I keep going maybe there will be a better spot with better subject matter up ahead." And sadly, that special light soon goes away and never returns that day. Now when the light is special to me I pull over as soon as possible and make photographs.
3. If you see something you are intrigued by, TURN AROUND AND GO MAKE A PHOTO
When you are on the move it's much easier to keep going than it is to pull over or turn around and get out your cameras and go photograph something. I've passed a lot of things that intrigued me but failed to stop because I lacked courage or felt lazy or tired at the moment. Lately I have put an end to this mindset. I treat every feeling inside me as one worth exploring and at a minimum going back to at least consider making a photo.
4. Keep returning to the places that intrigue you
I think this is an idea most photographers are aware of but sometimes it's hard to do. As photographers, when we have the free time it's often more tempting to go somewhere new but I've realized that returning to a place I've been is in fact like "going somewhere new." Everything is transient. And when we become more intimate with a place we notice those changes more, and therefore are able to express a new idea about a place we have been. In essence. our relationship to the work in some ways becomes more intimate and compelling.
I hope you find these ideas helpful and if you have something you have learned about being on the road as a photographer that has made your work better, please share in the comments section below. And I hope you enjoy and are inspired by the music!
If you've never had the experience of making prints in a darkroom you are missing something quite meditative and I would even suggest: transformative. My first experience came in college in Flagstaff, Arizona USA. I can remember that old dead tree and snowy peaks taking form in the tray and was mesmerized and baffled that such magic was possible. With that in mind our latest "Music For" playlist is music for just that: getting lost/found in magic, focus and meditation in a darkroom. The music is at times ambient, transcendent and moving. I hope you enjoy and until the next playlist. Stay analog!!
Photographing the dying, decaying, disintegration that surrounds all of us on a daily basis may be strange to non-photographers, but for many of us it's fascinating. The history of the medium is littered with photographers who have explored death to a point that it has become a cliche. One of the things that I love about it is that there is so much juxtaposition between the dying and the living that surrounds. In most cases a decaying home is surrounded by opportunistic animals and plant-life. It feels post-apocalyptic in a way. I see visions of the past, present, and future all at the same time. The feeling can be quite strong. The challenge for me has always been finding an interesting and original way to compose these images. For me most of what I respond to is the angle/perspective of where my camera points and how it creates an off-kilter feel to the image. So with that our latest playlist is "Music for photographing Disintegration". I hope you enjoy.
As an artist, to me the most compelling reason to "practice" an art form is what we gain personally in the exploration. I would say my best work is not my best images but the time spent meandering and doodling and searching and finding nothing. Why? Because it's in these very gaps in our journey that shape us, and fine tune our eyes and spirit. In other words, my best work comes when I least expect it when I am looking for something and find something else entirely. Contemplative photographers would call this "fresh perception". So with that our latest playlist is somewhat abstract yet delicate, lost and not quite found:
As a photographer one of the biggest mistakes or challenges I face on a regular basis is the idea of "intimacy" When you are in a location making photographs the experience will always feel more 'real' because you are "there". But when looking back at the images I make I often feel a distance between me and subject that I did not feel in the moment. The images that I tend to feel the most 'moved' by on an emotional level are the ones where I am very close to my subject. The best photographers are the ones who are able to connect a feeling to their images in a way that is profoundly intimate, so when some one views their work they can feel it on a very deep level, despite having no direct relationship to the subject like the photographer had. So with that I bring you our latest playlist MUSIC FOR INTIMATE STORYTELLING. These songs are quieter and encourage the listener to connect to the stories in the songs which resonate a gentle intimacy.
It's hard to say what motivates me to go out day after day and make photographs but for me it really comes down to one thing: the sky. Why? Because that is where light emanates from. Now most of the time that light is plain or harsh but for the briefest of moments it can be simply mesmerizing. We all know how colorful and dramatic sunrises and sunsets can be. But my favorite light to work with is storm light. The dark skies before and after a storm when the sun is shining on one side of the storm makes the sky a painterly purple. Often sun rays poke through some of the breaks in the clouds and rainbows can occur. It's simply "HYPNOTIC", So with that our latest playlist:
Here is the track list:
"Teen Angst"- M83
"Same Dream China"- Gold Panda
"Zones Without People"- Oneohtrix Point Never"
"Olympians"- Fuck Buttons
"Brazil"- Luke Abbott
"A Paw in My Face"- The Field
"Grass"- Animal Collective
"Where Does Time Go"- Oneohtrix Point Never
I hope everyone who had a chance to listen to "Music for Harsh Landscapes" was moved and inspired by the music. That playlist was definitely a challenging place to begin. So that brings us to a new collection of music, "Music for Things That End Before They Start.". Our visual world is constantly arising and dissipating, appearing and then vanishing, which is what makes photography so challenging and important. I think back to a rainbow and an intense stormy sky over rural Virginia farmland that vanished before I could get to the right spot. With that spirit in mind, the music here is mostly experimental electro-folk where a lot of the elements arise and evolve quickly. .
Here is the Tracklist:
"You Always Keep Around"- JBM
"Iguazu"- Gustavo Santaolalla
"Cello Song featuring Jose Gonzalez"- The Books
"Tropic of Cancer"- Panda Bear
"The Journey"- Voice of the Seven Woods
"Opening"- Phillip Glass
"Wheelhouse"- Kurt Vile
"Long Nights I"- Daniel Bachman
"Reach for the Dead"- Boards of Canada
A few times a month I will be posting music playlists that are intended to inspire photographers while listening to the music. The playlists will be set up through 'Spotify'. Each playlist will have 11 songs. Like a lot of photographers, music is a huge part of their creativity. Some of my happiest, most liberating experiences are while driving to photo locations and listening to music on the open road. I have also been a musician for a long time now and produce my own work. So without further adieu, to hear the music click on the link below:
Here is the tracklist:
"Borderlands" -Tim Hecker
"Shivering Aurora"- Skullflower
"Abandon Window"- John Hopkins
"Red, Black and Green"- Pharoah Sanders
"Pelham Island Road"- Oneohtrix Point Never
"Being Her Shadow"- Grouper
"Out to Where I am"- Infinite Body
"White Dwarf Butterfly"- Jefre Cantu Ledesma
"Dark Room Distortion"-36
"Spiraling Skeleton Memorial"- James Blackshaw
"Mouth of Sky"- Mount Eerie