Photography and music. They’re two things that are sometimes only combined after they’re made. In a tacky slideshow perhaps… But Clinton Davey argues that photos are not just images, and music is not just sounds. They are memories, frozen time, and a transportation vehicle to a time gone by. In this essay, Clinton shows his love for photography and music.
I’ve always had a passion for photography, wether it be composing and taking the photograph myself or simply admiring the work of others. There’s also nothing quite like discussing the passion of photography with other like minded folk. It’s very inspiring. Granted, you still can’t beat flicking though a photo album and reminiscing with family and friends over long lost summers, birthday’s and holidays. I like to think that as a pastime this will always live on and be passed down through time. It’s always fascinated me how a memory can stem from that snapshot once you stumble across it and it can seem so vivid to recall, sights, smells, weather. Yet the physical photo may appear bleached of colour as the moment slowly begins to fade over time. I once heard a saying, that ‘taking a photo was the only way of freezing time’. I’ve always liked this analogy.
As a child growing up, the wait for photo’s to come back from being developed to our home via the post was excruciatingly long. You’d just have to wait patiently to relive those moments from a holiday or family event. The not knowing how they had turned out until receiving them was always somewhat quite exciting. Certainly something that is taken for granted today, we all have a camera now, right there in our pockets, ready to go. All accompanied with a plethora of apps to now craft that ‘perfect’ image. It’s all happened in the blink of an eye.
My dad, during the 60’s & 70’s had a real penchant for photography and would spend countless hours in dark rooms to develop some great shots that he’d meticulously set up by adjusting lenses, correct shutter speed etc. I love sharing images with him when we catch up from recent activities that I have done or places I’ve been. Of course now it’s a case of sharing this by swiping across photos on a phone or tablet. He still jokes with me that my Instagram photos and their effects are ‘lazy’ & my results are ‘minutes of work’ compared to what would have taken him a day or so. All in good humour of course, but he’s right. Some day I’d love a proper professional camera with all the various gadgets and attachments. But for now I work with what I have and still have a lot of fun doing it. It’s a wonderful form of escapism. I love tinkering with apps or webpages that are similar to photoshop, I have just started to ignite a passion for creating dystopian fantasy images. More on that later.
For me, a photo can trigger a series of emotions thoughts and memories. Sometimes it can produce a smell or transport me to a specific date and time. I attribute this to my eidetic memory. This can also be said for another love of mine, music. Ever since the crackle of the needle on the record player at my grandparents or ‘clunky click’ of the tape deck in my room as a child, I was always fascinated and loved to be transported away with the sounds and beats as they came through my dad’s ‘Sanyo’ headphones. Wether it be a movie soundtrack or pop / rock track of that time, I wanted to experience it all and it became so personal. I was raised on Motown, Reggae, Country and Rock. A wonderful fusion and it’s still carries on today. My love for the classics remain but I’m always happy to discover new and unsigned talent or more niche artists as I zig zag around London and it’s trendy intimate venues.
I wasn’t quite sure how to put the following into words. So stick with me on this. I’ve always felt I can get lost quite easy with music. I’ve always had a vivid and creative imagination. When a song or piece of music is played my brain conjures up wonderful images, textures or even patterns. Sometimes I’ll create an alternate music video in my head to a famous song that I know and love. The beats and rhythms will produce vibrant colour and sensations, almost like a personal mental firework display in my brain. I’ve looked into the condition known as synaesthesia as a possible answer /cause. Worth reading up on for sure. With my love of capturing images and music. I’d like to share with you some of my favourite images I have captured in recent times.
A favourite subject for me are sunsets, sunrises & dramatic skies. The catalyst for this was the purchase of two albums from two of my favourite bands. Turin Brakes2001 release of the ‘The Optimist LP’ and Doves ‘The Last Broadcast’ (2002)
These are two of my favourite albums of all time. The artwork on both covers transfix me, I probably couldn’t sum it up in words as maybe there isn’t an explanation for it on this planet. But it’s a double whammy of incredibly imagery on the covers and wonderful ethereal music. The listening experience on these records is an absolute treat and a sensory journey for me. Both albums are like being in a lucid dream state. As the tracks play out there can be feelings of uneasiness but then overwhelming clarity as you are bought around to a state of comfort and reassurance. Both albums are masterpieces in melodic storytelling and composition.
The following images are a nod to those albums and their inspiration.The first is a winter sunrise, the feeling in the air and atmosphere was amazing as the sky was changing by the second. You could literally feel the day awaken and the sun hitting the windows on the streets houses was also very comforting to behold.
The second image is a sunset. Captured on an early evening walk. There are mixed feelings experienced here as I was enjoying what was outside but I was also yearning for the feeling of being indoors. That feeling when you are in a particular room and it would be lit up with the fading warm light of the day and you’d feel the comfort present, but only have minutes before if slips away and gives into the night. There is something a little special about this sensation and experience, particularly in the winter months.
This next image was taken from my bedroom window as a storm was about to breakout. The mix of light and dark is achingly beautiful here and the juxtaposition of the pylon as it crudely provides a focal point, somehow brings it all together. The electricity in the air was palpable.
As I’m about to capture these images, I usually hum or have a particular song or piece of music in my head that I feel suits the moment. It’s no surprise the images you see here are heavily influenced by Turin Brakes and Doves.
I remember a specific time when music and a visual sunset merged to create a powerful intoxicating feeling. It was around September 2006, we were experiencing an Indian Summer. Longer days were disappearing but they were going out in style with wonderfully balmy afternoons and early evenings. I was at a friends house who lives in Surrey. Not too far from me. Whenever we can, we always catch up with good food, good films and nice relaxed conversation (and at times wine) It’s always nice to hide away from the world at times and seek a relaxed environment and I’ve always felt like that when I go there.
We were clearing away the last of the feast we’d had. My friend had his iPod on shuffle in the kitchen and it was hooked up to a small stereo system. I was standing by the sink, on my own for some reason at this point and my chum was out of the room. The song that was playing was a cover version of the track ‘Gravity’ initially released by Embrace, this version was covered by Coldplay and was a b-side on one of their singles at the time. Both versions are great and it’s a beautiful song. At this time a wonderful sunset was taking shape. At his house the sun always drops at the bottom of a lovely long garden. The low light catching the trees and casting long shadows. The warmth and the last days of summer accompanied by this song struck a chord of sadness in me, it was overwhelming. It was like everything around me was suddenly emitting a frequency. Everything was vibrating with an energy and then a feeling of safety and tranquility. At the songs conclusion, I was ‘back in the room’. A little less than two months later my Nan (grandparent) received some bad news, so we rallied around her as best we could for what time we had left. I almost feel that this moment in my friends kitchen was preparing me for this. It may sound silly. But in many ways, it had. During that moment on that warm late September afternoon, I was aware that something was awry, off in the distance. I just couldn’t fathom it out. The melancholic comfort that surrounded me at that time was certainly a wonderful experience. The universe is pretty amazing. For me, that was a moment where a camera and a photograph were not necessary.
I love to travel, maybe not as much as one would like. But one of my favourite escapes of mine is the island of Crete in the Mediterranean and Lagos in the south of Portugal. I have spent time at these places over the last 6 years or so with family and with my girlfriend. There is something about Crete and Greece that is intoxicating. I love the mythology the people and their passion for life and culture, something about it just feels right to me, like home.
The images here show my favourite bar in the world. Built out on the rocks facing the sea, this was a particularly rare windy day, but sitting up there with an expertly crafted cocktail, it’s very cosy indeed. The owner will often play classic rock over the sound system in the bar or some deep house, which matches the mood as the night lazily draws in. I could spend hours here just taking it all in. The other image is so typically Greek I just couldn’t pass it up. You can literally feel the blistering heat and smell the flowers and hints of Jasmine on the breeze. The last photo is the sunrise over the bay, it’s so serene at this point and I make an effort each time I visit to get up around 6am to watch it come up. As soon as the sun pops up over the hills the heat hits you and another lazy halcyon day is afoot. As this is happening my brain conjures up music from the Gladiator movie soundtrack ! Just a default, but it works!
Portugal is so different to Greece, old architecture meets sprawling urban alleyways clad in colourful tiled exterior and wonderful restaurants and bars aren’t too far away. The first photo was taken at dusk and captures the night coming to life in the cramped but comforting strip of restaurants. The second image is a look at a building that is ageing gracefully with time. There is a lot of street music in Portugal so this provides a great backdrop to set a scene.
Well…this has been fun, I must say. It’s not often I get to share any of this and am very grateful to Stefan and Lotte for this opportunity. I’d be very grateful for an instagram follow where you can see all my favourite snaps. I can be found at @clinton_davey_photography.
I will follow back and I’m always happy to talk and share all things photo & music. As mentioned at the start, I’m playing around with free stock images of dystopian fantasy space scenes and mixing them with my own photography, exciting stuff and looking forward to doing more. Here’s a taster !
It’s fun to edit and let the imagination run wild. Wether it be using all the tools of the trade that are before us at the click of a button and swipe of a page, or going old school and loading film into a camera, either way it’s about having fun, and that is of paramount importance in today’s worldly uncertainties.