Creating a Visual Symphony

Recently I’ve been reading the late Galen Rowell’s book, The Inner Game of Outdoor Photography.  In one of his essays, he mentions the phrase “visual symphony”.  When I read it, it stopped me mid-sentence and had my mind racing.  I’ve spent the last several weeks thinking over this phrase in my head.  Digging deeper into the meaning.  Here are a couple thoughts that I’ve pulled together from the cobwebs of my mind :)

Paris, France.  Paris is  a place where visual symphonies happen constantly. 


I love music metaphors; I use them all the time.  I like them because I love music.  But I also use them because almost everyone instantly can recognize a beautiful piece of music and therefore a music analogy (similar to sports analogies).  If you don’t mind, I’d like to break this metaphor down into its individual components.  

Photography as a Visual Symphony:  You are the composer, your camera is the instrument, and your life and experiences are the music.  As with any great symphony, there various movements within the piece; moments of brilliance and exaltation, moments of peace and serenity, and moments of tense unknowing and discord.   With our cameras we have the ability to interpret the music in our own individual way, much like a piece of music played on a cello will be unique from a violin.  

To extend the metaphor even further, a symphony has to have a venue to be shared.  The symphony hall is the the print, frame, book, website, or instagram feed to name a few.  The medium that allows us to share and for others to experience our “music”.  As with any symphony, the music will sound different and the experience will be different with each different venue.  Carnegie Hall will sound different than the Syndey Opera House because of the differences in size, acoustics, and intimacy of the venue.  Some will fit a piece of music perfectly, while others will leave it flat and uninspiring.  And that’s not to say that one piece of music or concert hall is better than the other.  They will each fit different needs at different times.  

We want our frames to be the exquisite concert hall where your music is shared and experienced.  We’ve taken care analyze and (over)think all the details.  Just as an architect works diligently to ensure that the building will stand up for decades to come, but will provide the best aesthetic and musical experience possible.  While we know that there are many different ways you can share your art, we hope that we are a part of that experience.  


My second thought on the subject is more routine (and down to earth).  In the digital age, we can get instant feedback on our art by just looking at the back of the camera or posting a photograph to Facebook or Instagram.  While I do usually monitor what I am shooting when I’m using a digital camera, I don’t necessarily look at every image.  There are even times when I don’t look at the images until they are loaded and ready for review in Adobe Lightroom.  This has recently been the case when I have been using an underwater housing to make photographs of my kids in the pool or friends surfing.  The point of this is that when I am reviewing images and I have taken a sequence of images of the same scene, there is always the anticipation of the “one”.  The one image where all the elements align.  Where we recognize immediately that this is the image that stands alone.  That doesn’t need anything else to tell the story.  It’s rare, but those are the visual symphonies.  When the color of the sunrise and the clouds align perfectly around a mountain peak or when the perfect expression appears on someone face.  It can be an addicting feeling, similar to how a surfer can only think of catching the next wave after they’ve just ridden the wave of their life.  

Wow, now I’m excited.  Let’s go.  Let’s create a symphony together.

We’d love to share your visual symphonies.  Those photographs that have made your heart leap.  Message us on Facebook or Instagram (@sawandmitre) and we’ll repost!  Or # your work on Instagram with #visualsymphony.

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