Better Photography Through Bad Guitar

Being a crappy guitar player and loving 80's synth riffs, somehow, made me a better photographer

I think that one thing that makes me a good (descent? maybe?) live music photographer is that I'm a musician (a bad one) before I'm a photographer.  Like any kid growing up in any town across the world, I had parents that encouraged me to try all kinds of things.  I played clarinet throughout middle school and high school.  I (forcibly) took piano lessons.  And, most importantly, I picked up the guitar somewhere around 7th or 8th grade.

Riffs

I took to guitar.  Loved it.  I credit my friend Trey with turning me on to Van Halen and it was all over for me.  I think it was the first time I heard…riffs! Actually, no I take that back.  I think the first time I really heard what I would later come to know as riffs was that song, Axel F, from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack.  That and the Miami Vice soundtrack.  Aw, man, I loved those songs!  I think that should have been my first clue that I would love music, not songs — I was fascinated with instrumentals.

So, anyway, where was I…Oh, yes, guitar.  Once I discovered guitar and distortion and rock n' roll, like any good rock fan, it changed me.  I played all the time.  I was OK.  I know that I'm not naturally talented like many of the artists I photograph. What that translates to in terms of photography is that I find my self paying attention to things that a musician might pay attention to.

  • Hand positions.
  • When's the chorus kick in?
  • When is the player in the middle of a downstroke?
  • Why the heck does a barre chord just photograph better than a G chord?

These are things I notice that photographers who have never picked up a guitar will ever key in on.  It helps.