Look at this Photograph...
Photographs have a way of taking us back in time.
We remember things they way they were...the way they made us feel. They remind us of particular stages in our lives.
It's kind of the same with songs, isn't it? Music has always been a big influence in my life. Certain songs always bring back memories of school age crushes and glory days with old friends.
As a photographer, I've grown fond of songs about cameras, photos, and captured memories.
With that in mind, here's my Top Ten List of Photography Related Songs!
10. Girls on Film by Duran Duran (1981) Ahh, back when MTv was known as Music Television, you couldn't go an hour without seeing a Duran Duran video. The song kicks off with a rapid shutter and from there it's pure 80s magic. This jam isn't as known as say "Rio" or "Hungry Like the Wolf", but its definitely worth mentioning on this list.
9. Centerfold by The J. Geils Band (1981) Back before I even knew what a centerfold was, I was sliding across the living room in my socks to the sounds of "naaaah, nah, nahnah, nah nahhhh". As I got older I figured things out - a true coming of age song.
Did our parents even know what we were listening to!?! (RIP J.Geils)
8. Kodachrome by Paul Simon (1973) I throwback to the days of film photography. The first time I remember this folksy song was on the Coneheads Soundtrack. It's actually the only tune I can recall from the movie off the top of my head. Kodachrome film was known for giving "us those nice bright colors
Gives us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day."
Afterall, according to Paul, "everything looks worse in black and white."
I highly disagree (see #5), but it's still one of my favorites.
7. Picture by Kid Rock & Sheryl Crowe (2002) I found this to be an awkward pairing for a duet, but damn if it didn't work. This totally could have been a George Jones & Tammy Wynette country classic.
I put your picture away
Sat down and cried today
I can't look at you while I'm lying next to her.
This song is a true testament to the power of the printed image. Print your photos folks!
6. Heaven by Warrant (1989) At first glance, this doesn't necessarily fit on this countdown, until you dig into the lyrics. In the first verse, Warrant set the tone right off the bat in true storyteller fashion:
Got a picture of your house
And you're standin' by the door
It's black and white and faded
And it's lookin' pretty worn.
See the factory that I worked
Silhouetted in the back
Memories are gray
But man, they're really coming back,
H O L Y S M O K E S !
Besides, who doesn't love a power ballad!?!
5. In Color by Jamey Johnson (2008) I'm a sucker for black and white photography. I believe my feelings toward B&W come from seeing old photos of my parents. They were from an era where some of their photos were still black and white while others were in color. I specifically remember seeing some of their wedding photos, images of Mom with her older sister, and Dad in Vietnam with Earl Noble, his lifelong friend and New Braunfels native.
This is a haunting song describing a young boy looking at old black and white photos with his grandfather. The "story of my life, right there in black and white."
If it looks like we were scared to death
Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other
You should've seen it in color.
4. Pictures of You by The Cure (1990) It doesn't get anymore emo than this folks.
If you don't know this song, do yourself a favor. Turn off the lights. Light some candles, maybe some incense. Grab your favorite libation and press play.
I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel...
Man, if you don't feel that, then your soul must be blacker than Robert Smith's sweater! (Google him, kids)
3. Photograph by Nickelback (2005) The band that everybody loves to hate. Yeah, they've become a bit of a joke for memes, reels, and Tiktoks, but they knocked it out of the park with this one.
Everyone sees something different when they look at a photograph - even if they're looking at the same thing. It's the story behind it that matters to the viewer. It's rush of the feelings from the experience that comes back every time.
Every memory of walking out the front door
I found the photo of the friend that I was looking for
It's hard to say it, time to say it
Take photos - everywhere you go, of everyone. You never know when these photos are all you'll have left.
2. Photography by Ed Sheeran (2015) Sheeran is a master song writer. As a wedding photographer, I can't escape his music. He's everywhere. With lyrics like this, I think it only makes sense:
We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
And time's forever frozen, still.
Be still my heart!
And now, the Number One Photography Related Song on this list....
1.Photograph by Def Leppard (1983) Pyromania was the first cassette tape I've ever owned, so Def Leppard holds a special place in my heart. I used to stay up late to watch rock videos and wrestling of course.
Thanks to our oldest daughter, Madison, I saw Def Leppard in concert last year. Man concerts sure have changed. So when the opening guitar riff of Photograph hit my ears, I was stoked! In the background, a HUGE stacking slideshow played showing photos of the band spanning over decades. It was incredible!
Thanks Madison - I owe you one.
There you have it folks.
Now I think I'm gonna have to jump on Spotify and make this playlist out of these now!
I hope you'll go check them out for yourself.