Can you hear the beat?


Ailsa @ Where’s My Backpack has done it again: proposed a photo challenge that is difficult to resist. And it isn’t an easy challenge either: rhythm!

How do you capture in a photograph something that can’t be seen? If you think literally it seems impossible. Until you consider a different approach: all good photos are more about what the emotion and ambience they suggest instead of the specific image that they capture. Looking at it this way, I thought of several photos I’ve taken over the years — a bullring in Spain that makes me think of the Toreador’s song from Carmin; any number of shots taken at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that make me want to hum a few notes from Back Home Again in Indiana; see a picture of a baseball stadium filled with fans and I can not only smell the hotdogs with mustard, and beer, but I can also hear the opening National Anthem or Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the 7th inning stretch. Music is a constant presence in our lives and the rhythm of our lives is made up of a cacophony of sounds filtered to those that we remember: maybe the sound of traffic out our windows, or a dog barking, or the radio playing a little too loudly on the neighbor’s patio, but also a friendly hello, a loved one’s laugh, or the quiet breaths of an infant sleeping comfortably in his crib at the end of a long day where the only noise is the gentle humming of the furnace.

Below is a photo essay from one midday walk in NYC’s Washington Square Park on a spring day a few years ago.   The day started out a bit rainy and the streets echoed the usual cacophony of the city, but once the sun came out,  in this small oasis at lunchtime, there was a definite vibe — a rhythm — the was the soundtrack to a break for those spending a few minutes in the park, whether they were working, on their lunch hours or tourists.   Listen:  can you hear the beat?

See the other entries is Ailsa’s challenge here.

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15 responses to “Can you hear the beat?

  1. May have trouble with the Post button, but none with the shutter, that’s for sure! Great story, great pix, great post:)

  2. there is such life in these images…such fun. love the laying down musicians…no wonder they got noticed

    • Hi Jo. Thanks for your comment. I’ve never seen musicians doing this before but I bet they get attention when they do it. It didn’t, however, seem to be garnering any more money for them, though.

  3. What a great gallery of photos for this challenge!

  4. I’m surprised by the musicians resting on the floor…
    greetings by
    http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/travel-theme-rhythm/

  5. Love the shots of the musicians flat on their backs while playing. I suppose it’s what you call “laid back” music. 🙂

  6. The words and photos work well together. I hadn’t thought about rhythm in this way before but completely get where you are coming from, having read your explanation. Great journey.
    And thanks for visiting and following my blog too.
    Kate
    http://myphotoyear2012.wordpress.com

  7. Thoroughly enjoyed every last one of these photos, Anne, the rhythm of the subway is an inescapable part of New York life, that guy with the sax screams New York too, and whereabouts were those guys playing music lying down? I’d love to have seen that performance!

    • I loved the guys playing while lying down. They were right in front of the arch in Wash. Sq. Sure got people’s attention. I thought it was great when the woman wanted her friend to take a picture of her lying next to them, but she was embarrassed when I took a picture of her too. Her friends laughed at her about that! So did the musicians.