I’ve always felt like the music I listen to goes along with the pictures I photograph as if they were a movie. The other day I realized something else- the music I listen to affects my pictures.

I’ve always listened to music while editing my pictures. It’s hard to describe the music I listen to, but I guess you would call it instrumental hip hop/jazz. The music can have a strong rhythm and it might sound a little gritty.

I usually listen to music like this while editing.

Listen to the songs above. Then look at these pictures.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like my pictures do a good job of representing the music visually.

This might sound weird, but I think the music I listen to can affect my pictures. I only think it affects my pictures in small ways, but I try to pay attention to details, and if there’s something I can do that will make my pictures better, I’m going to do it.

I used to listen to music like this.

Listen to the songs above. Now look at these pictures.

That’s the kind of music I used to like, and those are old pictures of mine. My music tastes have changed over time, and so has my editing style. Part of that is simply me becoming a better photographer and developing my own style, but I also feel like a little bit of it is the music. The music isn’t extremely different from what I listen to now, but I’m sure you can tell the differences. I’m also sure you can see the differences in the pictures; they’re brighter, more saturated, and tend to be a bit cooler in temperature.

After noticing these differences I wanted to see if it was just me. I talked to some other photographers, and found the same thing. Their images also reflect the music they listen to. The people that listen to the more happy music tend to have brighter images and the people (like me) that listen to the darker music tend to have darker images.

There’s also research to back this up.

Apparently, our heart beat will actually begin to synch with the music we listen to. A slow heartbeat with a strong diastolic pressure can make our brain feel something sad or depressing. A very fast beat is obviously related to excitement, where dreamy rhythm with occasional upbeats can make us feel joy or love. The key of the music can also play a part. A minor key can sound sad and a major key can sound happy.

University of Missouri scientists found that in just two weeks of listening to happy music, a person’s mood could significantly change. In multiple studies run by Yuna Ferguson, half the participants were told to try to feel happier while listening to upbeat music. The others were told to do the same while listening to more neutral music. The participants that listened to the upbeat music reported feeling happy on a scale much higher than the participants who listened to the neutral music.

Now of course the music I listen to isn’t going to make me a zombie and take complete control of me while I edit my pictures, but it can affect my brain, and that can affect the way I edit a picture. I’m always going to go for a certain look when I’m editing, but the music I listen to could affect me enough to make a picture a little more contrasty, or a little darker.

So, what does this mean?

Use music to your advantage while editing, painting, or doing any other art. If there’s a certain look you’re going for, try to pick some music that reflects that look. It might make your art just a little bit better.


Perspectives on Visual Storytelling


Written by





Perspectives on Visual Storytelling

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade