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07-12-2016, 05:45 AM   #1
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Do you listen to music while out shooting?

Recently I tried something I've never done before and put in some earbuds while out for some casual shooting. I usually avoided it, thinking I needed my full attention on the job of making images.

The difference was stunning...without music I often spent a lot of time time overthinking and overanalysing potential shots. With music it seems to free up the creativity, allowing me to look differently and (not wanting to sound too airy fairy here) allow the shots to come to me, rather than having to try to find them. Of course, different music had different effects...creating different moods - some genres rather too distracting, but others really adding something positive.

I am putting together a long playlist of everything from trippy trancey electronica to rock to classical, and will take it out to my favourite street shooting location to see what happens.

07-12-2016, 06:04 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by victormeldrew Quote
will take it out to my favourite street shooting location to see what happens.
For wildlife that I shoot that wouldn't work. You need to hear the birds, squirrels etc to even find them. If you have music in your ears, you won't hear them.
07-12-2016, 06:23 AM   #3
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I haven't done this. In some situations I can see the benefit, but many risks to sound isolation depending on where I am.
07-12-2016, 07:34 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by photolady95 Quote
For wildlife that I shoot that wouldn't work. You need to hear the birds, squirrels etc to even find them. If you have music in your ears, you won't hear them.
Same for me, and it could actually be dangerous for me listening to music, and missing the warning sound of a rattler! Besides, I don't think there is better music than listening to the sounds around you.

07-12-2016, 07:48 AM   #5

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I think it depends on what you are doing. But I do think you have the right idea only lose the headphones. That emotion you get from music... that creativity...that fun you feel... you need to learn to carry that over without headphones on.

Learning to be observant is the key. Also learning to interact with people with that kind of 'music' in your head is key. What's even more is to be able to communicate that same 'vibe' to other people. That is the biggest difference in being able to shoot pictures of people on the streets or whatever.

With headphones on it is next to impossible to interact with people. It will in fact hinder your work. Sharing that vibe though is still the key.

Imagine if you will you pull up to a red light in your car. Windows up. The guy next to you has his windows up too. But you look over and you see him banging his head and doing the air guitar but you can't hear what he's listening to. You'll probably laugh at the guy or think he's weird but you won't be in the same state of mind.

I am a strong believer in music but it must be used in the right situations with the right people. If you turn on Metallica with a 80 year old couple as your subjects... it doesn't match. If you turn that on with a 35 year old skater dude though he's gonna get it.

Again though I would not really think listening to music while shooting would be the best plan except in certain situations. If you're doing a private shoot out by the pool with people who 'get it' then sure. You want to capture that feel and that vibe. But walking around the streets or pretty much anywhere else... not so much.
07-12-2016, 08:08 AM   #6
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If I am in a studio situation (on location or local), then I like some music, something that I and my subjects/models will enjoy. It helps loosen the mood and liven up what can be a tense situation.

In the field doing landscape or nature, or just walkabouts, never. I want to be aware of my surroundings, particularly in nature, and particularly in public!
07-12-2016, 08:25 AM   #7
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Yes, if I am by myself. And for me, particularly during the "low" part of the daily energy cycle (usually afternoons) I find music helps me with my mental energy and my creative thinking. Of course the other points are good ones that there are times when needing to hear your surroundings is more important. Particularly if you are around rattlers like csa
07-12-2016, 08:57 AM   #8
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Yeah I guess I should qualify this with 'where circumstances allow'!
I'm particularly talking about solitary 'art' shooting rather than a paid wedding or portrait shoot. I guess it has to do with keeping one sense busy/blocked, heightening another in the how listening to music with your eyes closed changes the experience. I'm certainly going to try it more often.

07-12-2016, 09:08 AM   #9
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I like the topic and generally would not do this since lately i am so concerned about being robbed in the city, I'm looking and listening for anybody who approaches. But, when I shoot stars with a particular buddy of mine, we jam some music trough small speakers to warn the bears we are here, and it is most enjoyable to have a soundtrack to pass the often long hours sitting on a cold rock...
07-12-2016, 09:09 AM   #10
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I don't like to be with noise all the time. I hate visiting a house where the TV is on for background noise but I do listen to podcasts or music while driving alone or in the darkroom. When out shooting I like listening to the sounds around me and have never thought of playing music. For me it would be a negative but can see how it would be positive for other people.
07-12-2016, 10:21 AM   #11
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I have enough equipment to carry without something to play music, and I often don & doff glasses that are on a neck strap which would just tangle with the earbud cord, and also, for some inscrutable reason, earbuds don't stay in place for me. They are constantly slipping out. I gave up using them and converted to headphones while exercising on an elliptical .
07-12-2016, 10:30 AM   #12
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I listen to music when processing - it seems to smooth the flow....

but never when shooting; I need to hear what's going on around me, if for no other reason, for safety's sake....
07-12-2016, 12:38 PM   #13
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Usually only indoors or in the car on the way to a location. When I'm out in nature I like to be tuned in to my surroundings. In winter some of the first warnings of avalanche conditions are subtle sounds so I like to keep all my senses with me.
But a lot of the time whatever I was listening to in the car comes along in my head. I have a perpetual soundtrack in my brain.
07-12-2016, 12:54 PM   #14
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Shooting birds, no. In fact, I need to get a sound amplifier to hear the birds better...
07-12-2016, 01:16 PM   #15
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Indoors, yes. Outside, generally no - I mostly photograph wildlife stuff and I like being out immersed in nature just as much as I like shooting it. However, I have been doing a bit of long exposure night photography and I sometimes enjoy sitting with some quiet music or an audio book.

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