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Music and Photography: how do they relate?

by Editor Swapnil Deshpande 
Published by Yvette Depaepe - the 26th of November 2021


I've always been intrigued by the relation between music and photographs.
Somehow when I listen to music while watching a picture,  I tend to unknowingly find a fit between the two of them. For me, in a way,  the seem to be intricately wound around each other going together hand in hand.


'Symphony White' by Inna Karpova

Visuals and music tend to be associated to each other. For example, one can associate a piece of happy melody to colourful spring images or a piece of deep bass music can go well with a black and white picture. From a personal experience, having some background music has always helped me to embed some mood in my images especially in monochrome images. And adding to this, when you see work from other photographers you can observe that certain parts of your memories, visuals, dreams, déjà vu, all are associated to some music and some of your own images. 

Listening to music can take you to visual memories and vice versa, provided you develop that habit of viewing and listening closely.

'rock'n'roll' by nicoleta gabor


'The last song' by Sebastien DEL GROSSO



'Hop, skip and jump' by Mel Brackstone



'Melody of the wetland' by Ekkachai Khemkum



'Melody fair' by Judy Tseng



'Music of light and shadow' by Andrey Morozov


Music and photography share similarities in many ways. Both are forms of artistic expression that appeal to a large audience but leave enough room for everyone to make sense of it in their way. Although we’re free to interpret a track or a picture on our own, it’s equally intriguing to find out what are the creators’ thoughts or moods toward the pieces they created. This adds an extra layer of experience that can make looking at a photo or listening to a song more interesting!


One of the pioneers of photography, Ansel Adams himself, was a pianist before making a name as a grand photographer. About music, he quotes : “you have this necessary discipline from the very beginning. And you are constructing various shapes and controlling values. Your notes have to be accurate or else there’s no use playing. There’s no casual approximation.”
The shapes and values in music can correspond to contrasts, brightness and shapes in compositions. The basic design sense is the beginning of both photograph and piece of music.


'Symphony unfinished' by Thierry Dufour



'Symphony' by Jake Olson



'Symphony of the Seas' by George Digalakis



'Symphony of lines' by Dragos Ioneanu



'hard rock' by Roswitha Schleicher-Schwarz



'Cantus Arcticus – Concerto for Birds' by Jared Lim


Musicians essentially know when and where the exact beat is, they perfectly know when to push it, drag it, lighten and deepen the impact of certain piece and creating a huge impact on the listener. Photography essentially call it a decisive moment, they have to know exactly when to press the shutter, how to adjust the compositional elements, the lighting and being sensitive about the surrounding to create that necessary impact in a picture.  The form, shapes, colours, tones , shadows highlights whites blacks are essentially the keys of photography instruments which when played perfectly create the best piece of images which can also be interpreted with similar kind of music. Latest in this trend is a lot of photographers displaying their work on social sites like Instagram in reels. Parallel use of series of images and piece of music in background embedding additional mood in their work.


In both music and photography world,  the essential factor that plays almost all the part in creating or destroying a piece of art is time. When we say about photography that a history is created in between the time the shutter opens and closes and similarly in music the length of time for which the key is pressed creates that subtle art.  Similarly the pauses between the notes and the spaces between the compositional elements (negative space) creates that wow photograph or wow music that we all love.


To be honest, I've always wondered how this relation could be explained.
I made a sincere effort but words cannot do justice to something  that can just be felt . One cannot put in words something that was a divine experience to him/her. Right from the best musicians to best painters to the best photographers, would fail to explain the process of understanding and creations of their magnum opus.


I sometimes just wonder that when we talk about both art forms as an analogy, do photographers hear light and do musicians see notes?
I keep thinking…………



'Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher …' by Yvette Depaepe



'The Man with sandals' by Carmine Chiriacó



'Cycle surgery' by Chris Hamilton



'Manta Rota beach' by Nieves Bautista



'A view of the tree crown' by Tom Pavlasek



'Winter spirit' by Ina Tänzer



'Melancholy' by Teruhiko Tsuchida



'Chatting By The Canal' by Bill Eiffert



'Melancholy' by Swapnil.


Thank you very much for choosing one of my pictures to publish
Thank you!
Many thanks Swapnil and Yvette for choosing one of my favourite picture for publication in this interesting magazine. I completely agree that music has to be listened and pictures have to be watched in order to understand the symbolisme.
Thanks a lot !!
Bellissimo articolo! Da musicista e musicoterapeuta condivido ogni parola. Foto strepitose!
Grazie filippo!!
Great article, fantastic photos! A really pleasure to read/watch it! Congrats!
Thanks a lot thomas
Excellent theme and fantastic photographs! (as a music therapist I can only embrace and affirm this theme:-)
Thanks so much!! Im glad you like the article!
A great theme, an exciting combination that leaves a lot of room for your own interpretation! The photos were excellently selected - with some the context was clear, with others you had to think a little around the corner - but all of excellent quality! Thank you, dear Yvette, dear Swapnil for this publication! I really enjoyed it!
Thanks so much susanne!
Thank you very much for choosing one of my works in these series, dear Swapnil ! Without music we all would be poorer, music is balsamic for our hearts.
Thanks nicoleta… indeed world would be so boring without music
A wonderfully sensitive writing. Swapnil, thank you so much for including one of my photos. And a big thank you to Yvette for making these works available to us.
Thanks a lot ina!!
A big thank you Swapnil for choosing one of my images for this wonderful work you have done. Thanks to Yvette for this very nice edition !!!
Thanks a lot thierry!!