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National Geographic

  Story

Sights and Sounds

Published Mar 31, 2016
View the Assignment
Features Photos From 31 Contributors

31 photos selected by
Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

When choosing to do a music photography assignment for Your Shot, I knew it would be fun to see how people from all over the world see music. I had no idea how much this assignment would pull at my own feelings, make me retrace my past with photography, and move me to revisit old songs from my childhood and search out new artists. I asked for you to show me how you were seeing music, to capture scenes from concerts, bedrooms, and street corners. Some of the moments you showed me were loud and made me want to turn up the volume on my computer as I surveyed scenes from point of view of concertgoers next to amps turned up to 11. Some moments made me laugh or pause to take in breathtaking scenes. Then there were moments that were quiet and made me think about why the photographer decided to capture a particular image, what the music they were hearing sounded like, and whether it evoked some sort of memory inside of them.

Editor's Note

Something about that red balloon caught in those lights with the arms of fans stretched out really pulled me into this image. That downtime waiting for the band to start their performance is full of great anticipation, I can feel it in this image.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

kim dean United States of America
Editor's Note

Loved how you framed this image. Perspective can really change a photograph and I enjoy the angle you took to grab this image. Also really like how the word play with the cymbals becoming a hat.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

I love the lighting in this image and how you captured someone else looking to photograph this moment in the foreground. Very interesting set up with the security surrounding the stage and everyone around them trying to make an image.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

Great moment! Love the arms you captured in this, each one adds another layer to this story! The costume the guitarist is wearing just adds to the scene. Nice work.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

James Y. United States of America
Editor's Note

I love seeing the bits of grain from film in an image. Perfect composition and action captured here! That light ion the background really adds a cool layer to this photograph.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

The emotion and expression that you caught on the face of this conductor is excellent. You can see passion eyes as well as her movement of conducting the sounds we are hearing. Very well compose image, Hakan.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

Really great moment you have here. I love the mix of lighting from the candles meeting the darkness of the shadows. I'm sure the prayer they are offering up sounds beautiful.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

Wow, the lighting really makes this image! Also all of the out stretched hands make for such a cool moment to witness and capture.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Early on in this assignment, I told you that I don’t know how to play an instrument. I’ve always wanted to be in a band, though, so taking photographs of musicians was the closest I could get to feel as if I was apart of the music scene. There was something so alluring about being a part of the music community that the thought of it would keep me up at night. Of course, my life took some turns in other directions and now I find myself as part of the Your Shot community. I don’t regret where I am these days; this photo community surprises and inspires me everyday.

At first, I worried that I wouldn’t get many submissions for this assignment. It turns out I got almost 10,000 images submitted for review. You’re looking at the final 31; it was not easy to get to these final images. This assignment kept me up late at night as I revised my order, took in new images, and went through the heartbreaking process of eliminating some images that I loved. (I promise there will be a Behind the Edit blog post on the ones that didn’t make it.)

Editor's Note

I love how this image is composed. Going vertical and adding the image from the top left makes this a very interesting image.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

Great timing with your shutter and nice use of composition. The color of the dress drew my eye right away when I saw this image. Nice work!

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

I can feel the passion from both of these street musicians as they perform. I like that you were able to grab a lower perspective shot for this image as I feel they are singing directly to me.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

This was such an interesting moment to photograph. The location really makes it, but also the expressions on your subjects faces are great.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Joy Sharon Yi United States of America
Editor's Note

I really love this moment It made me laugh, but also made me think of how difficult it might be to play an instrument while on a ride like this. This might be one of the most interesting locations to hear some music.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

A great example of a quiet moment, where you the photographer must be quiet as well. I can hear the soft tunes that are being carried from this piano in this image. Also great work getting a higher vantage point for this image.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

Interesting scene to come by. I'm wondering what the story is behind the piano and it came to the waters edge. Love the interaction you caught between the father and son here in this moment.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Ivan Lesica United States of America
Editor's Note

Wonderful composition and moment. Each musician here is a layer in the image telling their own story! I love the trumpet player on the end and the drummer's expression as he takes in the sounds around him. Great image!

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

During our time on the discussion board I talked to all of you concerning the idea of looking for new angles and perspectives. You all found ways to move through large crowds to photograph memorable moments on stage, or you took your time trying to capture the emotions of a street performer who was putting their heart and soul into their music. Those will always be the times you'll be glad you took an image, so it can remind you of those moments and how you felt during that exact time that the shutter was pressed. Keep looking for memorable moments in your photography. They can come from the stage, from behind the scenes, from the streets or from your living room. 

Editor's Note

This image made me step back and say "Whoa" as I took in the entire scene. I've never seen something like this before, but I like it! The lighting and the color of the boxes makes this image just pop off the page.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

A photographer once said "The key to taking better pictures is to stand in front of interesting stuff." You are definitely found something interesting to be stand ing in front of. Is there a better moment to take an image when fire is happening? I think not!

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

sreeranj sreedhar United Arab Emirates
Editor's Note

I love this moment and energy that you captured here. This reminds me of small basement shows where there are no rules or security and the band is playing to you and not standing on a stage high above. Love this frame!

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Angela Owens United States of America
Editor's Note

The use of slow shutter here was a great idea. I can feel the energy of the rhythm and the sounds of that drum. This is a great representation of visualizing sound. Great work!

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

Love the perspective here and I was drawn to seeing one of your subjects fingertips on the drum. Small details like that can really draw in a viewer.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

How could anyone say no to a family dance party? Love the expression you captured here Jody. I believe you have proven that we don't need to go to clubs or concert venues to capture the power of music moving people. It can happen right in your own living room!

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

What a great scene to discover! I've been thinking about how photographs are of moments that only happen once in this lifetime and then they are gone. That's what I'm reminded of while looking at this image and I can hear the tunes these guys are playing drifting off into the night. Love the composition an... More

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

This is an excellent quiet moment to be captured during a live show. I love that the mic stand is in this shot and the distance between it and Adele. The lighting really sets the mood here.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

Interesting street performer to come across and I love how you composed this image with some nice negative space to the left. Nice work.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

This is a great example of a quiet moment image here, Gregor. Getting ready for a public performance can make one very anxious. I love the expression on the faces of his audience as well. Practicing makes us better at our craft, I hope your son's first show goes well!

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Note

When perfect timing and framing comes together it can be a beautiful thing. This looks like the grand finale to me so I can just hear the ending notes being accompanied by the explosions of the fireworks.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Gabe DeWitt United States of America
Editor's Note

Everything in this frame is great, I want to study each crowd members expression as well as all of the things happening in the background.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Jeremy Hinskton United States of America
Editor's Note

The perfect sounds to be heard at the end of the day. Really enjoyed this silhouette shot and the tone of this image.

Matt Adams
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Sharon D. Lutz United States of America

I’ll end on a personal note here. Back in 2003, I found myself going through a dark time personally and was very confused on the direction I wanted to go with my life. It was the year that I lost a close family member and the year that I discovered photography. It was the year that I started photographing music and started to feel like I found my path. As I write this, my soundtrack is the song “The Last Song I Will Ever Want To Sing”  by the Canadian band Moneen. I haven’t listened to this record in a good eight years. It was a record that came out during the same year I went through my struggle and discovery.

As I look through these final images with my headphones on and lead singer Kenny Birdges sings to me, “I want to remember. Wait ... smile, do something,” I’m reminded of why I love music and photography. Combining the two might have been the best decision I have ever made. I hope you continue to listen and document the music around you. Thanks for the images, Your Shot!


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