Did you ever sit down to edit something and think… “What the heck am I in the mood to listen to?” Well, you’ve come to the right blog post. I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of human who is constantly soundtracking his life. I have playlists for everything and pretty much always have music on. If I were to ever go anywhere without my headphones I’m not sure I could function. When it comes to Photoshopping I’m all over the map - you know, the map of noise things to put in your ears. Anyway, below are some of the noise things I personally enjoy most while I Photoshop.
A lot of the time I tailor my listening experience to the subject matter of the image I’m working on. “What sort of music would this character be listening to?” “If this picture were a scene from a movie, what would the score sound like?” I find a movie that has the right vibe and then hope that some of the brilliant composer’s talent and auditory mood-building powers will seep their way into my creations. Here are some of the soundtracks I tap into most frequently…
How to Train Your Dragon - Holy CRAP is this good. It is so perfect for getting me in the fantasy mindset (not that I’m ever far from it). If you haven’t listened to this soundtrack while editing a fantasy image, have you ever even really edited a fantasy image before?!? I think not. Obviously I played this during the creation of both of my dragon images. Duh.
All of the movies and the sequels are top notch. I love them. Composer John Powell always knocks it out of the park with the music, but the soundtrack for the first movie is by far my favorite. You can find the whole score on Youtube, but if you just need a taste, take a big bite out of “Forbidden Friendship.” (Provided above for your clicking pleasure) It. is. everything. Side note, I did indeed play this soundtrack on loop while shooting in a cave in North Wales. NBD. (JK it’s a huge deal and was the best thing ever.)
Tron Legacy - As you might have noticed, I’ve been quite into making scifi/cyberpunk images lately and this soundtrack is at the top of my list for those sorts of edits. I had loved Daft Punk for a zillion years, so when I heard they were doing a whole movie score I knew it would be an instant favorite. I was 100% correct. The Tron soundtrack doesn’t skimp on epic driving techno beats that kick my editing into overdrive. It’s best when served extremely-obnoxiously-way-too-loud.
Tomb Raider - Yes, the 2001 movie masterpiece. This is still and will forever be one of my favorite movies and no one will ever convince me it is not cinematic perfection. #hatersbackoff … The year it came out my sister gifted me the soundtrack for Christmas. I didn’t even know I wanted it, but damn did I play that CD a time or two. (A lot more than two.) This is not the movie’s “score”, aka the composed background music, although I do enjoy that and all of its mysterious jungle-y vibes quite a bit as well. I’m referring to the soundtrack. We are talking songs from U2, Nine inch Nails, Nelly Furtado/Missy Elliott, Outkast, Moby, the Chemical Brothers and so on. It is badass, heart pounding, beat dropping action music with attitude: just what the doctor ordered when I am ready to punch my workload in the face. Also, nostalgia.
Night In The Woods - Movie’s aren’t the only entertainment that can come complete with awesome background tunes. Video games are a great recourse to tap into for some good mindless editing beats. The game Night In The Woods came out in 2017 and is apparently a single player adventure game about a college dropout returning home to re-figure out life, oh and she is a cat with an alligator best friend … or something? I’ve never played it, but for the amount of times I’ve listened to the soundtrack I think I should probably check it out. I have no idea how or why I found it, but there is just something about it that has me coming back again and again and again ... if there were any words I can assure you I’d know them all by heart. The soundtrack is quirky and fun with this odd, sometimes strange, funky sort of charm that I can’t quite put my finger on. At least right now in my life this is probably what I find myself wanting to listen to most. It is one of my particular favorites for when I’m writing the actual blog posts. I don’t like what I’m listening to while I write to have any lyrics to distract my word flow.
All of the Epic Soundtracks - Just a quick pro tip before I move on from soundtracks - You can go to just about any music streaming service and search for “Epic Movie Soundtracks” and you’ll pretty much never be disappointed. There are great playlists on Apple music, Spotify, or even YouTube, like the one above. I often enjoy the variety of composers and overall moods they bring to the table without having to stop editing to think of another movie soundtrack to search for and listen to.
Sometimes music just isn’t right and I’m in the mood to shove some inspiring motivational podcasts into my head. It has to be a certain type of edit, or at least be far enough into the process that I don’t have to actually think too hard or I find my brain keeps losing track of what they are talking about. However, when the time is right and I can focus on them, there are some photography podcasts that always seem to entertain my brain while lighting a fire under my butt to push my creative editing and career further.
Pro Edu Podcast (formerly RGG EDU) - This is probably my favorite photography-based podcast - If you haven’t heard it you are in for a treat. There are currently 6 seasons of pure gold. Basically, creators Gary and Rob interview some of the top professionals in the industry. Their banter and antics are delightful and it has just the right balance of incredibly inspiring nuggets of photography business knowledge and laugh-out-loud silliness. Note that several episodes can be watched online (such as the one above), but you don’t NEED to see it to fully enjoy it; feel free to listen on iTunes or from wherever you consume your podcasts.
The Candid Frame - This is the first photography podcast that I got REALLY into. Podcaster frontman Ibarionex (yes, that is indeed his name - pretty awesome, right?) has quite the backlog of episodes, but I dove into listening somewhere around 2013. He has the most soothing voice and always asks thoughtful, interesting questions. It is by no means a gear-focused podcast and I love how the flow of conversation is always more about the process and creativity of making images - what makes the various artists tick. I couldn’t seem to find it on YouTube, so here is a link to one of my favorite episodes with guest photographer Dean West from back in the day when I first tuned in.
I have had the sheer joy and pleasure of becoming friends with some incredibly talented musicians, who also just happen to be so much fun. Oftentimes while I’m editing I like to put one of them on shuffle and drown myself in their musical talent. When I shoot photos of them I make a point to binge their music while I photoshop their images so I can infuse their essence into the edit even more, but I’ve been known to pick one of them to listen to while editing all kinds of things. Maybe it’s just me and the fact that they are friends of mine, but something about listening to them sing I find so inspiring and motivating. As if hearing them doing what they love and following their dream pushes me further towards mine. IDK just shut up and listen to my crazy awesome friends!
Ciaran Carmichael - Ciaran is my longest-running musical friend that I adopted when I met my wife Sara. He went to high school with her and they are still very good friends. As are we now. He is about as nice of a guy as you could ever hope to know, and wildly talented. His newest single “Hear You On The Line” is my freakin jam right now, but I couldn’t stop myself from sharing my OG favorite of his, “Eskimos.” (Seen above, you’re welcome.) He was but a wee babe in the video, but even back then he was already so dang good and this song is legit just one of my favorite songs that exists. Also, I made a rather Harry Potter-esque image of him back in the day, because owls.
Mackenzie Johnson - I can’t even with Mackenzie. She is too good. It’s stupid, you guys. I love to go to karaoke with her and just watch everyone in the bar suddenly be like, ”Wait WTF is happening, who is that?” Mackenzie is indeed what you might call a “YouTuber” and has years and years and years (and years) of videos on Youtube. She can slay any cover, but I’ve included my fav of her originals. (It’s above … hopefully you understand the formula of this post by now…) She is the star of what is still probably my favorite image I’ve ever made (sorry other images).
Jeanette Lynne - I’ve yet to shoot any images with Jeanette, but that hasn’t stopped me from listening to her videos while I edit other things. I discovered her because she happens to be Mackenzie’s BFF and for a good reason - she is the sweetest, most genuine person ever. They have a ton of videos together - check out their recent version of “Bury a Friend” by Billie Eilish, you will not be disappointed. (If you are, please leave.) I love the delicate, almost raspy quality of her voice. There is something about the way she sings that seems easy and effortless, like she is just singing for herself because she loves it and we happen to be lucky enough to be there to eavesdrop.
Amanda Duncan - Amanda is sunshine in the shape of a human. I adore her. She is the fancy lady in the cape at the top of this post (and very obviously the one below), and is about to drop her first full-length album, “Big Time Superhero!” (Hence the cape.) You can actually help her out (and honestly help yourself out) by snagging a digital copy of her album RIGHT NOW!! Click this link (do it do it do it) to find out more!! The album is so much fun. Her lyrics are heartfelt and smart, the melodies are delightful and there is just the right amount of quirky vintage flare sprinkled in. Call me cliche or whatever but the title track “Big Time Superhero” is probably my favorite. The charm level on that track is set to 11, and for some reason whenever she gets to the one line in the chorus, “You should never underestimate the power of little old meeee,” the way she sings “mee” always turns me into pudding. Not sure why, but I just love it so much.
So there you have it friends, a smattering of some of my favorite things to listen to while I edit. Is that all? No definitely not, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless other albums and podcasts and things that I listen to, but I’ll save those for another time. I just love creativity of all kinds and having the ability to absorb someone else’s creative passion while I’m working on mine is just the best dang thing. Now I need to know, what do YOU listen to? Tell me all of your tunes (please and thank you), so I can add them to my roster!