The Soundtrack To Photography

When I’m out on a photowalk, I always pick the same soundtrack.

That is, quite simply, bird song, the wind in the trees, the rain pattering down, leaves crunching beneath my feet, trickling water, or whatever else nature is providing around me, as I wander through the countryside.

For me this is all part of the joy of photography.

Being out amongst nature and not only seeing with enhanced photographer’s eyes, but paying as much attention to the details of the sonic landscape all around me also.

It all adds up to a heightened sensory experience, and one that calms, reassures and recharges me, ready for the return to the rest of my life.

As big a fan of music as I am, listening to any man-made music whilst on a photowalk is simply an unnecessary intrusion, and disrupts and lessens the overall benefits I enjoy.

Like finding a skyscraper in a forest, it’s incongruous, inappropriate, and just doesn’t work.

How about you? What’s your soundtrack to photography?

Just let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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26 thoughts on “The Soundtrack To Photography”

  1. I could not agree more. A couple of weeks ago my son and I were enjoying some time together on a photography trip to the high country and one of our most important national parks, Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park. We hiked in the snow to the Hooker Glacier Lake at the base of Mt. Cook, where we came across a group of young men who felt it necessary to carry with them a boom box pumping out bollywood hits at high volume. There was plenty of nature to listen to, snow avalanches in the mountains, the river rushing over rocks, birdsong, etc.. It make me wonder what is the point of going to these places if you are going to take your favourite nightclub with you!!

    1. Yes Steve, it does make you wonder! I think some people need to take their familiar “noise” wherever they go, perhaps especially somewhere quiet where they might find the near silence uncomfortable and unsettling? Kind of similar to people who are constantly frantically busy, because they’re scared of what will happen if they pause for breath!

  2. I would agree with you about immersing yourself into nature’s sounds. No need to interrupt the beauty around you, however, when I go into the busy city centre, I do sometimes take my headphones and play some background music. Something to help with inspiration or giving ideas on the go.

    1. I rarely visit cities, and generally find them too busy and noisy, but I wonder for someone living there if the sounds just become a similar ambient tapestry of traffic, conversation and bustle, as I find in woodland? I can see why you would tune out with background music, and yes I think if I did this in a city it would have to be very low key ambient music that didn’t distract me from a photographic frame of mind.

      1. Yea, it just becomes background noise. I was born in a big city and have always lived in cities so it’s not a big problem for me ro be honest.

        It’s great to have a quiet break sometimes in countryside or the mountains but i can’t see myself living there. I would be bored out of my mind lol

    1. There’s no sound more beautiful than nature’s own symphonies, so it does make you wonder why. In the lockdown, especially the first six or nine months last year, there was so much more bird song around, and barely a plane in the sky, with its attendant noise, and I live in a pretty rural area anyway. It was beautiful. Must have been an even more stark difference in places that are more built up and nearer to flight paths.

  3. I live in the forest to avoid man-made noise. No way am I going to bring it with me. Yesterday the ‘soundtrack’ was a little duck going “quack! Quack! Quack!” as it flew off – and I missed the shot.

    1. I would love to live in the forest. I can’t complain, we’re in a small village backing on to woods and fields with many footpaths literally a few minutes walk away. But I have a long held dream of a log cabin in the middle of the woods in Alaska or Canada perhaps. Or even rural Wales or Scotland, closer to home. The closest I’ve got is staying in a Yurt in Wales a few years back. Out fridge was a cage tethered to a tree in a cool river just down a small valley. Shame it leaked so much though, we all hunkered down on the bottom bunk of a huge bunk bed to stay dry.

      1. What? Your yurt didn’t have electricity? I’m surprised, because believe it or not I’ve designed several off-grid power systems for yurts in various places around the world! (Every time they thought they were doing something new, too.)

      2. No, this one didn’t have such luxuries. Had a massive wood burning stove in the middle which double as the heater. It was a lovely location, just needed a bit of fine tuning with the yurt, eg making it waterproof and more resistant to rodents ha ha.

  4. I agree with you 100%… never do I bring any sounds along with me, I love listening to the wind rustling the leaves, the birds singing and the water splashing. It’s all part of the experience.

  5. Dan, me too for the sounds of nature especially the rustling of leaves and the sound of birds. I live in suburbia and near a busy highway so I also have the hum of cars, trucks and the occasional siren. I tried using a walkman many years ago but realised I preferred not to have music on my walks

    1. I thunk earphones/headphones can be useful to block out unwanted noise. I use noise cancelling headphones in bed when reading sometimes (not plugged into music, just with the noise cancelling active so it’s a very subtle white noise whoosh), if my wife has the telly on. But it doesn’t work for me when out taking pictures.

  6. Dan,
    According to 2020 Census results released, New Jersey’s population has grown by nearly 6% in the past decade to 9.3 million, cementing the ranking as the most populous state in the Union. New Jersey has over 1200 people per square mile, the 11th largest population but is ranked 47th in size.

    It’s challenging to find quiet alone time in New Jersey. I have learned to embrace the suck. I used to do my nature hikes, camera in hand, iPhone in pocket connected to headphones. I had a particular EMD playlist that I found inspiring.

    However, in the last few years, I have come to appreciate the experience of komorebi and shinrin yoku, although that means also hear the lawnmowers and leaf blowers and planes flying overhead.

    1. I had to look up komorebi and shinrin yoku, and yes I’m a fan of both too. Parts of the woods near us are far enough away from roads that you hear nothing that isn’t nature, but there are parts where it comes closer to a main road, and you hear the rushing traffic. Which spoils it somewhat!

      What is EMD, is that a music artist or type of music?

      1. Ah, yes I’ve heard of that! I used to listen to a lot of the IDM stuff, like Warp Records acts such as Autechre, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Boards Of Canada… Still revisit much of it from time to time. I guess this is a sub genre of EDM?

      2. I listened to a of Aphex Twin in the 80’s. EDM stands for ‘Electronic Dance Music’ and is an umbrella terms for all of the different electronic music and dance music sub-genres. IDM on the other hand stands for Intelligent Dance Music and is focused heavily on experimentation.

      3. Electronic Dance Music covers pretty much everything released these days, ha ha! Yes, it’s the experimental edge of IDM that attracts me.

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