Inspired by "The Voice"

Inspired by “The Voice”

I have watched “The Voice” since the beginning and I thought this season I could give it up.  I DVR the show obviously to get past the commercials, skip the fluff and minimize my TV time.
Yesterday was a crazy windy rainy day in AZ (rain is so rare it makes you want to curl up on the couch and take a mental health day) -and sure enough the new season was recorded and I couldn’t help myself -

I was trying to figure out why I enjoy “The Voice” so much and endless reasons came to mind.  The first being that I love music.  SInce the age of seven I wanted to be on Broadway singing.  I grew up in NY so Broadway was something I did a lot of.  My first show was Annie and from that moment on I wanted to be on stage.  My family will tell you that I am always singing...  I can carry a tune but that’s about it.  
Growing up I don’t think my mom and grandparents knew how to direct my passion or they didn’t have the resources so I was never had any kind of formal training. I tired out for Juilliard when I was 13. I sang “The Rose”.... I was so nervous and all the other kids trying out had been in signing and music lessons most of their life so I was crushed when the rejection letter arrived.  (I know it’s not too late.... Believe me the thought has crossed my mind)

I however found my passion in photography and discovered the outlets to grow and develop a career.  I think my love of the stage is one of the reasons I love to teach and present programs.  Someday during a platform program I’m going to breakout into a melody of Broadway hits... (I need to find a way to  work that into my program)

The similarities in music and photography started to become so clear to me and it  confirmed why I love watching this show so much.
Performing on “The Voice” means overcoming fears, having talent, wanting to be mentored by industry greats and watching talented mentors excited about bringing up new talent.  

Then I started to realize that genres of music are a lot like styles of photography - they are virtually endless.
Musically you might like - Country, Rock, Pop, Hiphop, Rap, Techno, Indie Folk, Singer/Songwriter, R&B, Metal, Opera, Classical, Alternative, Show Tunes... and the list goes on.  

Photographically you might like - Traditional Wedding, Photojournalistic Wedding, High fashion Wedding, Landscape, Wildlife, Infant Portraits, Lifestyle Portraits, Traditional Portraits, Studio or Environmental, Commercial, Fashion, HS Seniors, Macro, Children or Family photography..... again the list goes on.

You probably like more than one type of music and more than one type of photography.
No one style or genre is better than another they are just different.  We sometimes forget this in photography.....

Some of the comments that Adam Levin makes on “The Voice” really move me.  He is an incredible talent but when he hears something in a new artist that he is not capable of he recognizes it and appreciates it.  
He said to one contestant yesterday “I wish I could do what you do with your voice, I sing like a high pitched girl and would love to have the range you do.”
I love that about him.  He is capable of acknowledging different talents in others without feeling threatened by it.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all operate that way.  

Another aspect of the show that I love is the coaching and mentoring.  These new comers to the music industry are so eager to learn and to be coached to become better at their passion. One contestant said to Usher “I want to learn so much from you.”
We have so many new photographers in our industry that want to learn from those of us who have been around a while....
It’s the circle of the industry - I was mentored therefore I must mentor so that someday you will mentor too!

Last year I wrote a book.  When the publisher approached me about it I had been slowly pulling back from photography and heading into a new career in health and fitness.  After 25 years in the industry I felt I was ready for a change and that perhaps I was done in the photography world.  I think I had forgotten what I still had left to give.  I just assumed that everyone already knew  what I know and that I was a bit outdated.
So, when I agreed to write the book it was with the thought that this would be a great way to close this chapter of my life (pun intended).  The plan was to write the book and then move on.  ‚Ä®Funny thing happened on the way to publishing..... Writing the book redirected me right back to where I was supposed to be along - giving back to an industry that had given so much to me.  I love to teach, inspire and motivate photographers to grow as artists and business people.  I realized that I was not outdated... I was really a classic oldie with a great base of knowledge and experience that I learned from great mentors.  Mentors I would never consider outdated - I consider them legends - hall of famers!

Looking again to the music industry I started pairing up well know photographers to well know music artists that remind me of each other.  Not one better than the other but all uniquely different....
For me:
Monte was the Frank Sinatra of his time -Timeless, classic, smooth and untouchable.
Don Blair and Dean Martin....
Hanson Fong is like Mozart - Classic and flowing.
Jerry Ghionis is like Bono -  Classic, iconic, edgy, rock and roll
Doug Gordon is like Pittbull - Gritty, edgy, outspoken
Skip Cohen is like the Clive Davis of photography (able to see amazing talent and make things happen in an industry)
Bambi Cantrell to me is like Christina Aguilera - Classically trained yet edgy and confident.
Clay Blackmore and Michael Buble - Young, passionate yet timeless
Vicki Taufer reminds me of Cobie Caillat - Fresh, fun, easy going and timeless
Anne Geddes and Celine Dion are the perfect match and collaborated on a project together.
Annie Leibovitz is like Etta James to me.  Timeless, classy, distinct and raw
Joe Buissink can only be compared to John Lennon - ahead of his time, peaceful, thought provoking, elegant, a master of the craft.

When musicians talk about range, runs, pitch, falsettos, tone, high and low notes... they are talking about the basics.... The basics of music that every artist must know before they start creating their own sound.

When photographers talk about the basics we mean - basic lighting patterns, understanding posing and bodies, white balance, exposure, lens usage, camera heights, facial angles, the color wheel, highlight and shadow.... and the list goes on.
These are basics every photographer must have before they can “break the rules” -and create a style of their own.  

We can not escape a proper foundation no matter what we do in life. From music to sports, to medicine and yes photography too.  We need to build on a foundation of basics.  Even the most raw and gifted talent needs to start with a foundation of basics in order to fully utilize their raw talent and bring it to it’s full potential.  
We can not expect to fast track our way to success without a solid foundation, without education, passion, a willingness to be humble and learn from others and without mentors,  true mentors that are interested in watching young artists grow, mentors who want to give of their time for the betterment of an entire industry.  
One of the things I loved most about Monte was his desire to not only teach but his deep passion for learning.  We all become better teachers by continuing to grow and learn from others as well.
That is the message that Adam Levin leaves me with.... “I love and appreciate a talent or skill you have that I do not.  How can I help you grow and how can I learn from you?”.

“The Voice” - I love the show for the talent, the dreams, the personal stories, the mentors, the passion, the determination, the diversity- I love it all - Just like I love photography for all the same reasons.  I’m glad I took a step back for a little while. I believe everything happens for a reason.... if you are tuned into to yourself the reasons will show themselves.... Just like the reason I was asked to write a book was to bring me back full circle to my passion of teaching and photography.

What kind of musician an I....?  I know who I’d like to be like.... but I’m not sure it’s my place to say.
You probably have your own pairings... Write them down - what do admire about those artists?  What would like to emulate about those you admire?  How can you grow and is there someone who can learn something from you?  

This is what a rainy day in AZ gets you!  


Categorized In: music | photography | portraits | the voice | wedding photography