Storms-New York City

One thing I have noticed about my photography, or photography in general is that it sometimes grabs you in different ways at different times. Even as the taker of the photograph that happens to me. Case in point is this photograph shown above. I took it a few weeks ago on a rather warm Saturday evening. I decided I was a little restless and decided to head out for a long walk and a few drinks and dinner at the end of it. When I left our apartment, it was bright and sunny out. The Kwanzan Cherry trees were just starting to bloom and as they are my favorite of the flowering cherries, I found a cluster of them and took some photos along the way.

Not long after however, I noticed that the sky was looking a little ominous. Not quite ready to pour down, but you could tell it was coming at some point. Which is ironic since instead of high-tailing it to the nearest drinking and eating establishment, I instead went down to Long Island City here in Queens, out to a particular pier that has some stunning Manhattan views. I wanted to go because it is slightly north of the usual perspective I take this view from. Photography is all about subtle changes after all. I walked down a long empty street to the end.

The clouds were really closing in, covering up what was a bright and sunny day just moments before. Weather makes for some of the best photos so I pressed on. I was interrupted momentarily by a happy group of people looking to get their photo taken. There is something about having a camera and camera bag with you…people instinctively ask you to take their group photo and invariably comment, well with that camera you must be a pro. If only they knew lol! Of course it is flattering and after snapping a few of the happy revelers, I set to work.

This particular pier has a west facing view of the Manhattan skyline, but also unobstructed views north and south. At first I focused north, then south. You could still sense the weather about to happen, but the west view did not look too inviting on the photography side at first. But then it happened. As I looked west again the sky opened up. No rain, just big sky. Really big sky with all sorts of color hues and patterns. Post storm sunsets are amazing, but this was a different kind of amazing. It had a blueish hue to it, with hints of color coming in from beyond the clouds. Because the scene was over the water, there was some reflections happening too. It proved the point of always carrying the camera with me. I have missed these moments before, and camera phones don’t always capture the depth of the scene.

In any case, I was happy with the result later on when I returned home and saw the photos on my laptop. Right away this photo leaped to the top of the heap. I did post it on social media and people liked it. But I quickly moved on like you do. Except that today I made it my screen saver on my work computer, which also led me to posting it on Twitter and the FB page for this blog. This entire post was prompted by a conversation with my friend Trudy on Twitter. Trudy writes an awesome lifestyle blog called Rendezvous En New York. Want to know all the cool stuff happening in New York? Let Trudy be your guide. Trudy unknowingly proved my point that things grab you in different ways at different times, and it gave me the idea to use said photo, and write this little post about it.

Ah, but what about the music you ask? Well I started thinking of songs about storms, and weather. Ok…Stormy Weather was the obvious front runner, but when have I ever been musically obvious! I thought instead of an instrumental track by Bruce Cockburn. I’ve written about Bruce here before. Suffice it to say if you are unfamiliar with his work, he has been a stunning songwriter for almost 50 years now. He is also an inventive and creative guitarist. His work has gone through phases, as anyone who has been around that long would, but I’d argue that the last 20 or so years have been his finest. His album The Charity Of Night was released in 1997. On it was this instrumental track-Mistress Of Storms. Thinking about this photo, and the movement of the sky, and my own interactions with the weather that day the song seemed a perfect match. The song has that ebb and flow with the only instruments being Bruce’s guitar and the vibraphone as counterpoint.

With a few exceptions, I have always relied on lyrics to pan out the ideas I present on the photography side here, but this is one of those times when I feel the music by itself says so much. I hope you enjoy both. As a side note, I’ll just mention that I will be in Paris and London for the next two weeks so it will be a little quiet here, but I’m sure I will have lots of inspiration to keep these posts coming!

Mistress Of Storms-Written By Bruce Cockburn

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Utica, NY Sign

The older I get the more I find my mind goes backwards and forwards through time. Why wouldn’t it when you realize that things that were once staples of my youth became abandoned, ridiculed and made redundant. Regarded both as old fashioned and old ways of thinking. Yet now many are celebrated as being cool and relevant again. In music this has happened with the re-emergence of vinyl records and recording in analog instead of digital. Believe it or not, I was at a record show a few weeks ago and in some places the long forgotten cassette tape is making a resurgence! If 8-tracks make a similar return then the cycle will truly be complete.

Other recent trends that have slowly been coming back are things like typewriters, film photography, real corks in wine bottles, Atari video games, even quality non- disposable pens. What makes these comebacks satisfying for me is that it is not purely nostalgia driven. After years away from these things, I think people realized that they do prefer the tactile feel of a real pen in their hands for example. Some companies are realizing that the value of documents typed on a single sheet and stored in a physical filing cabinet is safer than being stored on a server digitally. Others are realizing that there is a benefit in this fast paced world of slowing down just a little bit…say the length of time it takes for a Polaroid photo to develop, another product making a comeback.   Some of these trends are more of a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario-new pressings of vinyl records that come with a digital download link or classic video games you can play on your smartphone. The key to all of these elements is the feeling that maybe there was a rush to push these things to redundancy a bit too quickly for things newer and flashier. The throes of technology can be alluring, but in honesty, they are not always the only way.

Long Island City, NY Sign

Another trend that I especially appreciate making a comeback are old building signs painted directly on the exteriors. Before newer, lighter, and cheaper methods took over, that is how billboards and company signs were done. There were no neon flashing signs or waving inflatable characters waving at you from the roadside, bombarding you with messages. Instead there was a building with its business name emblazoned on the front. Or for advertising purposes, the ad was painted directly on the side of the building. Often now when I come across these types of signs or billboards I take a photo. The photography is more for preservation sake and not creative. I just like what I am seeing and want to keep a record of  it because I have always liked these sorts of signs.

A number of years ago before I took up photography seriously I noticed one such old advertisement on a building near Lincoln Center in New York. Another building adjacent had been knocked down, which revealed a great old advertisement for a now forgotten brand of bread. The ad was in great shape, no doubt shielded from the weather by the now torn down building. But it did not last, as another building soon started going up, and before long the advertisement was covered up again. I’m kicking myself now for not taking a photo to preserve it, but who knows, perhaps the newer building will meet a similar fate and the same ad will see the light of day once again.

And I think that notion is exactly why I love those old signs so much. Just like with old vinyl or dusty typewriters, or old camera gear in a thrift store, they manage to hang on, year after year. Of course that is a testament to the way things were made back then, but also to the sensibility for what was important. Old billboards for Coca Cola had the same purpose as ads for Coke do now-to sell product. But somehow those painted billboards seem way less in your face than the flashy celebrity driven ads do now. Ads today are driven by market research, target audiences and data mining done from sites you click online. The old ads were trying to stand above the crowd too of course with slogans and characters pushing the product. But because they were in the pages of a magazine, or painted high above the street on a city building, they don’t come across the same way thinking about them now. Rather than being ‘in your face’ it was more the idea of ‘try it’ and tell all your friends.

Putnam, Connecticut Sign

Additionally, there were other signs that are just company names, and though they may have been defunct for years now, the signs still survive. You can usually pinpoint their age by telltale signs like fonts, design, and color patterns. It has been nice to see this trend coming back on some level today with new businesses painting murals on their buildings, or just using the side of a building as a blank canvas to advertise what a particular company does. I go back to that realization that tactile and audio elements have already come back. So why shouldn’t having the side of a building be the advertisement rather than a billboard? With a billboard you have to pay for the ad, the cost of the billboard itself, with the knowledge that it will only be up for a certain amount of time. With a painting there is an element of being permanent, of quality and confidence in a brand. Like those other things we have discarded that are coming back, perhaps we will get back to that idea again someday.

For the musical side of this post I wanted to feature someone that has that same sort of old school meets new school vibe. Music with one hand firmly based in the past, but musically in the present. In the 1990’s I came across the country band BR549 (the name came from a sketch on Hee Haw). Right away I was hooked by their infectious mix of original songs and classic country songs. Most sounded straight out of a 1953 honky tonk bar though the subject matter was pure rock and roll. None more so than my favorite song of theirs- ‘Little Ramona (Gone Hillbilly Nuts). It ties in well with what this post is about-things going back and forth in time. Ramona might have punk rock roots still in her, but she is more interested in the older country roots. Its the musical version of the examples from above. Living in the present, but having appreciation for the ‘realness’ of the past. Just like vinyl records, Polaroid cameras, typewriters, pens and old signs on older buildings. Below in the gallery are a few from my archives of old sign taken in several locations.

Little Ramona (Gone Hillbilly Nuts)-Written By Chuck Mead

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Spring-The Return

Spring-The Return

Hello again good people! After 6 weeks or so of not thinking about writing, 6 weeks of not thinking about blogs, or worrying that for the past year maybe I was thinking about both too much I feel I am ready to start back up again. Before I get into that I wanted to mention that I really appreciated the support I received after my last post announcing the break. It meant a lot to have people tell me in comments or in private that they appreciated my words and photography. I realize I may have scared a few people into thinking I was going silent for good. Writing these words now is the proof that I have not. Thank you to all of you who reached out. I’m still working things out on the personal level, but it feels right to be doing this again now.

I did spend some time thinking if I wanted to do a rethink of this space along the lines of changing the theme and color scheme again. I ended the last post with the realization that I needed to find out what has been missing for me in putting these words to the computer. To find the ways to feed creativity again. This is a tentative step back today, and I am unsure what and where it will lead me. But I realized something important during this break. In lamenting the state of blogging today, I forgot the crucial part. Being myself. At its peak I was heeding the advice of others-writing often to build an audience. Writing shorter posts so as not to lose an audience. Tagging, doing weekly features, trying to copy what more successful bloggers did.

Don’t get me wrong-that does work and I will no doubt fall back into it again on some level. But not at the loss of being myself. So if I don’t reach a goal of a post a week I am not going to stress it. If I write something that takes longer than 3 minutes to read, I don’t care if that is a blogging no-no. If I publish on a Friday or a Tuesday night at 11:47 PM I will no longer worry about the consequences or loss of potential readership since that is also frowned upon. I started thinking back to the reasons why I started this in the first place-to meld my love for music and photography together, hopefully in a unique way. And that is precisely where we will start off again this time for this return. For those of you who have been long time readers you can skip the next paragraph if you so choose.

Hello-my name is Robert Doyle, an almost 50 year dude currently living in Queens, New York City. For over four years I have been writing Soundtrack Of A Photograph, a unique space ‘Where Music Meets Photography’. I do this by thinking about the key ingredients of each. Music expresses joy, sorrow, exuberance. It makes us want to sing, to dance, to feel the flow, to go with the groove. Photography expresses many of the same emotions, but often we feel trapped by the boundaries of the photo. Photography freezes a time and a place forever in silence. Be it a wedding photo or an artistic monochrome one, the physical movement is trapped. The notion behind this blog from day one has been finding the right musical match for particular photos. Thawing it from the freeze, releasing it from the trap. Movies typically rely on music for pivotal moments. My idea was to give a still photograph a sense of motion-of flow and groove just like with a movie. A soundtrack to the photograph. And so this is where we will start this off again.

‘Dance in the joy that is yours and mine in spring returning’

It was perhaps inevitable that I would start this back up again in the Spring. The season is all about renewal and brightness after all. Trees you walk past everyday that have been bare since November are suddenly bursting with color. On cue with the early sunrise, birdsong becomes more noticeable and incessant.  Grass and flowers suddenly abound and we feel the energy in the fragrant air. Inevitably my mind also goes towards songs that are filled with this sort of imagery. One of the things I want to work on in this return is to feature more artists I have not previously written about. And how except for one of my Christmas themed posts I have not written about the sublime Maddy Prior I cannot understand!

Maddy has been one of the leading figures on the British folk scene since the late 1960’s.  She has recorded numerous solo albums, two memorable albums with June Tabor, but especially as lead singer for the folk-rock group Steeleye Span. Despite several early personnel changes, Steeleye went on to have some decent commercial success in the 1970’s and are still going strong today. In 1993 during a hiatus from the group Maddy recorded the first of a series of albums with a general theme, usually with a song cycle. This first album was simply called ‘Year’ and was well received. The album starts off with a short song called Snowdrops/Birth which sums up the welcoming of spring we all feel the need for.

As to the photograph, I took this last week on an unseasonably chilly, gray morning. But the vibrancy of colors is what mattered to me the most. In posting this on Instagram a few days ago I mentioned that I purposely chose to take the photo a little out of focus, to get a sense of movement. In the days since I realized that the story this photo was telling me was about coming out of the darkness of winter, of color gradually fading in once again. I also realized that it was telling me to get these words flowing again…to feel that my ‘step is bright in sunshine’ once again. It feels good to be back. Until next time!

Snowdrops/Birth-Written By Maddy Prior

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The Voice Within


For the first time in a long while I honestly had doubts about whether I wanted to publish this post. You see, in my life I have constantly lived with doubts of one kind or another. I suppose we all do. It is a natural thing of course and my doubts are not new. But in this case I worried about expressing myself so deeply and personally. True, I have gotten personal here before but this time feels different. More on that in a moment though.

I have been noticing a gradual slowdown in the blogging world in the last year or so. Friends who I have followed for a long time have disappeared from the scene. Some have just lost interest or cannot write due to time factors, new jobs, or family issues. Others don’t seem to reciprocate as much as they used to. What was once a vibrant community seems to be more individualistic lately. I can’t tell you the last time I had a meaningful string of comments about something I wrote. I think eventually that weighs on you and you begin wondering why you try so hard.

I hear what you are thinking-well Robert, that means you aren’t writing like you used to and people are losing interest in you and your blog. Maybe you need to trim down your posts even more than they are now. Maybe you should do this…maybe you should do that. That might very well be true but it wasn’t that long ago when that did not seem to matter. It was exciting and my WordPress Reader would be constantly open on my desktop anxiously waiting for new posts from talented people expressing their views on art, music, travel, science, poetry and fiction. Everyone doing their own thing as part of a big community.  I hear you  saying to me again…Maybe you should find some new bloggers to follow to keep that feeling going. It is still a big community and maybe you need to get yourself out there again. Which also might be true.

Last year around the time of my fourth anniversary of blogging, I spent some time going back through old posts. Looking at projects started with full intention of returning to again some day-Photo Shuffle, Fictional works, Research driven posts. They all seem to have gone by the wayside. Maybe they were mostly ‘one-offs’, ideas that seemed great at the time but not so great now. Monochrome Mondays has been maybe the strongest idea out of all. It was born out of a time of some writers/ideas block when I wanted to stay in the game every week, without necessarily writing about music. For awhile I was doing both types fairly consistently, but it seems lately that there are more Monochrome Mondays posts then music ones, and that was never how I wanted it. I’m writing this now after purposely deciding  for the first time in months to not even bother posting a Monochrome Mondays yesterday. Not for lack of photos, but because I realized I really needed to get this post you are reading out.

Now to get back to that more ‘personal’ thing I mentioned at the start. For a few months now I have been going to see a therapist. The specific reasons why I will not reveal, suffice it to say they are NOT for reasons of depression, trauma, or abuse. But the result is me going backwards and forwards in time, connecting the dots in my life that I never knew were related before. Seeing threads that were scattered in random directions joined together.  It isn’t always an easy realization, and a few times I have left a session and thought ‘god dammit’ why didn’t I ever see that before. It can be a little unnerving, yet after some time can also feel satisfying in its own way.

I have said right from the start that one of the reasons I have enjoyed expressing myself here is that writing unleashed a lot of the jumble in my head. Random thoughts, random people, places, and objects that I took a photograph of that relate to a song which is about other random people, places, and objects. It is very much like some of my therapy sessions now in fact. So much so that I realized that for now I am going to temporarily give myself the space to rectify the two. Despite everything I said about my view on the state of the blogging community, I will not, cannot stop when there is always a new song, a new photograph to take. Last year I changed the slogan for this blog to ‘Where Music Meets Photography’. A simple idea that should have come to me years before perhaps. But it is still an idea worth exploring to me. That means something to me. And which is why I will not be stopping anytime soon. The photography side will always be there too, for that is what came first as a creative outlet. But it was the melding of ideas that brought me here.  For the time being new posts might be a little few and far between (and that is going to include Monochrome Mondays for now at least). But there will be more I promise you.

The reason why it will go on can maybe best be described in the lyrics to the song for this post. I urge you to listen to the clip (never mind the early 1980’s fashions!). I think I just need to ‘go back to school’ and find what has been missing for me. I wrote this post not out of anger and resentment. I  need to work on me and find that creative space again for everything to fall in place again. I am determined that it will! See you all soon!

The Voice-Written By Justin Hayward

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In The Garden

In The Garden

Well after a few weeks off I am ready to dive back into some new music related posts for all of you. During my little break I thought about the origins of this space, about what made me want to combine my own photographs with music in the first place. I was also thinking about how in some ways I slipped away from ‘owning’ this idea of mine recently.  I can now see  how ideas evolve and grow over passage of time. As my photography continues to evolve, so too does my writing.  The things I write today are quite different from what I wrote over four years ago at the start. Sometimes though things can unintentionally go off course. I realized during my break that I had always intended this place to be so much more than just writing about a song. I wanted it to be a creative space, linking words, music, and imagery all together as one. Finding connections between them all. In this coming year I plan to get back to that and I have some ideas for making this happen.

Another thing I realized is that sometimes I hear a new song and know exactly what I want to do with it.  More often than not however, I might know a song for years but do not feel like I have the right photo that pairs up with it in a satisfactory way…because I have not actually taken it yet. Once I find the right one though it reminds me of why I started writing in the first place. Why I wanted to ‘create’.  I can listen to a song and nod my head in agreement with the story or sentiments of the song. I can look at a photo and remember the moment I took it.  When I first started this all off I chose a song by Ralph McTell for my first post.  As I recall the origins of this blog I thought a return to his music might be a good idea. And an idea formed  when I looked back on some photos I took of a butterfly last summer.

The older I get I sometimes think about why things are the way they are in the world. Why is so much of the money and power in the hands of such few? Why does  poverty, starvation, and war still exist? I have no answers myself, but  I wonder if the answer actually lies in us not understanding HOW we  think as individuals. Not what we think…but how we think. Some people are incredibly savvy and quick witted with solutions and answers ready instantly, their brains hard-wired to assess and respond. Others need time to develop those answers because their brains are wired a little differently. The thoughts might be there but the words do not form so readily.  Others still may not be able to answer yet that does not, or should never be perceived as not understanding. In many ways, they might be the wisest of all. That is what Ralph McTell’s classic song Michael In The Garden is about. Perceptions and awareness heightened in the mind of a young boy most likely with autism of some type.

The brilliance of the song is in placing not just a mental wall between Michael but also a physical wall between the adults in the building that inhabit his world. They spend their days making judgments ‘in their wisdom’ while Michael sits in the garden observing things that no one else does. The lyrics take you inside both worlds, but it is the realization that Michael sees so much, hears so much…feels so much that pulls you into the song. How they call his name inside the building but he does not respond. Instead he hears each leaf as it falls. I might sit and enjoy listening to the wind in the trees with a cup of coffee on an autumn day, but to have the ability, the patience to listen to the sound of a single leaf falling would be an astounding feat. But that is part of Michael’s world, along with observing the broken wings of a butterfly dying.

Last summer not long before going out for the day, my wife pointed out a single butterfly darting between the flowers on our window boxes on the balcony. It was so beautiful to see that I grabbed my camera and took photos through the glass on the balcony door so as not to disturb my new friend. There was stillness. There was motion. There was beauty in the butterfly’s movements and flight.

When I looked at these photos again the words of Ralph’s song came into my head. I thought about how the appearance of a lone butterfly on a warm summer day made such an impression on me. How watching it for a scant few moments (even through the lens of the camera) elicited such a response. I thought how so much of my life is spent ‘inside the building’ struggling to organize and verbalize the words in my head. Fighting against those that by virtue of being quicker on the draw are perceived as being smarter, successful and more in control. Worrying about so much beyond my control that is actually rather silly when you really stop and think. The last verse of the song really drives that point home. Even when I think about those worries, about bills and work and other realities, it would be nice to see what Michael sees in the garden-

“Oh Michael sees all
Behind the high walls
Surrounding his kingdom
Whilst we in our wisdom
Still trapped in the spider’s web
Far from the flow and ebb
Of life in the garden
But Michael has pardoned
us for he sees
That really he’s free
And there’s nothing to mend
For his wings are not broken”


*A note on the version of the song I used. In a career of over 50 years writing, releasing albums and performing great songs, Michael In The Garden stands as one of his very best and most popular. As such there are many recorded versions out there. I chose this live version from my favorite album of Ralph’s. Why? Because it is honest and real. There is an ever so slight ‘off’ note on the guitar. There is also a lot of emotion to his voice that makes this version more special to me.

Michael In The Garden-Written By Ralph McTell

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Waves crashing in…waves crashing out…

Funny thing this. Last year at this time I remember thinking once my best of the year posts were published, I would take a few weeks off and recharge the batteries for the new year. But I felt I had to write one more post in the week between Christmas and New Years. Once again I think… I feel I need to do that once again this year. Maybe all the pressure about shopping and gifts and visiting people that comes this time of year freezes me up from finding space to write about a topic and once the New Year is upon us I find it again. Maybe I do just need to tell myself-shut up Doyle, as one acquaintance famously said to my wife and I once in a lighthearted jab. In any event on Christmas Eve I took a few photos that seemed to sum up my year on many levels.

This year seemed to be defined for me by one word-waves. Waves along the river where I enjoy walking. Ocean waves at Rockaway Beach where I visited twice this year. Waves at Coney Island, on the shore of Lake George, on the New Jersey shore, on Long Island. That rhythmic push/pull of actual waves seemed to define my year on many levels.

For whatever reason I have not taken advantage of taking photos from the roof of my building but on Christmas Eve I did because I saw a particularly epic sky looming in front of me. But instead of skylines and colors what I saw was a pattern that looked like waves crashing over the nearby buildings. And it made me think that maybe I should work on one more post. And it would involve that so simple yet so meaningful symbolism of waves.

Waves crashing in-new friendships made or rekindled, old friendships continually strengthened.

Waves crashing out-friendships lost out to sea for various reasons.

Waves crashing in-physical health of those nearest to me in good shape

Waves crashing out-mental health of those nearest to me not in such good shape

Waves crashing in-good things to look forward to in 2018

Waves crashing out-2017 not a particularly good year personally for no particular reason

Waves crashing in-this place, my creation doing better than ever yet…

Waves crashing out-audience and friendships seem to be drifting out to sea for reasons I cannot define.

Waves crashing in-feeling that my words and art are becoming more defined yet…

Waves crashing out-wishing it could be so much more

Waves crashing in-continually inspired by the art of others but…

Waves crashing out-struggling to capitalize on that inspiration in my own voice

Waves crashing in-learning after almost 50 years to speak up for myself

Waves crashing out-wondering why the fuck it took me so long to do it

Waves crashing in-having ideas to break out of this introvert cloud

Waves crashing out-seeing those ideas collapse because of it.

Waves crashing in-happy with the growth in my photography this year

Waves crashing out-wondering where I go from here with it.

Ideas like this are not really new or unique of course, and I’m sure most of us play this game in our minds. I truly did have some good times this year and shared a lot of laughs and quite a few glasses of beer or wine with my wife and friends. But there just seemed to be a fog, or malaise over 2017 as a friend of mine recently pointed out. Politics, economics and news cycles may play a part, but I’m not sure it is the only cause. The temptation is always to say “I’m going to start fresh in the new year” with promises of losing 30lbs, changing jobs, travelling the world. Great if you can manage to do a few of those things, I am not so cynical to say it will never happen. But life gets complex sometimes and for some of us, the best we can manage is one or two of those goals. And that’s okay too.

Earlier this year I wrote a post about how when I get in a photography rut that it helps to do the opposite essentially and I used a song lyric to prove that point. It actually did wonders for me. And as I sat in an amazing new coffee shop just now trying to come up with a way to end this, I realized that I need to do the same thing with life this coming year. Turn it all around and where what I wrote above starts with the positive and goes negative, waves crashing in and crashing out, I need things to go in the opposite direction. Waves crashing out taking away the negative. Waves crashing in bringing the positive. And that cycle that continues every day, every month, every year will bring good things with it.  Now how about a happy little song to close this year out here at Soundtrack Of A Photograph? Here is a song from Thea Gilmore’s excellent album ‘The Counterweight’ released earlier this year. Happy New Year everyone!


Sounds Good To Me-Written By Thea Gilmore

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‘From the ashes something new grows’

By my recollection this is the third bird related post I have done up to now. I’m actually not much of a nature photographer. That requires lots of patience. Because I do a lot of landscape shots, birds inevitably work their way into my photos…whether I want them to or not. The truth is I am truly fascinated by birds of all shapes, sizes and colors but my restless nature with photography makes me avoid time setting up and waiting for the mere chance of a great photo of them. I prefer going with the flow, capturing things on the go without a lot of fuss.  But lately in an attempt to really go outside the box both in my writing and photography and trying new things, I realize that I may need to learn some of that patience. I also realized recently that something I said on social media was really true. I have been lamenting the fact that I actually haven’t written about music as much here this year. I decided to fix this in two ways.

Recently I spent an afternoon taking photos with my friend Carol in Long Island City, Queens. We went to a few spots and though I was happy with the end results, I decided that first I needed to return to small scale with my photography. Instead of the big sweeping vistas I seem to have gravitated towards recently, I want to return to something more simple and less ‘big picture’. Of course there is plenty of room for all types of photos and I find that the best photographers have a diverse portfolio, utilizing both large and small scale. But maybe a deliberate focus shift will steer me back towards finding more ideas for writing about music.

The next and probably most obvious other solution is to listen to a lot more music. To find inspiration from artists both new to the scene and new material from established ones. I used to read about music a lot. Used to listen to alternate sources of music as a way of discovering something fresh sounding. I seem to have gotten away from that in the last year or so, and as I look back on my posts during that time, they tend to be from artists I have been familiar with for some time. Combined I hope both of these things will push me into new territory to get back to doing what feels right. The reason I am writing this now is because sometimes someone suddenly and unexpectedly comes into view who you swear has been there forever and pushes you in that direction.

‘See where I am going, and I’ve seen where I have been’

A month or so someone liked a photo I put up on Instagram I hadn’t heard of before. Like most people do, I clicked on the name to see who it was. Maybe a fellow blogger or photographer, or maybe someone from my neighborhood. Instead it was someone by the name of Jackie Venson out of Austin, Texas and on seeing her account, it was obvious she was a singer and guitarist. But what kind of music was it? Off to YouTube I went. And I have to say that weeks later, I’m still digging through the huge number of clips of Jackie has recorded over the last few years. I also have to say that I have not heard a bad track yet. Not only is she a soulful singer but she is one amazing guitarist. I mean truly. There are a lot of them out there, but sometimes you come across one where the guitar seems to be naturally forged into the player’s hands, as if it was meant to be there right from the start. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Jackie Venson, and I’m telling you right now-remember this name.

As I started digging through clips getting a sense of how her music and career have evolved I was astonished to learn that she really has only been playing the guitar for just a few years now, after playing piano since childhood. Then you add in that soulful voice, the songwriting and above all, her exuberance as a performer and you have one irresistible  combination. Jackie is out there touring pretty much nonstop, and I hope to catch her soon myself. I also knew I had to buy some music of hers, and I started with an EP released earlier this year-Transcends. The first track is the catchy ‘Flying’ with a pop soul groove throughout before Jackie takes the song off into another hemisphere with that dynamic guitar. Transcendent indeed.

While watching the video for Flying  I had the not so original idea for the photography side of this post. But I’m okay with that actually. I’ve always wanted this blog to be about finding connections between photography and music. Sometimes obvious, sometimes ones that require a bit of explanation and a lot of introspection on my part. Both types are driven by the song. And as I thought about Jackie’s song I realized that in the one line quoted above she was inadvertently telling me about the past and the future of this blog, about where I want to go, and where I’ve come from with it. I can’t think of a better way of going forward than ‘flying and spreading my wings’ than with this amazing guitar slinging Texas woman. Tomorrow, next week, who knows where it will come from? But the ideas will come from being flexible, just like those magic fingers of Jackie Venson.

Jackie has a prolific presence across social media, so follow her on your platform of choice to stay up to date on her music.

Flying-Written By Jackie Venson

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle