Photographic Timbre

I should admit, my prose is a bit rusty these days and this whole piece may seem a little out there, so I will try and keep this one short. Have you ever tried to listen to a photograph?

“They” say a photo is worth a thousand words, a statement that I have always considered to be a little silly, most photos simply sit idly with little more than the light they hold on to so dearly and breathe quietly, yet if you place yourself in a space of mental ambiguity you may be able to make out the song a photograph sings. Even if only faintly.

It could be as clear and obvious as a train passing, the busy sounds of city life, or the gentle swaying distortion of wind blowing through an empty landscape but sometimes if you really let yourself dive into the exercise you may find your imagination pull you in deeper. The rustle of fabric, laughter just out of frame, the key of a color, rhythm of a texture, or shallow bellowing drone of an empty field.

I think what most people may discover are connections to their past. Memory defines our perspective on everything so this practice can be a place to center your thoughts for creative writing or simply a means of escape.

This dawned on me recently while looking around on Flickr. If I stopped for more than a couple of seconds to look at a photo I could, to a certain extent, intuit its soundscape, so I started to try and put into words what it could mean; to consider something silent as having an acoustic space around it. What came to mind as I thought of a way to describe it was “Photographic Timbre”, a term that at least vaguely fits the criteria. It seems silly and maybe a little contrived if you’re a bit cynical about art but it’s a fun exercise all the same.

Maybe look at it as a mindful practice, one of reflection, gratitude, and awareness, and see where it takes you. Our life breathes music in every moment of every day so why not extend our perspective in a creative new way? Surely I’m not the only one looking for new or unique pathways to discover moments of peace in these unpredictable times. Maybe you will find a few extra moments of that solace as well.


  1. Maria - December 17, 2020 at 1:29 am

    thank you for your words, and your images.
    I just wanted to say that sometimes, pictures not only sound, faintly, but they do smell. Or maybe it´s me. But that’s the great advantage of getting lost in an image. And some images they just pull you in.
    Keep safe

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