Traveling Tunes of Photography


Traveling Tunes of Photography

Learning the Composition and the Process.

by Ken Jenie


As Gilbert K. Chesterton put it: “The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see”. I never consider myself a traveler, nor photographer. I just happen to be a man who has a passion in photography, and lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel. Thanks to my lovely wife who happen to be an expert in finding cheap airline tickets, hehehe.

As a musician, I usually compose music and sounds with something in mind. I hear voices, tunes or rhythm in my head, and try to emulate it with musical instruments as close as possible. Even though the finished musical fragment is far from what I imagined it, I still find it fascinating, or to use more sophisticated word “orgasm”.

Travel photography is a very different artform.

It forces us to rethink everything that we had learned before we go to our destination. It’s like the tunes in our heads are messed up once it comes out to the real world, in a Platonic kind of way. When composing music, we have the opportunity to stop, take a step back and undo things, where as in photography, you have to get ready for everything, no second chance.

Once the moment is gone and it’s gone forever. We won’t get a second chance since we’re in a different country. We will miss that person crossing the street in Tokyo for instance, or some local kid playing inside Angkor Wat temple, or a girl with her red shirt holding an umbrella under the rain with Eiffel tower in the background.

Some say, with smartphones, everyone is a photographer now. Everyone who travels carry smartphones with them when they travel. They take pictures and share it to the world in an instant. I have to disagree. It’s the same as with Garageband, everyone is a musician. Well, those tools are here to make our lives much easier but it still take a lot of practice and years of experience to sharpen our senses and composition.

Photography for me is a process. A process to shape our senses on composition, because music IS composition. We learn about composing pictures just like music. We know what we should add to the composition, but the most important thing is we know what NOT to include. Because what’s not included in the picture is as important as what is included.

In composing music, what instruments and sounds we put in composition speaks a lot about the music. All these elements blend in different layers of frequencies that form musical composition. In traveling photography, the elements we put in the picture speaks a lot about the landscapes. All these elements blend, in different layers of images that form photography composition. It’s this basic idea of aesthetic that influenced me to compose music and take pictures.whiteboardjournal, logo