100 Faces: Inspired by A Song
I always find it fascinating to learn what other artists are inspired by. Often inspiration strikes from the most random places and is frequently not even related to the field one works in. A musician may be inspired by a speech. A painter inspired by a film. A filmmaker inspired by something imaginative his daughter said. The list goes on and on. I, for one, have always been inspired by music. Especially music in films.
I’d contribute growing up in the 90’s partly to blame for being inspired with music associated with a film or tv show. Back in those days, every show had to have a jingle or amazing opening. Whether it was “As Days Go By” from Family Matters or the opening theme from X-Men: The Animated Series, I was one of many kids humming or singing along to these catchy tunes.
That trend continued as I got older. Once I really got into anime, I found composers like Joe Hisaishi (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) and Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop, Ghost In the Shell: Stand Along Complex). One of the things I really enjoyed about anime was how it often connected music to the events occurring on screen. If a character was sad, there’d be a melancholic theme. But if the character was on the verge of defeat and had to muster up the strength for one last attack, there’d be an amazing hero theme to play (Goku turning SSJ3 in Dragonball Z for the first time comes to mind.) Over the years, these songs have inspired me to keep pushing, moved me to tears, and set my imagination on fire with amazing new ideas.
For 100 Faces, I found myself inspired by the song “Tema d’Amore” or Love Theme by Ennio Morricone from the 1988 film Cinema Paradiso. I first heard the song shortly after taking the initial photographs for the project. It was a warm summer night and there I was sitting in my apartment looking through the photos. I had about 12 images at the time and wasn’t even sure what I would do with them. I heard some music from outside and initially paid it no mind. Just New Yorker’s party the last days of summer away I figured. After getting hot from the summer heat, I cracked the window and the beautiful sounds of Tema d’Amore came flooding through the window.
Where was it coming from? Who was playing music that loud on a regular weekday evening?
Being lazy, I held my phone up to the window in an attempt to Shazam the song. Darn thing wasn’t working so I begrudgingly put on my clothes and ran downstairs. I had to know what it was. As I got outside, the music got louder and I could tell it was coming from the park across the street from my place. I cut through the park as the music got louder and louder. The source was a projector screen and speakers that had been set up on the basketball court for an impromptu movie night for the neighborhood. Gotta love that about New York.
The film must have just gone off as everyone was clearing out. The song was playing on the main menu of the DVD and looped over and over. I snapped a pic of the screen on my phone and headed home. I had to know about this movie and this wonderful song! I pulled the song up in iTunes and immediately purchased it. Putting on my shiny new headphones, I hit play and was met with melodic bliss. Soon as that first woodwind instrument (maybe an oboe?) starts playing you can’t help but listen. What a moving song. Wow. I had so many thoughts in my head. About my life. About past events. Love lost. Things to come. The uncertainty of it all. That’s powerful music for you.
In that moment I also had an idea, “What if I set my photos to music?” I gathered all the images I had and added the song in Adobe Lightroom using the Slideshow feature. When the first image appeared and the song started playing I got goosebumps. It fit soooo well! Like perfect! As the images advanced and the music swelled, I couldn’t help but be brought to tears. I know, it’s sappy, but that’s what music does to me. It hits a chord (pun) in my soul and I’m just bawling. There I was bawling my eyes out, looking at these wonderful people I’d photographed. I started thinking about their lives. Where they came from and where they were headed. It was like I’d captured a special moment in their life at that point. The words “frozen in time” are often used to described photographs, and in this case it was a fitting description. It’s as if the photographs had encapsulated their entire life in one frame. I know that sounds preposterous, but it was the feeling I got.
Right then and there, I decided I would turn those images into a full-fledged project. Even better, I would have an exhibition! More people should see these images, not for my own ego, but perhaps they’ll be moved the same way as I was. Maybe they’d share those same concerned thoughts and ask similar questions. The images really spoke to the common humanity of people and that’s something I felt compelled to share with the world.
Interestingly, when I first made plans for the exhibition, I planned on having a small booth where attendees could sit in with a pair of headphones and view the slideshow. After the project ballooned into over 50+ images, I found the slideshow aspect to be somewhat redundant after a while. It was just too many images for the length of the song and it would loop 3-4 times before all the images were finished showing. I’m still considering how I could incorporate an interesting slideshow, because I think the combination of the images with that song are a match made in heaven. We’ll see!
Pretty cool story eh? Does music inspire you the same way? Or maybe it’s something else? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!