urban landscape

Steps to Music Discovery

So Hard to Get Along

So Hard to Get Along – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Lately, I feel like I’m exploring more and more musical acts, especially in progressive rock and metal. So many musical discoveries have come from a combination of Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, and following the bands I love. I feel like I’m awash in music, and it brings me a lot of joy.

Don’t get me wrong: I still purchase my music, usually in physical form. I give myself a monthly musical budget, and I’m not afraid to spend that money.

But music discovery? Spotify makes this so easy.

The steps go something like this:

  1. Listen to a band I enjoy
  2. Look at the “Related Artist” tab on Spotify and poke around
  3. Check out YouTube to see if the artist has any music videos (remember those?)
  4. Head to Amazon to see what reviewers say about their albums
  5. Put an album in my Amazon wish list to reference later
  6. Purchase the album

Rinse, repeat.

I don’t do like the kids do these days and use Spotify (or Apple Music, or any other streaming service) for all my music needs. But I do find that it’s perfect for experimenting, and for checking out albums that I’ve always wanted to hear before I buy.

(And thank goodness for YouTube. If an artist is not on Spotify, chances are someone has ripped and uploaded their album to YouTube.)

For those bands that have been on the periphery of my musical tastes, digital music venues offer me a free sample. It costs nothing, except a potential album purchase down the road.

I haven’t been this excited about music since around the time I was in college, when so much good stuff was coming my way from friends in school and college radio. Today, the material is almost overwhelming, because now the entirety of rock and roll’s catalog is at my fingertips. A lot of these newly-discovered artists have quickly become some of my favorites. That’s a fun feeling.

Supporting my favorite artists with actual money is so important. Thanks to these streaming services, I can find more favorite artists to support.

(Follow along on Spotify if you’re interested in what I listen to!)

On Street Photography


On Street Photography

Some of my favorite photographers are street photographers. Those New York guys in the ‘60s and ‘70s? It’s some of my favorite work.

There’s something about modern street photography, though, that doesn’t appeal to me. It starts to look the same after while.

There are exceptions.

I’m not a huge fan of doing street photography, either – not in its traditional sense. I’ll head out with a camera and explore a city. I’ll even take photos of people in the streets, in windows, in their cars, wherever. It just has to be a pretty special shot for me to share it.

A shot like those guys (or ladies) in the mid-century would make.

Shapes, shadows, the kind of urban landscape stuff that Stephen Shore would make – that’s more up my alley.

I took a spare Friday this summer and hit the not-so-mean streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a beautiful evening, Summerfest was going on, and Friday nights in Ann Arbor are pretty hopping. The light was past the too-harsh phase. It was one of those great June nights in Michigan.

For this exercise, I shot locations, mostly. I saw an interesting scene, waited until something fun came along, and made a photo. Or the sunlight would come in at an interesting angle, so I’d shoot that scene.

What I didn’t do was go out and try to find interesting people. Maybe that’s the Stephen Shore difference.

More scene finding, less Gary Winogrand’ing.

Around the Albion Neighborhood

Summer. Walks around the town. Noon sun staring down at all of us.

And gnomes watching our every move.

The past few summers I’ve made it a point to take long walks around Albion’s neighborhoods. The challenge is to find the photo-worthy among every day life: yards, signs, porches, etc.

It just goes to show that no matter how “boring” you think your area is, there’s always something to find.